The tunnel boring machine is stuck. It's going to be stuck until next year—or longer. But let's recall that Orwellian marketing geniuses actually sold the $4.2 billion megaproject to voters as a way of getting unstuck. They claimed the machine—the machine that is now completely immobilized—was the way to "move forward." Here's the pro-tunnel campaign's 2011 commercial:
It's a fabulous ad. The 30-second spot, by a campaign called Let's Move Forward, argued that a tunnel would be the fastest way to replace the dangerous viaduct. In fact, the tunnel was the slowest viaduct replacement and, as predicted, the technical obstacles and delays will leave the viaduct standing even longer.
So who was selling the snake oil?
Not just Mayor Ed Murray, who sponsored the state's legislation to dig a tunnel while he was in the senate, and not just Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, who sponsored the city legislation to sign contracts. Not just former mayor Greg Nickels, former governor Chris Gregoire, or former county exec Ron Sims. And not just political hacks Christian Sinderman, Alex Fryer, and Dan Nolte running the campaign (thanks, guys). Sure, they're all to blame.
But flashback—let's never forget: The folks bankrolling the Let's Move Forward campaign were also THE TWO COMPANIES BUILDING THE TUNNEL.
Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission records show that at $25,000 a piece, two of the top donors to Let's Move Forward were Tutor Perini and Dragados USA, who teamed up to form Seattle Tunneling Partners. Seattle Tunneling Partners had been awarded a $1.1 billion state contract to dig the tunnel.
Who are these companies? Dragados was part of a $7.5 million fraud settlement on a New York tunnel contract and Tutor Perini is famously litigious about forcing local government to pay them more money. And now? There are cost overruns. The state says it won't pay and the Seattle Tunneling Partners says it won't pay—so we're stuck again.
You can't make this up. It's the political equivalent of a snake eating its own tail. And a snake can't actually eat its own tail. Eventually it just gets stuck.