Governor defends Seattle tunnel project, rejects proposals to kill it

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OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee came out swinging Thursday in defense of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in downtown Seattle.  It came just a few days after two key lawmakers called for cutting losses and scrapping the embattled tunneling project.

“They owe us a tunnel,” Inslee said of the private contractor overseeing construction.  “We have a very solid agreement with this contractor.”

The tunnel project has become somewhat of a nightmare.  The Bertha boring machine is damaged, the viaduct is sinking and in dangerous shape, and there’s no telling whether Bertha will ever be able to dig again.

And all the while, the costs are racking up.  It’s therefore little wonder that some argue it’s time to cut losses and figure out another alternative.

But the governor is definitely not one of those.

On Thursday, he made clear he’s moving forward with the project, which is being managed by the Washington State Department of Transportation, but which is being built by an independent company.

“We have an obligation in writing that they give us a tunnel, on time, within a designated budget,” Inslee said. “We intend to insist on that.”

For critics of WSDOT, the problems with the tunnel are just some of challenges the state has had overseeing major projects of late.  There have been high-profile problems with the SR 520 Bridge pontoons and the ferry system, too.

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  • cindy

    maybe they should review the way seattle was rebuilt, and realize that they are digging through landfill, which not only will be unstable, but will also keep stopping bertha by clogging it up

  • Magnus

    Sometimes you just have to cut your losses. If the people vote to end the project that is what should happen. It shouldn’t be left in the hands of a single person. With all the issues they are having and the risk of more soil erosion as well as all the delays, performing other maintenance on the current system may prove more beneficial to the people living in Seattle than the tunnel ever would have.

    My opinion: removing the ground underneath already standing buildings/roads etc is going to cause more problems than it solves. When the first building sinks and topples because the foundation is gone, then maybe the nonsense of this tunnel will stop.

    It is simple logic.

  • hogilvie

    If the Governor wants to continue digging, let him pay for it out of his pocket. There should have been a reverse on Berths so it could be worked on easier, quicker, and cheaper.

  • Tony Carosino

    Is he that gone from reality or just an idiot…DONE ON TIME…Its already going to be over two years late. Nothing any big shot Governor can say will change that but he’s going to make them stick to their contract. LMFAO….He will waste MILLIONS on lawsuits that have already been filed by the contractor for delays both say the other is responsible for and what happens when this “Bertha” breaks down UNDERNEATH structures and the buildings start to sink more..MORE MONEY SPENT AND ADDED LAW SUITS….But still no road….His reply ??…Were sticking to their contract….Billions will be overrun costs and the public will pay…Just hoping living here in eastern Wa. I won’t get stuck paying for Seattles ignorance.

    • Jim from Canada

      Just like the stadium we voted down twice then had it rammed down our throats and the Monorail we voted for twice but had repealed then the current monorail had an “accident” right before the third vote which swayed the result. We weren’t even given a choice on Bertha the Big Pig of Seattle. The viaduct is coming down to financially benefit the owners of the property that has been stuck behind it. Nope. No graft here folks. Nothing to see! Keep moving along. Never mind the millions in tourism being lost because the waterfront view must be saved just for the rich.

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