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It’s time to stop the Seattle tunnel project

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson thinks taxpayers are going to be on the hook for billions in cost overruns, and says it's time to stop the Seattle tunnel project. (WSDOT image)

Taken from Wednesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

A few years ago, I had a friend who bought a vacation home and he spent a fair amount of money. And then the market tanked in 2008 to 2011. He wanted to sell, but he said he’d lost $200,000 from what he paid for it. He said he had to wait for the market to come back.

I told him no, what your home is worth today is what it’s worth today. There is no guarantee the market is going to come back and you can’t think of your home as the price you paid for it because the market has reset. You’ve got to cut your losses. If you want out, get out, was my advice to him.

The reason I bring this up is because in the spirit of friendship, I’m going to offer the same advice to the state of Washington with this tunnel under downtown Seattle.

They told us it was going to be a $2.8 billion project. Now they’re up to $3.1 billion and that is before we get into the massive cost overruns.

(Now) they’re saying there are some boulders in front, some concrete maybe. It’s not just the steel-well casing blocking Bertha.

It’s been a month and a half now and my sources say don’t be surprised if it’s a year delay.

And yes, we’ve already spent a big chunk of the first billion dollars on the tunnel, but that doesn’t mean we have to throw away billions and billions more plus the billions in cost overruns that are coming. We could cut our losses, shore up the viaduct, look for alternative plans.

You could still consider the gorgeous Elliott Bay Bridge that I had been championing years and years ago that would give Seattle a signature bit of architecture on our waterfront – the most distinctive bit of Seattle architecture since the Space Needle 52 years ago.

They are only 10 percent drilled. It’s time to cut the losses because we’re not getting the truth about what is wrong with Big Bertha, how long the delay is going to be, how huge the cost overruns will be.

And I’m not the only one asking these questions anymore. I saw that Danny Westneat in The Seattle Times over the weekend said, ‘We need to dig out the truth about Bertha problems.’ We’re not getting the truth from anybody.

They’ve already started all the legal battles between Seattle Tunnel Partners and the state. They’re both threatening to sue each other. They’re trying to figure out who is going to be on the hook for the overruns.

It’s going to be us. It’s going to be the taxpayers and it’s going to be in the billions of dollars, I’m still convinced, the overruns alone. We’ve already had two and half months of delay between the labor stoppage and the mechanical problem with no end in sight. It’s time we get some answers.

We’re going to be on the hook for billions of dollars. It’s time to stop the tunnel. They won’t do it, but remember my words when the overruns go into the billions and the delays stretch out to many, many months.

Taken from Wednesday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.


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