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We should be focusing on Washington’s ‘Bridgegate’

Dori Monson says the Pacific Northwest has it's own "Bridgegate" that we should be focusing on. (Image courtesy WSDOT)

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

It’s the story that everybody is calling “Bridgegate.” No not Chris Christie’s New Jersey bridge shutdown. It’s here in Seattle and on the Eastside.

The word came down Wednesday from the Washington State Department of Transportation that the Highway 520 Bridge is now at least $170 million over budget because of the problems with the pontoons. Washington State Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson who was in the studio with us on Monday to talk about the tunnel project and the massive delays, and what I am certain will be massive overruns on that project, she’s got another headache on her hands, and that is the 520 bridge.

She’s asked the state Legislature to increase the budget by $170 million. Here is what she told them when she made the case for raising what we are going to spend:

“The reserve established for the funding construction project was $250 million in total. With the change orders we’ve executed related to the pontoons, change orders not related to the pontoons, potential change orders still coming, plus the need for a continued reserve fund on the project as we move into the last phase in the west end. We know we will exceed the reserve and the existing project budget,” said Peterson.

In other words, they had a $250 million reserve fund. They’ve blown through that. And now they need $170 million more of your and my dollars. If you are a resident of this state, that is your and my money. That is why when I heard this:

“The good news is we can pay for these increased costs with existing funding sources and without asking for new revenue,” said Peterson.

No they can’t. The tolls on the 520 bridge were a Trojan horse. I’ve told you that since long before this project was approved. That they said well we’ll make it a user fee and the people that use the bridge will pay for the bridge, but that was never true. That’s why they have to go to the Legislature to raise the budget by $100 million.

We’re at $420 million now. With the reserve fund already spent and the $170 million more. So when I hear our secretary of transportation couch it the way she did in that sound bite:

“The good news is we can pay for these increased costs,” she said.

The good news? That is $170 million taxpayer dollars. There is no good news when it was incompetence. It was leaky pontoons that are the reason we blew through this. There is no good news here. Don’t blow smoke up our skirt. There’s no good news here.

And I go back to this great story that KOMO TV did last year when they had a tipster who talked to their reporter Tracy Vedder and said that at the design offices for the new 520 bridge, that they’re drinking beer on the job there.

They’re drinking on the job. The pontoons are faulty and now it’s going to end up costing you and me hundreds of millions if not billions by the time all is said and done.

I have these people who are emailing me about Chris Christie and what is going on in New Jersey, ‘Hey Monson you going to talk about the bridge scandal?’

Yeah, I’m going to talk about the bridge scandal. I’m going to talk about the one in our backyard. But for people around here who just believe that government is the alpha and the omega, they don’t care if people are drinking on the job and we have hundreds of millions of dollars of overruns, but oh man if we can take down the leading Republican presidential candidate in 2016, that’s the big story.

We have a much bigger story as far as impact on your and my life in our backyard. That is what our focus should be.

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

WSDOT: 520 bridge mistakes devouring project’s safety net
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