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Governor Inslee: We need to beat Seattle tunnel contractor like a cheap mule

Jay Inslee told KIRO Radio's Dori Monson that the state needs to crack down on the Seattle tunnel project's contractor. (WSDOT)

Even though it’s two years behind schedule and over budget, Governor Jay Inslee says it’s not the time to pull the plug on the Seattle tunnel project.

Doing that would expose taxpayers to millions of dollars of potential liability, Inslee told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

Instead of abandoning the tunnel project and Bertha the boring machine that has been under repair since March, Inslee said the state needs to crack down on the project’s contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners. The state is the customer in this situation, Inslee said.

Related: Bertha could drill state straight into the courtroom

“Imagine you hire a contractor to remodel your house,” Inslee told Dori. “What does a responsible homeowner do in that situation? You ride them and beat them like a cheap mule if you will. We are going to hold these people and this contract &#8212 they will be responsible.”

And while it’s easy to do, the government shouldn’t be blamed for the current state of the project, Inslee said. The state doesn’t run the Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works &#8212 the company that built Bertha.

But could there be a day where things with the tunnel project are so bleak, that the best option is to shut the project down? Yes, Inslee said. However, the project isn’t at that point yet.

Dori has a solution for the governor in relation to the tunnel project: hire Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The Mexican drug lord was able to escape from a high-security prison via a hole in the floor of the shower of his cell and a mile-long, secretly dug tunnel.

“Get him to finish it,” Dori told the governor.

So, for the time being, it looks like the tunnel project will continue as planned. Let’s just hope state officials don’t keep jumping ship.

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