SEATTLE – Gov. Chris Gregoire says she is calling Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn's bluff over the issue of cost overruns on the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The verbal drama played out Thursday afternoon during a meeting of high-level local leaders about the progress of the project.
McGinn, a vocal opponent of the tunnel, has voiced concerns about potential cost overruns and who will pay for them. A clause in the legislation approving the project says any cost overruns will be paid by Seattle-area property owners who benefit from the tunnel.
According to The Seattle Times, Gregoire said at Thursday's meeting, "If you want it changed in law, you need to take that to the Legislature in January. You take that to the Legislature, get it passed, I'll sign it."
When asked if she was calling McGinn's bluff, Gregoire reportedly said, "Sure. He doesn't want this project, period. This is just something to hang his hat on."
When asked if he would support a tunnel if the clause was repealed, the Times reports McGinn would not say "yes," but did say he would carry out the policies laid out by the city council.
"My independent position is it's not a good project even at the list price," said McGinn.
Gregoire said that more delays will definitely lead to cost overruns. She also reportedly noted the state's track record of getting projects done on time and on budget.
"If we have a Brightwater-type situation with significant cost overruns, who's going to pay?" McGinn told KING 5 News after the meeting. "I believe that's a question that should be answered before we send tunnels underground."