2 bids for $2 billion Seattle tunnel project


by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News and Associated Press


Posted on October 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 29 at 7:29 PM

SEATTLE -  Gov. Chris Gregoire says the state Transportation Department has received two bids at or under the limit for the project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle with a tunnel.

Gregoire said in Seattle Friday that the bids submitted Thursday meet the needs for the project she calls essential to state commerce.

In a room filled with supporters, the governor said the project will move forward at a cost of nearly two billion dollars. That includes a $205 million reserve fund for possible cost overruns. The issue of cost overruns is the focus of opposition to the tunnel.

"What would cause a cost overrun? Delay. Delay is the only reason to have a cost overrun today," said Gregoire.

Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond says the department will review the bids and select the one with the best value.

The deep bore tunnel will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. There will be tolls to use the tunnel, possibly ranging from $1.50 to $4.50. The question is whether tolls will keep drivers out of the tunnel.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is a tunnel opponent who has insisted the city not get stuck with cost overruns.

"I don’t believe we can trust the governor to keep her promises to protect us,” said McGinn.

Gregoire says the state can't afford to wait to replace the 57-year-old waterfront viaduct that was weakened by the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.

"If I were to get any bill that says the citizens of Seattle will bear the costs of any overruns I will veto it," said McGinn."They don’t have a contingency fund big enough to protect us because they gave it away,” added McGinn.