Coalition files initiative to free Seattle taxpayers from extra tunnel costs

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by KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on December 9, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 10 at 4:10 PM

SEATTLE -- The Washington State Department of Transportation announced a winner Thursday afternoon for the contract to build a deep bore tunnel under downtown Seattle. 

But just a few hours earlier, opponents of the tunnel vowed to defend city taxpayers from being stuck with part of the bill.

The winning bid came from Seattle Tunnel Partners, made up of several contractors: Spanish-owned Dragados-USA, HNTB Corp., which has a Bellevue office, Tutor-Perini Corp. of Sylmar, California, Frank Coluccio Construction and Mowat Construction based in Western Washington. 

The value of their winning bid was $1,018,123,002.

According to the WSDOT, Seattle Tunnel Partners submitted a bid price of $1,088,302,002. But WSDOT awarded technical credits for improvements to the original tunnel blueprint and a timeline that would open the tunnel to traffic almost a year earlier than expected.

Seattle Tunnel Partners' bid included plans to create one eight-foot shoulder, and one two-foot shoulder in each direction of the tunnel, two-feet wider than the WSDOT proposal.

The losing team, a group called the Seattle Tunneling Group, has nine days to file a protest.  A final contract won't be signed until next month.

The deep bore tunnel will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and could open as early as 2015. Tolling has been discussed, with fees ranging from $1.50 to $4.50. Read more about the project here on the WSDOT Web site.

COALITION FORMS TO FIGHT COST OVERRUNS

Gathered at the Seattle City Clerk's Office Thursday morning, a coalition of groups filed paperwork for an initiative to make sure no cost overruns are incurred by the city.

It's called the "Seattle Taxpayer Protection Initiative," but it won't appear on the ballot until next November. Organizers say that's not too late.

"A lot can happen between then and now. You know a lot of political discourse will happen between then and now. We have a long session coming up in Olympia where the funding of this project and the cost overruns will continue to be defined," said organizer Drew Paxton.

Another similar initiative by Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel is scheduled to be on the ballot in the spring.

In the meantime, work continues near Safeco Field and Qwest Field to tear down the south end of the Viaduct and replace a portion of it with a mostly surface street.

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