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    520 floating bridge cracks will hurt other state projects

    WSDOT mistakes on the bridge across Lake Washington will likely hurt other state projects.
    The governor's new transportation proposal includes funding for many large - and stalled - projects.

    The governor's new transportation proposal includes funding for many large - and stalled - projects. Credit: stevevoght/Flickr

    The State Route 520 bridge's pontoon troubles could siphon off up to $170 million from other Washington transportation projects.

    Washington Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson told the combined state Senate and House transportation committees Wednesday that the department's own pontoon design errors will cost $208.2 million to fix. That $208.2 million is far greater than the $81.1 million figure that The Seattle Times quoted last July.

    And it wipes out a continengcy fund to meet unexpected expenses on the reconstruction of the floating bridge connecting Seattle and the Eastside. The $2.72 billion bridge replacement project has a contingency fund of $250 million. But that contingency fund already has $211.6 million charged to it. The change orders to fix the cracks due to pontoon design errors are expected to total another $208.2 million.

    The bottom line: $169.8 million more is needed.

    Peterson said the Highway 520 bridge replacement's budget needs an authorized increase from $2.72 billion to $2.89 billion. She was unsure Wednesday whether the Legislature needs to approve that budget increase in a bill, but speculated that requirement is likely.

    State engineering mistakes have led to cracks showing up in several replacement bridge pontoons. Water will ooze through the cracks and shorten the 75-year design life of the bridge.  The problems have delayed the project by at least a year. The current completion date is April 2016, with demolition of the existing bridge to be finished by late 2016.

    "You inherited a huge mess. ... We want to make sure that when the first car goes over the bridge, it stands there forever," Senate Transportation Committee co-chairwoman Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, told Peterson. Peterson took over the Transportation Department last March.

    Peterson contended no extra taxes or increased tolls will likely be needed to scrape up the extra roughly $170 million. Senate Transportation Committee member Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, worried that the extra money will be transferred from numerous smaller transportation projects around the state -- a scenario that Peterson conceded is probable. Nevertheless, she said, "We will work to minimize the dollars coming from other projects."

    John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.

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    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 5:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    How about instead of using funds from other projects around the state, the state sales taxes collected on the 520 project be taken out of the general fund and sent back to the project to cover the short fall.


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 2:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    How about the sales taxes generated by my projects be taken out and sent back to me? I could go for that.


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 8:41 a.m. Inappropriate

    “We have a plan, and by making these repairs and modifications before the pontoons leave Aberdeen, we can assure that the new SR 520 floating bridge will safely carry traffic for 75 years or more,” said Julie Meredith, WSDOT’s SR 520 program director, in a news release.


    What's Julie up to nowadays?


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 8:44 a.m. Inappropriate

    "If it's everybody's money, it's nobody's money"...


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 10:21 a.m. Inappropriate

    "You inherited a huge mess. ... We want to make sure that when the first car goes over the bridge, it stands there forever," Senate Transportation Committee co-chairwoman Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, told Peterson.

    Will the car be a monument to our failure?

    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 3:38 p.m. Inappropriate

    Good one georgewilson, good one.

    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 10:36 a.m. Inappropriate

    Political payola will also hurt other state projects.



    Posted Fri, Jan 10, 11:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    Whoops! Here comes a little LONG one:

    The prediction made early 2009 has never been addressed, ie, the finished bore tunnel will slowly undermine historic and modern building foundations above its entire length, period.

    In 'modest' earthquake, bring numerous buildings down,
    suddenly with death toll in hundreds/thousands.
    The current seawall-replacement Technique
    (Drill-Fill Sea Fence)
    COMPOUNDS problems 'posed' by ANY Bore tunnel
    in unstable waterfront seattler soil.
    What-me-worry City Council cohortiums
    even still divert attention (in their eyes) to the more precious moneybags concern, *everyone* must discuss at length ad nauseum:
    "How can we afford a bore a tunnel that'll destroy Seattle?"
    "How willit be financed? Who'll pay after destruction?"
    Say "Good bye Underground" and "Good bye Pioneers.
    Condo towers on 1st will NOT survive a Big 9.0.
    Building collapse nearer north portal also likely.

    (uneditted) The FEIS Cut-Cover Tunnel/Seawall is still possible. Direct the bore tunnel to the Seawall/Cut-Cover route and finish at its north portal at Pike. It’s more disruptive, but forms a solid seawall and a long-lasting tunnel that manages traffic better than the bore tunnel which will not survive a major earthquake. Wsdot conservatives have found a final solution for Seattle liberalism. Mass Murder. Oh ho ho, that’s so funny, ha ha, you’re dead. Light up that doobie and let’s play “It’s all good, man,” then die.

    (last words)

    K i l l
    B E R T H A

    (or otherwise put dearest Bertha to pasture, you know, not ask her to do something that was like you know like WRONG? Finish job with 'stacky' the Cut-Cover/Seawall, uuuh, the thing?
    We're sorry like, yaknow? Like whatever, dogs.


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 12:31 p.m. Inappropriate

    Make buses pay the same toll other large vehicles pay to cross the bridge, instead of getting a free ride. That should generate some millions of dollars.


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 2:10 p.m. Inappropriate

    Yeah, I think you need to take a few more math classes...


    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 3:37 p.m. Inappropriate

    Close down the 520 and deep bore tunnel projects until WSDOT can get it's act together and prove they are competent enough to run these mega $$$$$ jobs.

    For every dollar spent correcting WSDOT's own mistakes, that results in ten more dollars taken away from another important project in this state.

    Mistakes are costly, in a multiplier effect. We can't take the risk that WSDOT won't bankrupt this state. It's not impossible.

    Posted Thu, Jan 9, 5:25 p.m. Inappropriate

    As the late Senator Everette Dirkson said, " a few hundred million dollars here and a few hundred million dollars there, pretty soon you're talking about real money." haha, but the State of Washington can't print money. Yet.


    Posted Fri, Jan 10, 5:42 p.m. Inappropriate

    I think this Brewster article about those crazy kids who are guiding our pet mega-projects is destined to become a "Crosscut Classic."


    Looks like it's going to be relevant for another ten years. Could be a book deal in it...or maybe even a movie?


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