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Daily Troll: Amazon tours. More tunnel woes ahead? Hanford whistleblower backs off

Northwest news, rounded up.

Feds warn region of  transportation shortfall

The feds just mailed us a reality check about the sorry state of our transportation spending. In an April 23 letter, the U.S. Department of Transportation told the Puget Sound area that Washington State doesn’t have the money to pay for the region’s much-needed transportation projects. King5.com says the letter was addressed to the Puget Sound Regional Council, the group charged with crafting long-range transportation plans. The Council expects another three million Puget Sound residents by 2044, and is planning a requisite expansion of our (Metro) bus and (Sound Transit) light rail service. But absent a miracle (like Olympia passing a full-funded transportation budget, which hasn’t happened in almost 10 years) hopes for such an expansion will evaporate in August along with federal highway funds. "The lack of the willingness to compromise [in Olympia] is killing us everywhere,” said Congressman Jim McDermott, D-WA. Amen, brother. —  M.B.

4:30 p.m.

Hanford whistleblower backs off

A Hanford whistleblower, who claims she was fired in retaliation for pushing safety concerns at the nuclear waste storage facility, is backing off on legal action, according to the Tri-City Herald. Former subcontractor supervisor Donna Busche has filed a request to temporarily drop her federal lawsuit against URS Energy & Construction. The veteran Hanford safety official has claimed that Bechtel and URS fired her after she pushed safety concerns in the design and construction of the troubled glassiification plant that would treat 56 million gallons of nuclear waste. Crosscut covered her case in 2012. — J.S.

12:07 p.m.

Seattle Tunnel Partners ease on the gloves

Ron Tutor is the CEO of tunnel contractor Tutor Perini. He's also not afraid of a fight, as he told the Seattle Times in an interview for an article they published Sunday. And when it comes to paying for the $125 million in cost overruns that the tunnel delay will estimatedly cause, he's prepared to start one in court to get out of having to foot the bill. 

As Times reporter Mike Baker wrote, "Tutor’s tactics in the industry have left him with a reputation as someone who aggressively uses the legal system to deflect liabilities onto others and to seek extra payments for work on large projects." Have fun with that one, WSDOT. — B.A.

Amazon opening up?

In a surprise move, the mammoth Seattle online retailer — and glutton for privacy — announced over the weekend that it would begin offering public tours of its massive fulfillment centers. According to a Geekwire article, Amazon will be opening up six fulfillment centers for tours twice a month.

Don't start salivating just yet, efficiency addicts. Despite the fact that the company is opening its fourth Washington fulfillment center in Kent, Wash., tours will only be available in California, Virginia, Tennessee, Delaware, Arizona and Indiana. Not in Washington. And certainly not in Wales, where a BBC report found “increased risk of mental illness and physical illness” at a facility last year. Still, any transparency is good news. Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. — B.A. 

Berit Anderson is Managing Editor at Crosscut, where she follows tech, culture, environment, media and politics. Previously community manager of the Tribune Company’s Seattle blogging network, her work has also appeared in YES! Magazine and on the Huffington Post, Geekwire, Q13Fox.com and KBCS 91.3 radio. She served as Communications Director at Strategic News Service, a weekly newsletter that predicts global trends in tech and economics, and Future in Review, an annual tech conference which gathers C-level executives to solve global problems. You can find her on Twitter @Berit_Anderson or reach her at berit.anderson@crosscut.com.


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