Gov. Chris Gregoire says two bids for construction of a waterfront tunnel meet the state's price expectations, and she forcefully rejected suggestions that the city of Seattle might get stuck with any cost overruns.
Flanked by a host of officials (but not Mayor Mike McGinn or his transportation department leaders), the governor today (Oct. 29) said both bids show the firms can meet or beat the state's budget for their work. She labeled as a "red herring" the argument from McGinn and other tunnel critics that the city might have to pay for any overruns.
The governor said she would sign any bill spelling out the state's full responsibility for the costs on its project and would veto any measure trying to make Seattle pay. She said no communities have been stuck with the responsibility.
McGinn has pointed to the intent language in earlier state legislation calling for city property owners who benefit from the project to pick up unexpected costs.
King County Executive Dow Constantine said transit service will be increased so that, after the tunnel, close to 40 percent of all people coming downtown will ride buses.
The Seattle City Council strongly supports the tunnel project; Council President Richard Conlin and council transportation committee Chair Tom Rasmussen were there. Rasmussen issued a statement saying, "Receiving two competitive bids for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project is a significant milestone for the city and the region. This announcement today moves this critical public safety and transportation project forward and signifies future local jobs and economic advancement. As the proposals are evaluated and the draft environmental impact statement receives public comment, we look forward to continuing our work with the State, King County, Port of Seattle, community leaders, and stakeholders."
One initiative to block the tunnel is already circulating, and The Seattle Times has reported that a second one is expected within weeks. At least three tunnel protesters, including anti-tunnel Initiative 101 organizer Elizabeth Campbell, attended the announcement.