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Council News Release

10/19/2009  12:00:00 AM
Councilmember Nick Licata, 206-684-8803 Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Nick Licata

Statement by Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata on the Bored Tunnel Agreement

I crafted three amendments to the bored tunnel agreement between the city and state passed by the City Council today. The amendments would 1) clearly state that this agreement does not commit the city or Seattle-area property owners to covering cost overruns, 2) that the city would need to secure funds before beginning implementation, and 3) would seek funding for its projects.

I sent these amendments to Gov. Gregoire and she does not support them. So, in the spirit of wanting to work with the state and not fight with it on the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Seawall, I will not be bringing them forward.

Lets also be clear what this legislation does. Our Law Department says it commits the city to only 3 things:

  1. To continue to work together to complete the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program;
  2. To endeavor to open the bored tunnel by the end of 2015;
  3. To develop additional agreements, deal with issues such as right-of-way use and utility relocation. Unlike this agreement, those will certainly be legally enforceable.

This agreement is policy statement, not a contract. I do not agree with certain elements of it, such as the intent to spend $150 million on the Mercer Project. But what is most important to me is providing a clear record that the city is not consenting to the provision of state law requiring Seattle-area property owners to pay for cost overruns. Since I am not introducing that amendment, I will state for the legislative record: I do not believe that in passing this agreement, the city of Seattle is agreeing to pay any cost overruns on the deep bore tunnel.

Future agreements will be when the real, substantive decisions will be made. I will support future agreements if they conform to the Federal Office of Management and Budget standards for best practices as previously identified by our City Auditor. Unlike this agreement, future agreements must include a reliability risk analysis of funding sources, and the development of contingency plans in the event funding sources do not materialize.

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