We’ll be having more on this later but here are some excerpts from elsewhere.
Bids for the tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct came in at or below estimates, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Friday morning.
Two pre-qualified joint-venture contract teams dropped off their proposed bids by Thursday’s deadline. The exact figures in the bids will remain secret until December.
“I am proud to announce that the two bids to build the deep-bore tunnel are both at or below the price we set in our contract, not one dollar more,” Gregoire said during a news conference at the Port of Seattle offices at Pier 69.
The state estimated the cost of digging the 54-foot diameter tunnel — the largest deep-bore tunnel yet in the world — at about $1.1 billion. But due the risks involved in tunneling through Seattle’s glacial soils and the fact that this will be the largest highway tunnel yet in the world, many fear the project could cost more.
WSDOT already has offered about $210 million in allowances and incentives to the two contracting teams. The money will be shifted from the reserve fund, leaving $205 million.
About $110 million is to cover inflation, which wasn’t included in the original request for proposals. The reason is state officials wanted to wait until contractors had time to work with the design and have another six months to see where the market would go before signing the contract. Part of the reserve fund was intended to cover inflation, anyway.
Another $100 million was to account for higher costs than expected in obtaining insurance and bonding.
State leaders say the reserve still exceeds the 15 percent recommended by expert panels.
It includes $40 million in a pot of money to cover any settlement or damage to buildings caused by tunneling. The contractor is entitled to recover 75 percent of whatever is left over when the project is completed.
In addition, the contract offers cash incentives if the project is completed ahead of schedule — $100,000 for every day up to $25 million. If work finishes ahead of schedule, that most likely means the project avoided costly delays that would tap into reserves, said Ron Paananen, administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement program.
More after the jump.
The latest version of the state’s supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) for the deep-bore tunnel fails to address concerns raised by tunnel opponents about the environmental study’s emphasis on moving cars, the fact that the tunnel would increase greenhouse gas emissions, and the fact that the state projects an increase in congestion downtown once the tunnel is built.
Moreover, while one chapter of the study does consider the impact of tolling, the study itself assumes that the tunnel would not be tolled. (According to the state, tolls are supposed to pay for $400 million of the project’s total cost). With tolls, the study found, downtown Seattle would see as many as 45,000 more cars on city streets every day. Put another way, that means that more than half the people (86,000, according to WSDOT’s estimate) who would use a free tunnel would move onto city streets if the tunnel is tolled—raising the obvious question: Why build a multi-billion-dollar tunnel that only about 40,000 people will use per day?
Gov. Chris Gregoire said Friday she would veto any bill that would charge Seattle taxpayers for cost overruns on the Highway 99 tunnel.
At a news conference in Seattle, Gregoire said a 2009 law passed by the Legislature, which would assign cost overruns to “Seattle property owners who benefit,” was merely a statement of intent, and would require a more specific follow-up bill to have any real effect.
That wasn’t good enough for Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who, at his own afternoon news conference, said, “I don’t believe we can trust the governor to keep … promises to protect us.”
He later said he didn’t trust the Legislature, either. McGinn said he talked with Gregoire earlier this week to ask that she send lawmakers a bill clearing up the overruns questions. He said Gregoire told him to “find another sponsor.”