Senate transportation chair supports moving forward with Seattle tunnel

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, today made this statement regarding legislation that would effectively abandon the Seattle tunnel project: 

“While I understand my colleagues’ concerns regarding the Seattle tunnel project, a bill to shut down a project of this size is not realistic. Those of us in transportation leadership in the Legislature have been kept in the loop and received regular updates from the Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle Tunnel Partners regarding their strategy for getting ‘Bertha’ moving. We haven’t always liked what we heard, but we have been well-informed. 

“Tunnel workers are six feet from having the access pit completed. The parts to repair the boring head are in STP’s possession and ready to go. There is a plan in place and we need to give STP and DOT the opportunity to complete their plan.  

“I still believe at this point that it is in the best interests of the residents of Seattle and this state to move forward with this project. While it is important to maintain control over the costs, we are not at a point where burying Bertha and walking away pencils out. Plus, can you imagine the environmental implications that would have? 

“The bill to end the tunnel project has been referred to my committee, and it will not receive a hearing or move forward. 

“I think most people know that this is a ‘mega project.’ You cannot bore a hole of that magnitude under a major city and believe that there will not be challenges. There have been times when I too have been frustrated, but that doesn’t mean we can just walk away from contracts and agreements without serious financial consequences.”