Director of 99 tunnel project irked at state shifting blame

The Seattle TimesJanuary 16, 2014 

Seattle Tunnel Partners project director Chris Dixon expressed surprise Thursday that after a longtime good-working relationship, the state now blames its contractors for difficulties with the Highway 99 tunnel project.

Criticisms by Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson “have the potential of seriously damaging this relationship and adversely affect WSDOT’s and STP’s ability to move forward together to deliver this project,” said Dixon in a letter to her and shared with state lawmakers.

The rancor comes in an early stage of the drilling work. More commonly, public-works fights come toward a project’s end, when governments and builders joust over claims for extra payment, based on unforeseen changes.

The 57-foot-diameter tunnel drill has been stalled for six weeks, after completing about 1,000 feet of its 1.7-mile trip from Sodo to South Lake Union.

Peterson — who issued a pair of harsh messages about STP’s performance this week — nonetheless told senators Thursday she is confident the tunnel construction will ultimately succeed.


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