New report: Tunnel could be late, but still meet budget

The Seattle TimesFebruary 27, 2014 

Crew members adjust the State Route 99 tunneling machine’s segment feeder, which moves into place the curved concrete segments that form the tunnel walls, in September 2013.

WSDOT

The Highway 99 tunnel project can still be done on budget, even if the work is finished months late, according to a report this morning by the governor’s expert-review panel, which evaluates financial risks.

“Current challenges notwithstanding, the ERP finds that, based on information available to us, the Project is likely to be completed, within the existing budget, and on a schedule that is somewhat delayed,” says the 43-page document, which predicts completion in the first half of 2016.

Judy Clibborn, chairwoman of the House Transportation Committee, said she’s heartened by that prediction, and will strive to prevent “scope creep” — that is, the adding of features or sub-projects that would drain some of the $2 billion tunnel fund. For instance, Clibborn said she will resist any attempts to spend tunnel funds to continue supplemental Metro Transit buses on the Alaskan Way Viaduct, even though Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson directed her staff to find perhaps $20 million to keep the popular service going after the current $32 million in bus aid expires this summer.

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