By Paula Wissel, October 9, 2013
What if Seattle gets stuck with cost overruns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project?
question sparked a lively exchange on KING-TV between the two
candidates for mayor of Seattle during their first televised debate.
the hour long debate sponsored by KING-TV, KIRO-FM and The Seattle
Times, Mayor Mike McGinn and Sen. Ed Murray traded jabs on everything
from leadership style to police reform.
But their discussion of the tunnel project raised one of the most interesting questions.
we have to pay more in taxes if Bertha runs into additional delays?
Bertha, of course, is the machine digging the massive tunnel that will
replace the viaduct.
The discussion began when Murray charged, as
he did throughout the debate, that McGinn has been a divisive leader.
Case in point, he said, was McGinn’s assertion during the last election
that he supported a tunnel replacement for the viaduct, then opposed it
once he got into office.
McGinn replied that he wasn’t opposed to
the viaduct, just to the city being saddled with any cost overruns. Now
that the project is underway and there have been slow downs with
Bertha, McGinn says it remains a valid concern.
“I raised an
important question, a question that remains unanswered as to who will
pay cost overruns and Senator Murray’s position is that it’s all right
for everyone to be angry at me for asking a question like that. Let’s
say there was a 10 percent cost overrun on that. That’s $200 million.
That’s a lot of money in our city budget to come up with,” McGinn said.
McGinn reminded the audience, Murray voted for the
in the Legislature that included the requirement that Seattle pay the
cost overruns. Murray said although he didn’t like the provision at the
time, he thought it important to vote for the overall transportation
“There are no perfect bills,” he said.
Murray was then asked what he would do if he became mayor and there were cost overruns.
believe I have the relationship with Olympia, as mayor, to go down
there and remind Olympia this is a state highway and they have a
responsibility. The taxpayers of Seattle should not pay for it and I
would not support a tax in Seattle to pay for it,” Murray said, to
which McGinn quipped, “I’d like Senator Murray to stay in Olympia and
use his influence to make that happen.”