Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Archive for the 'Viaduct/Seawall Committee' Category

Jul 24 2010

Is the City responsible for Alaskan Way Viaduct Cost Overruns?

Almost every day, we see or hear the debate between Mayor Mike McGinn and others on whether the City should proceed on a bored tunnel solution without clear and unambiguous language that prevents the City of Seattle from being liable for cost overruns on the project.

I share this concern, as do the members on the Seattle City Council.

Below are key sections in the agreements that will be executed between the City of Seattle and the State of Washington. Sections 2.6, 10.1, 10.2, and 2.11, demonstrate clear contractual language that describes our position.

In addition to the contractual protections on this issue, many of us have worked extremely hard in building relationships with our State legislative members such that they understand the position of our City leaders. Seattle has pointed out that under existing law, the State of Washington would be hard pressed to find a legal position or precedent to force a local municipality to pay for the State’s capital overruns on one of its projects.

I would ask that you read these provisions for yourself. I do not believe you need a legal background to understand its meaning nor intent.

As many of you know, I always insist on an honest and transparent discussion of the issues. I’ve done this for every major piece of legislation and I am concerned that members of the public do not have all of the information regarding this issue. While, Mayor McGinn has repeatedly raised the issue of cost overruns, I want all of you to know that we still have a City to run efficiently, effectively and creatively — and every week, we are addressing that issue.

Excerpts from the Memorandum of Agreement, Sections 2.6, 10.1, 10.2, and 2.11, follow:

WHEREAS, the PARTIES are entering into this Agreement on the assumption that the PROGRAM can and will be completed at or below the current WSDOT PROGRAM budget;

2.6 Each PARTY shall provide the funding and resources necessary to fulfill the responsibility of that PARTY as established in this Agreement.

10.1 The STATE shall provide necessary funding for all PROJECT costs as referenced in this Agreement without reimbursement from the City of Seattle, except for the CITY cost responsibilities established in this Agreement, in SCL Agreement UT01476, and in SPU Agreement UT 01474.

10.2 By entering into this Agreement, the CITY is not [emphasis added] waiving its position that the CITY and/or its citizens and property owners cannot be held responsible for any or all cost overruns related to the portions of the PROJECT for which the STATE is responsible.

2.11 The PARTIES agree that the PROGRAM will not be complete until the elements in Exhibit D are completed. The PARTIES agree that the current WSDOT budget allocated for certain elements of the PROGRAM is reflected in Exhibit D. Future mutual agreement of the PARTIES shall be required in order to reduce the total budget allocation for the elements in Exhibit D.

* Council’s Seattle Department of Transportation Agreement + Attachments

* Council’s Seattle City Light Agreement + Attachments

* Council’s Seattle Public Utilities Agreement + Attachments

Bored Tunnel


Photo credit: flickr/slightlynorth, Creative Commons license.

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