This editorial will appear in tomorrow print edition.
Bank on it: Seattle politicians will shortly be pushing to cancel the state’s cost-overrun insurance on a tunnel project that may well overrun its $4.2 billion price tag. One state lawmaker outside the 206 area code – Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup – is ready for them.
Transportation money is scarce, and every extra penny of state funding sucked into the replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct will be siphoned from another important highway project elsewhere in the state. That’s why lawmakers insisted on overrun protection when Seattle-area politicians and Gov. Chris Gregoire picked the Cadillac replacement option – a deep-bore tunnel under downtown Seattle instead of a much less expensive new elevated viaduct.
The deal, crafted in the Legislature last spring, promised $2.8 billion in state funding for the tunnel project. But that was a ceiling, not a floor. Any unanticipated expenses were to come out of the pockets of the Seattle property owners who would benefit from the project.
And countless property owners stand to benefit quite handsomely from the tunnel. By opening up the city’s waterfront, it promises to greatly enhance downtown real estate values. It’s hardly unreasonable for the beneficiaries to pledge some of the windfall against any unexpected costs. Pocket the gain, share the risk.
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