Friday, September 22, 2006

The Big Dig II, The Big Dig Goes to Washington

It appears that Seattle's Mayor Nickels is going to get his tunnel project at any cost. A recent report released by the state indicates that both the replacement viaduct and tunnel options are going to cost considerably more than initially thought. Anyone who follows governmental Big Projects knows that cost estimates are almost always short, often laughably so. What strikes me about this article (linked above) is not how the costs play out, but how Mayor Nickels and the city of Seattle plan to force a tunnel project down our throats by simply manufacturing administrative costs where none exist:

Seattle believes it has control over street-use and other permits needed for construction. By obstructing an elevated project, the city thinks it can drive up the cost [for viaduct replacement] another $1.6 billion, to nearly $5 billion, according to a chart issued this morning by Seattle Department of Transportation director Grace Crunican. That would put the elevated structure close to the cost of a tunnel.

One of the major controversies over the replacement project or The Big Dig II, The Big Dig Goes to Washington (A.K.A. the 'tunnel option') is that replacing the elevated roadway is much a much cheaper option. It's also less likely to go into major cost overruns. There are also a number of people that feel that the elevated roadway that exists now is one of the most spectacular urban drives in the country.

The use of permits to drive up costs seems to be the kind of thing that years ago would have gone unreported, and unsaid. Now, it's right out there on the table. This, to me seems to be an almost criminal use of governmental power to force a more expensive project down the throats of the taxpayers. To falsely cause the replacement costs by controlling red tape is something that warrants a criminal investigation.


Anonymous said...

As a federal taxpayer, and nonresident of seattle, I like the surface street option

Paul said...

Excellent point, sir. Because if we get the tunnel option, I will be coming back to ask you "Cash or charge?"