Bertha Effect: Tunnel Project Delayed Until 2019, Plus $223 Million in Overruns
Mike Lindblom reports: "Tunnel-machine Bertha’s two-year breakdown will further delay the Highway 99 tunnel’s grand opening until 2019 and saddle Washington state with an estimated $223 million in cost overruns, lawmakers were told Thursday."
The expected cost of the project could continue to rise even higher, according to testimony from Roger Millar, acting transportation secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation, depending on the outcome of court battles between the lead contractor on the project, Seattle Tunnel Partners, and the state.
"The extra costs almost certainly would be paid by the state’s drivers in gas taxes, more transportation-fund debt, or by tolls and fees," according to Lindblom. On the subject of tolls, the state's toll division is considering tolls of up to $2.50 in each direction at peak hours for the use of the tunnel when it opens. That cost has also risen substantially since an initial recommendation of $1.25 each direction.