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McGinn could veto tunnel agreement if overrun issue unresolved
Posted by Emily Heffter
Mayor Mike McGinn has long been saying the state's project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel shouldn't go forward with the city bearing responsibility for cost overruns.
On Wednesday, he said an upcoming agreement with the state is the city's last chance to stop the project. If the council goes along with it, McGinn said he'll issue a veto.
The agreement covers a host of issues the city and state have to resolve for the state to move ahead with getting bidders.
"The execution of the contract between the city and the state is the time when we at the city level get to say whether we believe we should proceed with the project with the risk of cost overruns or not," he said in a news conference Wednesday. "Every subsequent decision is made by another government agency."
City Council President Richard Conlin said he is confident he would have the votes on the council to override any veto.
McGinn said during his campaign in October that he wanted an explicit agreement about who would be responsible for cost overruns on the state highway project. When state legislators agreed to build the tunnel, they added a provision that says area property-owners are responsible for cost overruns.
The City Council says that provision is not enforceable. McGinn says the city shouldn't move ahead without clarity.
Now McGinn has drawn a line -- he will try to stop the project from moving forward if the council doesn't address the issue. He likened his position to someone within Washington Mutual questioning sub-prime lending before the institution collapsed.
City Council Transportation Chairman Tom Rasmussen said the council is hiring lawyers and experts to advise how to make sure Seattle taxpayers aren't at risk for all the cost overruns. He said McGinn is vowing to veto a contract that hasn't even been agreed upon yet.
"I think the mayor saying now that he's going to veto it before we've even completed our work affects the atmosphere of the negotations in a negative way," Rasmussen said.
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