Thing is, massive construction projects tend to - customarily do run over estimated costs. That's the way it usually goes. Small projects often, too, but this one - the Alaskan Way Viaduct reconstruction in Seattle - is enormous, and the size of possible overruns is a very big deal.
Most specifically, for whoever has to pay.
There's some uncertainty about that right now, and some people in Seattle, including Mayor Mike McGinn, are concerned about it. But that's not the only worrisome point. Something has to be done about the Alaskan Way, and soon, and negotiations over it among the involved parties, which include a variety of governments, took years and nearly came undone last year. The people who went through all that, including many of the city council members, are loathe to want to start all over again.
So on one side, the city council which today had this in a release: "Seattle City Councilmembers today announced the completion of negotiated Alaskan Way Viaduct agreements and their intent to authorize these agreements among Seattle City Light, Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities and the Washington State Department of Transportation. After months of negotiations, the City Council has reached agreement with the State and introduced Resolution 31235. This resolution implements Ordinance 123133 and details the Council's intent to authorize the agreements once the State awards a contract consistent with the program's scope and budget and subject to environmental review."
On the other, McGinn, who has been pushing for a public signoff before the commitment is made: "It appears that Council is doing everything possible to prevent a public vote. Yet they still have not dealt with the underlying issue - who will pay for overruns given the $2.4 billion cap in state law. Until the state law is changed, Seattle remains at risk of paying cost overruns."
Things have been a little tense in Seattle since McGinn's investiture. They're about to go to a whole new level, on the biggest issue the city now has to deal with. The real politics is about to crank up.