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May 18, 2010 at 2:47 PM

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Council President Conlin says tunnel opponents are exaggerating to kill project

Posted by Emily Heffter

Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin seeks to counter Mayor Mike McGinn's argument about tunnel cost overruns in a blog post Tuesday afternoon.

In uncharacteristically strong language, Conlin writes that a delay would carry the most risk for cost overruns. "The claim that Seattle is 'on the hook' for AWV replacement project cost overruns is an exaggeration and serves solely to instill fear and doubt."

He continues with a direct mention of the mayor: "It's time for Seattle's Mayor and those opposed to the regionally approved replacement alternative to face facts; the primary cause of potential cost overruns is intentional delay. Delaying the project only increases the danger of a catastrophe and hurts the economy and Seattle taxpayers."

He goes on to say that the tunnel-drilling portion of the project is the most likely to incur overruns -- and the state has set aside a contigency fund of more than twice the expected cost of the tunnel-drilling.

"The Council does not take the possibility of cost increases lightly," he writes. "We have done our due diligence and believe strongly, that the risk of overruns has been distorted and overblown in order to kill the project."

Conlin was out of town Monday when Councilmember Mike O'Brien asked some questions about cost overruns at a special committee meeting.

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