Why the Cost-Overruns Crowd Has No Credibility

Why the Cost-Overruns Crowd Has No Credibility

Their concern for taxpayers only extends to projects they don’t like.

Watching Mayor McGinn and his anti-tunnel partisans laboriously stoke fears of “cost overruns” is like watching racist Tea Partiers complain about budget deficits and socialism. It’s kinda obvious what their real issue is, but they’ve fastened on some other concerns that they think can get more traction.

Seattleites do not want to reopen the tunnel debate. Even McGinn knows that, which is why he did the infamous last-minute flip-flop that made his election possible. So the problem: how to sow opposition to the tunnel while not owning up to your real intentions? I know—socialism! I mean, overruns!

What makes the overrun-mongers, such as the Sierra Club, so hard to take seriously is that they’re generally the same crowd who’ve been most enthusiastic about Sound Transit’s light rail—which is pretty much the cost-overrun project par excellence in recent history. (In brief, a Phase I project that was supposed to cost $5 billion over 10 years has ended up costing three times that over 25.)

And those light-rail overruns were hardly driven by tunneling problems alone. Even surface construction along Martin Luther King Way was a sinkhole of delays, redos, and busted budgets. Under Sound Transit’s “sub-area equity” policies, Seattle taxpayers have footed the bill for all those Seattle overruns.

But no one among the anti-tunnel crowd raised any protest. Nor did their overrun anxiety manifest itself back in 2008, when Sound Transit proposed to expand northward from Husky Stadium to the Roosevelt neighborhood with a pair of two-mile-long bored tunnels. (Voters approved the plan.)

It’s clear that what the Sierra Club, McGinn, and all the rest of the overrun crew really mean is this: We need to be very concerned about the possibility of overruns whenever it’s a project we don’t like.




Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

File photo
Snow Lake, located near Snoqualmie Pass in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
Washington releases new forest plan

It outlines ways the state will protect and maintain forest health.

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Chris Fagan trekking across Antarctica in 2014. Contributed by Chris Fagan
South Pole or Bust

The story of a North Bend couple who trekked across Antarctica.

King County Council has nine members who each represent a district. Courtesy of kingcounty.gov
King County Council passes $12.59 billion biennial budget

King County Council on Nov. 17 passed a $12.59 billion biennial budget… Continue reading

State Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) authored the letter to Gov. Jay Inslee. Mullet represents the 5th Legislative District. File photo
Democratic lawmakers ask Inslee to lift ban on indoor dining

They want to try to scaling back on occupancy before forcing an end to inside service.

Tim Eyman get in some last minute campaigning for I-976 in downtown Bellevue on the afternoon of Nov. 5, 2019. File photo
Eyman fights allegation he repeatedly broke campaign laws

In a lawsuit, the state accuses the prolific initiative promoter of getting kickbacks.

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant. File photo
State halts indoor service at bars, restaurants, home guests

Amid soaring new coronavirus cases and an overburdened health care system, the state’s clamping down.

Screenshot from Gov. Jay Inslee’s news conference Nov. 12 with his wife, Trudi.
Inslee to hold news conference to announce new restrictions

Among them, reportedly, will be a ban on indoor service at restaurants and retail limitations.

Jay Inslee (D), left, and Loren Culp (R). File photo
Gov. Inslee surges to big lead as he nears rare third term

Statewide office roundup: Schools chief Reykdal in close contest; Secretary of State Wyman fends off challenge.

Screenshot
Sex education bill Referendum 90 is passing

It will decide whether Senate Bill 5395 will be enacted into law.

Exterior building and signage view from 9th Avenue of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA.
Voters approve $1.74 billion bond for Harborview Medical Center

King County voters are saying yes to upgrades at Harborview Medical Center.… Continue reading