- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - A state lawmaker says he wants to block more state money from going to keep transit buses moving through the construction zone for the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel replacement.

The $3.1 billion project has been plagued by delays since the Bertha, the tunnel boring machine, broke down in late 2013.

Rep. Ed Orcutt, a Republican from Kalama, says $17 million in transit aid earmarked to help Seattle during the tunnel construction should be killed. Orcutt says the city or the tunnel contractor should foot the bill.

“The project is taking longer than it should have. Should that cost be borne on the state taxpayers’ dime?” he said. “Or should it be borne by the city of Seattle or by the contractors?”

If the money is cut off, service could be at risk for 150 bus runs a day through the western side of Seattle.

Since 2010, state aid has enabled King County Metro Transit to add 150 runs per weekday in the area. Authorities say the state has so far forwarded $36.5 million toward extra Seattle buses.

“We promised we would do transit mitigation, as long as the project was under way,” said House Transportation Committee Chairwoman Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.

State Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson extended funding last year when it would have run out, but Metro says the money lasts only until July 1 of this year. Clibborn says she supports an additional $17 million, which would last through mid-2017.

“It’s something I felt we have committed to, so I didn’t feel it was a cost overrun,” Clibborn said.

Information from The Seattle Times: www.seattletimes.com

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