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Wed January 19, 2011
Wednesday morning's headlines
Making headlines this morning:
- Seattle Tunnel Project Hits Federal Snag
- Audit Singes State Over Highway 18 Costs
- 787 Delivery Plans Face More Questions
- State's Newest Congresswoman Takes on Health Care Reform
Feds Want Answers on Seattle Tunnel
Seattle's waterfront tunnel has hit a snag, at least temporarily. The government wants questions answered about how its historic downtown Federal Building will be protected during construction, given the deep-bore roadway is to pass directly underneath. Publicola's Erica Barnett reports:
The US General Services Administration (GSA) has written a series of letters to the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) asking how the state plans to deal with major issues related to the tunnel, including the possibility of soil settling under the building, the threat tunnel boring might pose to the ancient timber pilings that support the building, and security questions.
WSDOT project manager Ron Paananen told Publicola, “I think we can resolve this through a good discussion of the technical issues” in time for construction in 2014, Paananen said. “We want to resolve these questions as soon as possible.”
Costly Mistakes Plagued Highway 18 Project
A state audit finds "a gross waste of public funds" by the state Transportation Department in its road widening project along Highway 18. The News Tribune's Katie Schmidt reports the audit grew out of a whisteblower complaint:
The project, which was completed in 2007, suffered from design mistakes, payroll mix-ups and environmental violations, leading to $42.5 million in cost overruns and pledges on the part of Transportation Department officials to improve its project management. “This was a case where we fully recognized that we had problems with the project,” said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond of the auditor’s investigation into the project. “This wasn’t new news for us.”
Schmidt reports the reaction from the state Senate transportation committee chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen: "I was pretty appalled."
Revised 787 Delivery Spurs More Questions
Boeing announced it won't be able to make first delivery of its 787 Dreamliner until July. The Federal Aviation Administration must first sign off on that plan, and The Seattle Times' aerospace reporter Dominic Gates writes that could mean more delays:
According to two people close to the discussions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to agree on the steps Boeing must take during the flight-test program to certify the jet to fly long transocean and transpolar routes. This sets up tension between a plane maker that believes it has fixes for engine and electrical-system problems and a regulator that demands proof the fixes are safe and reliable.
Gates reports the 787 is well beyond three years delayed from original delivery goals.
Herrera Beutler's First Speech to Congress: Repeal Health Care Reform:
Washington's newest member of Congress made her floor speech debut Tuesday, rising to speak against the health care reform bill. The Daily News of Longview's Tony Lystra reports:
"Getting health care right is one of the reasons the people of Southwest Washington sent me to Congress," Herrera Beutler said in Tuesday's House floor speech, which lasted a few minutes. She recommended Republicans replace the Obama administration's bill with another that includes small business health plans, lawsuit reform, expanded use of health savings accounts, and the ability to purchase insurance across state lines.
Lystra writes the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee challenged Herrera Beutler's stand as siding with "big health insurance companies that have profited off discrimination and denying health care or stand with middle class families."