McKenna on KIRO: Bertha emerges, but what about cost overruns?

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about who will be on the hook for the Bertha tunnel boring machine’s cost overruns. Bertha completed its long journey this week, starting a new phase in the viaduct replacement project.

Rob McKenna: “Keeping in mind, this is the biggest earth-pressure balance machine – or closed-face boring machine – that had ever been built. I don’t know about you, Dave, but when I go to the hardware store or the mobile phone store, I never buy the first edition of a brand-new product.”

Dave Ross: “That’s what I do with software. I wait until somebody else has had their computer crash, and then I get the revised version.”

Rob McKenna: “I’m with you all the way on that. And yet the contractors said they could do this. They said, ‘Look, we can build this, it can be this big. It can be the biggest one ever, it will work.’ It was a very rich contract, lots of contingencies and reserves built in, and they messed it up.

“And one of the partners in that joint venture is a Spanish company that’s notoriously – notoriously – litigious. And sure enough, they started fighting with their joint venture partners right away, and with the state right away.”

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