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Tunnel bid victor vows early finish

SEATTLE – The team with the apparent winning bid to build a tunnel to replace part of the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct promises to have it done nearly a year before the state requires.

The state Department of Transportation opened bids Thursday from the two teams seeking to build the 1.7-mile tunnel for Highway 99 along Seattle’s waterfront.

Both were just under the state’s $1.09 billion price limit. The winner, Seattle Tunnel Partners, bid slightly higher than rival Seattle Tunneling Group but was chosen in part because it proposes to open the tunnel by the end of 2015 and make it 58 feet in diameter, about 2 feet more than the state had expected.

“They beat our schedule by almost an entire calendar year,” Ron Paananen, administrator for the state DOT tunnel project, told the Seattle Times.

With design, land acquisition and other costs, the full tunnel budget is $2 billion. The entire viaduct replacement is pegged at $3.1 billion. Work on the tunnel is to start next year.

Seattle Tunnel Partners is a joint venture of New York-based Dragados USA, a wholly owned subsidiary of Dragados S.A., the construction division of ACS Group of Spain; and Tutor Perini Corp., based in Sylmar, Calif.

Seattle Tunneling Group is made up of S.A. Healy Co., of Lombard, Ill.; FCC Construccion S.A., of Spain; Parsons Transportation Group, which has a Seattle office; and New York-based Halcrow Inc.