SEATTLE — The state of Washington could pay as much as $475,000 for an outside study of three Transportation Department megaprojects — the Highway 520 floating bridge on Lake Washington, the Highway 99 tunnel under downtown Seattle, and an Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River.
The department hired consultant Ron Paananen in March after learning it would have to spend tens of millions of dollars to fix and redesign floating bridge pontoons because of cracking in the first batch produced at Grays Harbor, The Seattle Times reported on Monday.
Paananen is a former Transportation Department project manager on the floating bridge and tunnel projects who now works for the engineering firm CH2M Hill.
Because of his past association with the department, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson also hired the former director of the Utah Transportation Department, John Njord, of Tom Warne & Associates, for an outsider’s view.
A work order released to The Seattle Times through a public records request shows that Paananen will be paid up to $325,000 and Njord up to $150,000.
Some of the money will pay for a technical writer and clerical help, Paananen said. The study will analyze the department’s strategy for megaprojects, looking at how decisions are made and documented.
The management review is worth the cost, said department spokesman Lars Erickson.
“When you’re taking a look a three projects that take you close to a $10 billion-plus range, $500,000 to make sure your processes are in order, to do the right things, is a pretty smart investment."