Seattle's News Elixir

Washington State Department of Transportation director Paula Hammond responded yesterday to two separate letters Seattle Department of Transportation director Peter Hahn sent Hammond this month. In the first letter, Hahn asked Hammond to clarify what the state means when it says the city is a "co-lead" (equal partner) on the deep-bore tunnel project and threatened not to sign a final environmental impact statement for the project unless the state proves it has studied "all reasonable alternatives" for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Hahn also said that only he and the mayor could sign the document. (The FEIS is the final version of the document city council president Richard Conlin signed in September after Mayor Mike McGinn declined to sign it).

In the second letter, which he characterized as the city's formal comments on the EIS, Hahn raised concerns about the contents of the most recent version of the document.

In her response, Hammond noted the history SDOT and WSDOT have of working together over the last nine years and says she sees no reason to redefine the state and city's respective roles. And she said the state has no authority to say who is "required" to sign the FEIS for the city.
In your December 2 letter, it appears that you are asking us to define who the designated city official is for the City of Seattle. However, it is the City's responsibility to determine who within its own government will sign such documents. Neither WSDOT nor the [Federal Highway Administration] dictates to another government or agency who will sign for them; that would be far outside our agency's jurisdiction.

Hammond also told Hahn she believes it's inappropriate for the city to submit formal comments raising objections to aspects of the EIS, since the city is a partner on the project. "As a co-lead agency, you have been providing your comments, and WSDOT has adjusted the documents accordingly throughout the preparation of the environmental documents."
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