State transportation officials answer questions from lawmakers on Seattle tunnel, SR 520 Bridge

SEATTLE (AP) — The manager for the troubled Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project told lawmakers that even if the contractor building the tunnel were to declare bankruptcy the project could still be completed.

The House Transportation Committee had a first chance Thursday to ask questions on two mega projects - the tunnel and the State Route 520 bridge replacement.

The program chief for the 520 floating bridge was upbeat about the progress they've made. Julie Meredith says they have 74 of 77 pontoons out on Lake Washington. They hope to have portions open in early 2016.

Seattle tunnel project manager Todd Trepanier repeated the department's previous claim that the project is 70 percent complete, even though the tunneling machine remains broken. He said they still can't speculate on a completion date.

One lawmaker asked what happens if the contractor goes bankrupt and leaves. Trepanier said they have a $500 million bond along with $370 million left on the contract. They could use that $870 million to pay a new contractor. Lawmakers did not follow up by asking what the new plan would be.