Seattle City Council Member Tom Rasmussen, chair of the council's Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall Replacement Project committee, will advise city council members not to create a tunnel oversight committee after 11 progressive organizations called on city hall to protect the city's interests from the deep-bore tunnel project proposed to replace the Viaduct.

In a letter sent to council members last month, co-signers called for an expert review panel to monitor the design of portal neighborhoods around the tunnel, the structural integrity of buildings near the deep bore site, transit and transportation alternatives for a tunnel that will have no downtown on ramps or exits, and the likely reality of cost overruns, including what they mean for Seattle taxpayers.

But Rasmussen says, "I think we’re very well covered as far as all those elements of the project. I don't think we need to create another committee."

This is surprising considering the positive response the organizations have been receiving from individual council members. "They've been very enthusiastic and receptive," Cary Moon, director of the People's Waterfront Coalition and letter-cosigner, said in an interview last week. "Everyone seems to agree that expert oversight is never a bad thing—especially on a project of this magnitude."

However, Rasmussen argues that the city already has the "suspenders and belts in place" to get the job done. He's says that regular updates from the Seattle Design Commission, which is working closely with the Washington Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation, indicate that the project is going well. The SDC is a group of 10 commissioners that advise the mayor and city council on the design of major capital improvements in the city, including the proposed tunnel project.

Rasmussen adds that 12 attorneys, called the 12 Apostles, are advising the mayor and city council on tunnel issues, and that he's positioned to protect Seattle's interests from tunnel pitfalls. He says the state's failure to secure funds for increased transit during and after the tunnel's development (a promise made to court former King County Executive Director Ron Sim's approval for the project) was raised two weeks ago with Governor Christine Gregoire.

"Bottom line—I'm on top of it," says Rasmussen.

He adds that as the project progresses, "if we're not covered, if things start to go south, we'll hire expert consultants," Rasmussen says. "I will not hesitate."

The question is, once things go south, won't it be too late?