Yakima senator: DOT consultant has conflict of interest

Yakima senator: DOT consultant has conflict of interest
Work continues behind schedule on the new 520 Bridge.

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A key Republican lawmaker says a consultant hired by the state's Department of Transportation to review three large transportation projects has a conflict of interest.

Sen. Curtis King of Yakima is co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee. He said Friday that the choice of Ron Paananen to lead a review of the Alaskan Way Viaduct project, the State Route 520 Bridge replacement and the Columbia River Crossing project should be reconsidered.

King notes that Paananen worked on two of the projects as a Department of Transportation administrator and says that his consultancy is receiving $2.4 million for work on the Columbia River Crossing.

Jaime Smith, spokeswoman for Gov. Jay Inslee, says that Paananen is tasked with reviewing the department's "internal processes" and not with looking at the projects themselves.