The Voice for Industry
|April 16, 2008|
||$431 Million & Counting – Changes for
Inflation and the failure last fall of the regional Proposition 1 funding measure have blown a half billion dollar hole in the city's transportation construction budget, imperiling projects closely connected to future plans for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and State Route 99.
Those are among the pieces of a huge financial puzzle that the Seattle City Council is attempting to solve over the next few weeks, with a final decision scheduled for mid-May.
The issues impact three major projects: widening the Spoken Street Viaduct in the Duwamish, construction of the Lander Street Overpass in SODO and developing a two-way system for Mercer Street in South Lake Union.
The projects now require at least $431 million in new funding just to get started, according to the city transportation department, and more money would be needed to finish them. To put that figure into context, the city's entire transportation construction budget for the next seven years is about $1 billion.
All three projects have been touted as potential alternative routes for traffic displaced by disruptions to SR 99 during construction related to the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The existing plan for Mercer would not help much, if at all, but city transportation director Grace Crunican told the City Council's Transportation Committee on Tuesday that the state may now support an expansion of the Mercer project to create a link between Interstate 5 and Elliott Avenue, an improvement that could support freight service to and from Ballard and Interbay.
To address the growing cash shortfall, the Mayor is proposing that the city shelve the Lander project to free up cash for the other two projects. That money would come from funds raised through the city's $365 million Bridging the Gap street maintenance and construction levy approved by voters in 2006. The Mayor is proposing to provide additional money for the projects from some of the bonding capacity created through the BTG levy.
Members of the council transportation committee expressed concern Tuesday about how much more money is needed for the projects and the use of maintenance resources to pay for construction. One reason for the 2006 levy was the City's past failure to budget adequately for street maintenance.
The Council hopes to vote on the final funding plan May 12.
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