Surprise! $930 million “Move Seattle” transportation levy is not meeting stated goals

by DCG

government solve all problems

Guess how much it costs (per mile) to build a bike lane in Seattle…

Take. A. Wild. Guess.

And then imagine a private construction firm trying to justify their inability to magnificently under estimate projected costs.

From Seattle TimesMove Seattle, the $930 million transportation levy approved by Seattle voters in 2015, is falling behind on a number of its promised street and sidewalk improvements, and funding shortfalls will likely force some projects to be downsized or abandoned, according to a new review by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

SDOT, which is tasked with completing the levy’s projects, blamed higher costs from the booming local-construction market as well as new priorities since the levy was passed and uncertain federal funding.

The agency also undersold the costs of the projects it was promising during the push for public approval in 2015, SDOT officials said.

“We do not have enough funding right now to do everything that was promised, we just don’t,” SDOT interim Director Goran Sparrman said Tuesday at a Move Seattle levy oversight committee meeting. “Some of those dollar amounts estimated for what projects would cost were clearly insufficient, even at the time.”

He said that the agency was not prepared, in 2015, to execute projects on the scale that the levy and the city promised. The 10-year, property-tax levy is twice the size of its predecessor, the Bridging the Gap levy, which expired in 2015.

SDOT gave no actual numbers or estimates of the size of the funding shortfall.

“I’m not surprised by the findings, but I still don’t really know the scale,” said Alex Krieg, co-chair of the levy’s oversight committee. “This is dollars and cents but we don’t have dollars and cents on this assessment.”

The new review, ordered by Mayor Jenny Durkan earlier this year, says the levy is achieving many of its goals, but points to eight program areas that need “further review and adjustment” because the cost of the promised projects is now greater than the available funding.

The areas short on money include: building new protected bike lanes, repairing damaged sidewalks and building new ones, building curb ramps at intersections, repaving arterial streets and creating seven new RapidRide bus routes.

“Costs have increased due to rising local construction costs,” SDOT writes in the review. “Additionally, in several levy sub-programs, cost estimates included in the original budget were insufficient to meet the levy commitment.”

For instance, the levy originally estimated that bike lanes would cost about $860,000 to build, per mile. While costs vary significantly by project, a nearly complete four-block extension of the Seventh Avenue protected bike lane through downtown has cost about $3.8 million to build, or nearly $13 million per mile.

The recently completed Second Avenue protected bike lane cost $12 million a mile, Sparrman said.

“I thought the mayor was going to have a heart attack when I showed her,” he said.

Read the whole story here.

DCG

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