Seattle city council to fund bridge maintenance


Bridges are the most vulnerable links in Seattle’s transportation network. When there is a problem crossing waterways, ravines and city roads, the traffic becomes unbearable. Ask anyone in West Seattle.

Yet despite repeated promises from leaders to fully fund the repair and maintenance of bridges, City Hall has a habit of kicking the box, often in favor of more visible and politically visible street projects. popular.

Seattle City Council should end this practice and get to work once and for all on proper funding for vital infrastructure.

The budget proposed by Mayor Jenny Durkan includes approximately $ 40 million for the ongoing repair of the West Seattle Bridge. The remainder of its budget includes $ 11.5 million for routine bridge maintenance.

That’s above the 14-year annual average of $ 6.6 million, but far less than necessary.

A report by a city auditor last year – launched after the West Seattle Bridge was closed except for 80,000 people stranded on the peninsula – showed Seattle must spend an average of at least $ 34 million. dollars and up to $ 102 million a year, to maintain decent spans. repair.

The Seattle Department of Transportation owns and operates 124 bridges. The Second Avenue Extension Bridge at Pioneer Square (built in 1928), Magnolia Bridge (1929), and University Bridge (1930) are classified in “bad” condition.

Council member Alex Pedersen, chair of the transportation and utilities committee, wants the city to issue $ 100 million in general bonds so that SDOT can repair and maintain bridges to the level recommended by the auditor.

His amendment is supported by council members Lisa Herbold, Andrew Lewis and Debora Juarez. The city council is expected to pass the legislation on October 28.

To make the estimated annual debt-on-bond payment of around $ 7 million, the board would have to cut somewhere. Durkan’s proposed budget for SDOT is $ 718 million next year.

Pedersen deserves credit for keeping bridging funding in the budget debate. The cost of inaction and delays can be seen every day in the long lines of traffic along West Marginal Way Southwest, as frustrated people try to make their way west of Seattle and back.

City council is expected to find the funding it needs to finally move forward on preserving and protecting Seattle’s most vital and vulnerable transportation infrastructure.

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