Here's another reason that the Seattle City Council should not sign off on the state's deep-bore tunnel agreement: the promised transit funding commitment is still missing.
Because the tunnel agreement's cost overrun provision is so convoluted, it's easier for Seattle City Council members to equivocate. In contrast, nearly everyone agrees that we need more transit to create a sustainable Seattle. So why has the Council so far failed to stand up for Seattle's interests on this?
The original deep-bore agreement signed by Governor Gregoire, former King County Executive Ron Sims, and former mayor Greg Nickels included $190 million for transit, but the state did not follow through on granting authority for the MVET tax to raise those funds.
Expanded transit is not just window dressing for the tunnel plan. It is a necessary part of the package because the tunnel has a lower capacity than the existing viaduct, and it has no downtown exits. King County Metro estimated that the tunnel would create demand for an additional 17,000 transit trips.
Every member of the Seattle City Council talks the talk about the importance of transit—that's easy to do because transit is widely supported by Seattleites. Yet last Fall the Council unanimously approved the preliminary deep-bore tunnel agreement without a transit component.
The City Council is expected to vote on the latest version of the deep-bore tunnel agreement within the next couple of weeks. Currently, there is no language in the agreement that addresses funding for transit. Analogous to the case of the cost overrun provision, this is the last opportunity the city has for leverage to push for a transit funding commitment to be included.
Hello, City Council, anybody home?
And what does our state leader's failure to honor their word on transit say about how they are likely to treat Seattle when it comes to cost overruns?
(P.S. Thanks to an anonymous friend for pitching this angle.)