Isn’t It Weird That … A transportation revenue package, announced yesterday, that will likely end up going before the voters (unless the Republican-run state senate suddenly develops a fondness for new taxes) includes no major new funding for projects in Seattle?
No statewide tax measure can pass without Seattle’s support, yet the proposal state house transportation director Judy Clibborn announced yesterday included zero dollars for the new 520 bridge (whose west side remains unfunded) and zero dollars for the new Alaskan Way tunnel (whose estimated revenue from tolls has been slashed from $400 million to just $165 million)?
Although Clibborn said during yesterday's press conference that the state has fully funded both the tunnel and the 520 bridge, both of those claims come with big caveats. In addition to the tolling shortfall, the tunnel faces a state funding cap of $2.4 billion; any more than that, tunnel critics argue, will be the city's responsibility to pay; Seattle got jolted with that reality at a recent senate transportation committee hearing on the tunnel project.
As for 520, Clibborn's claim that the west (Seattle) side of the project is paid for assumes tolling on I-90 to pay for 520—and although the state has been clear that it plans to toll I-90, opponents have hinted at a referendum to stop them.
One small caveat: The package could still include some funding for Seattle, in the form of money to revamp existing infrastructure, maintain roads and bridges, enhance transit, and pay for bike and pedestrian improvements. But Clibborn's package includes no specific dollar figures for any of those proposals, so it's impossible to know how much of the funding would end up in the Seattle area—which will undermine transportation funding if it comes down to public vote.