City Hall

No Money for Local Transit or South Park Bridge in Latest Round of Federal Funding

By Erica C. Barnett February 17, 2010

The latest round of TIGER (federal stimulus money) grants, announced yesterday, includes $30 million in funding for the $200 million Mercer project, which will turn Mercer Street into a two-way boulevard in South Lake Union. The announcement prompted a flurry of praise from City Council members for Sen. Patty Murray, who created the TIGER program.

The bad news? The grants included no funding for local transit projects, including a request by Sound Transit for funds to help accelerate the construction of light rail to South 200th St. from the airport by two years. And they skipped over a request from King County to replace the deteriorating South Park Bridge, which links South Park and White Center to the Duwamish industrial area and downtown Seattle across the Duwamish River.

The bridge is scheduled to close at the end of June.

In a statement today, King County Executive Dow Constantine said he was "very disappointed" in the decision, adding that while the South Park Bridge "may not be a glamorous or high-profile project ... it’s one that is vitally important to our economy and our society."

According to a statement by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood excerpted on Seattle Transit Blog, projects "were selected based on their contribution to economic competitiveness of the nation, improving safety and the condition of the existing transportation system, increasing quality of life, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and demonstrating strong collaboration among a broad range of participants, including the private sector."

Editorializing here, it's hard to see how Mercer beat out both the South Park Bridge in terms of safety, and light-rail extension in terms of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.
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