11:25 AM: King County Executive Dow Constantine calls it “great news for everyone who commutes on the SR99 corridor, especially those coming from West Seattle and Burien.” His office has just shared a letter from WSDOT (read it here), saying the state has agreed to extend “mitigation” money – funding bus service covering effects from Highway 99 construction – through the end of next year. That money was to expire in the middle of this year, leading to one round of Metro cuts in June. This does NOT affect the larger round of cuts expected to ensue systemwide when other funding expires, and that’s the funding that would be replaced by what’s in a ballot measure that’s expected to go to voters in April – depending on the outcome of a vote this afternoon. More to come.
ADDED 11:52 AM: In case the PDF link above doesn’t work for you, here’s the letter from WSDOT, embedded via Scribd:
Our area’s County Councilmember Joe McDermott says, “This wildly successful mitigation service has moved more people through the Alaskan Way Viaduct while reducing the vehicles using it. As a C Line commuter, I am pleased the state is continuing the funding as the project continues.”
And he reiterates the earlier point that this is only a partial reprieve – while it extends funding for the service hours added to make up for the 99 construction’s effects, there’s still a gap that would require cutting up to 17 percent of Metro’s service systemwide.
McDermott and the rest of the council, sitting as the Transportation Benefit District board, will take public comments at 3 pm today in council chambers at the county courthouse downtown before potentially voting to send a measure to the ballot asking voters to approve a car-tab fee and sales-tax increase to cover that gap and raise money for roads. Later in the day, the Move King County Now advocacy group plans a kickoff of its campaign for the ballot measure (5:30 pm at the pub Fado, 1st/Columbia downtown). The extension follows the county’s ongoing lobbying efforts to get the state to agree to one, as Executive Constantine’s transportation adviser Chris Arkills told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition at its meeting earlier this month (WSB coverage here).
MORE BACKSTORY: For an explanation of the “mitigation” money, its history (dating back to the 2008 announcement), and the cuts that Metro planned if it wasn’t extended, see this WSB story from December.