FOLLOWUP: Bridge maintenance back in play for $20 of city car-tab tax?

Four city councilmembers have a new-but-not-new idea for spending $20 in car-tab taxes.

First, the backstory: The city used to charge $80 for the Transportation Benefit District. Then after the last election, that dropped to $20, but the city has authority to add another $20 and is doing so starting in July. In November, three councilmembers including West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold proposed spending the money on bridge maintenance. But instead, a council majority had SDOT come up with a different plan, which only spent 24 percent on bridges; you might recall the community survey about it last month.

Now that plan is going to the council (here are its toplines). Four councilmembers, including the three who originally proposed bridge spending, are bringing back that idea. The four say that while the SDOT plan is fine for this year, starting next year they’d rather use the fee’s $7 million revenue to finance $100 million in bond money, with three-quarters of that going toward bridges. (While the councilmembers’ news release mentions the West Seattle Bridge, spending for that project isn’t specified in their proposed amendment, which you can read here. They instead would direct SDOT to come up with a bridge-spending plan. This will all play out before the Transportation and Utilities Committee starting this Wednesday (agenda here).

13 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Bridge maintenance back in play for $20 of city car-tab tax?"

  • Derek April 19, 2021 (10:11 pm)

    I’m cool with that proposal. 

  • andrew April 19, 2021 (10:26 pm)

    I would be for this even if its sole benefit was to bother Tim Eyman.

    • West Seattle Hipster April 20, 2021 (6:19 am)

      You owe me a new keyboard, as I spit up coffee all over mine after reading that.Hilarious.

  • Jort April 19, 2021 (10:59 pm)

    Shocker! The city takes a revenue source that is portrayed as benefiting “all modes of transportation” and then directs the majority of it to fund our automobile addiction death-spiral. 

    • Spooled April 20, 2021 (12:03 pm)

      The majority of people drive, and choose to do so.  In fact, this might be a rare example of the city doing what the people want, instead of what the city decides is good for them.  Want to be upset at something?  Be upset every time you see expired tabs.

      • sam-c April 20, 2021 (3:45 pm)

        Bridge maintenance just serves the ‘automobile addiction death spiral’ crowd  ?   So, you take buses that don’t use bridges, have repair or service people that don’t use bridges, don’t order anything online where a delivery driver might use a bridge, don’t eat at restaurants whose delivery drivers/ food supply drivers use bridges ? Wow, cool. 

    • My two cents ... April 20, 2021 (2:37 pm)

      @joet So, you don’t want to do maintenance on bridges?

    • Elton April 21, 2021 (9:27 am)

      It must be nice to have flying DeLorean, but for the rest of us who have to used wheeled transportation (buses, cars, bikes) to get to Seattle or who rely on groceries to be brought into West Seattle, bridges are pretty important. Good luck swimming to Seattle or the Eastside if you have multiple children, maybe Jort will give you a ride in his flying car.

  • DRC April 20, 2021 (7:00 am)

                Good if the money goes to roads and not some where else.

  • Smittytheclown April 20, 2021 (7:11 am)

    I’ll pay $20 just to pay someone to go up  and act like they are repairing it.  Tired of looking at an empty bridge with zero observable work happening.  Dang, just drive a service vehicle to the top daily.  Sitting silent is maddening. Warp speed this thing.

  • Lisa April 20, 2021 (7:19 am)

    I love (not) how they add fees and THEN try to figure out what to do with them.

  • Kyle April 20, 2021 (11:08 am)

    Please spend it on bridges like what was proposed! Also why is the SDOT plan of only 24% of this funding for bridges fine for this year? I’ve read many articles with SDOT quoted as saying our bridge infrastructure is under funded, yet when given more funding they choose to spend it on other priorities.   This feels like a bait and switch.City audit echoes SDOT’s call for future bridge maintenance funding, & reinforces ideas for improving our already strong bridge maintenance program to support our aging infrastructure – SDOT Blog (

    • David April 20, 2021 (12:38 pm)

      I used to be shocked, now I’m just darkly amused when our local politicians repeatedly pull funding bait-switches (like Lucy with the football, in Peanuts).
      Remember all the money they were going to use to improve 405 and 167? They decided it would be better to give the 405/167 interchange aka Malfunction Junction a ridiculously-expensive (paid to well-connected contractors) flyover toll bridge, and start tolling 405, to suck in even more money. To boot, they WORSENED Malfunction Junction by adding stop lights when the original problem was “18-wheelers losing speed trying to climb the incline onto northbound 405, and everyone getting stuck behind them”.
      I guess it’s a question of their actual goal… we’d hope it’s “to relieve congestion”, but the worse it gets, the more people will be willing to pay ridiculous tolls to avoid it.

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