VIDEO: Before the next transportation levy, what has the current one done? City Council Transportation Committee gets SDOT recap

16 minutes into that Seattle Channel video, the City Council Transportation Committee – chaired by District 1 Councilmember Rob Saka – hears SDOT recap the past eight years of the $930 million Levy to Move Seattle, which expires at the end of this year. (See the slide deck here.) This is a precursor to announcing the plan for the next levy, which Mayor Bruce Harrell said in his State of the City address today that he expects to do in spring. The SDOT contingent briefing the Transportation Committee today was led by director Greg Spotts and Francisca Stefan. They noted that the levy funding comprises almost a third of SDOT’s budget, and that this is the 18th year SDOT has had levy funding. They also noted the levy “pivot” for the pandemic, and then the later course correction to get back on track with its original intent. One program that’s getting back on track is seismic upgrades for bridges – though no new specifics were given, two are pending for West Seattle this year, the Delridge pedestrian overpass and the twin Admiral Way bridges over Fairmount Ravine. (A check of records shows that the contract for the former is about to be awarded, and bidding is still open for the latter.)

It was also noted that one major West Seattle project promised when the Levy to Move Seattle went to the ballot in 2015, known as Fauntleroy Boulevard, remains “paused,” as it has been for six years, since Fauntleroy Way became a possible path for the Sound Transit light-rail extension, which now seems likely to tunnel into The Junction instead. (The project actually was included in a revised version of the levy announced by then-Mayor Ed Murray, two months after the original proposal.) Not mentioned today, but also unfulfilled though it was expected when the levy was passed – Roxbury repaving. (Initial planning happened, but then in 2019 we discovered it was shelved until at least the next levy.)

15 Replies to "VIDEO: Before the next transportation levy, what has the current one done? City Council Transportation Committee gets SDOT recap"

  • WSowner February 20, 2024 (4:04 pm)

    Wait, there are plans to have a another light-rail tunnel in Seattle?!?! Didn’t we learn anything the last time? Long delays, over budget, and custom machines with no spares is an absurd idea. Smh

    • WSEnvironmentalist February 20, 2024 (6:56 pm)

      You are so right!  Cost overrun boondoggle that will make a mess out of WS.  I’m all for the environment within reason and commonsense.  The Monorail plan had to be shelved in approximately 2004 because of cost over runs and poor planning.  Now, we have SDOT/Light Rail which has no EPA approval to cross the Duwamish, a Super Fund site.  How is the light rail line supposed to get from SODO to WS?  Does SDOT think it will bore a tunnel?  What about the marine traffic?  Someone contact AML/Lynden and ask what they think.

    • 937 February 20, 2024 (7:17 pm)

      Learn? In Seattle?? You must’ve new here. Same party rule for over 40 years…

      The only thing our honorable government and associated bureaucracies learn is how to spend spend spend. And just when you think they’ve figured out all the ways to fleece the taxpayers – they learn new ways to get into your wallet.

    • bill February 20, 2024 (8:04 pm)

      The tunnels under Capitol Hill to the U District and Roosevelt were boringly on schedule. Sorry about the good news.

    • bill February 20, 2024 (10:12 pm)

      PS. Light rail tunnels are measly compared to the 99 tunnel, which I think you are confused about. No record-breaking unprecedented size, just well-established and proven boring technology. Again, sorry, but there won’t be any drama. But perhaps you are on to something with repurposing the 99 tunnel. Maybe put gondolas in it!

    • N in Seattle February 21, 2024 (10:15 am)

      Big Bertha dug an auto tunnel, replacing the viaduct. No light rail involved.

      Light rail tunnels have all progressed smoothly, without delays, cost overruns, or news flashes.

    • Jeff February 21, 2024 (12:01 pm)

      Yeah but no one wants the elevated track… main issue.

  • Millie February 20, 2024 (9:04 pm)

    I listened to SDOT’s presentation on where and how the $930M Levy to Move Seattle and grant monies were spent.  The staff were well prepared with their presentation and the slides.  However, I feel today the same as I felt when the levy was proposed.   Too many projects, too many promises to the voters, with negligible results.  Examples: road maintenance and congestion still an issue; increased bike lane construction definitely improved, however, some bike lanes are rarely or ever used (example the Broadway bike lane in front of Swedish First Hill; still looking for the 25 blocks of new sidewalks/year – are there any in West Seattle?  Roxbury needs to be a priority, the same potholes that were there back in the late ’60s are still there today.  Yes, it seems there are work crews from SDOT all over the city , re-doing the same streets (for example Delridge near Barton), same sidewalk corners.  Are these overall improvements – not so sure.  Let’s see what the new $ amout/project list/term of levy looks like later this year.

  • Kyle February 20, 2024 (10:15 pm)

    1/3 of SDOT is funded by a levy?! Is their plan to rely on levies for the rest of eternity? Does any other major city run like this? Do we ever say no?

    • WSB February 21, 2024 (10:47 am)

      It’s not just SDOT. Parks also attributes a large part of its budget to supplementary funding (the Park District). Then there’s the library levy, the housing levy, and outside the city government, the school district has maintenance/operations levy funding as well as capital levies … Anyway, the first nine-year transportation levy was then-mayor Greg Nickels’ 2006 “Bridging the Gap.” – TR

      • Kyle February 21, 2024 (11:13 am)

        Thanks for the history WSB :)

  • Dan with the Plan February 21, 2024 (11:26 am)

    Folks, truly the issue is the city’s administrative capacity. We fund plenty of ambitious projects, but pay double on them because of how much of the work is contracted out to consultants who have the same skill set as government professionals. I don’t know what the steps are to fund more robust city staffing, but we have to stop contracting out to consultants that don’t know the real conditions, timelines, and cost of things as the people who have lived and worked here for decades. 

  • WSEnvironmentalist February 21, 2024 (8:21 pm)

    One more comment about the Light Rail tunnels for those are new or don’t know the history of the downtown tunnel.  That WAS the 1980s SDOT bus tunnel.  It was partially built by digging up the streets and made an enormous mess of the downtown core.  Now, the “bus tunnel” has been co-opted by SODT Light Rail.  The main construction for light rail was installing track inside the tunnel.  The stations along the route were already built and operational.  Even though the tunnel infrastructure already existed for the buses without a  boring machine like Hwy 99, the tunnel still had cost overruns and delays.  As for Hwy 99, the decision to not reconstruct the Alaska Way Viaduct was based primarily on the value of views/real estate.  So, as the water levels and tides in the Bay rise and Hwy 99 tunnel becomes swamped from time to time, remember that WA State and Seattle were warned that tunnels would become a future issue.   

  • Scarlett February 22, 2024 (11:54 am)

    Seattle, like most cities, has miles of miles of abandoned rail that outlived its usefulness and is now buried under asphalt.  It won’t be so easy with a megalithic light rail infrastructure.  I think some are slowly waking up to the Light Rail Swindle but it’s too late now and the circus has moved on to the next gullible city.  

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