Seattle mayor seeks nearly $1 billion for transportation upgrades

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SEATTLE -- The battle has begun over Seattle’s $1 billion plan to help repair and replace the city’s aging roads and bridges.

Today, Mayor Ed Murray officially launched the campaign to pass the historic property tax measure this November.  “We can make this city a livable city,” Murray said at a news conference near a deteriorating bridge along Fairview Avenue.

The money will be used to tackle the backlog of road and bridge repairs.  Murray is banking on the fact that residents will agree to pony up to help bring the city’s infrastructure into the 21st century.

“Many of these existing arterials were designed 60 years ago,” Murray said.  “They have not kept pace with our growing population.  We are overdue to re-engineer how we as Seattleites move through our city.”

But critics are already organized.  They focus on the sticker shock and the fact that leaders are pricing people out of the city.  “It’s too expensive,” said Eugene Wasserman, President of the North Seattle Industrial Association. “No accountability.  No congestion relief.  And we just don’t see how this is a good deal for the citizens.”

Here are the highlights of the Mayor’s big transportation plan:

  • Repave 180 miles of arterials
  • Reinforce 16 bridges
  • Create 50 miles of protected bike lanes
  • Build 150 new blocks of sidewalks
  • Establish 7 Rapid Ride Bus corridors

And here’s how much the $930 million plan is going to cost:

  • Average homeowner: $275/year for 9 years

The City’s current transportation levy, which expires this year, has cost the average homeowner $130/year.

Wasserman argues that the City doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to big projects, including the Seawall.  We just learned that project is $70 million over budget.

The Move Seattle levy will be on the November ballot.

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