$34 million down, zero to go

At 2:30 this afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn, Senator Patty Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and many other community members, politicians and neighbors gathered in anticipation for what everyone hoped would be good news about the bridge. And good news it was indeed – Senator Murray announced that the remaining $34 million needed to complete the new bridge will be funded by a federal TIGER II grant. Now the project can go out to bid, with a completion date slated for late 2013.  According to King County Executive Constantine’s press release, “the federal grant clears the way for construction of a new South Park Bridge, which is estimated to cost about $131 million.”

He continues: “Senator Murray has been steadfast in her support of the South Park community and the entire Duwamish industrial valley, and today her leadership is making a real difference in the lives and livelihood of these residents and businesses,” said Executive Constantine. “Just a few months ago, some thought this was an impossible task. But we said we would rebuild the South Park Bridge. We said we would work together to secure the funds. We said we would keep this hard-working neighborhood in business. And today, thanks to the leadership and tenacity of our senior senator from Washington State – we did it.”

You can watch Senator Murray give the announcement (and hear the roar of applause from the crowd) here:

Senator Murray says: “It’s a community that deserves a victory…and to have it’s voice heard.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you to everyone who helped make this possible – a happy day in South Park indeed.

What the 2011/12 Mayor’s Budget means for alternative transportation and the South Park Bridge

From the Mayor’s office, re-posted from the South Park listserv. Original message is here.

The mayor proposed his 2011/2012 budget on Monday, September 27 th. Currently, the City Council is poised to strip out a core piece of the Department of Transportation’s budget.

*We need your help.*
There are very few sources of revenue that will allow us to cover the budget hole and make investments in Seattle’s neighborhoods. Without an increase in the Commercial Parking Tax (CPT–which is a tax on commercial pay parking lots), we will lose out on support for walking, biking, and transit. Core services will also go unfunded. With an increase in the CPT, pay lot owners can choose to pass the increase on directly to consumers or absorb it within their prices. Given the competitive market for parking, it is more likely it will be absorbed as a cost. If it is passed on and you choose to use private parking, the increase is only fifty cents on a ten dollar fee. Fifty cents gets us a considerable amount of community benefit.

*What’s at risk:* – *Walking, biking, and transit projects.*
Though the need is far greater than the amount we’re proposing, these funds will provide a big benefit for neighborhoods across Seattle and support Walk Bike Ride, which will make walking, biking, and riding transit the easiest ways to get around in Seattle. These include more Neighborhood Street Fund projects in neighborhoods across Seattle, more sidewalks, pedestrian lighting, and bicycle crossing improvements (which speed implementation of our Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans), a boost to big projects like Linden Avenue North, Lake to Bay Loop, the Mountains to Sound Trail, the Chief Sealth Trail, and the Ballard Bridge, and much more. Visit our website for details of Walk Bike Ride projects included in the budget.

*Core services that provide a big benefit*
The CPT gives us funding for things like neighborhood traffic services, bridge maintenance, freight mobility services, traffic operations, design and planning, and much more.

*Support for the South Park Bridge*
The city’s contribution to the South Park Bridge (through commercial parking tax revenue) puts us right on track to meet our $15 million commitment to bridge replacement. The future of these projects and services –*nearly $10 million in funding for 2011, and $10 million for 2012* – now lies with the City Council. They are currently taking public comment on what your priorities are. Please let them know that keeping the increase in the Commercial Parking Tax as proposed in Mayor Mike McGinn’s budget is important to you. –Make your comment online –Tell the City Council what’s important to you in person, at one of the two remaining public hearings they’ve scheduled.

  • *Wednesday, October 13*
    The Brockey Center at South Seattle Community College 6000 16th Avenue SW, 98106 5 p.m. Sign-in 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing
  • *Tuesday, October 26*
    Seattle City Hall Council Chambers, 2nd floor 600 Fourth Avenue, 98104 5 p.m. Sign-in 5:30 p.m. Public Hearing

Learn more here.

South Park Bridge – the beginning of the end.

The King County Department of Transportation has this to say about the South Park Bridge: “The existing bridge was built in 1929-1931. The substandard lane width of the bridge carries approximately 20,000 ADT with 14% being truck traffic. It is severely deteriorated and vulnerable to seismic. The bridge is one of a few river crossings connecting to industrial area.”

Blogger Gurldoggie‘s insight about the neighborhood make it clear why it needs and deserves this gateway into the community: “South Park is a fascinating little neighborhood on the southern edge of Seattle, mostly built from the 1920’s through 1950’s to provide homes for the Boeing workers whose factory was in full bloom at the time. Since then the fortunes of Boeing and all of the industries that surrounded it have waxed and waned, and South Park has come through many rough patches. Statistics from the 1970’s and 80’s suggest that it was Seattle’s most dangerous zip code for quite a while, but in recent years the neighborhood has undergone a rennaisance, finally getting a long sought library and community center, and becoming the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in Seattle.”

The bridge is slated to close on June 30th.

Community meetings have been held, studies have been made and at the end of the day, the bridge is simply not safe enough for continued use, and there is not enough money for replacement (estimates for this project come in at around $130 million). According to the Seattle Times, “The federal government last month rejected King County’s request for $99 million in stimulus dollars to pay most of the replacement cost for the bridge. Instead $30 million was awarded for a competing Seattle project to transform one-way Mercer Street into a landscaped, two-way boulevard.”

South Park bridge update

Reposted from Blogging Georgetown

Wednesday, February 17, 2010
South Park Bridge replacement: no federal funds, but…

Last October, an application was made for federal stimulus funds to replace the South Park Bridge, which is in even bigger danger of failure then the famed Alaska Way Viaduct. Says the PI blog:

On Wednesday, Sen. Patty Murray’s office announced a $30 million stimulus grant to the Mercer Corridor Project….

But, in my usual style, I have to call bullshit here:

“This funding is a critical piece of the puzzle for a project that is central to the economy of our state and the Puget Sound region,” Murray said in a statement. “Rebuilding the Mercer Corridor is going to create direct construction jobs, improve port and highway access, and reduce commute times in an area that contains some our most vital employers.”

Question for Senator Murray: how much breakbulk and and container traffic moves in and out of the Port via Mercer Street? We already know the answer: zero. That traffic is routed through SoDo or the Spokane Street Viaduct. Considering that Murray has a long standing relationship with a major marine terminal operator in the form of campaign contributions, and is married to an executive who works for one of the major marine terminal operators, it’s quite surprising that she would make such a statement that obviously isn’t true.

But then we would have to discuss the real reason for the Mercer project, which more or less is about propping up a failed condo market in South Lake Union, and propping up an industry (Biotech) that can’t seem to make much of a profit. And who can forget the last of the causalities of that neighborhood makeover.

Still, I haven’t said much about the South Park Bridge in particular, because a lot has been said already (here, here, and here). But one thing is for certain, and I’ve mentioned this a while back: stumbling bumbling mayor McGinn could step in and demand action via a proposed levy. He “supported the application” for the federal funds, and this was supposed to be a reason as to why people in the Duwamish area were supposed to vote for the guy. Now is his chance to make good on the promise. A no brainier. A soft-pitched softball. All he’d have to do is re-include the sliver by the river in the White Center annexation.

He might need encouragement. If you want to encourage him, click here.

South Park Bridge Press Conference Update

The ECOSS staff just got back from the South Park Bridge Press Conference where the bridge replacement Environmental Impact Statement was signed by Kathleen Davis, Director of Highways and Local Programs at the State Department of Transportation; Harold Taniguichi, Director of the Department of Transportation; and Dan Mathis, Washington division administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. With all plans approved, the replacement of the bridge can move forward pending funding from the federal government.

We have long heard the reasons why this bridge needs replacement. It has a sufficiency rating of four (out of 100). Truck traffic volume is between 4-10 million tons of freight per year. Over 20,000 vehicles per day cross the bridge. For those of us who work and live in South Park, we are well aware of the potential impacts of closure.

But the most compelling speech came from long time South Park resident and ECOSS supporter Geoff Belau who discussed the bridge’s symbolism to the community, and who was kind enough to let us post his speech here.




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Crumbling bridges falling down, falling down, falling down…

Well, not quite yet. The AP reported today that “tens of thousands of unsafe or decaying bridges carrying 100 million drivers a day must wait for repairs because states are spending stimulus money on spans that are already in good shape or on easier projects like repaving roads.” Their analysis showed that less than one percent of the 150,000+ bridges labeled deficient or obsolete are sharing $2.2 billion in funds.

For its analysis, the AP asked each state and the District of Columbia to identify every bridge on which it planned some work using stimulus money. In some states that represented a final list. In others, new projects could be added. Most states provided project costs, but some did not. Some states included in their costs other road work related to the bridge project, like paving or widening nearby roads.

The AP then researched each bridge using the latest inspection data available from the Transportation Department.

This analysis found that:

· Many states did not make bridge work a priority in stimulus spending. More than half plan work on fewer than two dozen bridges and 18 states plan fewer than 10 projects.

· In 24 states, at least half of the bridges being worked on with stimulus money were not deficient.

· In 15 states, at least two-thirds of the bridges receiving stimulus money are not deficient.

Of particular interest is our South Park Bridge, which has been in worse shape than the Viaduct for years. (The South Park bridge has a rating of 3 out of 100, versus the 49.9 and 65.4 out of 100 that the NB and SB Viaduct bridges have, respectively.) It got a special mention in the AP article:

Washington state, for example, struggled with a plea from King County officials to help pay for the replacement of the 75-year-old drawbridge that serves as a major corridor in Seattle and connects two of the city’s industrial areas. The bridge’s cracked concrete foundations, widespread corrosion in steel beams and deteriorating moveable spans make it one of the nation’s worst still in daily operation — scoring a 3 out of 100 for structural sufficiency.

State officials couldn’t commit stimulus money to the project, which already was getting local and state funds, said Paula Hammond, the state’s transportation secretary. The South Park bridge was not a state priority, and officials needed to focus on projects that could be completed quickly, Hammond said.

“Every state is going through this because speed was a major, major factor for us,” she said.

More than a quarter of Washington’s 7,763 bridges are either deficient or obsolete, inspection records show.

With $27 billion in highway and bridge money, the stimulus provided an important stopgap but is too little to remake the U.S. transportation infrastructure, she added.

“If you wanted that to happen,” Hammond said, “you’d probably have to multiply that number by 10.”

Let’s hope it doesn’t take a major disaster to make the South Park bridge “a state priority” since it’s already the priority for those of us who cross it every day.