Shaky financing? Design conflicts? Neighborhood opposition? It’s not more TUNNELGATE, it’s the SR-520 Bridge Replacement Saga

This article is a few days old, but it’s still relevant:

State leaders are beginning the Highway 520 bridge rebuild with an uncertain and speculative finance plan that would fall short of the project’s estimated $4.4 billion cost even if all their gambles pay off.

These are the same officials who pulled the plug on Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ plan to build replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a $4.6 billion tunnel because it lacked a solid finance plan.

Though the groundwork for the new 520 bridge is already underway, it will likely be years before the state secures the money to complete the project.

If I remember correctly, the knock against Greg Nickels and his proposed tunnel was that the plan lacked a finance plan that stood up to scrutiny. The tunnel plan included dollars from this fall’s RTID vote, and also federal funds not yet available until 2009 and beyond. It looks like hypocrites in Olympia are slamming Nickels for doing exactly what they’re doing now.

Transportation leaders in the House and Senate are banking on $1.1 billion from a regional transit and roads tax package that even supporters fear may be rejected by voters in November.

They’re also counting on nearly a $1 billion from a pooled account established to cover cost overruns for 520 and also the Alaskan Way Viaduct — but under current projections, the 520 project would require all of that and more.

And unlike the House plan, the Senate also assumes $200 million in federal transit money that could trickle in over the next 16 years.

All while the final design remains a topic of vigorous debate.

And good luck with that design stuff. The major players in the 520 game (the UW, the city, the state, nearby neighborhoods, Sound Transit, and lots more) aren’t on the same page.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The difference is the tunnel was optional gold-plating of the AWV rebuild, whereas the 520 rebuild is not an optional, although it certainly appears to gold-plated.

    To wit: I have a hard time understanding why it will cost $580,000 per lineal foot. I am mystified that a 7,600-foot bridge consisting of concrete pontoons, and having few piers and no towers or cables, will cost 5 times as much as a 5,400-foot suspension bridge being built 30 miles away.

    Where the hell does this $4.4 billion estimate come from? Mafia Constructors, LLP? If WSDOT can build a 5,400-foot suspension bridge for $849 million, then they ought to be able to build a 7,600-foot suspension bridge for $1,194 million. So, shit-can the floating bridge design, and save 73% by building a suspension bridge.

  2. 2

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    They must be planning to build the fucking thing of titanium instead of concrete. I don’t see how else you can spend $4.4 billion on a bunch of concrete boxes. You can buy an aircraft carrier for that kind of money.

  3. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Bush overstates risk to America, analysts say

    “By William Douglas
    “McClatchy Newspapers

    “WASHINGTON — It’s become President Bush’s mantra, his main explanation for why he won’t withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.

    “In speech after speech, … Bush insists … ‘if we were to leave before the job is done, the enemy would follow us here.’ … But is it true?

    “Military and diplomatic analysts … accuse Bush of exaggerating the threat that enemy forces in Iraq pose to the U.S. mainland. ‘The president is using a primitive, inarticulate argument that leaves him open to criticism and caricature,’ said James Jay Carafano, a homeland-security and counterterrorism expert for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization. …

    “U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic experts say the violence in Iraq is … a struggle for power between Shiite and Sunni Muslim Iraqis seeking to dominate their society, not a crusade by Sunni jihadists bent on carrying the battle to the United States … the likelihood that enemy combatants from Iraq might follow departing U.S. forces back to the United States is remote at best, experts say.

    “‘The war in Iraq isn’t preventing terrorist attacks on America,’ said one U.S. intelligence official who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he’s contradicting top officials. …

    “Carafano and Lewis said a U.S. troop pullout would embolden Islamic jihadists, but … they’re much more likely to … spread violence to neighboring countries ….”

    Quoted under Fair Use; for complete story and/or copyright info see

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: What our soldiers are really dying for is to save Bush from going down in history as an imbecile who lost a war in a tinpot country.

  4. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    It’s 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, and I’m patiently waiting for the White House press releases announcing the latest convictions of Republican criminals, but the only thing coming across the wire right now is a 102-year-old woman in California shot a hole-in-one on a regulation golf course. She’ll appear on Jay Leno April 24.

  5. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Another Democrat Violates Logan Act!!!

    “Associated Press Writer

    “ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson left Saturday … for North Korea, where he hopes to reclaim the remains of American soldiers killed in the Korean War. …

    “[Richardson] flew to Pyongyang on a U.S. government aircraft and was scheduled to arrive Sunday. …

    “‘Richardson is someone who the North Koreans actually seem to listen to and have confidence in,’ said Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank.

    “Richardson has regularly made diplomatic trips, often on his own initiative, to a number of countries at odds with the United States. He has built a special rapport with North Korean officials – this will be his sixth visit there.”

    Quoted under Fair Use; for complete story and/or copyright info see

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: Just wait, some brain-dead troll will criticize Richardson for bringing back those U.S. remains.

  6. 9

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    In today’s fishwrapper, Lori Fitzwater of Sumner criticizes public officials for passing up the opportunity to get a NASCAR track and “thousands of jobs” absolutely free:

    “Presented with a project that would bring new money into our state with no new taxes or tax increases, our elected officials should have easily recognized it as a great economic benefit and worked hard to make it a reality. Thousands of new full-time, family-wage jobs would have been created. … Greed, ignorance and a lack of foresight have been the undoing of what would have been a true win-win.”

    Roger Rabbit Has A Question: If nobody has to pay any taxes to come up with that $200 million subsidy, where will the money come from? Will a stork bring it? Lori, can you talk that stork into throwing in another $4.4 billion of free cash to replace a bridge?

  7. 10

    thor spews:

    The legislature is simply applying the same logic to the 520 bridge it wound up applying to the Alaskan Way Viaduct: proceed where there is agreement and negotiate where there is not.

    The difference: on the Viaduct the disagreement is in the middle of downtown, on the 520 the dispute is on the west end at the UW.

    Bringing up tired old rhetoric from the pre-history of the Viaduct debate is fun (and snarky) but stupid.

    We need to move on. Early starts on the parts of these failing bridges that can proceed with a fair amount of consensus will save us all money and heartburn in the long run.

  8. 11

    Left Behind by the New Democratic Party spews:


    I have had an epiphany:

    The state of Washington is more in love with the process of planning and building a project than actually doing a project.

    Our viaduct will fall apart at any moment? Instead of taking charge, we send it to commitee again and again. 520 is in danger of falling into Lake Washington? We need 435 more studies to determine the best way to replace it. The airport is heavilly congested and needs a third runway? It’s been HOW many years since they started that project?

    Ironically, while I did not like Mayor Nickel’s tunnel proposal (living in West Seattle, imagine that), I must none the less give him credit and respect for fighting hard for a vision and sticking to his guns with it. Politicians need to quit worrying about the polls and start working on actual solutions.

    (On a side note, am I the only one who finds it odd that Mayor Nickel’s newest proposal about the bicyles and new lanes seems to conflict with his new backing of the surface option? If you want to improve the flow of traffic throughout downtown so you can remove the viaduct, removing lanes from the roads for bicycles does not seem the way to do it…)

    Thank you.

  9. 13

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    Scary ReBUTTal: Looks like your “friend” PalletHead hijacked the thread above.

    Where is your outrage? Where are you complaints? Oops… you’re too STUPID to say anything!

  10. 14

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    Look Thor, your side is in control. This is your debate. Good luck with it. Hope you can find the funds.

    Remember you all said FUWA is a blue state. Seems these decisions are turning you all blue!

    Waaaaaa haaaaaa haaaaaa HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!

    Nuff Said!

  11. 15


    Sorry for the off-topic bit, but this bit from “The Nation” is just too good to pass up.

    QUESTION: Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months?

    ANSWER: Yes 52% No 39% Undecided 9%

    No, those are not particularly shocking numbers.

    We have known for a long time that Americans favor the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

    What is interesting about these numbers is who they come from.

    The Strategic Vision polling group asked 600 likely Iowa caucus goers the question in a survey conducted March 30-April 1, 2007.

    To be more precise, the survey queried 600 likely Republican caucus goers.

    George Bush can forget about rallying the nation behind his war.

    At this point, Bush can’t even rally the most engaged Republicans in the nation behind the continuation of quagmire.

    Needless to say, when the president threatens Congress with a veto of an Iraq supplemental spending bill that includes soft benchmarks and a slow timeline for withdrawal, Democratic leaders would be wise to quote from the Bush lexicon: “Bring it on!”

    Nothing the Congress is proposing is anywhere near as radical as the position now taken by grassroots Republicans in Iowa.


    See? Conservative Republicans actually can learn. I doubt that you’ll find a more conservative bunch than Iowa Republicans, and more than half of them actively favor getting our troops out of Iraq within six months.

    Somehow I doubt that we’ll be hearing about that poll in any upcoming RNC news releases. Not only do the Republicans ignore the voters, they even ignore their own party members.

  12. 16

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    John Barelli: The Nation? You mean the same org that outed Dianne Feinstein and her Milcongrubbing husband on Walter Reed Army Hospital misappropriations which you had a cow (can you say MOOOOOOOOOO) over?

    You mean the same woman who’s husband creates about 9 million pounds of CO2 traveling all over the US and isn’t planting his carbon trade-off 180,000 new trees every year!

    You said this same The Nation couldn’t be trusted because they wanted a more libtard donk in her place?

    Waaaaaa haaaaaa haaaaaa HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR!

    Nuff Said!

  13. 17

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    John Barelli: Did you touch Mr PelletHead at Drunken Libtardly last Tuesday? Senility is fast approaching.

  14. 18

    Janet SS spews:

    I think Richardson is a terrorist sympathizer for bringing back those U.S. remains. He shouldn’t be tampering with foreign policy while we still have in place the best A-Team ever assembled in the White House.

    Bush: Best president in history!

  15. 19

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    Why does Voice of Chalk Scratching remove imposter posts of Mr PelletHead and allow liars to “post” under my name?

    Yesterday I asked a poll question of Mr Voice was an honest character?

    Mr Voice you answered the question. – Negative!

  16. 20

    Puddybud Who Left the Reservation spews:

    See, we know Janet S and fakir Janet SS are different peeps.

  17. 22

    Right Stuff spews:

    Who doesn’t want the troops home? It’s the manner in which we leave that is important.
    Question? What is the only way that Al Qaeda can claim victory?
    Answer? Per their own statements, if the USA withdraws due to lack of resolve. They can claim that they defeated the great USA.

  18. 23

    Puddybutt spews:

    How come folks ridicule us when we come into Goldy’s “house” and trash out the place? I mean, what happened to simple respect?

    Remember, we brown shirts are your brothers and sisters. Can’t you have a little compassion and understanding? Deep down, underneath our thuggish exteriors lurks sensitive souls with deep feelings.

    I post here because I really need a hug.

  19. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @15 10 more young Americans were killed this weekend. What, exactly, is this sacrifice for? Is there a mission? What is it? Do our soldiers have any idea what they’re dying for? I sure don’t.

  20. 26

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 Asking precedes getting. Goldy can’t remove fake posts if he doesn’t know they’re fake posts.

  21. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 (continued) P.S., if you need help finding the “contact me” button, let us know, and we’ll assemble a team to help you.

  22. 29

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 “Answer? Per their own statements, if the USA withdraws due to lack of resolve. They can claim that they defeated the great USA.”

    And this is worth 5 American lives a day in perpetuity?

  23. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 (continued) That belongs in the same category as bashing your head against a stone wall just to prove you can do it.

  24. 31

    Paddy Mac spews:

    Just a clarification: while Sound Transit will do work in the area where SR-520 enters/leaves Seattle, they have designed their installations specifically to avoid precluding any option for replacing or rebuilding SR-520.

  25. 32

    Puddybud Now has a Doppelganger spews:

    PelletHead: He claims to watch the IP Addresses. So I’ll wait for him to erase the one in another thread and #5 in the Karl Rove thread.

    I’d bet you PelletHead but then he’d erased them and I’d have to pay up. Then I’d have to meet you and really determine if cro-magnonism or neaderthalism is still a viable branch in the human species!

  26. 33


    A TOLL ROAD!!!!

    I520, unlike the viaduct, is a simple issue. It should pay its own way! There is only on reason for anyone using this road .. to get from or to Seattle. It is not a through road and is not part of the downtown traffic pattern.

    So, decide what we want to build. And charge for the damn thing!