One of the myths put forth by I-912 proponents was that the gas tax did not include enough money to finish proposed mega-projects… that state taxpayers would eventually be asked to foot the rest of the bill. Well, in the case of the Alaska Way Viaduct, that’s simply not true.
The new gas tax, validated by voters this week, commits $2 billion to the viaduct’s replacement. The federal government says it will contribute another $250 million. With that money, plus other state funding already committed, the state said it has enough money to build a new viaduct.
The cost of replacing the crumbling viaduct with a similar structure is estimated at $2.5 to $3 billion. The tunnel alternative preferred by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels would cost an additional $1 billion, none of which will come from the state. Yesterday, the Port of Seattle agreed to budget $200 million towards replacing the viaduct and the waterfront’s aging seawall with a tunnel, taking a sizable bite out of the billion dollar difference. But where will the rest of this money come from?
Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis is confident the city can come up with the extra money, and said it includes up to $300 million from city utilities for the relocation of utility lines, up to $200 million from the city’s own transportation fund, up to $250 million from the Army Corps of Engineers for replacing the seawall, and money from a regional tax package yet to be placed on the ballot.
With all those “up to” caveats, I’m guessing those numbers are optimistic. But an unrelated transportation news story suggests one overlooked source of funding.
Construction of a new South Lake Union streetcar line is expected to start in the spring, now that the vast majority of area property owners have agreed to pay $25.7 million