HERBOLD: $70 million approved for WS Bridge work; Low bridge ticket cameras take effect in January
District 1 Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold shared this update on the funding for the work ahead on the West Seattle High Rise Bridge in a newsletter to constituents.
On Wednesday the City Council’s Transportation & Utilities Committee voted to approve legislation sponsored by Councilmember Pedersen and myself to authorize an interfund loan of up to $70 million to fund work on the West Seattle Bridge and related projects during 2020 and 2021. A Full Council vote is scheduled for September 8th, the day after Labor Day.
This is one of three new actions this week to advance critical work on the West Seattle Bridge. The Bridge is a declared emergency and we can't use regular planning approaches, so I thank both my Council colleagues for recommending financing legislation to Full Council as well as SDOT for moving quickly to hire a designer, as announced this week. I'm eager to implement the third critical action discussed Wednesday - automated traffic enforcement on the low bridge.
The $70 million interfund loan would be borrowed from the City’s cash pool and repaid with a $100 million bond sale in 2021. Any needed spending above $100 million through 2021 will be supported by a separate interfund loan, to be established, if necessary, sometime in early 2021. The legislation includes an updated Capital Improvement Budget page that lists an additional $30 million in bond proceeds for the 2021 budget, for the $100 million total.
The legislation will fund:
- Bridge stabilization work
- Bridge monitoring
- Repairs and enhancements to the Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge
- Traffic and mobility mitigation projects including Reconnect West Seattle project
- Planning and design of a long-term replacement
The Transportation and Utilities Committee also held a briefing on the West Seattle Bridge. Due to COVID and the Council’s work to revise the 2020 budget due to declining tax revenues, this was the first opportunity for the committee to meet in several months. I thank Chair Pedersen for hearing this at the first opportunity.
SDOT has selected a designer for a replacement for the West Seattle Bridge, which will be necessary for all repair or replacement scenarios.
I appreciate SDOT taking this action now, rather than waiting on the decision of whether to proceed with a replacement or a repair. If we pursue a replacement, this decision will save time.
The design team includes 26 total firms, including 11 woman and minority-owned business enterprise companies.
Low Bridge automated enforcement
SDOT will propose legislation to the Council soon for automated enforcement on the lower bridge. This is made possible by the years-long effort of Representative Joe Fitzgibbon to change state law in the 2020 state legislative session to allow for camera enforcement in transit lanes. This could begin as soon as this fall, and is authorized as a pilot project through June 2023. Monetary penalties would begin in January 2021.
Once camera enforcement begins, SDOT will have the opportunity to examine traffic patterns on the lower bridge, and may be able to adjust allowed users. Requests continue to come in for additional access, for example businesses and essential workers.
Two: 1. Put up enforcement cameras ASAP. 2. Look at the original justification, 1984, to Federally fund the WSB. Magnuson & Jackson pointed out that the bridge would be/is a Military Asset providing access to Bremerton and Bangor, and now more important with the Everett Home Port. Look at the history of the justification to originally build the high bridge.