Three Seattle Metropolis Council members again new $20 car-tab price for bridge upkeep

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Three Seattle Metropolis Council members say the town ought to cost a brand new car-tab price to pay for upkeep on the town’s getting older bridges. 

Councilmembers Alex Pedersen, Lisa Herbold and Andrew Lewis on Friday proposed a brand new $20 price. The price would elevate about $3.6 million subsequent 12 months and $7.2 million a 12 months in future years, council members say. 

“The approaching determination whether or not to restore or change the West Seattle Bridge highlights the significance of ongoing funding in upkeep of Seattle’s bridges,” Herbold stated in a ready assertion. 

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Pedersen, chair of the council’s transportation committee, stated “underfunding” upkeep “will increase the danger of hurt and finally ends up costing taxpayers extra later.”

Town closed the West Seattle Bridge after discovering that cracks within the concrete girders had been accelerating, although SDOT has stated the closure didn’t “seem like the results of any deficiency in our bridge upkeep program” as a result of the bridge was being inspected.

A metropolis audit report requested by Pedersen stated what the town’s personal transportation managers have lengthy argued: that the town must be spending extra on bridge upkeep. SDOT spends about $6.6 million a 12 months however says it must be spending at the least $34 million, the auditors discovered.

Six metropolis bridges, together with the 90-year-old College Bridge, are thought-about structurally poor or in poor situation, which might point out a necessity for vital restore or alternative. 

Council members stated the brand new cash can be targeted on “bridges with high-frequency public transit,” however didn’t instantly launch an in depth spending plan. 

The proposal might meet resistance from advocates for individuals who stroll, bike and take transit who argue that within the midst of local weather change, the town’s assets must be targeted on options to driving. 

When Pedersen floated the concept for rising bridge-maintenance spending final month, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda described the concept as a “principally automotive centric proposal.” Pedersen argued bus riders and others additionally profit from well-maintained bridges.

As chair of the council’s funds committee, Mosqueda this week proposed a bundle of modifications to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2021 funds. The bundle included a Pederson proposal so as to add $4 million for inventorying bridge situations. 

Representatives for Laborers Native 242, Ironworkers Native 86 and the Sodo Enterprise Enchancment Space provided statements supportive of the price Friday.

State legislation permits the Metropolis Council to impose the price with out going to voters for approval. The proposal would wish assist from a majority of the council. 

The price might not really feel like a rise to some drivers. At present, automobile house owners pay $80 in metropolis car-tab charges, with $20 of that for primary street initiatives and $60 for bus service. The $60 bus service price will expire on the finish of this 12 months. With the brand new price, automobile house owners would pay $40 in metropolis automotive tab charges subsequent 12 months, as a substitute of $80.

Seattle automobile house owners additionally pay charges to the state for numerous transportation initiatives and to Sound Transit to construct new gentle rail. On this month’s election, Seattle voters renewed and elevated a gross sales tax for bus service.

The Washington Supreme Courtroom cleared the way in which for cities like Seattle to proceed utilizing car-tab charges for transportation initiatives final month when the court docket struck down Initiative 976. The Tim Eyman-sponsored measure would have stripped cities of their potential to cost native car-tab charges. 

Whereas the measure handed statewide, Seattle voters rejected it