520 Bridge faces Wash. highway fund shortfall

Legislators looking to increase gas tax and expand tolls to boost funding for project

News The Seattle Times August 05, 2010
Printer-friendly version

The $2 billion shortfall for the $4.56 billion crossing from Bellevue to Seattle is a problem that has plagued the state for more than three years.

Although pontoons to support the new bridges are to be built in Grays Harbor, approved funds can only complete two-thirds of the six-lane crossing. The state also cannot afford to complete the Seattle landings from Foster Island to I-5.

“It’ll take some kind of legislative decision to fully fund the $4.6 billion project,” Amy Arnis, DOT’s chief financial officer, told The Seattle Times.

The scope of the project has expanded and become more expensive. Additionally, the gas taxes approved in the 2000s will be insufficient because gasoline use has gone nearly flat, instead of the forecasted growth.

With the highway-fund shortfall in Seattle, the money for replacing the bridge will come from a variety of sources, including federal grants, 520 tolls and gas taxes.

Rep. Deb Eddy (D-Kirkland) told The Seattle Times that there needs to be statewide funding decided by legislators and some form of I-90 tolling.

“I realize there are unknowns and risks out there. But I don’t see anything out there that gives me heartburn right now,” Eddy said.

Fran Conley, former CEO of Cutter & Buck, told The Seattle Times that if the bridges were a couple of hundred million in the red, optimism could be understood, but not a couple of billion.

“People have a tactic of using happy talk,” Conley said, “and I think that where it gets us is a partially funded bridge.”

Overlay Init