All nine members of the City Council have signed a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine pledging $15 million towards replacing the South Park Bridge. The King County Council is committing $30 million in County funds towards the replacement. Together, these pledges make up more than a third of the $130.8 million estimated cost of the project.
The Bridge is owned by King County, which has the responsibility for replacing it. County Executive Constantine has set a goal of having a funding plan in place as soon as possible, and has asked that all parties who have an interest in the replacement of the bridge consider making commitments. Both the Port and the State are working on it. If enough local partners step up so that King County’s application for the next round of stimulus funds (TIGER II Grants) would complete the funding package, this will make the application much more competitive. The federal government is looking for projects that can get into construction as soon as possible.
The City Council is proud to be the first to have accepted this challenge and make a concrete commitment. In addition to this $15 million pledge, the Council has sponsored action by the Puget Sound Regional Council that would commit $9 million from our share of the future federal Jobs Bill, and the City has spent nearly $1 million in support of King County’s environmental review and design of the replacement bridge. The Council is also promising to not submit or support any competing applications for TIGER II grants.
The City does not have a source of funds identified for the $15 million, but there are several options. There may be Bridging the Gap (BTG) funds available if other major projects are either delayed or bids continue to come in below budget estimates. Alternatively, we could reschedule some BTG projects. Or the Council could issue bonds for the $15 million and pay them off over time from the general fund.
There will always be competing priorities, but we are making this commitment because the South Park community needs our help and support. The South Park Bridge also plays a critical role in freight mobility and economic vitality for the City and region. The Council believes that Seattle must not only ensure the economic health of Seattle and our neighborhoods, but play a positive role in ensuring regional prosperity.