Seattle voters are deciding on Proposition 1, a nine-year $930 million measure for transportation projects. Below, Ref Lindmark argues for a yes vote; Suzie Burke's argument for a no vote is here.
As a transportation planner and member of the citizen oversight committee that functions as a watchdog for our public transportation dollars in Seattle, I can assure you that the public should feel confident voting Yes on Seattle Proposition 1 — the Let’s Move Seattle levy — to replace our expiring levy on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The Bridging the Gap levy — which expires at the end of this year — has employed a robust accountability and performance tracking system, with progress on projects closely monitored by the citizen oversight committee.
I can also assure you that the Seattle Department of Transportation has delivered excellent results for Bridging the Gap projects. Those projects have been completed on budget and on time, in many cases exceeding the levy’s goals.
Some opponents of Let’s Move Seattle have tried to connect the recent news about cost overruns on the Seawall project with the levy. But Let’s Move Seattle levy funds have nothing to do with the Seawall. And the Seawall is an unprecedented project with unique challenges, unlike the dozens of simpler, bread-and-butter levy projects spread all across Seattle. When it comes to those sorts of projects, SDOT’s strong track record with the funds raised by the previous levy is reassuring.
Here are some examples: In 2006, Bridging the Gap promised to deliver 200 line-miles of resurfaced pavement. In reality it delivered 225 miles. Bridging the Gap also delivered 193 blocks of repaired or restored sidewalks, 49 more than expected. In fact, in almost every significant category, Bridging the Gap met or exceeded the promised results.
The results on several of the larger projects were even more positive. For example, the Spokane Street Viaduct project, a major bridge rehabilitation and safety project, achieved approximately $20 million in savings through tight project management and strong oversight of the $163 million project.
With Bridging the Gap expiring at the end of 2015, the oversight committee concluded earlier this year that, “SDOT has been a good financial steward and delivered on what it promised.”
The Let’s Move Seattle replacement levy strengthens and adds to the transparency and accountability provisions developed under Bridging the Gap. For example, Let’s Move Seattle includes a provision that establishes a $40 million baseline of annual general fund support for transportation; this ensures that levy dollars will be additive to existing transportation funding, allowing the City to complete more transportation projects.
Based on Bridging the Gap, the City can be trusted to deliver on the projects in the proposal. Opponents claim the list of projects in the proposal is merely a wish list and there is no reason to assume they'll be built. But Bridging the Gap included the same flexibility that critics now attack about Let’s Move Seattle, and the citizen's oversight mechanism ensured that SDOT delivered on its promises. Additionally, SDOT has just publicly released a Let’s Move Seattle project construction and financing plan that outlines the sequence and timing of when individual projects will be built over the nine years of the levy.
Seattle voters have every reason to feel confident when they are voting this November that the money raised by this levy will be used wisely and spent efficiently to deliver real transportation benefits for the people of this city. Vote es on Seattle Proposition 1 to invest in our transportation future.