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'Previous administration had over promised': Seattle's road construction to be scaled back

'Previous administration had over promised': road construction to be scaled back (PHOTO: KOMO News)

Promises made, which lead to the Move Seattle levy passing in 2015, are falling short in 2018. It’s the largest levy Seattle voters have every approved — $930 million for transportation and transit projects — equating to an average of $280-a-year per household for 9 years.

“The previous administration had over promised to the public what can be delivered with the money that we had,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Friday.

Durkan ordered a review of levy spending and the Seattle Department of Transportation worked with the Move Seattle Oversight Committee to prioritize what projects could be done.

“The feedback we got was, 'tell us what you can do with what you have, don't be overly optimistic and also give us quality over pure quantity,'” said Lorelei Williams, SDOT Interim Deputy Director of Capital Project Delivery.

Potholes will still be filled, bike lanes will still be constructed, more Rapid Ride Buses will be added but not at the scale that was promised. Miles of paving projects have been scaled back.

“There is the high cost of construction,." Williams said. "Seattle is an expensive place. We are competing with against others will large scale projects for labor and that can delay projects."

And some projects remain on hold, like the streetcar connecting Pioneer Square to downtown.

“It’s not dead, but I think people have the right to know what it’s going to cost,” Durkan said. She said transparency is needed with SDOT projects going forward.

“I personally I think street cars are cool," Durkan said.

The new plan reflects reality, she said.

“For the first time ever, there is a long term plan that is based on good estimates and good facts,” Durkan said.

But, she said, SDOT’s revamp spending plan for the levy comes with an asterisk — construction delays often plague long term projects and those could have a ripple effect on other projects drawing from the same pot of money.

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