WSDOT will extend SR 99 mitigation funding through 2015; Decision means some but not complete financial relief
County's Plan B funding plan will go ahead
With transit cuts looming for Metro and a Plan B funding solution moving forward from King County at least some relief is happening. Washington State Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson has sent a letter to Kind County Executive Dow Constantine stating that WSDOT will extend the SR99 construction mitigation agreement that was set to expire in June, through the year 2015. The funding is estimated at approximately $14 million.
An excerpt from the letter follows:
Dear Executive Constantine:
In 2008 the Washington Department of Transportation agreed to provide funding for transit service as mitigation for impacts to drivers during construction of SR99 in Seattle. Replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct is a critical safety project, however, construction has significant effects on the traveling public and freight mobility and mitigation of those effects was identified as an essential part of the project.
This funding was initiated in 2010 and intended to continue through 2015. Our investment in transit service has led to a 42 percent increase in ridership on the routes where new service was added. Transit ridership has also grown significantly, increasing by more than 40 percent since 2009. This increase in ridership has provided capacity on SR 99 and city streets to ensure people and goods can still move to and through downtown Seattle during this complex and multi-year project.
The funding agreement between WSDOT and King County to provide this added transit service will end this year. WSDOT will extend this agreement so the added level of transit service will continue until the end of 2015.
In order to execute this, I have asked Todd Trepanier, administrator of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Program to meet with your staff in the coming weeks to extend the funding agreement.
Secretary of Transportation
The executive's office responded with this:
""This is great news for everyone who commutes on the SR99 corridor, especially those coming from West Seattle and Burien," says King County Executive Dow Constantine. "Viaduct mitigation has reduced traffic and increased transit use, and will continue to help manage the impacts of construction on businesses and the traveling public.”
According to County officials this funding will have no effect on "Plan B" funding set in motion by the county since West Seattle was facing a doubled impact of transit cuts and loss of funding. Stable funding for Metro is needed systemwide. Mitigation funding for the viaduct only sustains the additional service that is required due to construction impacts, so the two are not directly related. West Seattle/Burien/White Center was facing both the 17 percent cuts to the system and another 10 percent related to viaduct mitigation.
Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember said, “This wildly successful mitigation service has moved more people through the Alaskan Way Viaduct while reducing the vehicles using it. As a C Line commuter, I am pleased the state is continuing the funding as the project continues.”