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Council approves funding for County share of South Park Bridge replacement


County working to build coalition of businesses, local and state governments to collaborate in construction of new span on vital corridor


The Metropolitan King County Council today took an important step toward replacing the aging South Park Bridge with its adoption of legislation that provides the County Executive with funding authority needed to assist in the construction of a new bridge.

The 79-year-old bridge, which crosses the Duwamish Waterway, connects the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods in south Seattle. With nearly 20,000 vehicles crossing it each day, the South Park Bridge is an important freight corridor that links the manufacturing and industrial centers of Seattle with the rest of the region.

On Wednesday, June 30, the deteriorating bridge will be closed due to unsafe conditions caused by widespread steel corrosion, crumbling concrete piers, unstable drawbridge piers and deteriorating mechanical and electrical systems.

“Putting together a winning funding package for a new bridge is my number one priority—period!” said Councilmember Jan Drago, who represents the South Park and Georgetown areas on the council. “By committing the County’s share of the funds today, our partners can now move quickly and the remaining funding can fall into place. Solidifying the local dollars and the coalition of stakeholders will be the key to success with our next bid for federal grant money.”

“Investing in the bridge means investing in our region,” said Councilmember Julia Patterson, who serves as Chair of the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee.  “The bridge closure will move thousands of vehicles onto other major transportation corridors, such as the 1st Avenue South Bridge and I-5, creating severe congestion which will slow us down. It will also stifle commerce and add to air pollution – all at a projected cost of up to $337 million to the County and the region.”

“The closure of the South Park Bridge will significantly impact the community and region,” said Council Chair Bob Ferguson, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “This legislation gets us a step closer to a new South Park Bridge, which is critical from both an economic and social equity standpoint.”

“The South Park Bridge is critical for protecting manufacturing, industrial, and small business jobs, and replacing it would add construction jobs during this critical time,” said Councilmember Larry Phillips, Chair of the Environment and Transportation Committee. “I am in full support of working with local, regional, state, and federal partners to piece together the funding to replace this important infrastructure.”

“King County residents, especially those that live and work in the South Park neighborhood, rely on the bridge for their economic vitality and their quality of life,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, a co-sponsor of the legislation.  “The legislation passed today moves us one step closer to securing the necessary funding to rebuild the South Park Bridge.”

The legislation approved by the Council includes:

• An ordinance that authorizes the Executive to issue up to $31 million in Limited Tax General Obligation bonds to finance the County’s share of the construction costs;

• An ordinance that revises the 2010-2015 Roads Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to add $2.5 million per year for debt repayment;

The adopted legislation provides the County with $30 million in funding authority to go toward the estimated $131 million cost of replacing the bridge. King County expects its financial commitment to assist its application for federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) funds. The County’s statement of intent is due by July 16, and the full application will be submitted in late August.

Along with the potential TIGER II grant, the County is working with other impacted governments and businesses in an effort to assemble a local funding package for replacement of the span. Those interested in possibly partnering with the County include the State of Washington, the cities of Seattle and Tukwila and the Port of Seattle. Several potential partners have indicated to the Executive that a firm County funding commitment is vital to their ability to solidify their contributions.

On June 15, the Seattle City Council sent a letter of support to the County Executive, pledging $15 million toward construction of the new bridge.

“King County is now the first money in towards funding construction of a new South Park Bridge,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine, who last week thanked the Seattle City Council for its pledge of $15 million. “This support from the County Council is further evidence that our region is pulling together in a united effort for bridge replacement.

The adopted legislation advances the Council’s priority of Mobility for People, Goods and Services. See the Council’s Priorities Scorecard.
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