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Seattle council approves $9 million in streetcar funding

(SDOT)

In a milestone vote for Seattle’s First Avenue Streetcar project, city council approved on Monday $9 million in design funding.

Issue of Seattle’s underfunded streetcar moves on to council

Councilmember Lisa Herbold was the sole no vote (6-1). She says it’s too expensive. SCC Insight’s Kevin Schofield had previously noted Herbold’s “vocal opposition” to the project as a whole.

“The cost was most recently estimated at $286 million dollars and this is twice the cost estimated in 2015 before we’ve even broke ground,” Herbold told the council.

Supporters say the streetcar is a carbon-neutral transit alternative that would reduce traffic on some of downtown’s most constricted streets.

Back in late July, the Seattle Department of Transportation and Mayor Jenny Durkan asked city council to approve a $9 million appropriation toward the streetcar “to perform essential engineering and design work for the Center City Connector project.” This came as the project faced an $87 million gap in funding.

Seattle’s halted streetcar project will resume, at higher cost

That $9 million represents part of a $285.8 million total estimate for the project’s cost, almost double its original estimate of $143.2 million in 2015. According to SDOT, if the project were terminated, it would open up $45 million of “future bond capacity” for other transportation projects.

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