Kubly: Seattle late on projects because it’s ‘being responsible’

Oct 25, 2017, 7:59 AM | Updated: 3:05 pm
transportation levy...
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

At $930 million, the 2015 Move Seattle levy is the biggest in city history.

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A property tax increase over nine years is funding transportation projects large and small across the city.

But the most recently available progress report suggests the city is at risk of not making many of its levy targets for 2017, and some levy money is being deferred for future use.

The Seattle Department of Transportation left $32 million in levy money unspent in 2016 and carried it forward into 2017.

The city expects a similar carryover into 2018.

“What we’re seeing the first couple of years are a lot of smaller projects coming forward, more curb ramps, a lot of refreshed striping, our new tree trimming crew is on board and out trimming trees and next year we’re going to start seeing some of those bigger projects start getting delivered,” SDOT director Scott Kubly said.

Kubly says the city is still ramping up the nine-year levy, hiring staff and designing big projects.

He says spending will jump in later years when more construction begins.

“I would actually argue that the fact that we have carryover is an indication of us being responsible,” Kubly said.

Kubly says designing projects before voters approved funding would not have made sense.

SDOT’s latest levy report, for the second quarter of this year, shows the city far from its 2017 commitments.

For example, it committed to re-mark 1,500 crosswalks in 2017 but finished only 527 in the first half of the year.

Of the 560 lane miles committed for restriping, only 25 were done by the end of June.

SDOT said only about a third of the spending is done in the first half of the year because some work, like paving, has to wait until the weather improves.

The third-quarter progress report for Move Seattle will be released in November to an oversight committee.

Shefali Ranganathan of the Transportation Choices Coalition, who serves as co-chair of the oversight committee, said SDOT’s pace of spending has been discussed at the meetings, but “I’m not concerned at this point.”

Kubly said it is more important to judge the success of the levy in a few years, once design work is farther along and more workers are hired.

The Move Seattle levy includes major projects like an overpass at Lander Street and a rebuilding of a bridge along Fairview Avenue.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Kubly: Seattle late on projects because it’s ‘being responsible’