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Putting unthinkable cost of Seattle bike lanes into perspective

(File, Associated Press)

Cost estimates for bike lanes in Seattle were wildly off.

The $930 million transportation levy approved by voters will fall short of funding several key projects, including constructing miles of bike lanes and greenways.

At least part of the reason for that shortfall has to do with the enormous amount of money the city is spending on bike lanes. Interim Director Goran Sparrman of the Seattle Department of Transportation told the Seattle Times bikelanes expected to cost around $860,000 per mile are costing up to $12 million.

For the amount the city is spending on a single mile of protected bike lanes, many urban areas in the country could be building a six-lane highway, according to a recent report. And that money would go even further in rural areas.

According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, an organization funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the cost of a five-foot, one-mile bike lane costs between $5,000 and $535,000. The average cost is about $130,000. Which means the estimated $860,000 for a mile of bike lane isn’t too extraordinary, especially considering the cost of doing business in the Seattle area.

The news that the city would fall short on several transportation-related promises follows Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to halt the streetcar expansion project because cost estimates increasing yet again.

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