Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Bridges, we need bridges

So there's a dire need for a new SR 520 bridge, but money is always an issue.
An estimated $4.4 billion, or perhaps as much as $5.3 billion, is needed to build a six-lane bridge to replace the four-lane span constructed in 1963. The world's longest floating highway is expected to wear out in 13 to 18 years, and engineers consider it to be as weak as the Alaskan Way Viaduct if an earthquake hits.

On Friday, Gov. Christine Gregoire endorsed a six-lane replacement. The announcement was overshadowed by her call for a Seattle-only public vote on whether to replace the viaduct with an elevated highway, or a tunnel.

Current proposals for 520 would generate only $2.1 billion — from $552 million in state gas taxes and some car-tab taxes; $700 million in expected tolls; and $800 million from a regional car-tab and sales-tax proposal likely to be on next fall's ballot.
I'm going to continue to refrain from offering much comment on Puget Sound area transportation questions, although I find the questions involved with 520 superficially similar to the ones facing the Portland-Vancouver area with the Interstate Bridge. How much, what kind, what else, etc.

While tolls are certainly not something that have existed to a large extent in Washington state and Oregon, usually having been confined to pay off bridge construction costs, in other parts of the country they are just a fact of life. Congestion pricing makes sense from a planning standpoint, but you can't be charging people an hour's worth of wages to get to work, either.

Not that this could ever happen today, but I always found it fascinating how northern California residents stepped up to pay for the Golden Gate Bridge.

That took guts.

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