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June 25, 2020

SDOT puts streetcar, other projects on hold

Image from SDOT document [enlarge]
Plans for the Center City Connector included streetcars running down First Avenue.

The city of Seattle yesterday said it was putting some projects on hold to deal with budget shortfalls resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

For the Seattle Department of Transportation, the loss for 2020 is projected to be $55.3 million. The agency is “pausing” a number of projects, including the Center City Connector streetcar, in an effort to cut $58.3 million. That's about 8% of SDOT's $739 million adopted budget.

A letter from SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe said the agency in the coming months will develop criteria to guide which work will be paused indefinitely and which will continue. He said projects that promote racial and social justice will be prioritized.

“We need to reduce spending now in 2020 to get the long-term project list right for 2021 and 2022,” Zimbabwe wrote.

Most of the paused projects aren't the size of the streetcar program, which the DJC last year reported at $286 million, but include things like safety improvements to Sand Point Way Northeast and the 23rd Avenue East corridor, various bicycle routes and facilities, paving jobs, seawall maintenance, street cleaning, and planning/design work.

Most of the projects are paused until January 2021.

SDOT is continuing with projects already in construction or where it is leveraging grants and external funding. The list includes:

• West Seattle High-Rise Bridge.

• Lander Street overpass.

• Martin Luther King Jr. Way protected bike lane (north of Rainier).

• Georgetown to South Park bike facility.

• Fairview Bridge replacement.

• Northgate bike and pedestrian bridge.

• Delridge RapidRide H Line.

• Madison BRT/Rapid Ride G Line.

• Bus lane improvements on Rainier Avenue South.

• Safe Routes to School projects.

• Green Lake and Wallingford paving.

“We do not expect an economic recovery to be swift and quickly restore SDOT's budget to pre-pandemic levels,” Zimbabwe wrote. “Projects may still be added or removed from our ‘pause' list as we further our prioritization efforts and better understand revenue projections.”

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