• Analysis details slow pace of some Move Seattle levy projects

    By: Graham Johnson

    Updated:

    The former secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation calculates the city of Seattle is significantly behind schedule in completing projects for the $930 million Move Seattle transportation levy.

    Doug MacDonald, acting as a private citizen, analyzed the third-quarter report presented Thursday to a citizen oversight committee and calculated that, by the end of September, the Seattle Department of Transportation had delivered less than 23 percent of the major levy projects planned for 2017.

    "They're short this year and they're short by a lot," MacDonald told KIRO 7.

    Passed by voters in 2015, Move Seattle raises property taxes to fund small and large transportation projects, from restriping crosswalks to a new overpass at Lander Street.

    "Some of the very biggest projects are the ones that are moving the very slowest," MacDonald said.

    His calculations concluded 16 percent of the arterial asphalt and concrete projects planned for 2017 were completed in the first three quarters.

    MacDonald says many smaller projects are going well and praised the crews doing the work.

    He is concerned about the time it is taking SDOT to ramp up managing levy projects.

    "For a nine-year program, to be 21 months into it and still doing some fundamental things on program management is not the way it should have run," MacDonald said.

    MacDonald's analysis emphasizes major levy projects and includes the general fund money that is combined with levy money to deliver projects.

    It stands in contrast to the rosier third-quarter report presented by SDOT staff.

    "I think it's going pretty well," SDOT director Scott Kubly told KIRO 7. "We've striped over 1,500 crosswalks this year, which is more than we ever met during (the) Bridging the Gap (levy). We're going to meet almost all of the deliverables and those that don't get met will get met in the first month of 2018."

    Kubly said much of the work, such as paving, is seasonal and that significant progress was being made in the last quarter of the year.

    SDOT says protected bike lanes, which, by the end of September were 42 percent of the way toward the 2017 target, should reach 82 percent of the goal by year's end.

    Neighborhood greenways, 10 percent done in the first three quarters of the year, are projected to be 44 percent complete by the end of the year.

    Arterial roadway maintenance, 17 percent done by Sept. 30, is projected to be 64 percent finished by the end of 2017.

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

    The city expects similar carryover into 2018.

    Kubly said, for major projects, the first years are often devoted to planning, with construction ramping up later in the life of the levy.

    "What the voters really care about is: Do we deliver all the projects we said we were going to deliver?" Kubly said. "And at the end of nine years, we're going to have delivered all of those projects."


     

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