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New 520 Bridge: More Spent on Planning Than on Building Original Bridge

June 21st, 2010 · 1 Comment · 520 Bridge

It appears to be true, even after factoring in inflation. Before a single pontoon has been floated, we’ve apparently spent more on meetings and consultants as of 2010 than we did on concrete, steel, labor, (and meetings and consultants) upon ribbon-cutting in 1963.

Run the numbers yourself. Inflation adjusted, the current bridge cost $172 million to build (2009 dollars.) The new bridge hasn’t even been started, and yet has cost 30% more.

Seattle Times:

“Before a foot of concrete is poured on a new Highway 520 floating bridge, Washington state taxpayers have spent $221 million on planning, environmental studies, public meetings, and engineering.”

“August 1963: Gov. Al Rosellini cuts a ribbon on the 520 bridge, which cost $24.8 million to build. The toll is 35 cents each way. Rosellini says planning has begun on a toll-free third bridge. “

When this is all done? Assuming no cost overruns, the 4.6 Billion we plan to spend (BTW is there still a 2 billion dollar funding gap?) we could have built 27 of the originals.

I’ll say it again, just rebuild as-is. The current structure has already been permitted. I’ll be you can find the required 172 million in the couch cushions in the Montlake and Medina neighborhoods that would gratefully embrace a minimally invasive status-quo.


1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Steve Roth // Jun 21, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    I can’t claim Steve’s authoritative “ethical” position (I rarely have to brave the bridge jams; he does often), but I’m with him 100%. In addition to the “just float in a new span” suggestions being straightforward, sensible, and fiscally responsible, the current bridge congestion gives incentive for people to drive less, use public transport, and live near their work. That in turn encourages thriving local retail businesses, and hence the kind of city I like to live in.

    And it’s not like adding bridge capacity is going to reduce congestion for more than about a week, or do much of anything to solve the bottleneck where 520 meets I-5…

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