Seattle proposes $900 million transportation levy plan

Seattle officials proposed a nine-year, $900 million transportation levy this week to fund bridge, road and rail improvements, a plan that would improve a variety of travel modes in the growing city but would need voter approval to raise property taxes.

“This levy recognizes that we have needs that must be addressed now: street maintenance, sidewalk repair, bridges at risk in the next earthquake,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said at a press conference announcing the plan.

The levy would pay to reinforce 16 vulnerable bridges, repave 250-lane miles of streets, improve mobility for freight and create seven new bus rapid transit corridors, among other projects.

With the city’s current $365 million transportation levy set to expire at the end of the year, more funding is needed to keep up with Seattle’s growth, city officials said.

The levy “maintains our current system and modernizes our busiest corridors to accommodate the growth that we will experience,” Murray said. By 2025, Seattle is expected to be home to another 60,000 residents, and if all of those people drove every day, “it would cripple our transportation system and our economy,” according to Murray.

The transportation proposal would be paid for with an increase in property taxes on Seattle households and is expected to be put before voters in November. The median Seattle household, valued at $450,000, would pay approximately $275 a year under the plan. By comparison, the cost of the current levy for transportation is approximately $130 a year for the median household.