This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
The bill, which commits $7.4B over two years, would set aside some of — but not nearly all — the money needed for the 520 floating bridge replacement and the Viaduct replacement:
Lawmakers and Gov. Christine Gregoire said for the first time that Olympia must proceed with some projects, most notably the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, without knowing entirely where the money is coming from. The bridge needs at least $2 billion more.
About $78 million is set aside to cover additional overruns in the next two years and a $1 billion risk pool is created for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement and rebuilding the 520 bridge.
The plan assumes $915 million worth of initial work on replacement of the viaduct and would include $120 million in early spending on the 520 bridge.
More on the unique process from the P-I:
Gregoire and other transportation leaders said it makes sense to start building huge highway projects – many of which could take a decade or more to complete – before final designs and total cost estimates are in established.
While it’s true that there are certain non-negotiable aspects of these projects that can be started right away (like new pontoons for a new floating bridge), it seems awful risky to start pre-construction before all the financing is in place. It just kicks the problem down the road.
That said, it is an interesting way to get around the “Seattle way” of talking projects to death and never pouring any concrete. That’s because citizens generally don’t get worked up until fairly late in the process. By the time people start holding neighborhood meetings to oppose a given project, it’ll be half-built.