In yet another example of government incompetence, King 5 News has reported that the Seattle Seawall Project will exceed the promised timeline by one year. The project will now be completed in 2017—or so the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says—rather than in 2016. And, of course, it’s not just the time that has gone over expectations. Seattle officials have admitted that the project budget will increase by 33%, going up from $290 million to $409 million.
The admission from the SDOT is especially embarrassing considering the fact that the transit agency has “hailed the project as a shining example of how it can handle major projects.” Officials had insisted the project would be completed on time and on budget—even though they’ve quietly raised the price of the project since voters first approved the project in 2012. King 5,
“Voters approved a bond measure in 2012 to pay for $290 million of repair to the quake-prone seawall and for waterfront improvements. It was promised that the measure would fully fund the first phase of the seawall.
“But soon thereafter the project was budgeted at $300 million.
“Quietly, that number rose in 2013 to a bit more than $330 million.
“Now Kubly says it will take $409 million — more than 33% over the original budget — to complete. He also says it will take an additional year to build and won’t be completed until 2017.”
Seattle officials do not believe that the delay or cost overruns will require “new taxes.” Officials claim that “enough tax money currently sits ‘unallocated,’ and they plan to bond against it, in effect locking-in tax rates for years.” The Washington Policy Center,
“This raises questions as to what programs officials plan to cut to cover the additional costs. KING 5 reported Seattle officials are considering diverting money away from future transportation projects and road maintenance to increase spending on the Seawall Project.”
SDOT Director Scott Kubly has promised to root out “mismanagement” associated with the project and “respond appropriately.” Somehow, we don’t see that actually happening.
Given the history of transportation projects in our state (the Highway 99 project fiasco and Sound Transit’s light rail debacles), this latest example of government incompetence should come as no surprise. Though it may not be surprising, it is certainly frustrating.