An auditing division of the U.S. Department of Transportation says it has received “several complaints” about Seattle transportation projects receiving federal funding. The office is reviewing the federal department’s oversight of federal funds received by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
The scale and significance of the review remains unclear. The audit “is of US DOT’s oversight of federal funds and how WSDOT [the Washington State Department of Transportation] and SDOT manage those funds received from the Department,” a U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General spokesman said by email.
The federal department would not comment on the nature of the complaints or which projects were the subject of complaints.
Mary Kay Langan-Feirson, assistant inspector general for acquisition and procurement audits, notified U.S. DOT officials of the audit in a Nov. 25 memo.
“Recently, the Office of Inspector General received several complaints concerning federally funded projects for the City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that are subject to DOT’s oversight,” Langan-Feirson wrote without specifying the projects.
“Given the significant amount of departmental funds allocated to state and local governments for transportation-related projects and that we have not conducted an audit of the flow of DOT funds to SDOT or WSDOT, we are initiating this review,” Langan-Feirson wrote.
Seattle can receive federal money directly from administrations within U.S. DOT, like the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and from “pass throughs” administered by WSDOT.
In past years, Seattle has received federal grants for the Lander Street Overpass, Mercer Street and other projects. SDOT hopes to get FTA money for the First Avenue Streetcar and a RapidRide bus route on Madison Street.
SDOT has “not been in direct contact with US DOT about this audit,” SDOT spokesman Ethan Bergerson said in an emailed statement.
WSDOT does not know the nature of the complaints about Seattle projects but provided the federal department a list of active grants for Seattle projects, said WSDOT spokesman Bart Treece. That list includes grants for signal projects, a bike lane on Seventh Avenue, the Fairview Avenue bridge replacement and about a dozen other projects.
WSDOT was contacted by the U.S. DOT in October, Treece said.
The audit could take up to a year, according to the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General.