Seattle will need to find more funds to build a Northgate Station bicycle-pedestrian bridge, after losing in competition for federal grants.
The federal government has decided not to contribute $15 million toward a Northgate Station pedestrian-and-bicycle bridge over Interstate 5. Local taxpayers would need to fund the entire $26 million project themselves.
Nor will Uncle Sam donate $10 million to help Seattle expand the Pronto bicycle network, which currently serves the University District, downtown and places nearby.
Those requests, which the city combined into one grant application, failed to make the project list announced Monday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s TIGER program.
However, two other projects in the state won awards.
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Sound Transit received $15 million to extend the Tacoma Link downtown streetcar 2.4 miles, to reach hospitals and low-income neighborhoods. The whole project costs $160 million and has already won a separate $75 million federal award.
Washington State Ferries will get $10 million to help replace the 63-year-old Mukilteo terminal by 2019, an overall $129 million project.
Northgate Station also missed the cut last year.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) tried to sweeten the application this year by combining the bridge with wider Pronto coverage, along with electric bicycles.
The TIGER competition, conceived as a recession-era stimulus project by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., attracts more requests than the feds can satisfy. Out of $124 billion in requests, the program awarded $4 billion in the previous six years. This year, there were 24 requests from Washington state, Murray’s staff said.
Past winners include the Mercer Street rebuild and the new South Park drawbridge.
The federal list won’t be published until Thursday, but SDOT spokesman Rick Sheridan confirmed Tuesday the city was passed over.
Transit advocates consider the Northgate bridge an essential link to North Seattle College and apartments west of I-5. It nearly doubles the neighborhood area where people could walk to Link light rail trains in 2021.
Bridge funding still remains within reach.
Sound Transit already approved $5 million, and the Legislature $10 million, along with $5 million already pledged by Seattle. That leaves a gap of $6 million.
If voters pass this fall’s $930 million Move Seattle property-tax levy, the city’s plan would allocate $15 million to Northgate, pushing it past the goal line.
“If anything, it makes the urgency of Move Seattle even more intense,” said Blake Trask, state policy director for Washington Bikes.
Faye Garneau, major funder of the opposition Keep Seattle Affordable campaign, called the news “good” that federal tax dollars won’t be spent there.
“Now maybe they’ll think about using that one [overpass] on 92nd Avenue Northeast,” she said. “It’s got sidewalks on both sides.”
If the TIGER money came through, Mayor Ed Murray had proposed to mix $5 million from street-use fees, from a $394 million transportation operating budget next year, with $10 million federal aid for Pronto.
Sheridan said Tuesday there are no dollars allocated in Move Seattle to expand Pronto. The levy ordinance does permit wiggle room to shift money, theoretically including either project, within its “congestion relief” category.