Seattle Not Exactly Boasting About Its $12 Million Per Mile Bike Lanes

Shutterstock/Oleksiy Rezin

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
Font Size:

Seattle has called off the self-acclaim as it opens its latest bike lane. The city council preferred instead to call this a “soft launch” when the latest installment of the city’s environmentally-conscious reserved cycling lanes opened this week on the city’s Second Ave.

As The Seattle Times reported Monday, when the special section of road is costing the municipal taxpayer $12 million per mile, it may not be something to shout about.

With prices like these, the Seattle Department of Transport (SDOT) estimates it might only complete 25 miles of bike lanes and not the 50 miles originally anticipated. Bike lanes in the downtown core are averaging $12 million per mile while those in the suburbs are costing $2 million per mile.

“Clearly, the SDOT needs to work much harder on value-engineering the costs of these projects down,” interim director Goran Sparrman told the Times. Sparrman declared that no matter the environmental consequences, “we simply can’t afford those things.”

The city was apparently able to afford the initial estimate of $860,000 per mile but as Sparrman admitted to the Times, “Some of those dollar amounts estimated for what projects would cost were clearly insufficient, even at the time.”

Seems city planners took the cost of paving into account but not the expense of new traffic lights and signs or the need to repair the damage to sidewalks and vehicle lanes.

Seattle drivers and taxpayers might be questioning the project at this but the city website is still labeling the bikes lanes as “visionary” and lauding Seattle’s “safer streets, better roads, and more reliable transit options.”

For those taking advantage of the multi-million dollar bike passages, it’s not enough: as Fox News reports, cycling enthusiasts came out in great numbers on Bike Everywhere Day this month to state the case for even more laneways.

Follow David on Twitter