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Seattle could spend up to $225 million on West Seattle Bridge by end of 2021

Before the West Seattle Bridge is either fully repaired or replaced, the city expects to spend millions on planning, monitoring and testing, and traffic mitigation.

SEATTLE — Between $160 million to $225 million could be spent on the West Seattle Bridge program through 2021.

Noting there is a "great deal of uncertainty," the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) says that money wouldn't cover all costs associated with fully repairing or replacing the bridge. 

Instead, the money will be used for bridge monitoring and testing, emergency repairs, planning and design, and traffic and travel mitigation projects.

A proposed $70 million "interfund loan" from the city would cover costs for this year and the first quarter of next year, according to SDOT. That would give the department time to find additional funding. It would be repaid with a $100 million bond sale.

RELATED: Repairs could give West Seattle Bridge 15 years of life, SDOT says

Another "interfund loan" would be needed for spending above $100 million through 2021. 

The first $70 million "interfund loan" would come in the form of a primary and secondary loan, Councilmember Lisa Herbold noted in her blog. The Construction and Inspections Fund would provide $50 million with another $20 million coming from a the Real Estate and Excise Tax. The real estate tax would need to be expanded to allow revenue from it to debt service for the repair or replacement of the bridge. 

An analysis within the proposed legislation to expand the Real Estate and Excise Tax warns if that doesn't happen, money from the city's general fund would need to be used. The combination of the costs associated with the bridge and the drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic would result in cuts for other programs.  

RELATED: Seattle mayor declares West Seattle Bridge closure a civil emergency

The West Seattle high bridge, the main connector between West Seattle and other parts of the city, closed suddenly in March when cracks were found to be spreading.

The lower bridge is not open to general traffic for most of the day, forcing drivers to detour. The bridge is reserved for buses, trucks, especially those handling port traffic and emergency vehicles. In June, the city opened it to vehicles between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.