Mike McGinn Now Even More Unlikely to Be Bestowed the Nickname Mayor Pothole

Frustrated at how long it's taking to fill that giant hole in the road outside your house? Sorry. The Seattle Department of Transportation says it's going to take even longer to fill it starting today, thanks to Mayor Mike McGinn's announcement that he's cutting SDOT's budget for this year by $7.8 million.

SDOT Director Peter Hahn says that he's cutting five positions from the road crews, effectively eliminating one pothole-filling team. And rather than a goal of 48 hours to respond to a call reporting a pothole, SDOT will try to get a crew out to fill it within 72 hours.

Hahn says he hopes that with the additional time for filling potholes, the crews will be able to do a better job so the patches will last longer.

The city will also cut back on regular maintenance of traffic lights and the signal beacons blinking at some crosswalks.

And remember last May when McGinn said he would be building more bike paths and sidewalks as part of his walk/bike/ride initiative? Well not only isn't it looking likely he'll be starting anything new, but projects in the bike and pedestrian master plans created during Greg Nickels' administration will be cut back or put on hold.

And of course delaying pothole fixes will make it even harder to get around on a bike, as Judy Lightfoot observed in Crosscut last week.

The $7.8 million in cuts was needed just to keep the books balanced, this year, McGinn says. There is still a projected $56 million overall deficit in the general fund (from which SDOT draws part of its budget) next year.

Hoping to deal with that deficit without additional cuts to road crews and maintenance, McGinn says he'll ask the city council to pass a 5 percent to 10 percent increase in the parking taxes and a $20 vehicle license fee, neither of which would need to go before voters.

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