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Monday, August 8, 2011

Activist Accidentally Uncovers Parts of Tunnel Financing Plan

Posted by on Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 7:26 PM

Elizabeth Campbell, a deep-bore tunnel critic and self-described "intrepid internet user," was Googling last night when she encountered a link with portions of a tunnel financing plan that the state has refused to give up.

"I experienced glee and then I laughed to myself," Campbell says about finding the state's FTP site. "It was kind of like, what was the big production about saying "you can't have it" and "I'm going to sue you for it"?

The state estimated in 2009 that the $4.2 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project would require $1.9 billion in financing—just on the state's $2.4 billion contribution to the project—but that figure didn't include financing for $400 million in tolling bonds or $1.2 billion paid by the City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle. The final plan, which the state officially refuses to disclose, may account for the financing and interest costs of the whole project.

Including letters from as recently as June 23, there are two documents: one with 48 pages and one with 221 pages.

I haven't looked through these; dig in!


Comments (29) RSS

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This, on page #41: "For background, Advance Construction is a technique which allows a State to initiate a project using non-federal funds while preserving the eligibility for future federal-aid funds. Under this approach, the AWV Replacement program is authorized by FHWA without the obligation of federal funds and with no commitment by FHWA that funds will be available in the future. WSDOT will use its own funds to pay project costs."

What bunk. A "technique"? They spend big dough on a project before the Feds OK it. Then they say, "We've already invested millions, so unless we move forward, we have just wasted the taxpayer's money."
Posted by SteveShay on August 10, 2011 at 10:21 AM · Report this
@18: I tried mirroring with "wget --mirror --convert-links" but it got stuck in some kind of recursive loop and downloaded the same top-level directory many times.

Following is a listing of the files and directories in that incoming directory:

06-29-11 02:43PM
07-22-11 11:29AM 007936_Welding_Quality_Control_Plan
07-27-11 12:52PM 008087 White River Bridge Scour Photos
07-29-11 10:30AM 04Y006 XL1838
07-28-11 02:34PM 1 -C. GIbson Water Dist
07-28-11 02:36PM 2 C. Gibson Water Dist
07-29-11 10:30AM 410 horseshoe
08-02-11 09:17AM 4112
08-02-11 03:31PM 27246529 6995 BA H-Span Calculations.pdf
07-29-11 10:30AM 8128_Plans
07-25-11 03:24PM 93 Fast 14
08-03-11 01:19PM aaaa
06-20-11 08:01AM 9708738 ADC Hourly Volume by Vehicle Class Report 2006 - 2007.7z
08-08-11 07:24AM Aerial_Photo
07-26-11 06:13AM Agreement Number Y_10954
07-29-11 07:25AM Anacortes Ferry Terminal Photos
08-01-11 06:34AM Andrea HDS
08-02-11 09:34AM 930394 Apollo 2nd layer Excess.pdf
08-02-11 09:30AM 27335990 APOLLO INC Cincy Pkg.tif
08-02-11 09:34AM 7849584 APOLLO, INC CHUBB IM.tif
08-02-11 09:33AM 1163583 Apollo1st Layer Excess.pdf
07-25-11 05:43PM ARRA
07-28-11 09:33AM ArtistPoint
07-29-11 10:32AM ASTI
08-03-11 03:45PM ATM NTCIP
07-29-11 10:30AM Avalanche
07-29-11 09:23AM AWV_N4D_Bents53-115
07-26-11 08:59AM Bakerview
07-27-11 09:58AM BelfairBypass
07-29-11 10:31AM BillHeubachCityOfBellevue
07-28-11 02:33PM Bone River ABC
08-08-11 01:24PM Brad Lincoln
08-04-11 07:38AM Bremerton_Tunnel
08-01-11 09:10AM Bridge
07-29-11 10:30AM Brodin
07-29-11 10:30AM BruceJohnsonContractResearch
07-27-11 11:14AM C7809 PDR
07-21-11 04:14PM C7847 Change order 84
07-26-11 12:38PM C8128_SR522Widening
07-25-11 07:35AM C8140 SR9 Stage 3
07-29-11 10:30AM C8199-SR161_24th-Milton
08-02-11 09:14AM CAPS
07-29-11 10:30AM CDOT
07-21-11 04:29PM Change Order 84
08-08-11 02:11PM Chehalis
08-02-11 11:48AM Christian
07-26-11 11:00AM COFEN
04-18-07 02:17PM com1.tagged
07-28-11 09:36AM Communications
08-03-11 06:49AM Contracts for steve F
07-29-11 10:30AM CurtDyk
07-29-11 11:36AM dblseal
08-04-11 04:22PM Drainage
07-19-11 07:21AM Ebey Slough Pics
08-08-11 03:26PM Edge Treatment
08-05-11 02:35PM Electric Highway
08-05-11 04:51PM EngineeringRecords
08-05-11 06:27PM ESApps
07-26-11 12:08PM Evans_Creek
07-21-11 01:48PM Flashing Slow Down
07-25-11 05:11PM For Rob K of Clark County
08-04-11 04:38PM FRA - Port of Vancouver
08-02-11 04:50PM FRA Fin Plan Appendices
07-22-11 09:47AM Franchise No. 30008C
08-02-11 08:36AM Garth
08-08-11 11:26AM GayahDataFromBerkeley
08-01-11 08:34AM GIS
07-25-11 08:53AM HCB Graving Dock
08-05-11 11:22AM HFL Webinar
07-21-11 11:25AM Homer Hadley
08-08-11 04:15PM Hood Canal photos
08-04-11 04:29PM HOV
07-29-11 10:30AM Howard Street Bridge
07-29-11 10:30AM HQ_CAE
07-28-11 09:38AM HSAP
08-02-11 05:26PM 367643647
08-08-11 03:14PM I-405
07-25-11 10:27AM I-5 Fife IJR
07-28-11 07:15AM I-5 Joe L Photos 5272011
08-01-11 09:31AM I-5 Paver Tumwater
07-26-11 09:41AM I-90 Two-Way Transit
08-01-11 10:56AM I-90Phase2
08-01-11 01:32PM I-90_Scoping
07-27-11 10:54AM I5videos
07-21-11 02:18PM ImagesForAstec
08-03-11 11:55AM Info from Chile - Bridges and Ports
07-21-11 03:48PM Jean Cutter Bridge 12_612N
07-25-11 01:22PM JimLeeSPU
08-04-11 09:02AM KBean_for_JLogan
07-19-11 07:29AM KGMI
08-03-11 12:38PM Kingston Eelgrass
07-29-11 03:24PM library
07-28-11 10:36AM Lise
08-02-11 09:47AM LnI Citation
07-26-11 12:46PM LogseSafe
07-20-11 06:55AM Maurer
07-21-11 04:24PM McAllister ICOET
08-08-11 01:57PM McAllister webinar
07-28-11 09:39AM MediaClips
07-21-11 09:27AM Michael
07-25-11 01:55PM MikeMorenSR5
07-28-11 05:35PM Milton's Asset-Safety Speech
08-04-11 04:34PM MobileLidar
07-22-11 02:15PM Molly
07-21-11 10:41AM MP314.20SholderFailure
07-22-11 10:14AM MS6369
07-26-11 06:53AM MS6371_Port_Of_Seattle_project
08-08-11 01:07PM NCHRP25-28
07-29-11 04:23PM NCR
08-05-11 06:24PM New Folder
08-04-11 04:28PM New Folder (10)
08-08-11 01:24PM New Folder (11)
08-08-11 03:37PM New Folder (12)
08-01-11 01:32PM New Folder (2)
07-19-11 02:35PM New Folder (22)
07-19-11 02:36PM New Folder (23)
07-21-11 03:53PM New Folder (26)
07-29-11 10:30AM New Folder (27)
07-21-11 03:59PM New Folder (28)
07-22-11 08:13AM New Folder (29)
08-02-11 03:08PM New Folder (3)
07-22-11 11:30AM New Folder (30)
07-27-11 07:45AM New Folder (31)
07-27-11 11:05AM New Folder (32)
07-27-11 01:09PM New Folder (33)
07-27-11 11:10AM New Folder (34)
07-28-11 08:04AM New Folder (35)
07-29-11 09:16AM New Folder (36)
07-29-11 11:53AM New Folder (37)
08-03-11 01:16PM New Folder (4)
08-03-11 01:17PM New Folder (5)
08-03-11 01:18PM New Folder (6)
08-04-11 01:43PM New Folder (7)
08-03-11 04:24PM New Folder (8)
08-04-11 03:51PM New Folder (9)
08-08-11 10:29AM NSC Surfaces for DEA
07-21-11 04:11PM Partnership for Excellence
08-06-11 10:54AM PCI Seismic Report August 2011
07-25-11 03:24PM PDR 11-1055
07-26-11 01:51PM PDR 11-1055 #2
08-05-11 02:26PM Plans For the City of Tacoma
07-27-11 09:40AM Plans send Den
08-04-11 08:19AM PLCE
07-21-11 02:29PM PntnApp
07-21-11 02:44PM Project Dashboards
07-29-11 10:30AM ProjectWiseV8iSS1
08-04-11 09:47AM Pt_Defiance_Bypass
08-08-11 02:17PM Public Disclosure
08-08-11 01:23PM Rail Office
08-02-11 03:56PM Repl_Proj_Appends
07-26-11 03:03PM Road Warrior_6.21.11_Mt. Vernon
07-29-11 10:40AM rwis
08-01-11 09:28AM S.133.07 - SW 2 Precast Panel Shop Drawings R2 PB Review (7-25-2011)
07-25-11 12:59PM SCC Video
07-21-11 10:54AM ShoreToKitchenJARPA
07-12-11 03:24PM 823 Shortcut to NCR.lnk
04-25-11 10:15AM 8062149 SHRP NOV10 SELECTED RE-SUBMITTAL.7z
08-03-11 01:23PM Skagit River CED 60%
08-03-11 07:07AM SnoCo
08-08-11 02:01PM Southwest
07-22-11 10:48AM SR 161 Mashel River Project
08-03-11 01:14PM SR 20 Skagit River CED Photo Points
07-28-11 10:54AM SR 3,303 Interchange Hydraulics
07-29-11 10:16AM SR 502 Corridor
08-08-11 02:30PM SR 520 Eastside Transit & HOV
07-26-11 12:54PM SR 520 Tolling
08-03-11 08:23AM SR 532
07-20-11 09:33AM SR 542 - MP 6.07 to MP 14.58
07-31-11 10:00AM SR 9, Pilchuck Creek - Utility information
08-04-11 03:00PM SR-3Eric
08-01-11 08:57AM SR3Slopes
07-27-11 11:20AM SR509TollFeasibilityStudyAppendices
08-08-11 04:53PM SR520
08-03-11 02:40PM SR520FEIS
08-04-11 04:23PM SR7 Elbe SRA
07-25-11 09:58AM STCDO
08-08-11 09:54AM Stormwater
07-27-11 01:27PM SWR
07-27-11 01:11PM SWR C8079 RFI 33.01
08-04-11 10:08AM T4Media
08-03-11 03:00PM Tacoma HOV
10-17-06 06:26PM Tagged .
08-03-11 01:53PM Test
07-25-11 08:40AM Test 1
08-02-11 12:19PM 33792 Thumbs.db
08-04-11 04:23PM TKS
08-03-11 12:53PM TMScom
08-08-11 12:26PM TPF-5(135)
08-03-11 04:18PM TriangleProject
08-02-11 09:48AM UrbanPartnershipPhotos
08-03-11 02:01PM US 12 McNary
07-21-11 02:00PM US 12 Phs 7A Hec-Ras 7-21-11
08-04-11 04:20PM US 12 Phs 7A Hec-Ras 8-4-11
07-26-11 10:52AM US 2 Culvert
08-02-11 08:45AM US101ShoretoKitchen
08-03-11 12:25PM WAAS
07-28-11 04:21PM WAQTC
06-30-11 03:34PM 17582009 WSDOT SPEED DISTRIBUTION 2006 - 2010.7z
08-08-11 12:52PM WSRN
07-07-11 02:35PM XL-2041
07-27-11 01:01PM XL-3503_SR548
07-07-11 02:35PM XL2135 NE134th St. Interchange - Stage 1
08-04-11 02:53PM XL3038 Spokane St Overcrossing
07-12-11 11:39AM _WSF_Stormwater_071211
Posted by Phil M http:// on August 9, 2011 at 10:53 AM · Report this
wisepunk 27
any ideas on what logo is being used on the small doc? on the tab is has an "hm" or "hn" logo...
Posted by wisepunk on August 9, 2011 at 9:52 AM · Report this
Kinison 26
I'll wager to say that this is another bunk story as none of the documents found on the FTP have been used in a scathing expose this morning. Staying up all night reading pointless government documents, looking for any holes in the fence, its good for you.
Posted by Kinison on August 9, 2011 at 8:57 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 24
In protest of course
Posted by Unregistered User on August 9, 2011 at 4:44 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 23
I care so much I shit my pants
Posted by Unregistered User on August 9, 2011 at 4:44 AM · Report this
Timrrr 22
Yeah, jus' lookie at that super-secret jargon like:
WSDOT’s budget for the Replacement Project includes a contingency amount for potential cost overruns. WSDOT is confident that the financial commitments for the Replacement Project are sufficient despite the impact the current economic downturn has had on motor fuel tax revenue.
Posted by Timrrr on August 9, 2011 at 12:33 AM · Report this
Who the fuck is doing IT security for the government? Files open on an ftp server? Picked up by google's bot-detection network? This is amateur hour.
Posted by big l on August 9, 2011 at 12:26 AM · Report this
seandr 20
To clarify, the interest rate paid by the issuer is set and is not affected by subsequent trading prices.

Those trading prices do affect the effective interest rate subsequent investors will get. If Tacoma offered 5% on a $1 bond, and I buy that bond from an investor for $2, my effective interest rate is much less than 5%.
Posted by seandr on August 8, 2011 at 10:56 PM · Report this
seandr 19
@11: Hi Gus - the math on bonds is pretty straight forward. A bond is a loan to the issuer (e.g. Tacoma, WA, etc.) from an investor (e.g., individuals, mutual funds, etc.) at a fixed interest rate for a fixed period of time.

The demand for those loans as an investment vehicle determines the amount of interest the issuer must offer in order to attract investors. Greater demand means lower interest rates, which means cheaper financing of the tunnel.

The issuer's credit rating affects demand - the higher the rating, the lower the perceived risk, and the lower the interest they'll have to offer to bring in investors. Risk relative to other investments is even more important - demand for US T-Bills went up today despite their lowered credit rating because investors deemed them far safer than stocks.

Investors can in turn sell these loans to other investors, and the price they get is determined by the factors above. But once a government institution has sold the bonds, the interest rate is set and is not affected by subsequent fluctuations in the trading price for those bonds.
Posted by seandr on August 8, 2011 at 10:47 PM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 18
Quite a few other links public exposed to explore:

It goes on and on.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on August 8, 2011 at 10:41 PM · Report this
@15 (Unless there were other documents) Click on the other SLOG links ("48 Pages" and "221 pages") those are being hosted on other sites and still very much available
Posted by lone locust on August 8, 2011 at 10:02 PM · Report this
Baconcat 16
@14: It's all about risk, that's all. Treat it like any kind of credit application situation or ongoing mortgage payments.

We could be in a little risk or a lot of risk. Things like this only matter when you have a very specific funding scenario or you're close to your cap. Which we are. Even when you slash out the stuff we need like surface improvements and, apparently, the waterfront streetfront.

BTW, did you see that the London Eye was part of a dastardly internet hoax? Gasp.
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 9:40 PM · Report this
Just Jeff 15
Well, here's hoping someone mirrors the file elsewhere, because apparently once Lindblom put this out on his Twitter feed the state closed the back door on this one. No longer available.
Posted by Just Jeff on August 8, 2011 at 9:40 PM · Report this
@12, I see you do know your way around using jargon with people like me who've said they don't have much background in it, and I don't know what you mean about ST either, but yeah, back to London.
Posted by gloomy gus on August 8, 2011 at 9:27 PM · Report this
Baconcat 13
@12 cont.: That isn't to say there will be downgrades on this project, nor can say there won't be risk to bonding ability.

So don't assume I'm completely losing my mind over this with a sudden fear that Sound Transit might have to scale back further or something. 'cuz you know you want to ask "well, what about ST", right?

Now, can we all just get back to watching London burst into flames? Thanks.
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 9:21 PM · Report this
Baconcat 12
@11: Read harder, gussy, I referred to it as the Tacoma Union Station ;)

That whole investing in bonds piece assumes you're holding onto a single bond, but most folks that invest in bonds pick and choose a wide variety (or their fund does it for 'em). So a loss on one in extraordinary circumstances can point to a loss on lots of the other bonds. And they're small dollar bonds in this case so translate the risk/loss upward.

On top of that, not everyone invested in bond has much long term potential, if you catch my drift. Swapping out funding ratios or bond holdings isn't great if you're a retirement fund or something.

Waving a flag over an issue is pretty necessary when you have a heavy reliance on bonding, plus it's not just bond investment that needs to be considered, it's other conditional funding. For example, if it looks like we can't line up all our bond duckies in a row, our eligibility for federal funds comes into question. And also the risks behind insurance and yadda yadda.

If you can't qualify for a credit card, you can't really get a mortgage or a car loan or, etc.. So it's a big deal in the bigger picture and something we transit wonks worry about in the case of entities like Sound Transit. Worries borne out by cut-backs in routing and whatnot.

And it's not like they can scaleback the tunnel and just surface on 4th and Bell ;)
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 9:08 PM · Report this
Will and Baconcat, ease up on the "Tacoma bond rating slashed setback Seattle's next" whatnot, willya? I hadn't read anything about it, but here's KIRO:
So what was downgraded? McNair-Huff said $5 million in bonds issued by Tacoma to renovate Union Station were downgraded from AAA to AA+; so were bonds issued to finance the Tacoma Housing Authority's Sunset Apartment.

"It doesn't mean any additional risk or bad news for Tacoma taxpayers," McNair-Huff said. "Potentially, if you're a bond holder, if you were to go out and sell those bonds today, you would get slightly less for them than if you sold them yesterday. However, if you're going to hold onto those bonds for the life of the bond, then you'll continue receiving your payments, just as the commitment was made when you bought them."…

As I said, I don't have a lot of knowledge about bonds for public projects or their interest or financing. But it's pretty clear you guys wanting to scare us don't either. Maybe lighten up on the panic button when it comes to bonds?
Posted by gloomy gus on August 8, 2011 at 8:54 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 10
So, if toll charges don't pass in the up-coming elections, funding will come from reductions in other state highway projects? Eastern Washington may have to do without subsidies from us for highway construction and maintenance funds?? Wow, how free-market. What's next, tax parity?
Posted by thatsnotright on August 8, 2011 at 8:47 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 9
Keep digging.

By the way, Tacoma just had their bond rating slashed, we're next.
Posted by Will in Seattle on August 8, 2011 at 8:44 PM · Report this
Baconcat 8
I think there are no bombshells here that wouldn't fit in with the common on-the-street assumption that WSDOT isn't really sure of where the money is coming from aside from some feel good napkin calculations and handshake deals but they can sure see the dollar signs twinkling in the eyes of every voter and side project throughout the state.

If you want to see the sort of shenanigans (okay, everyday thing) that verifies this, check out the Sound Transit attempt to transfer north subarea monies to the east. Now, pick a road project around the state (that isn't 520) and try to pick their pocket.

Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 8:36 PM · Report this
Yay! Baconcat reads so I don't have to!
Posted by bemusedkitty on August 8, 2011 at 8:23 PM · Report this
Baconcat 6
@5: I don't think there is conspiracy, just awareness that they can -- and probably would need to -- tap some funding sources that might cheese people off. And when we aren't sure about the economy and when freeways haven't really been a Seattle "thing" after the 70s, well...

As far as bonding, do remember that we just saw Tacoma's Union Station take a bond rating hit. That'd qualify as a setback, I'd say.
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 8:13 PM · Report this
Good for her, the gap-toothed Valkyrie of the viaduct-rebuild hobbyists! @1, I see that too (p.40 of the smaller doc), but it looks less like jargon than trying to show they're aware the legislature's not something to be taken for granted. I agree there doesn't look like much here to satisfy conspiracy theorists, but I'm sure sharper eyes than mine are on this tonight.
The current plan is for $400 million of the $2.8 billion to be provided by toll backed funding. The risk for not receiving legislative bond authorization appears low. However, if the authority to sell bonds paid by toll revenue is not granted, WSDOT will work with the legislature to find alternative sources of funding. Options may include a mix of the following: reducing or deferring other WSDOT projects within the state, alternative financing with private parties, perhaps pursuing other federal programs like the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA), revising use of other funding from Port or local sources, or perhaps using the capacity within WSDOT’s federal program.
The tolling materials for FHWA start at page 105 of the larger doc, which seems mostly to consist of vintage materials.

As for "financing and interest costs", I don't quite understand how those figure in on a bond-backed project, not even after today, when stockholders began in droves to find bonds irresistibly appealing as safe, if dull investments. I'm sure lots of people do understand how interest costs figure into routine public project bond financing and would be glad to explain it, but those people's wisdom seems to not quite have found its way to Slog juuuust yet.

Maybe after the election, eh?
Posted by gloomy gus on August 8, 2011 at 8:02 PM · Report this
Baconcat 4
Okay, so things now officially(-unofficially) unfunded, assuming the invisible charts don't include additional clarifying notes:
-Surface street upgrades
-Waterfront streetscape (in spite of Bagshaw and Conlin's tagteam online histrionics today)

Basically they only have enough to build a tunnel and then tear down the viaduct. They could "transfer" money from other projects or hit up local sources and raid the port's contribution, but those aren't a freeway! So like 520, the state is dumping traffic into parts of Seattle without funding required mitigation projects. Y'know, after promising that this project would help us.

Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 8:01 PM · Report this
*eye roll*

Yeah, lots of jargon like this diddy at the very end:

10. Conclusions and Summary
The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program is fully funded.

OMG! quick PSN, find something to screech about that is out of context and misleading
Posted by AJE what will you do with yourself when this is over? on August 8, 2011 at 7:56 PM · Report this
Baconcat 2
Yeah, this isn't going to cut it if you're a wonk looking for real costs and actual projections. Or a voter interested in how much it will actually cost.

Awesome find, though.
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 7:47 PM · Report this
Baconcat 1
Nope, lots of jargon about the slight possibility that they won't be able to get tolls approved in Olympia (needs 60% majority) and vague talk of local entities levying taxes and fees as necessary so far.

Looks like they really don't know how they'll pay, just the mechanism and a slushy mix of existing funds.

Will keep reading.
Posted by Baconcat on August 8, 2011 at 7:36 PM · Report this

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