Late last week, WSDOT presented the Regional Transportation Improvement District (RTID) board with inflation cost updates for all the projects on RTID's list. (In September WSDOT updated the numbers for two RTID projects—the viaduct replacement options and 520.) It's a pricey update. I-405, for example, went up $300 million—from $1.7 billion to $2 billion. WSDOT's memo to the RTID board recommended deferring specific aspects of all the projects—like deferring westbound SR 520 to southbound I-405, so that RTID could stay within its $7.4 billion budget. The trick, obviously, is not deferring popular items (like HOV lanes) that may kill support for RTID, and in turn, kill light rail expansion—which is (stupidly) coupled with RTID on the ballot. The new cost of the 14 RTID projects combined is about $20.8 billion. The previous cost was about $16 billion. This isn't including the viaduct replacement and SR 520. RTID's $7.4 billion budget was never supposed to cover the original $16 billion total costs. And so, RTID isn't expected to cover the new $20.8 billion either. (RTID is reasonably banking on an assortment of outside funding sources depending on the specific project. The viaduct replacement, for example, had $2.2 billion coming from the state.) But the percentage that the $7.4 billion can cover is far less. And given that the bottom-line difference between the original cost and the new cost is $4.8 billion—the projects will have to be scaled back considerably.
Last Monday, December 18, through a "concatenation of emergencies and events," a local loiterer (and suspected thief/drug aficionado) made his way, unnoticed, behind the counter of the Columbia City Cinema and absconded with $3,000 in cash and checks, according to the owner, Paul Doyle.
The alleged thief, known as "Salt and Pepper" because of his hair, has made several appearances at area businesses and once tried to heist the tip jar at the Columbia City Ale House, Doyle said. Police were called but did not take a report, Doyle said. SPD said the department had no knowledge of Salt and Pepper or his alleged crimes.