When Seattle created the 2007 Bicycle Master Plan, it was clear that the $365 million Bridging the Gap levy did not include enough funding to keep the plan on track. In fact, the city never even got close to funding that plan at the rate required to reach its goals. By some measures, the city had funded less than half the recommended amount before enough time had passed to renew the plan.
With a new and much better plan in place, the Move Seattle Levy is gearing up to replace Bridging the Gap, which expires at the end of the year. And Mayor Ed Murray claims the revised version he is sending to the City Council includes enough funding to put the 20-year Bike Plan on track to be half completed by the time it turns ten years old.
Murray and his administration announced the revised levy during a press even on Beacon Hill Wednesday. There are no huge surprises and few giant changes from the first version, though there are pretty significant increases in sidewalk and intersection work.
The Mayor’s Office will submit their detailed plan to the City Council very soon, and the Council will then have the chance to make changes before passing a version this summer to send to voters in November.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s different as far as biking and walking is concerned (see more in this PDF):
- Total size increased from $900 million to $930 million (though thanks to planned growth and property value increases, the property tax bill will remain the same as the previous proposal: $275/year for a median-value $450,000 home)
- Boosted the sidewalk budget from 100 blocks to 150 blocks
- Now includes curb ramp and crossing improvements at 750 intersections (!)
- Funding to fully complete the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link
- “Build over 50 miles of new protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways. When added to work already underway to implement the Bicycle Master Plan, this completes half of the Bicycle Master Plan network, keeping us on track for full implementation.” – The previous version only committed to building half the “citywide network” in the Bike Plan, leaving out many of the neighborhood-focused parts of the plan.
- Implement Phase I of the Accessible Mt Baker project
The most noticeable decrease was the plan to repave 180 lane miles of busy streets rather than the 250 in the initial version.
The outreach process was pretty extensive, and the city received about 8,500 comments. Below is a brief excerpt of the feedback summary (see it all in this PDF):
When asked to prioritize a list of improvements, the highest ranked were:
- Improve connections to light rail
- Keep our bridges safe
- Protect our most vulnerable travelers – people walking and biking
There were several across-the-board recurring themes consistently highlighted:
- Safety is the number one priority
- Improve transit reliability and access
- Fund the Graham Street Station
- Improve bus service by making it more frequent and reliable
- Make more efficient corridors for all modes of travel
- Optimize traffic signals
- Make it easier to walk and bike
- Increase investments in pedestrian improvements like sidewalks and work to make all of Seattle safer and more comfortable for walking
- Add small, inexpensive neighborhood projects that encourage walking and bikingand develop community connections
- Continue to implement Bicycle Master Plan