The Seattle Times Editorial Board put all their backing behind Bertha and the SR 99 deep bore tunnel highway, a multibillion-dollar, cars-only underground toll road that bypasses downtown Seattle — our state’s biggest employment center. They are not worthy of your trust when it comes to transportation projects.
So when the Times says to vote against Prop 1 (“Move Seattle”) because it isn’t “chock full of big fixes, specific big projects,” you should respond, “Yes, and that’s exactly why this plan is so smart.”
The real solution to Seattle’s transportation crunch is a lot more walking and biking, and much more efficient transit. There is no debate about it. We can’t keep squeezing more cars into our city, and burying them won’t solve the problem. Our city cannot handle the cars it has, and it cannot grow if our new residents have to bring cars, too. It’s that simple.
Even if Bertha had worked perfectly rather than turning into a disaster, it would still be a huge waste of money, proposed and promoted by people willing to ignore common sense and real life experiences in truly multimodal cites because they were blinded by a hopeless belief that one big silver bullet could fix Seattle’s chronic transportation problems.
Protect your neighbors
The good news is that it does not take a megaproject to make walking and biking safer and more inviting to more people for more of their trips. What we need are thousands of relatively small improvements in every neighborhood in our city:
- More and better crosswalks near businesses, parks and schools
- More curb cuts to help our mobility impaired friends and neighbors get around safely and independently
- Bike lanes, trails and neighborhood greenways that connect our homes to the places we work, learn and play
And you don’t need to take my word for it. Seattle residents have already volunteered countless hours outlining and detailing these needs in our city’s carefully crafted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans.
If funded, these plans will save lives. SDOT staff have an incredible track record on safety projects in recent years, and they’re only getting better. But Seattle has never funded our biking and walking plans significantly. At current rates, not even a child born today will be alive to see the Pedestrian Master Plan completed.
Move Seattle will fund a Safe Route to School project at every public school in the city. That’s an incredible investment in our children’s safety and their ability to get to and from school using their own power.
We lose the right to call a tragic traffic death an “accident” when we know how to prevent it, but choose not to take action.
Move Seattle is our chance to finally get serious about ending traffic deaths and serious injuries in our city. Because traffic violence is preventable, but it takes more than hopes and prayers. It takes action.
While new subway lines are beyond the capacity of Move Seattle, it doesn’t take a megaproject to lift our existing buses out of traffic. And unlike a subway, which focuses on improving one or two major corridors each decade, improving bus speed and frequency can help every neighborhood in just a few years. We need Sound Transit light rail, absolutely. But we also don’t need to wait for it.
Move Seattle can free our buses from traffic now.
There are a ton of small changes the city can make to free buses from traffic crawl one street and one intersection at a time. The city can track where buses slow down, look at the problem, and fix it. Rinse and repeat.
We can paint new bus lanes so a bus with 60 people on it can move around a traffic jam of 20 people in cars. It’s in everyone’s best interest that more people find the bus appealing and reliable, including people driving.
We can install smart traffic signals that hold green lights for an approaching bus or give buses a head start when the light changes. We can install ORCA readers at bus stops so people don’t have to line up to pay at the front of the bus. And we can build raised bus stop platforms so people with mobility issues or strollers can easily roll or step right on, offering the dignity everyone deserves while also saving time.
Add enough of these (and more) small changes together, and the bus system we already have becomes much more usable and more financially sustainable. And that’s exactly what Move Seattle pledges to do.
We can also add new express bus lines that respond to the ever-changing travel patterns in our city. The Madison Bus Rapid Transit project is one great example of a whole new bus route that responds to new housing and job density with a bus that is far faster than any existing bus route. And that is just one of seven such “Rapid Ride +” routes Move Seattle promises to build.
“But for all that money, it’s not really clear what Move Seattle aims to do,” writes the Times in their editorial against the levy. Well, if they can’t see the project lists in these Master Plans or in the Move Seattle Plan, then they need to get their eyes checked (you can also see a district-by-district map and list of projects here). Because they are plenty specific. Do they want the city to outline the location of every new crosswalk or transit-priority traffic signal for the next nine years? Because that would be ridiculous.
The Times-endorsed deep bore tunnel highway alone was budgeted more than double Seattle’s proposed Move Seattle levy (and that’s before cost overruns). Move Seattle is packed only with smart, achievable projects we know will help people get around safely and conveniently. Every single goal is worth every penny we can invest.
I know it’s harder to sell a diverse plan for smart, responsible transportation investments than the empty dreams of a snake oil highway tunnel. But Seattle voters need to be smart enough to know the difference.
Because we need Move Seattle. A vote against Prop 1 will make things worse by slashing the city’s current transportation budget as the existing Bridging the Gap levy expires in December. It is a vote to keep our buses stuck in traffic, to let our potholes get bigger, to keep the streets near our schools fast and dangerous, and to stop working on better, more sustainable and more efficient options for getting around town.
Vote YES on Prop 1 to Move Seattle, and tell your friends and family to do the same. And get involved in the campaign to get out the vote. The next couple weeks will have a huge impact on the shape of Seattle’s next decade.