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Murray flips again, now wants to ‘fully fund’ Northgate bike/walk bridge

This map by Cascade shows the dramatic increase in walk/bike access if there were a bridge
This map by Cascade shows the dramatic increase in walk/bike access if there were a bridge

Ed Murray has issued another clarification about a biking and walking transportation issue: the Northgate biking and walking bridge across I-5.

The bridge would dramatically increase the ability for people to bike and walk to the upcoming light rail station. Both Sound Transit and the city have pledged millions toward the project, but a funding gap remains.

The alternative plan is to simply build a bigger parking garage next to the station, even though only about eight percent of station users are expected to drive there and the adjacent Northgate Mall is already surrounded by a sea of car parking.

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In a Feet First questionnaire, the mayoral challenger appeared unwilling to dedicate himself to funding the key biking and walking bridge:

It’s an unfortunate reality that Seattle cannot fund every beneficial project. We simply do not have the money. We need to get clear on our priorities, rather than relying on half measures.

Mayor Mike McGinn, on the other hand, was unwavering in his support for finding the rest of the funds to make the bridge happen (yet another reason we have endorsed him):

There are several potential funding sources, such as real estate excise tax, Bridging the Gap funds, other tax revenues, grant funds, or a combination of those options. I will work with our central budget office to determine the best way to allocate the $5 million commitment by the 2015 “due date”, so that we can take advantage of Sound Transit funding and build this important connection.

Alternative 1 has been ruled out after initial study
Alignment 1 has been ruled out after initial study

Publicola reports that the Murray campaign is backing off on their hesitancy, and that he now supports fully funding the bridge through a mix of public and private funds:

Ed’s position is that improving bike and pedestrian access to the future Northgate light rail station should be considered a real priority, including an I-5 pedestrian and bicycle bridge. As Mayor, Ed will go a step beyond the current administration and not just commit partial money to a priority project, but find a way to work with public and private partners to actually fully fund it. That is what should have been done in the case of the I-5 pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

It might seem at first like easy politics to tie Mayor McGinn to “unpopular” biking and walking projects as an easy way to beat up on him. But it turns out, these projects are extremely popular, and the mayor’s leadership on biking and walking issues is fairly unassailable.

Murray’s series of recent reversals on biking and walking issues shows two important things. 1: He is willing to admit when he’s got something wrong instead of doubling down on a bad call, and 2: He gets these things wrong a whole lot more often than Mike McGinn.

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12 responses to “Murray flips again, now wants to ‘fully fund’ Northgate bike/walk bridge”

  1. Peri Hartman

    Alignment 3, hands down. Why? Because it’s overall the most direct and will better serve more purposes than simply connecting to the station.

    (I know this was a post about Murray. Sorry if this is off topic.)

  2. meanie

    It shows three things:

    3. Murray is a knee jerk reactionary with little knowledge of issues facing the city, and who’s only platform is being against whatever McGinn is for.

  3. buck

    I know I’m supposed to like McGinn because on paper he has good positions that match mine. I just can’t though, he’s been a terrible leader. I can’t support him because he can’t get anything done. I would love Murray to be perfect but I’m also not afraid to let advocacy groups hammer him when he’s mayor (yes, I said “when”).
    I wish Mike McGinn would go back to being an advocate, he’s a great rabble-rouser and really good at keeping important issues in the conversation. He’s just not cut out to be an executive and the past few years show it.

    1. Leif Espelund

      I sure am sick of this “McGinn can’t get anything done” BS. Yes, he doesn’t get along with the council. I’d say that the blame falls on both sides for that (at least a couple council members wanted to be mayor themselves after all). But things have gotten done under his administration. http://wtfhasmcginndone.com/

      1. Peri Hartman

        Do we want a mayor who generally gets along with the council? We’ve had some “yes man” mayors in the past and I felt that decisions where typically too bland. We elect a mayor to be a leader and provide a bold path. That said, ultimately it is the mayor’s job to compromise and come to reasonable solutions. I do think McGinn has done that though not without confrontation.

      2. buck

        First off, credit where credit is due. He has got a few things done and that website is great. Also, correct, we don’t need a council yes-man.
        I think they should add a few things though, like alienating the DOJ (nice BS on that site about the CPC btw), eliminating the domestic violence office (and no, not contributing the rise in dv) which is symptomatic of how he has managed to alienate a lot of the departments under his jurisdiction including the police and fire departments. I know I’m not going to win this argument here, but I’ll stick with being happy enough to win it at the polls next week!

  4. Kate Martin

    The entire stretch from 92nd to Northgate Way has a broken transportation grid for all modes. People running across I-5 to avoid walking around the whole distance is certainly testament to that, so anything would be better than nothing. But it seems that an on-grade solution for connecting the grid east west with an underpass at I-5 should be considered. Could have a cycle track, bus transit, pedestrian circulation and emergency vehicles without requiring a bike / ped bridge over the whole area which kind of limits access in many ways. Wouldn’t 100th make a great place to consider doing that? -Kate

    1. Max

      Kate, I don’t think a 7 block detour (assuming you were at 98th) warrants a tunnel underneath I-5. . . the bike bridge solves the main issue for under $20m rather than the a tunnel that would be crazy that expensive. Not to mention a bridge does it a lot faster than a tunnel could. . .

      And, who wants to get stuck in a tunnel at Northgate by themselves, even by bike, it sounds like a public safety issue. . . and I say that as a young fit guy.

  5. Eric

    Our family also just voted for Murray even though we’re all avid bikers with only 1 car and think McGinn is a much better speaker and a more compelling leader. McGinn’s problem is that he’s unable to collaborate or even acknowledge that weakness- instead of looking for win-win solutions, he picks fights and nurses grudges. For instance, Murray will integrate transportation planning so that every project doesn’t turn into a mode war, and he’ll be able to collaborate with county, state, and federal government. There’s good reasons that nearly every ex-Seattle mayor, county, state, and city council official supports Murray.

    1. Leif Espelund

      I don’t doubt that Murray is a good man and will make a decent mayor if elected, but I disagree with this assertion that he is somehow going to magically be able to get everything done where McGinn runs into problems. It isn’t like people fight with McGinn just because he is McGinn. And I promise you that there will always be a minority of people who try to turn any bike/ped/transit improvement projects into a mode war. The kind of person who perpetuates the “war on cars” meme isn’t going to stop just because the mayor combines all planning under one document. The assertion that McGinn hasn’t had an integrated approach is silly. Yes, there has been a focus on bike, transit, and pedestrian planning.. That’s because for the last 100 years the focus has been auto-centric. And we are still doing a lot of work on very auto-centric projects (tunnel, Mercer, etc.)

      Murray has no bold vision for our transportation future. If that is his starting point while campaigning I don’t see much hope for major improvements when he gets to office.

      1. Eric

        McGinn hasn’t had an integrated approach though- there’s separate outreach and plans for bikes, pedestrians, freight, bus, and rail. Each mode attracts fans of that mode, and they of course all plan to take the same roadways for their their preferred mode while excluding other modes. The switch would be to say the city is going to develop a master plan that includes all modes and makes appropriate trade offs. I expect one effect will be that green ways will get more money behind them, particularly including necessary arterial crossings, as green way improvements don’t adversely impact freight, rail, and metro buses.

      2. Leif Espelund

        Just because there isn’t one overarching document with all modes included doesn’t mean changes are developed and deployed in a vacuum. Nearly every project takes into account the needs of each mode. No major project is completed without studying how it will affect everything else. And putting everything into one master plan won’t change that. I’m not necessarily against an overall transportation master plan, I just think it has come about as a political talking point to try and make it seem like McGinn only cares about bikes.

        And yes, I suspect under a less bicycle friendly administration that green ways will often be used as a cheap and less controversial alternative to building proper bicycle infrastructure. I’m not against green ways mind you, they are the best option for some corridors, but I’m concerned they will be used in place of instead of in addition to.

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