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City receives that sweet Federal cash to help build downtown bike lanes (+ some other stuff)

Under the cover of an oddly warm April night, an unidentifiable person hidden in shadows and conveniently missed by every security camera pedaled a high-tech stealth bakfiets into the Seattle City Hall parking garage. Aides to Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen were there waiting to receive the “package.” They brought three wheelbarrows and a peanut butter sandwich (no crusts), as instructed.

Never removing the leather gloves or uttering a word, the porter pulled back the cover to reveal a pile of bills, all unmarked. Hands shaking, the aides started grabbing clumsy stacks of the cash and tossing it into the wheelbarrows. A careful count would later come to the agreed upon number $15,500,000, but they didn’t dare count it in front of this dangerously serious person on a cargo bike.

The mystery person mounted the giant bike and gave a quick glance at the meager peanut butter sandwich on store-bought wheat before throwing it into the terrified face of the mayor’s aide. The person took a quick pedal forward to trip the sensor that opens the automatic gate, but before pushing off, turned back and uttered a deep, disturbingly gutteral sentence: “Next time I come, you better have some fucking bike lanes.” Then poof, disappeared down James St.

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The city had its money, but at what cost? Was dealing with the International Bicycle Conspiracy really worth all this? They had no choice now, though. They had the cash, and they had better get to work on those bike lanes before the mystery messenger returned.*

Early plans for bike lanes to be built in 2016. Routes could change depending on outreach in 2015.
Early plans for bike lanes to be built in 2016. Routes could change depending on outreach in 2015.

We’ve written about these projects and these grants before. Though most the money is not for bike lanes, $5.8 million will go to planning and constructing a network of protected bike lanes in the Seattle city center. Interestingly, previously announced funding to extend the delayed Broadway Streetcar (and, thus, the bikeway) is not listed.

Now that the city has officially accepted the money (mostly from the Feds but some from the State as well), here’s the list of projects they’re gonna build according to a press release:

The grants, totaling approximately $15.5 million, were secured for the following projects:
·         $600,000 for the design and construction of sidewalk improvements on Greenwood Ave N (N 136th to N 145th) from the Washington State Transportation Improvement Board
·         $800,000 for the construction of the Seventh Avenue Protected Bike Lane from the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) via the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC)
·         $5,000,000 for Center City Protected Bike Lanes from FHWA via PSRC
·         $200,000 for design work on Route 48 electrification from FHWA via PSRC
·         $2,627,528 for the Center City Gateway (NextGen Intelligent Transportation Systems) from FHWA via PSRC
·         $1,383,000 for Michigan Street Intelligent Transportation Systems from FHWA via PSRC
·         $1,166,105 for South Lake Union Streetcar maintenance from the Federal Transit Administration via PSRC
·         $1,438,361 for Post Alley Bridge replacement from the state’s Highway Bridge Program
·         $1,502,975 for seismic improvements for the NE 45th Street Viaduct from the Highway Bridge Program
·         $726,364 for transportation demand management from the state via PSRC
·         $65,000 for pedestrian safety zones from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission

* The details of this story were compiled through extensive guess work and deduction, though we did not confirm or deny through sources. But we can’t imagine any other way to transfer $15.5 million, though admittedly we have no experience in the world of finance.

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18 responses to “City receives that sweet Federal cash to help build downtown bike lanes (+ some other stuff)”

  1. Cheif

    Kinda bullshit that not one of the super mega uber corporations that are driving up rents and screwing up traffic all over the city don’t have to kick in a cent to the slu streetcar that is exclusively used by the employees of said corps. Or anything else for that matter.

    1. jay

      Didn’t they pay about half the up-front capital costs?

      If you want the people who use transit to pay for it you are going to have $10 fares which would suck for poor people (though one could buy a kind of crummy used bike for a weeks fare). If you just want rich people to pay for it, then it would make paying for parking not look so bad to people who have the option to drive. Though I suppose you wouldn’t put a $20 fare on the SLUT, instead you’d have a head tax and/or parking lot tax for business, so driving wouldn’t really become any more attractive.
      Though really, relatively not-poor people already pay for transit, more than half of Metro’s operating funding cones from sales tax ( http://metro.kingcounty.gov/am/budget/revenue.html ) and there is no sales tax on food, it’s the people who can afford to buy stuff that is taxed (like my bicycles) that are paying for transit.

      Wikipedia says: “During the summer months, good weather and tourism boost streetcar usage.” So maybe not so exclusively SLU workers. But that is probably old information, since the line is only 1.3 miles long I’d bet Pronto takes away most of the riders in good weather, or at least it could if someone spent 56million on a bike share program that was a real transportation system. Thought that would undoubtedly cost even more to operate than the SLUT, but again, the SLUT line is only 1.3 miles long, even the current half-assed bike share beats that by a probably a couple of orders of magnitude (not in any one straight line, but the aggregate of reasonable routes, the SLUT’s route is, of course, is set in concrete :)

      1. Richard

        Chief, you often have insightful and productive comments, but when you make broad, apparently baseless generalizations like “No poor people ride the slu tram” or personal attacks like “Your megacorp apologist stance is pathetic”, you’re really no longer contributing to conversation…

        Make an assertion, back it with facts, and do it reasonably and you might change minds. Throwing out overly broad generalizations with no supporting facts or insulting people really does little more than entrench their beliefs.

  2. Marge Evans

    Tom, your story is wonderful.

  3. Kirk

    Sigh. And still nothing for improving the Ballard Bridge.

    1. LWC

      Kirk – you’ve made this comment or one like it on every recent article mentioning bike improvements anywhere in the city. I find your comments incredibly naïve. This particular funding source is 15 million dollars. The recent Ballard Bridge study showed that to do any sort of trail widening would take at least $20 million bare minimum, and nearly $50 million for the modern, up-to-code trail that is actually needed

      Despite the fact that Ballard Bridge ranked at the top of an informal city survey, the city is not going to invest in the Ballard bridge immediately and is right to not do so: it’s simply a gigantic project, orders of magnitude more expensive than any of the ones listed here. The ones here are good examples of the many hugely impactful & relatively cheap lower-hanging fruit that exist throughout the rest of the city which will collectively make a huge impact for safety and mobility. SDOT is right to address them with currently available resources.

      1. Kirk

        Yes, and I will continue to comment on the complete lack of action by SDOT to do anything about improving the Ballard Bridge for bicycling.

        LWC, apparently you haven’t actually read or understood any of my comments. My point has always been that while the mega project to do a great rebuild of the Ballard Bridge would be awesome, there are many very low cost and much needed improvements to the Ballard Bridge that could be made now.

        Fixing the freaking potholes and heaved sidewalk at the merge of death would be a huge improvement. I’m guessing paving over the serious potholes would cost less than a bespoke leaning rail on the Burke. There are a half dozen other very low cost improvements for the Ballard Bridge that I have mentioned numerous times that can and should be done now.

        Everyone hears Ballard Bridge and immediately focuses on the big buck fix for the too narrow sidewalks. I’ve always maintained that there are huge improvements that could be done now for very little money. SDOT clearly has the resources to make low cost fixes to the Ballard Bridge bicycling experience. They only lack the will.

      2. LWC

        OK – sorry, my mistake. You might want to include that context next time you repeat this comment – it may give people less reason to dismiss it outright.

      3. Random Guy

        Ditto. This is great context.

        Without it, I just ignore all of your Ballard Bridge comments, just like Jon Morgan’s incessant reposting of the same “got sidewalks?” counterproductive whining on Facebook that contributes nothing of value.

  4. Sean

    What, exactly, does “$5,000,000 for City Center protected bike lanes” mean?

    1. Kingsley

      Presumably, something other than 7th. TBD. See the note under the pic as well: “Early plans for bike lanes to be built in 2016. Routes could change depending on outreach in 2015.”

    2. Josh

      See second map in http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2015/04/03/city-updates-short-term-bike-facilities-plan/

      Blue lines downtown are new separated routes being evaluated in 2015 for construction in 2015.

      With so many routes going in at once, I hope they’re doing a good job carrying forward the lessons learned from 2nd, Broadway, etc. If they repeat the shortfalls of previous designs, we could be stuck with them for a long time.

  5. David Feldman

    And the messenger didn’t deliver it on a dark and stormy night?

  6. Law Abider

    $15.5 million in $100 bills would weigh over 300 lb. Hopefully this mysterious biker didn’t have to go over any hills…

  7. RTK

    What’s up with the $1.5M for the NE 45th viaduct, the replacement viaduct was only completed 5 years ago and it already requires seismic upgrades?

    1. Steve Campbell

      I think they only replaced the western approach four years ago. It was supported by a wooden trestle. The main span and east approach are the portions that still need seismic upgrades.

  8. […] Merry Christmas!: Seattle received a whole bunch of Federal transportation dollars, loads of new pedestrian, bike, and transit improvements and studies are planned. […]

  9. […] project was left out of the recently announced $15.5 million in federal grant money the city is receiving for transpiration projects. The state transportation package currently […]

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