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Seattle’s new budget speeds up bike plan, boosts major Rainier Ave remakes + more

Photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Photo from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

Mayor Ed Murray signed the 2017-18 Seattle budget last week, which includes some major short-term and long-term investments in safe streets.

We already reported on the most immediately-dramatic budget change, when the City Council pulled funding for Pronto Cycle Share beyond March 31. The Council did preserve Mayor Murray’s bike share expansion funds pending further Council approval. But beyond bike share, there are some major wins both from the Mayor’s original budget and from the City Council’s additions.

While Rainier Ave will get $1 million to help extend its recent safety project from Hillman City to Rainier Beach, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways’ attempt to dramatically increase the city’s Vision Zero funding didn’t catch on. For me, this is the biggest missed opportunity of this budget. Perhaps with a more clear plan for how the city can use the additional funds to scale up its successful Road Safety Corridor program, this effort will have a better chance next year. Because fixing a corridor or two a year just isn’t fast enough.

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But still, there are a lot of great investments in this budget. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways highlighted these wins:

  • $1 million to fix Rainier Ave S – the most dangerous street in the city, and an acceleration of funding for the exciting Accessible Mt Baker project.
  • Funding to create a North Beacon Hill Multimodal Transportation Study to allow much needed safety and community building projects to move forward.
  • Moving up the Bicycle Master Plan (Cascade Bicycle Club led the charge on this!) and Pedestrian Master Plan spending so we can design and build more safe streets sooner.
  • Additional funding for Safe Routes to School ($400,000 from red light cameras).
  • Directing SDOT to use best practices for streetcar & bike collision safety.
  • Other great improvements to the budget: Funding to conduct a condition assessment of Seattle’s $5.3 billion sidewalk system to support smart investments in sidewalk repairs, a new grant writer position to help SDOT leverage Move Seattle funding, and a section of sidewalk for the Meadowbrook neighborhood.

Cascade Bicycle Club is also praising the budget, and even has a handy online tool so you can thank the mayor and City Council. They highlight:

  • Accelerated dollars to build out the bike network
  • Reporting requirements for streetcar projects and how they consider bike safety
  • Improved staff capacity for revenue generation and community outreach
  • Additional Safe Routes to School funding
  • Millions toward other safe streets projects, such as Rainier Ave. S., Accessible Mt. Baker, and improved sidewalks

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7 responses to “Seattle’s new budget speeds up bike plan, boosts major Rainier Ave remakes + more”

  1. Gary Anderson

    Does this include funding to build the BGT “Missing Link?” Not sure what the timetable is to complete the ERS, decide on the route, and go through more rounds of litigation.

    1. Kirk

      The Missing Link is already fully funded. The preferred route will be part of the EIS. We can anticipate the jackholes at Ballard Chamber of Commerce, Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel and Ballard Oil to again sue to obstruct the completion. I just hope SDOT has finally figured out what it takes to win this litigation.

      1. Law Abider

        Once the EIS is completed and the preferred alternative is chosen as expected, what do the obstructionists have left to sue on?

      2. Kirk

        I don’t know what the challenge will be, but it will be something. They will probably challenge the findings of the EIS, as well as the preferred route once it’s reveal that it is *surprise* the Green Route / Shilshole South. Their attorney has vowed that they will continue to challenge everything and anything they can to obstruct the completion of the missing link. I just wish the city could figure out how to make their case bulletproof and anticipate any and all challenges. They have shown over decades that they can’t do that.

      3. Law Abider

        The EIS includes a comment period, so once the EIS is final, you can’t really challenge it once complete, as far as I know.

        I would hope that the judge that ruled that Seattle had to do the EIS in the first place would rule that with the EIS complete, the project can move forward.

        If the obstructionists still try to tie it up in court, hopefully the same judge won’t issue a stay of the trail construction AND makes them pay for all court costs.

      4. Matthew Snyder

        Some serious thread drift here, but…

        Yes, the trail opponents can administratively appeal the adequacy of the EIS after it is published, which seems likely to happen. This is fairly trivial to do and only costs $85 (plus whatever Josh Brower charges). The appeal is heard by the city’s Hearing Examiner. Assuming the Hearing Examiner finds the EIS to be adequate, the next step is for the opponents to file a judicial appeal to state Superior Court (and then further appeals, etc). It could conceivably drag on for years.

        This trail isn’t getting completed anytime soon unless some political muscle is flexed, IMO.

  2. Pedro

    The road diet on the S half of Rainier Ave S is great, but it won’t have any bike lanes, just as the Columbia/Hillman City one didn’t.

    Hey, I walk too, so hurrah. But SDOT hasn’t built anything meaningful for Rainier Valley bikers… basically ever.

    Rainier Ave S between Franklin HS and Dearborn is the linchpin, and all indications are that the city will do no improvements on that stretch.

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