Mayor Durkan’s 2020-21 budget would increase bike lane, Vision Zero, Northgate Bridge funds

Replying largely on revenue from selling a large parcel of land made available by the massive Mercer Street project, Mayor Jenny Durkan’s proposed 2020-21 budget includes millions more for protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways and other Vision Zero projects.

These additions could help restore some of the major Bicycle Master Plan cuts her administration made in the recent years, including a list of south end and downtown projects that advocates fought hard to highlight in the city’s latest bicycle work plan. After cutting the projects entirely, SDOT and the mayor sort of added the projects back as funded through design, but not construction. The latest funds will be “prioritized for projects listed in the 2019 Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan as funded through design and/or planning,” according to a blog post from the Mayor’s Office. So that would be the dotted and gray highlighted areas in this map:

Map of Seattle showing existing and planned bike facilities.

Images from the 2019 Bicycle Master Plan Implementation Plan (PDF).

It’s not yet clear whether the $8.35 million for protected bike lanes will be enough to restore all the projects or which ones will get priority over others. It’s also not yet clear whether these funds will sufficient fulfill the City Council’s recent resolution supporting a specific set of downtown and south end projects. But clearly this is better than the dismal outlook from the work plan the mayor released earlier this year.

The mayor’s proposed budget now goes to the City Council, which will spend the next couple months holding hearings, proposing changes and voting on a final budget. And I imagine councilmembers will have their own ideas for the $78 million Mercer Megablock funds.

The transportation outlook in this budget is clearly boosted by the sale of that large parcel of very valuable land in South Lake Union, which the city reclaimed by removing the old Broad Street trench between Valley Street and Seattle Center:

2008 image from Google Street View looking from 9th and Roy Street toward the former Broad Street trench.

Good riddance, Broad Street trench! 2008 view from Google Street View.

Mayor Durkan has included $78 million in investments from the sale in her budget. Of that, $31 million would go to Vision Zero and transit projects, according to the Mayor’s Office. From the budget proposal (PDF):

Table from the budget outlining Mercer Megablock sale investmenets. Amounts in millions: Mercer West Construction Loan Repayment: $12.2. SLU Streetcar Operating Loan Repayment: $3.6. Center City Connector Streetcar Capital Loan Repayment: $9. Commercial Parking Tax Revenues Offset: $9.2. SDOT Vision Zero Priorities: $16.7, including Pedestrian Master Plan Crossings: $1.7. NE 43rd Street Improvements $0.65. Bicycle Master Plan Greenways: $2. Highland Park Roundabout $3.5. BMP protected bike lane: $8.35. PMP Crossings: $0.5. Transaction costs: $4.Northgate Bridge budget gap filled

The other big note for biking and walking is that the mayor’s budget “increases Move Seattle Levy funding for the construction of the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge by $1 million in 2020 and increases total project costs by $11.6 million,” according to the budget proposal. “Funding for this project is coming from Bridge Rehabilitation and savings from the S Lander project.”

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13 Responses to Mayor Durkan’s 2020-21 budget would increase bike lane, Vision Zero, Northgate Bridge funds

  1. Richard says:

    Good news!

    But it’s a little telling how exciting I am that the mayor’s office is basically saying, “We just got a huge infusion of money, so we’ll deliver on some of the things that had already been committed and ignored!” But enough with the cynicism, a win is a win! :D

  2. Don Brubeck says:

    Good news that advocacy and the MASS coalition is having an effect. I’m not jumping for joy.
    It’s a step forward — to where we were in 2016.

    This does not get us all the way back to where the implementation plan was in 2017, much less to the 2018 draft that the Mayor never accepted, that would have helped under-served areas of south and southwest Seattle catch up.

    Deleted on this 2019 map are previously included routes on S Orcas, Beacon Ave S, SW Roxbury, Sylvan Way SW/SW Orchard, Fauntleroy SW, East Marginal Way south of S Spokane, and segments on greenways at the hardest parts. The map still disingenuously shows “Existing Bike Facilities (Excluding Sharrows)” where there are only painted stripe climbing lanes, like Sylvan Way SW/ SW Orchard, where an uphill-only lane appears, disappears, appears and disappears again on a key east-west route from High Point to South Delridge.

    At this rate of progress, Seattle will not reach its goal to build out the Bicycle Master Plan’s “Citywide” network by 2030 and the rest of the network by 2035. It is not just a coincidence that Seattle isn’t hitting it’s Climate Action Plan targets either. Let’s not declare “mission accomplished” just yet.

  3. Pedro says:

    The Rainier Valley ‘Study Area’ seems to trace MLK, not Rainier Ave.

    For years, SDOT said Rainier was better for bikes because the Mt Baker project will funnel car/truck traffic to MLK and away from Rainier.

    I bet they’ll ‘study’ that conundrum for a long, long time.

    • Matthew Snyder says:

      The BMP suggests bike lanes on MLK, and the recent O’Brien-sponsored Council resolution specifically requested that Durkan fund a study of the MLK route, so that’s what we’re doing. It makes no sense. Everyone already knows what the study is going to say: there’s no room. Spend the money on a sidewalk somewhere.

      • Ross Bleakney says:

        MLK bike lanes are better. There are two lanes each direction on MLK, and two lanes each direction on Rainier. But Rainier needs bus lanes, while MLK does not.

      • Pedro says:

        I think bike lanes on MLK would be ‘OK’ – not necessarily worse than Rainier. MLK bike lane would serve Columbia City a little worse, Othello much better. I bet there are more people who live w/in 2 blocks of MLK than Rainier (giant apts up and down the strip.)

        But it’s never going to happen. MLK is 130ft wide and they couldn’t manage a bike lane when the put in the light rail a decade ago. They would have to tear out tons of infrastructure to make it work now.

        All the bike infrastructure in South Seattle is crap. It’s never getting better.

  4. eddiew says:

    in the mayor’s blog post, it states that $56 million would go toward the capital gap for the CCC Streetcar. Note that this figure swamps the other numbers in the post. It would be much better used on other projects. the SE Seattle study corridors will be difficult; right of way is limited and is needed by users of several modes.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      That streetcar money is largely from the uber/Lyft taxes she proposed. So not all from this fund. But yes, good point.

      • Ross Bleakney says:

        $56 million would pay for a lot of bike lanes (or sidewalks, or extra bus service, etc.) no matter where the money came from.

  5. Matthew Snyder says:

    I can’t say I’m very enthusiastic about spending more money on “greenways” without any standards about what actually constitutes a greenway. Can we define a minimal list of features that a street needs to have to be considered a greenway? Currently, we have greenways without sidewalks, greenways without diverters, greenways without street lights, greenways with uncontrolled intersections. That’s not the streetscape anyone thinks of when they imagine a “greenway,” but that’s what goes out to bid…

    • In Seattle a “greenway” is just a normal street with some signs slapped onto it and some sharrows slapped onto the road surface. Sometimes there aren’t even speed bumps! I can’t figure out how exactly this money is being spent

      • Matthew Higgins says:

        One of the major benefits of greenways is the addition of stop signs for cross traffic, so that the biker doesn’t need to hit their brakes at each intersection. The new 92nd greenway in north seattle is a great example of this. There are also cross signals on arterials.

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