I’ll have more to say about the latest iteration of the ever-costlier Move Seattle levy (Mayor Ed Murray says the tacked-on $30 million will come from higher revenues from new housing), but I wanted to throw up a quick side-by-side comparison of the two proposals. (Original proposal here; latest version here.) My initial reaction (other than frustration that Murray refuses to release the full details of any new proposal, opting instead for a standard-issue series of blue-and-black handouts), is that this is a good proposal with something for everyone that will inevitably be “right-sized” by a council that’s largely aligned with the mayor but scared of imposing a major property tax increase.
I could be wrong, but last I checked, $275 (the amount a typical homeowner would have to pay per year) is more than $130 (the expiring Bridging the Gap levy’s annual price tag). Readers desperate for sidewalks in their neighborhood at any cost may find charges of “tax fatigue” tiresome (I know I do), but this is a big tax increase, and the council (five of whom are running for reelection) will surely have something to say about that.
My other reaction is that this proposal leans heavily on neighborhood greenways and segregated bike lanes, potentially at the expense of safer bike facilities on streets that already have heavy bike traffic. The recent Metro bus collision that put a cyclist in the hospital with life-threatening injuries happened at an intersection (12th and Jackson) where cyclists from Mount Baker, Capitol Hill, Beacon Hill, and many other parts of the city converge, and which may be even more dangerous now, with the streetcar tracks posing a new threat to cyclists.
Much the same could be said of high-bike-traffic intersections across the city. Yet the emphasis on neighborhood greenways (which were never meant to be major commuter corridors) could–and I say could, because the devil’s in the details of this still-somewhat-opaque proposal–come at the expense of streets that will always be filled with cyclists.
I have a call in to the mayor’s office for a more detailed project breakdown for the $930 million proposal.
Here are some other changes the new plan proposes:
• The new proposal reduces funding for maintaining and improving the city’s traffic signal, sign and marking system, reducing that line item from $67 million (with $20 million in additional leveraged funds*) to $37 million (with $7 million in leverage).
• It slightly reduces protected bike lane and greenway funding, which is down $2 million from $67 million; that money would pay for 50 miles of protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways.
• It includes an additional $1 million for curb ramp and crossing improvements.
• The proposal reduces funding to repave arterial streets by $20 million, from $255 million with $70 million in leverage to $235 million, with $50 million in leveraged funds, and reduces funds for repaving “targeted locations” (presumably this is the pothole line item) from $20 million to $15 million, with $5 million in projected leveraged funds for each level of funding. Even with reduced funding, the mayor’s proposal says the money would pay for the same amount of improvements—repaving “up to” 180 lane-miles of arterial streets (not the same thing as actual miles) and 65 targeted locations per year.
• Multimodal and “transit plus” improvements (i.e. RapidRide) get a bit more funding in the mayor’s latest plan—$100 million, compared to the original $75, with $246 million in leveraged dollars under each plan. The transit/”multimodal” improvements have been shuffled and consolidated in this latest plan, though, making it tough to tell how much was originally allocated for signal re-timing and “intelligent transportation system improvements,” for example (those items were lumped into larger categories in the original proposal) and whether the new numbers are an increase or a reduction.
• Sidewalks, the hottest topic at every council district forum, get more love under the latest plan, with $35 million in additional funding for sidewalks and improvements for streets without sidewalks, up to $61 million from the original $26 million (leveraged funds are the same under both expenditure levels, at $9 million).
• Neighborhood projects, vaguely defined, get $3 million more under this plan, with $26 million total compared to the initial $23.
South Park Broadview gets $8 million less for flood drainage.
Notice anything I missed? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter (@ericacbarnett).