Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced his transportation agenda on Wednesday. He said he won't ask voters for new transportation taxes this year.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn says he won’t ask voters for new transportation taxes in 2012, hoping instead to win approval for a property-tax measure to build a new sea wall.
The deteriorating sea wall along Alaskan Way is at risk of crumbling in an earthquake or severe storm. Voters could be asked to support a $270 million bond sale to pay for most of a $330 million project, this year’s city budget estimated.
“I think another transportation levy is in our future. The timing is unknown. Our focus this year will be on getting money for the sea wall,” McGinn said Wednesday.
He spoke at a news conference about his transportation “action agenda,” a two-year overview of his priorities.
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McGinn proposed a sea-wall ballot measure in his first few days in office in 2010, but the City Council chose to fund only design work. The council will discuss the sea wall and other big-ticket items this spring, a spokeswoman said.
Despite voters’ rejection last year of a $60 car-tab tax — for bus corridors, roads, streetcars, and pedestrian and bicycling projects — the mayor will keep working to retrofit Seattle streets to safer and greener uses.
The plan doesn’t set goals to improve crosstown travel time for motor vehicles, but does pledge to ease truck-route bottlenecks and to fill potholes faster.
The city’s 39th “road diet” is planned this year in the South Othello Street corridor from Beacon Hill to Seward Park, for $725,000. The four-lane segment west of Othello Station will become one lane each way, plus a center lane for left turns, with shorter crosswalks to improve safety. East of the rail station, new sidewalks, bike lanes and parking areas will be installed.
The city’s goal is to increase the proportion of major arterials where drivers predominantly obey the speed limit, from 30 percent now to 40 percent in 2014.
Surprisingly from an ardently pro-bike mayor, the plan aims for a minuscule gain in bicycle commutes to the central city, from 3,900 trips per weekday now to 4,000 trips in 2014.
Officials said they’re focusing in the near term on short trips, errands and recreational rides along landscaped, low-traffic routes called greenways.
“We’re looking essentially to bring in a new market of bike riders,” said Tony Mazzella, a strategic adviser. Mazzella said he expects bike commuting to grow as well.
The city just built a trail link near Fishermen’s Terminal on Salmon Bay, is building one from Queen Anne Hill to the waterfront, and hopes to build one soon in Ballard.
McGinn said that in the past decade transit use within Seattle grew 11 percent, walking increased 25 percent, and cycling doubled, while driving declined 2 percent.
With streets taking up 27 percent of the city’s land mass, “Clearly, streets are not just pipes for cars. They are places,” said Peter Hahn, transportation director.
Traffic fatalities have declined from roughly 30 per year in the mid ’00s to fewer than 20 in recent years, and Hahn said the city will strive for zero.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @mikelindblom.