Seattle’s expected $14.8 million windfall from speed-enforcement cameras would be spent to build safer passages for children walking to more than 20 schools, under a proposal announced Wednesday.
Projects include sidewalks, amber warning lights and curb bulbs to narrow the distance across a roadway, or even speed humps to slow vehicles near Roxhill Elementary, in the far southwest part of the city.
The Road Safety Initiative would increase four existing speed-enforcement cameras to a possible 15 cameras, where motorists who exceed 20 mph before and after school would be fined $189. About 30 percent of income goes to operate and install the cameras, and city staff to design and oversee walking-safety programs.
Mayor Mike McGinn announced the plan outside Dearborn Park Elementary School, on Beacon Hill next to the Chief Sealth Trail and South Orcas Street. As he spoke, a couple cars zipped by at close to 40 mph, while many more slowed.
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The City Council approved $2.9 million this year, would be asked for $3.3 million this fall, and $8.6 million next year, to total $14.8 million.
Among other sites, speed cameras are proposed at Eckstein Middle School, where a suspected drunken driver is charged with killing two grandparents crossing Northeast 75th Street in a March accident.
Lowering speeds can lower the risk that a crash becomes fatal, said Dr. Beth Ebel, director of the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.
When a car hits a child, Ebel said, the mortality rate is 5 percent at 20 mph; 45 percent at 30 mph; and 85 percent at 40 mph. Four Eckstein students were hit in low-speed crashes in the past year, she said.
Schools are trying to encourage walking as a means to fight obesity, reduce traffic or teach ecology.
Dearborn Park is in the forefront. New sidewalks were built on one side of South Orcas Street recently, and speed cameras are proposed next year.
On Wednesdays, Principal Angela Bogan and parents lead a “walking school bus,” in which children arrive together from four directions.
Bogan said that in eight years, there haven’t been any children struck by cars.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @mikelindblom