Mayor Ed Murray wants voters this fall to consider an even larger transportation package than he proposed last month, a $930 million levy, saying the increase would allow more safety projects.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is adding $30 million to his proposal for a city transportation levy this fall, bringing the total to $930 million in property taxes.
If voters approve, the extra money would allow the city to build more safety projects in neighborhoods and school zones.
City staff say they can find the additional $30 million from new construction in the fast-growing city. They now assume 2.1 percent annual growth in taxable property value, instead of 1.25 percent.
The expected cost would stay the same as announced in March, about $275 yearly on a $450,000 home. The mayor decided not to use construction windfalls to lower the burden.
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In thousands of comments at citizen forums and online, virtually nobody complained about the price of the proposed Move Seattle levy, transportation officials said — but they heard constant demands for safe mobility.
“Safety has to be a top priority,” Murray said Wednesday. “We need to improve transit reliability and access to transit, particularly our light-rail stations; and making it easier and safer to walk in neighborhoods throughout the city.”
The proposal now heads to the City Council, which has the final say on the dollar amount that would go before voters.
The levy would pay for all or some of projects ranging from a Lander Street freight overpass to bus rapid-transit lanes to a Northgate pedestrian bridge. Murray promises 250 miles of street paving, but none of the city’s large bridges would be replaced.
Among the changes to the proposal:
• For pedestrian projects including sidewalks, a $35 million increase, to a total $110 million. In some spots, mainly the far north and south ends of the city, there could be signs and low-speed street retrofits instead of costlier sidewalks.
• At the Fauntleroy Way triangle in West Seattle, $16 million to rebuild the street, sidewalks and greenery. For generations, the area functioned as a car pipeline, but it’s quickly filling with mid-rise apartment buildings, people on foot and RapidRide bus passengers.
• In Rainier Valley, a $10 million contribution toward a future Graham Street Station on the Sound Transit light-rail line, where trains currently travel 2 miles between stops.
Rebecca Saldaña, executive director of Puget Sound Sage, said that station is long-awaited by valley residents. “We have multiple schools, mosques, the Filipino Community of Seattle that are all right there, not being able to access this huge investment we made in light rail,” she said.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who supports the station, worried aloud about gentrification, as a possible consequence. “We need to make sure we’re lifting up these communities, rather than displacing people,” he said.
• A $25 million reduction in spending, to $250 million, to resurface 250 lane-miles of arterial streets over the nine years. Additional streets would be rebuilt as part of a $35 million program to improve seven high-use transit corridors.
Murray announced the fine-tuning on Beacon Hill, at 14th Avenue South and Beacon Avenue South, where new curbs, sidewalks and a stop sign were just installed, to reduce the risk of car-pedestrian crashes. “We need to make sure every school has a safe route,” he said. Earlier in the day, he bicycled with students to Alki Elementary.
If voters approve, the Move Seattle levy would more than double the nine-year, $365 million Bridging the Gap levy that expires this year.
A fall tax request would be part of a cluster of transportation measures. Last year, city voters passed a $60 car-tab fee and a 0.1 percent sales-tax hike to fund more bus service hours; and next year, Sound Transit is planning to put a $15 billion regional package before voters.