Money from the 2015 Move Seattle levy would pay for 50 blocks of new sidewalks that aim to improve pedestrian access at schools and transit centers, as well as safety updates on Rainier Avenue South.
Even a news conference about pedestrian safety in Seattle can turn into a rally against President Donald Trump.
On Monday, Mayor Ed Murray, with other city leaders, announced a $22 million plan to build 50 blocks of new sidewalks this year, among other traffic-safety projects, saying the spending shows the city’s contrasting priorities with the president.
“Providing better access to transit, providing safer routes to schools is ultimately not just a safety issue and not just a mobility issue — it is also an equity issue,” Murray said. “It reflects the values of this city’s budget versus the budget we saw proposed last week in Washington, D.C.”
Money from the $930 million Move Seattle levy, which voters approved in 2015, will pay for new sidewalks in neighborhoods throughout the city, ranging from Greenwood to Rainier Valley, as well as $2.25 million in updates on Rainier Avenue South.
The sidewalks are part of a long-term goal to build 250 blocks of sidewalks by 2024 that improve access to schools and transit corridors. The projects announced Monday include sidewalks with concrete curbs to those made from asphalt.
The proposal will go to the City Council later this week.
Murray said the projects to improve safety and mobility contrast with Trump’s 2018 budget proposal, released Thursday, that would impose deep cuts across several federal agencies.
The president’s plan would withhold money from as many as seven transit projects in Washington state, including a new streetcar line on Seattle’s First Avenue and a Madison Street bus-rapid transit plan.
“The White House has made their vision clear,” Murray said. “The city of Seattle has a different set of priorities.”
On Rainier Avenue South, between South Kenny Street and South Henderson Street, the city would add marked crosswalks, dedicated left- turn arrows and new signal timing.
That two-year project would build on previous improvements in the corridor and is part of the city’s Vision Zero plan that aims to end traffic-related deaths and injuries. Cities including New York, Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco have launched similar efforts.
As part of that goal, city officials rolled out a plan last year to reduce speed limits to 25 mph on arterials and to 20 mph on neighborhood streets.
Councilmember Mike O’Brien reiterated Monday why the city made the change: lowering speeds means lowering the chances of death in crash. He said the speed reductions have gotten a lot of attention.
“If you looked at my inbox, lowering speed limits can be very controversial,” O’Brien said. “Do we want a design for safety or do we want a design for speed?”
City leaders announced the pedestrian-safety projects at Rainier Valley’s Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, where workers plan new speed humps and curb ramps, as well as marked crosswalks at 44th Avenue South and South Willow Street. Those updates will cost about $130,000.
While campaigning for the Move Seattle measure, Murray said every public-school zone in the city would be improved during the nine-year levy, which costs the owner of a $450,000 home about $279 a year.