Levy to Move Seattle – A Recap and What’s Next

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In late June, the Seattle City Council’s Special Committee on Transportation Funding voted on over a dozen amendments to the Levy to Move Seattle legislation Mayor Murray sent their way in May. The city council then voted unanimously on June 29 to place the levy on the November ballot.

This is a major milestone in the Levy to Move Seattle’s life (it kind of reminds us of the process of a bill becoming a law…oh Schoolhouse Rocks…but we digress). We’d like to take a moment to recap the process for how we got here.

This past March, Mayor Murray announced a new strategic vision for transportation – Move Seattle. Move Seattle integrates the long-range plans that we’ve put together with the public – walking, biking, transit, and now freight ; each one sets a vision for our transportation system  over the next 20 years.

Each modal plan went through many months of public discussion and engagement. For example, from 2012 to 2014 we worked with the public to update the Bicycle Master Plan. Staff attended dozens of community meetings, district council discussions, and hosted open houses and online meetings. We conducted a statistically valid phone survey with 600 interviewees, received over 3,500 responses to an online survey and learned about thousands of routes via an online mapping tool. All of this helped us understand what improvements residents wanted and where they would like to ride but currently don’t. Through this work we heard from thousands of people throughout the city, providing key input into the plan and ultimately shaping this year’s levy package.

As we work to realize the vision set forth in each plan, as individual projects get started, they go through their own outreach and design processes. Through Move Seattle, we’ve been able to bring all our plans together, so we can work toward building a safe and connected system that works well for all people, whether they walk, drive a car, take transit, bike or move goods.

On the heels of the Move Seattle announcement, the Mayor unveiled a proposal for a new transportation levy to replace the expiring Bridging the Gap levy (which expires at the end of 2015). In developing the draft proposal for the levy, we drew from the Move Seattle project list (this list came from applying the prioritization criteria found in each plan).

Over the course of about 45 days, we took this draft proposal out to over 35 community groups, hosted tables at farmers markets, held coffee hours, conducted traditional open houses, and had one meeting in a local bar. We also engaged with community stakeholders via roundtable sessions with Mayor Murray and our director, Scott Kubly. This helped us hear directly from representatives of immigrant and refugee communities, transportation advocates, neighborhood leaders, and communities of color.

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Graphic recording of ideas captured at one of our open houses – March 29 at the New Holly Gathering Hall in southeast Seattle.

What we heard in our outreach – in over 8,000 public comments submitted through an online survey and in-person discussions – were three clear community priorities:

  1. Safety is a top goal
  2. People want better access to transit, and they want buses to be more reliable
  3. People want more investments in making Seattle a more walkable city

We used public feedback to rework the proposal, and in May 2015, Mayor Murray announced a final proposal that included new elements to directly reflect what we heard:

  • Funding for the Accessible Mount Baker and Fauntleroy Way Boulevard projects
  • More funding for transit investments
  • Increased investment in new sidewalks

The size of the levy also increased, from $900 million to $930 million over nine years, due in part to growth assumptions (increases in population and property values) and the City’s ability to direct additional estimated revenue to the levy versus the City’s General Fund for all services.

And that brings us back to today. We want to thank everyone for participating and helping to shape the levy. Whether you emailed us with comments or ideas, or maybe you sat in on a coffee hour or community meeting, or stopped to chat at a farmers market – we value your time, and we’re continually looking for creative ways to reach and engage people.

If you have any questions about the Levy to Move Seattle, please contact the Levy outreach lead, Allison Schwartz, at allison.schwartz@seattle.gov or (206) 386-4654. You can also learn more at www.seattle.gov/LevyToMoveSeattle.

Live from Lake City: Construction Update at Lake City Way and 24th Avenue NE

 

Crews are busy preparing the subgrade for drainage and sidewalk improvements.

Crews are busy preparing the subgrade for drainage and sidewalk improvements

The city continues their work to transform the intersection of Lake City Way NE and 24th Avenue NE. As noted previously here on the SDOT blog, this project will overhaul this intersection and provide new pavement, sidewalks, curb ramps and traffic signal controls. The changes will improve the safety for all users of these streets. When finished, drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists will notice the significantly improved sidewalks and transit stop. Construction is expected to be complete in another 30 to 45 days.

Thanks to the outstanding summer weather, our contractor is making quick work. New curb ramps have been constructed on the east side of Lake City Way and excavation for the extensive sidewalks on the west side of the roadway is nearly complete. Over the next few weeks, crews will complete sidewalk construction and prepare foundations for new traffic signal mast arms.

New curb ramps on the east side of Lake City Way.

New curb ramps on the east side of Lake City Way.

This project was identified by the residents and business owners that have guided the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project. SDOT and our partners will continue to implement priority projects for the next several years along this corridor.

 

Bike share your way around town!

Bike share can help you get around town faster and easier.

Bike share can help you get around town faster and easier.

If you need to make a quick trips on Seattle streets, consider signing up for bike share, an innovative program allowing users to take short trips easily without owning their own bike.

Pronto Cycle Share provides a fleet of specially designed and durable bikes found in docking stations located throughout Seattle. With this program, you can borrow a bike any time you like. The program is best for short trips – typically less than two miles.

Bikes can be picked up and returned to any station, creating an efficient network with many connection points, departures and arrivals.

One of the many bike share locations around the city-- 2nd & University.

One of the many bike share locations around the city– 2nd & University.

Bike share complements Seattle’s transit and light rail systems. In cities like Seattle, up to 50% of bike share trips are to or from public transit stations. In Seattle, bike share is used by commuters and tourists, for rush hour commuting, work or errand running, or moving among the city’s variety of attractions.

For more information on how to get involved, visit SDOT’S bike share page here.

When you don’t live near a bus route….

A Vanpool or Van Share may be the solution to your commute if there is no public transit near your home or near your workplace. Sharing a van is a convenient and cost-effective for the everyday commuter. You can use HOV lanes on the freeways, save money on gas and parking, and can shorten your commute instead of driving solo.

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Van Shares you could be using!

Five or more people can form a Vanpool or Van Share. Vanpool participants share a flat monthly cost based on round trip distance and the number of people in the van. Van Share riders pay $185 each month, split among all riders. Gas, insurance and maintenance are all paid for both.

When you form a Vanpool, one person can act as driver and bookkeeper, but it’s nice if more people share these roles. You’ll enjoy discounted parking in some areas as well.

Van Shares are like Vanpools except they are limited to 20 miles round trip and must connect with transit, ferries, or trains for one leg of the trip. For example, you could use the Sounder commuter rail to arrive at King Street Station, and then pick up a Van Share in the garage and drive to your work outside of downtown.

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You can get help finding members for your van or attend a “ride share meetup” in your area this summer.

For more information on Vanpools and Van Shares, visit us here or call (206) 625-4500.

Summer Break for Kids has Begun, Please Travel Safely Everybody

Summer break has begun and we wanted to remind everyone to travel safely and to be mindful that most kids are out of school.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly, SDOT staffers joined Seattle Police Department (SPD) officers at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM School in West Seattle last week to educate and reinforce safe travel habits as everyone prepared for summer break. Healthy habits developed as children can become lifelong habits that can be shared with others.

Please checkout our latest Blog Video featuring our friends at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM, Seattle Police and Scott Kubly:

We chatted with grownups driving and kids who were getting dropped off, and families who were walking and biking to school and wanted to reinforce good travel behavior by saying thank and sharing some tokens of our appreciation.

Thank you to the staff, families and kids at Arbor Heights/K-5 STEM for letting us spread some positive safety reinforcement at your school, have an awesome summer break!

Seattle’s Vision Zero program launched earlier this year:

  • Goal is to end traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030
  • Seattle is a safe city – often recognized as one of the safest in the nation
  • We want to build on our safety record
  • And we know that we can be even better (over 10,000 collisions/year, and one death is one too many)
  • Vision Zero approach emphasizes smarter street designs – forgiving streets that account for human error
  • When paired with targeted education and enforcement, we can save lives
  • We each have a role to play every day to reach Vision Zero

To make our streets safer for all, Seattle’s Vision Zero 2015 efforts include:

  • Reducing the speed limit in the downtown core to 25 m.p.h. by the end of 2015
  • Improving safety at 10 high-crash intersections downtown by eliminating turns on red lights, installing leading pedestrian intervals to give walkers a head start, eliminating dual turn lanes, and other engineering improvements
  • Installing 20 m.p.h. zones on residential streets in up to ten areas near parks and schools with documented collision histories
  • Enhancing safety on arterials (where 90 percent of serious and fatal collisions occur), like Rainier Avenue S, 35th Avenue SW, Fauntleroy Way SW and Fifth Avenue NE, by enhancing street designs, lowering speed limits and installing radar speed signs
  • Adding 12 new school zone safety cameras in six school zones to improve safety for children as they make their way to and from school
  • Adding seven miles of protected bike lanes, more than 40 crossing improvements, and 14 blocks of new sidewalk to make travel safer across all modes
  • Conducting targeted enforcement throughout the city for school, pedestrian and bike safety, along with enhanced DUI enforcement. SDOT and SPD will work together to educate people in advance of these patrols, so everyone will expect enforcement and better understand the rules of the road.For more information on Vision Zero, visit www.seattle.gov/visionzero. #VisionZeroSEA

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Mayor Murray and Community Members Celebrate Added Transit in Seattle

Today Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen celebrated increased King County Metro bus service in Seattle. The increased service riders now enjoy are a direct result of Seattle residents passing Proposition 1 in November 2014. The first increase went into effect in early June with more services coming in September.

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The Mayor thanked Seattle voters for moving Seattle one step closer to getting the transit system the City wants and needs, and explained that expanded transit options supports economic growth, reduces traffic, and transit use of electric trolleys help lower our city’s carbon footprint.

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Metro Riders and Driver join Metro GM Kevin Desmond, CM Tom Rasmussen, Exec. Dow Constantine, Mayor Ed Murray, SDOT Director Scott Kubly.

Proposition 1 allowed SDOT and King County Metro to add 9,000 service hours per month in June and will add 9,000 additional hours per month this coming September. These new hours will be added to both weekday commute and off-peak periods, enhancing services to 85 percent of in-city routes. In total, 223,000 bus hours will be added annually to existing bus service.

SDOT’s route improvement identification process was designed to meet the demands of a growing city and an always-on economy that requires trips for work, shopping, recreation, and other purposes outside of traditional commute hours.  The new transit is the equivalent of more than 50 buses operating 12 hours per day, 365 days per year.

In addition, in-city transit is now more accessible for everyone, and more affordable for low-income residents through King County’s ORCA LIFT program, which provides up to a 50 percent discount on fares for income-qualified riders. Starting this summer, in addition to enrolling people in the Utility Discount Program, the Seattle Human Services Department will also be able to connect eligible people in Seattle to a variety of affordability resources including the $20 car tab rebate program and the ORCA LIFT card.

In total, the route improvements expand Seattle’s portion of Metro’s system by approximately 15 percent. They are funded through a combination of car tab fees and a 0.1 percent sales tax that will annually provide $45 million over the next six years.

Please visit www.Seattle.gov/Transit for additional information.

Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge and Expanded Bike Share Grant Proposal

SDOT is seeking a $25 million federal TIGER grant that would complete the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge and also fund a major expansion of the city’s bike share network. This grant from USDOT, along with local contributions from SDOT and Sound Transit, would provide a direct pedestrian crossing over I-5 and expand bike sharing in Seattle from 50 to approximately 300 stations.

Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Project Area Map

Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge Project Area Map

In addition to the federally-funded elements of the project, SDOT and Sound Transit are constructing a wide variety of locally-funded street improvements for people walking and cycling throughout the Northgate neighborhood. These improvements, largely focused on safe and direct connections to the new bridge, include a network of new sidewalks, safety improvements at pedestrian crossings, and protected bike lanes along 1st Ave NE and NE 100th St.

USDOT awards TIGER grants each year to large-scale, transformative transportation projects across the country: projects that revitalize communities, grow the economy, and provide ladders of opportunity for workers and students. USDOT is offering approximately $500 million in 2015 grants. Awards to urban cities can range from $10 million to $30 million or more.

TIGER applications were due June 5, and awards are typically announced in September. USDOT completes extensive reviews of all TIGER candidates, including detailed benefit-cost analyses to ensure that the most cost-effective investments across the country are prioritized for federal funding.

For more information please click here.

What is the future of transportation in Seattle? Guest Speaker Jason Roberts Wednesday 6/10 @ 6-8pm

“Build a Better Block: Rethinking Streets & Sidewalks as a Social Setting”

Wednesday, June 10 from 6-8pm

Featured Guest Speaker: Jason Roberts
Moderator: Joshua McNichols, KUOW
Nesholm Family Lecture Hall at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer Street
RSVP here: https://betterblock.eventbrite.com

Jason Roberts (courtesy Lavin Agency)

Jason Roberts (courtesy Lavin Agency)

Jason Roberts is the founder of the Oak Cliff Transit Authority, originator of the Better Block Project. In 2006, Jason formed the non-profit organization, Oak Cliff Transit Authority, to revive the Dallas streetcar system, and later spearheaded the city’s effort in garnering a $23 Million dollar TIGER stimulus grant from the FTA to help reintroduce a modern streetcar system to Dallas. In 2010, Jason organized a series of “Better Block” projects, taking depressed blocks with vacant properties in Southern Dallas and converting them into temporary walkable districts with pop-up businesses, bike lanes, cafe seating, and landscaping. The project has now become an international movement and has been featured in the New York Times, Dwell magazine, and on NPR. Roberts has spoken at TEDx Austin and Oklahoma and is the recipient of the Champions of Change award in Washington DC for work in Transportation Innovations.

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For more information: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/build-a-better-block-rethinking-streets-sidewalks-as-a-social-setting-tickets-16029479605

 

Safety Improvements started along Lake City Way and 24th Avenue NE

The community will soon benefit from improvements now underway near the busy intersection of 24th Avenue NE and Lake City Way NE. Crews working for SDOT are constructing new sidewalks and other street elements to improve safety, and expects to complete the work in about three months. The project includes: sidewalks, a curb bulb, curb ramps, a new crosswalk, an upgraded traffic signal, and improvements to a bus stop and storm drainage, many of which were recommended by community members.

The need for these improvements was identified through the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project which aims to reduce serious and fatal collisions through increased enforcement patrols, educational outreach and engineering improvements. This work will help make Lake City Way safer and more comfortable for everyone that uses the corridor.

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Lake City Way NE currently; Improvements underway.

This project will completely overhaul this intersection. Deteriorating pavement conditions will be addressed by rebuilding the roadway from the base and storm drainage improvements will help preserve pavement integrity long term. A full traffic signal will be installed to control all movements at the intersection and a new crosswalk will be marked across the south leg of the intersection providing better accessibility for pedestrians. ADA compliant curb ramps will be constructed at the intersections and new sidewalks will be constructed on both 24th Avenue NE and Lake City Way NE. The southbound transit stop will be moved to the south and provide enhanced access and amenities.

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The public should take it slow through the construction zone and focus on the road at all times. Construction is expected to last into late July if the weather cooperates.  SDOT appreciates the community’s patience while this project is underway.

During construction you can expect:
• Lane restrictions and closures on Lake City Way NE, 24th Avenue NE and NE 104th Way
• Weekend closures of 24th Avenue NE at Lake City Way NE
• Driveway and parking restrictions on 24th Avenue NE, advanced notice will be provided
• Impacts to bus stop
• Pedestrian detours

SDOT has implemented a number of changes to help people navigate Lake City Way safely. Last year, rapid flash beacons were installed for the two mid-block crossings north and south of NE 125th Street. Rapid flash beacons are an extremely effective warning for motorists that a pedestrian is in or is about to enter the crosswalk.

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For more information about pedestrian safety on Lake City Way click here.

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A Site Plan for Mobility…

Mobility can be key to a healthy, happy, and engaged community. Whether taking a stroll to a neighbor’s house, or biking to a local café for a cup of coffee, the ability to move safely and easily through our neighborhoods is what lets us participate in our communities. But as neighborhoods change and grow, maintaining mobility and connectedness can sometimes be difficult. That’s why SDOT has made it a priority to help people planning construction projects to also consider and plan for mobility.

As part of this effort we have rolled out six new construction planning templates (plus two blank templates) that will help people recognize and plan for mobility impacts for all types of projects, large and small. Planning a construction project? Check out the new templates here. As you can see below, it’s now easier than ever for people planning a project to communicate ideas to maintain mobility, whether or not the area has sidewalks or alleyways.

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Prudent planning not only makes for more navigable neighborhoods, but can save time and money too. For example, we recently responded to a situation, pictured below, in which construction fencing had crept so far out onto the sidewalk that there was no landing on which pedestrians could stand. Even the crosswalk button was hidden behind the fence!

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With effective planning this situation may have been avoided from the start, thereby keeping both construction and members of the community moving right along. It is our hope that these new planning templates will help keep Seattle’s neighborhoods vibrant and connected!

Have questions about the new templates? Feel free to email us at SDOTPermits@seattle.gov.