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$1B for sidewalks, bike lanes, and road repairs: Seattle transportation levy ahead

caption: A street scene in downtown Redmond.
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A street scene in downtown Redmond.
Courtesy of the city of Redmond

Seattle needs hundreds of miles of new sidewalks, bike lanes, and road repairs. This week, the mayor introduced his draft proposal for a transportation levy to fund projects for the next eight years.

The city is woefully behind on its transportation and mobility infrastructure. Over a quarter of Seattle’s streets are without any sort of safe walkway. Mayor Bruce Harrell says he’ll need $1.35 billion to make big improvements in Seattle.

“We will repair 34,000 urgent sidewalk defects and construct 250 blocks of new sidewalks and 10,000 curb ramps,” he said at an announcement in Rainier on Thursday. “We will improve the bike network with various maintenance and closing gaps.”

If passed, the levy would cost median homeowners about $12 more per month than the current levy.

The city is currently facing a budget deficit close to $230 million, but Harrell told the crowd he designed his plan with that in mind.

“The budget shortfall is another issue and my executive team working with department heads, we are rolling up our sleeves to figure out how to keep things effectively moving forward without jeopardizing the essential services that the public wants,” he said.

The levy money would pay for all kinds of transportation projects to help people get around a little more safely.

Katie Garrow is with MLK Labor, one of the groups reviewing the plan.

“We know that you cannot in fact get more with less,” Garrow said. “This is a serious problem in our region and it demands serious and substantial investment.”

But some Seattle advocacy groups say Harrell’s plan doesn’t go far enough. They wanted to see a levy closer to $3 billion that would pay for rigorous infrastructure improvements.

Harrell’s plan isn’t final yet. The public can weigh in for the next month. Then it will head to the City Council before it goes before voters in November.

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