Seattle Road Safety Advocates Say Transportation Levy Perpetuates Car-Centric Status Quo

Critics of a proposed $1.3 billion transportation levy say the package isn’t enough to keep up with inflation and rising costs and fails to support a shift away from car-oriented infrastructure.

1 minute read

April 15, 2024, 11:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Two cyclists riding on a protected bike lane on a bridge in Seattle with traffic on their left.

Cyclists on the Evergreen Floating Bridge in Seattle, Washington. | Dmitri Kotchetov / Adobe Stock

Safe streets advocates in Seattle are calling on the city to propose a larger transportation levy to fund pedestrian safety and Complete Streets projects, arguing that the currently proposed $1.3 billion levy is “hardly enough to maintain the status quo, much less invest in new initiatives, especially once construction cost inflation is factored in.”

Erica C. Barnett describes the issue in PubliCola, noting that “the graphics-heavy proposal is noticeably light on specifics, the balance of spending categories skews heavily toward car-oriented projects, including road repairs, new pavement ‘on our busiest streets,’ and bridge maintenance, including upgrades and planning for the replacement of the Ballard and Magnolia Bridges.”

The new proposal cuts spending for transit connections, pedestrian projects, and freight mobility. Meanwhile, pedestrian and traffic deaths have been rising since the city adopted of a Vision Zero pledge in 2015. If the city installs sidewalks at the rate proposed in the plan, it would take 400 years to complete the city’s sidewalk network.

According to Barnett, “Polling by the mayor’s office revealed that voters would have approved a $1.7 billion levy—the highest level tested—but Harrell opted to go for a status-quo renewal, prompting many advocates to question why (and push for a more ambitious plan).”

Wednesday, April 10, 2024 in Publicola

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Google office building in Virginia.

Virginia Data Centers Draining State’s Water Supply

Being the world’s largest data center hub is having a severe impact on local water resources.

May 9, 2024 - Grist

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Grand Coulee Dam in Washington state.

Northwest Power Demand Could Surge as Data Centers, Transportation Electrification Ramps Up

New estimates project a steady increase in electricity demand due to population growth, data centers, and the shift to electric power in homes, buildings, and transportation.

May 17 - Governing

Blurred traffic speeding by on freeway with Los Angeles skyline in background.

California Testing Per-Mile Gas Tax Alternatives

A summer pilot program will test the fairness and efficacy of collection mechanisms for mileage-based fee options.

May 17 - Newsweek

Close-up of 'Pay rent' note in red marker on day 1 of monthly calendar.

After Months of Decreases, Rents Nationwide Are Going Up

Average rents rose by $12 around the country so far this year.

May 17 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.