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Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

December 11, 2002

Mayor Greg Nickels
City of Seattle
600 Fourth Avenue
12th Floor
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mayor Nickels:

The Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB) would like to ask for further consideration of funding for creation of new sidewalks in our city.

The 2003 proposed budget contained items for sidewalks, including a Local Improvement District (LID) for residential sidewalks. This LID proposal received a tremendous amount of focus but the Council eventually eliminated it, citing various other budgetary needs in this recession as well as a lack of confidence in the funding concept. SPAB is further concerned about how the proposed program would change direction from the Transportation Strategic Plan.

The Transportation Strategic Plan outlined a strategy for creating sidewalks on the 95 miles of streets that needed them in 1998. In section W2.1, the following actions were proposed:

ACTION 1: Develop a prioritized list for sidewalk completion.
ACTION 2: Install sidewalks on arterial streets, based on this prioritized list.
ACTION 3: Further develop and test installation of alternative reduced-cost sidewalk designs on residential streets. Consider amending the City's Street Design Manual to accommodate new design alternatives.

SPAB feels that the Mayor and City Council should continue to support this strategy.

First, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) should create a prioritized list of sidewalks that need to be built, which is categorized in the two groups outlined. This list may exist already. If not, the raw material, studies and ranked priorities, is probably on hand and simply needs to be finalized.

Then, funding should be secured for the high-priority sidewalks, which would include those with traffic or safety concerns such as major arterials with transit connections and streets with poor or nonexistent sidewalks in the immediate vicinity of schools. Traditional funding originating in federal, state, and city budgets should be pursued for these streets. Additional creative funding sources may prove useful in speeding their implementation. Itís important that a funding plan include a decision on when it will be appropriate to pay for these sidewalks. How will we know when our economy has recovered enough to begin building them?

Residential sidewalks have been given secondary importance although they represent the majority of unbuilt sidewalks. The TSP indicates that we should continue to investigate alternate construction methods in the short term. SPAB adds that we should concurrently consider how we will fund them. Using LIDs to create them makes sense, although further investigation may unveil alternative appropriate funding sources.

In summary, SPAB believes the Mayor and City Council should be working on funding the most important of a prioritized list of unbuilt sidewalks, while continuing to investigate engineering and financial alternatives for those on common residential streets.

Sincerely,

Rob Ketcherside
Chair, Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Cc:
Grace Crunican, Director SDOT
Seattle City Council Member Richard Conlin, Transportation Committee Chair
Seattle City Council Member Heidi Wills, Transportation Committee Vice Chair
Seattle City Council Member Richard McIver, Transportation Committee Member
Seattle City Council Member Jan Drago, Budget Committee Chair
Seattle City Council Member Nick Licata, Budget Committee Vice Chair
Seattle City Council President Peter Steinbrueck, Budget Committee Member