Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What forms of transportation are being studied?
A. The Action Strategy, just like the original study, looks to improve the safety and operations of all modes - from walking and biking to taking transit, vanpooling, and general purpose traffic. Most of the study area is envisioned to be a walkable, sustainable urban center, so the majority of improvements will encourage alternatives to driving alone.
Q. What is the timeline for the Action Strategy?
A. Data collection and outreach are already underway. An existing and future conditions report (with forecasts for 2030) will be released for public review in May, and draft project recommendations will be presented in September. The final Action Strategy is scheduled to be complete in the first quarter of 2008.
Q. What has been implemented from the original study in 2002?
A. After the original UATS was completed in 2002, the City invested millions of dollars in transportation improvements such as the reconstruction of University Ave and NE 50th St, enhanced landscaping of Campus Parkway, as well as traffic signal upgrades along NE 65th St and 35th Ave NE. As these were already scheduled to take place, they were assumed in the study and thus were not considered "recommended projects."
In general only a few projects from the original study have been implemented, which include a new sidewalk at NE 65th St and Ravenna Blvd as well as safety improvements near 30th Ave NE and NE Blakely St. The good news is that there are several potential projects for 2007-2008, such as new sidewalks along 30th Ave NE and traffic improvements at 55th and Ravenna Ave NE. Resurfacing and upgrades to NE 45th St are also currently underway.
Q. How does this study relate to the S.R. 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project?
A. While uncertainty regarding the replacement of the 520 Bridge still exists, WSDOT has settled on a 6-lane alternative and we are including this assumption in our planning forecasts. The Action Strategy assumes that the current location of the University Area interchange remains in place., Many of the Action Strategy's recommended projects are likely to be applicable whichever bridge design is chosen.
Q. How will Bridging the Gap affect the study area?
A. Thanks to voter support for Bridging the Gap, projects that previously were not fully funded - such as new sidewalks along 30th Ave NE and the replacement of inadequate road signage - are now moving forward. In addition, an aging section of the NE 45th St Bridge near the University Village is expected to be replaced by 2009, and there is significant new money for annual bicycle and pedestrian improvements. In terms of transportation planning for the study area, we are now in a much better position to identify expected and potential funding sources, which will help with the prioritization and implementation of the study's recommendations.
Q. How will the Action Strategy address the impacts of new development on the transportation system? Will developers be contributing their "fair share" to mitigating these impacts?
A. A principal goal of the Action Strategy is to identify potential funding sources for the recommended projects list, and this does include a voluntary Transportation Mitigation Payment Program for developers. Once the list of improvement projects is finalized, SDOT will determine how much of the overall costs are associated with new growth and be able to calculate these costs on a per-development basis. Developers then have the option of either contributing to the mitigation payment program up front (and thus speeding up their permitting process) or working within the existing environmental review process to determine transportation mitigation measures. The advantage of the payment program is that it increases predictability for developers, directs funding to transportation improvements rather than more traffic studies, and allows the pooling of these funds to more efficiently address transportation system priorities (as opposed to the current project-by-project basis).
Q. Will this study affect the University of Washington's U-PASS program or their purchase of the Safeco property?
A. No. The U-Pass program - while an important factor in the area's transportation system - is not being evaluated, nor will the study directly address the recent purchase by the University of the Safeco properties or the lifting of the University's off-campus 'lease lid.' Since the University must still adhere to the caps on automobile trip generation established in its 2001 Master Plan, these transactions in themselves should not significantly impact the transportation system.
The study will assess improvements around the Brooklyn Ave and Husky Stadium light rail stations as well as where new development and increased traffic are expected to occur.
Q. Will the study address parking?
A. SDOT undertook a comprehensive assessment of parking policies and the installation of new parking pay stations in the University Area in 2005. The Action Strategy will only consider parking changes if they are a necessary and related component to recommended transportation improvement projects.