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The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle

Levy to Move Seattle

March 2015

What is Move Seattle?

On March 2, 2015, Mayor Ed Murray introduced Move Seattle, his ten-year transportation vision that will help Seattle meet current demands while working toward future needs as the city continues to grow. Move Seattle integrates the city’s long-range plans for improving biking, transit, walking, and freight access. It is organized around five core values, which are the pillars of Mayor Murray’s vision for Seattle: a safe, interconnected, vibrant, affordable, and innovative city. Lastly, it lays out a set of prioritized projects based on these values, understanding that the city will need to identify additional funding sources to turn the Move Seattle vision into a reality.

What is The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle?

Approved by voters in 2015, the 9-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for a growing city.

The levy provides roughly 30% of the City’s transportation budget and replaces the 9-year, $365 Bridging the Gap levy approved by voters in 2006.

How is this levy different from the Bridging the Gap transportation levy?

In 2006, Seattle voters approved the nine-year, $365 million Bridging the Gap levy. For the last nine years, the Bridging the Gap was critical to addressing our maintenance backlog, increasing transit routes, rehabilitating bridges, and making our sidewalks, roads, and other structures safer. It has provided 20-25 percent of the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) budget during this time frame. With Bridging the Gap set to expiring at the end of 2015, the Mayor released a draft proposal in March of 2015 for a replacement levy – The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle.

As Seattle’s transportation infrastructure ages, our population grows, and travel needs evolve, we must build for the future while continuing to maintain what we already have. The transportation levy will invest in a transportation system that works for today and tomorrow. The replacement levy is proposed to provide $930 million over another nine years.

Why does SDOT need additional funding?

We are facing a funding gap. Bridging the Gap funded nearly 25 percent of SDOT’s work and because it expired in 2015, the city needed to replace the levy in order to continue basic programs and to expand the transportation system to meet our future needs.

How will the new levy contribute to achieving the transportation vision laid out in Move Seattle?

The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will strengthen connections within and among transportation corridors, improve safety for all travelers, and increase access throughout the system, making our transportation network more integrated and efficient. It will help complete eight multimodal corridor projects, and targets maintenance and improvements that support our core values:

A Safe City: Our goal is to keep Seattle travelers safe by working to eliminate serious and fatal crashes and seismically reinforcing vulnerable bridges.

How will the new levy contribute to achieving the transportation vision laid out in Move Seattle?

The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will strengthen connections within and among transportation corridors, improve safety for all travelers, and increase access throughout the system, making our transportation network more integrated and efficient. It will help complete eight multimodal corridor projects, and targets maintenance and improvements that support our core values:

A Safe City: Our goal is to keep Seattle travelers safe by working to eliminate serious and fatal crashes and seismically reinforcing vulnerable bridges.

Implement a program to eliminate serious and fatal crashes on Seattle streets

  • Complete 12 -15 corridor safety projects, improving safety on all of our high-crash streets
  • Complete 9 -12 Safe Routes to School projects each year along with safety education, improving walking and biking safety at every public school in Seattle
  • Increase crosswalk repainting frequency to a four-year or better cycle to ensure every crosswalk is clearly marked

Protect our most vulnerable travelers – people walking and biking

  • Build approximately 50 miles of new protected bike lanes and 60 miles of greenways, completing over half of the Bicycle Master Plan citywide network
  • Complete the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link in Ballard
  • Repair up to 225 blocks of damaged sidewalks in our urban centers and villages
  • Make curb ramp and crossing improvements at up to 750 intersections citywide

Keep our bridges safe

  • Eliminate the backlog of needed bridge spot repairs
  • Seismically reinforce 16 vulnerable bridges
  • Replace Seattle’s last timber vehicle bridge (on Fairview Avenue), which connects the city’s two largest job centers
  • Plan and design high priority bridge replacements to begin construction after 2024

An Affordable City: Our goal is to invest in maintenance today to avoid increased expense for Seattle residents later and to provide alternatives to car ownership, including more affordable travel options.

Maintain and modernize 250 lane miles of our busiest streets

  • Repave up to 180 lane-miles of arterial streets, maintaining and modernizing 35 percent of Seattle’s busiest streets carrying the most people and goods
  • Repave 65 targeted locations every year, totaling an average of 7- 8 arterial lane-miles per year, with a repair and maintenance program run by City crews

Provide tools to help people get around without the expense of owning a car

  • Work with businesses to improve employee access to transit passes, bike share, and car share memberships
  • Work with residents, landlords, and developers of new buildings to ensure access to transit, care share, bike share, and other travel options

An Interconnected City: Our goal is to provide an easy-to-use, reliable transportation system that gives travelers the options they want when they want them

Modernize outdated streets to give people convenient and affordable travel options

  • Complete 7-10 multimodal corridor projects, redesigning major streets to improve connectivity and safety for all travelers, whether walking, biking, driving, or taking transit
  • Make bus service more reliable through a comprehensive transit improvement program to eliminate bottlenecks in key locations
  • Optimize traffic signal timing on 5 corridors throughout the city each year to improve traffic flow and serve people in cars and trucks, on bicycles, transit, and foot
  • Create 7 new high-quality bus rapid transit corridors

Improve connections to light rail

  • Provide funding for a new Link light rail station at Graham Street in southeast Seattle
  • Fund a pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5 connecting to light rail in Northgate
  • Build targeted pedestrian and bicycle connections to light rail stations

Make it easier to walk and bike in Seattle

  • Build 100 new blocks of sidewalks, filling in 50 percent of the sidewalk gaps on priority transit corridors citywide 
  • Make residential streets without sidewalks safer and more comfortable for walking
  • Install 1,500 new bicycle parking spots citywide

A Vibrant City: Our goal is to invest in streets and sidewalks that hum with economic and social activity.

Improve mobility for freight and delivery vehicles

  • Provide local money to design and build the Lander Street Overpass
  • Build the East Marginal Way corridor, a key route in Seattle’s Heavy Haul Network
  • Fund a targeted spot improvement program to help freight movement

Invest in neighborhood priority projects

  • Complete 20-35 neighborhood priority projects to improve safety, mobility, access and quality of life in those neighborhoods

Take care of our urban forest and improve drainage in flood-prone communities

  • Replace every tree removed due to disease or safety with two new trees
  • Add a new tree crew focused on quick response to critical pruning needs (such as clearances for people biking and walking, and at transit stops) and on ensuring clear sightlines to traffic signals and signs
  • Partner with Seattle Public Utilities to pave streets, provide new pedestrian infrastructure and crossings, and address drainage issues in flood-prone South Park and Broadview neighborhoods

How will the levy be paid for?

The Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will be paid for through a property tax that will cost the median Seattle homeowner about $275 per year. The expiring Bridging the Gap levy that this replaces cost the median Seattle homeowner about $130 per year.

In addition to the $930 million generated over the life of the levy, the City of Seattle estimates these funds can be used to leverage nearly $564 million in additional transportation funding dollars.

How would SDOT track performance delivering on commitments in a new transportation levy?

Building on the successful performance of Bridging the Gap, which employed a robust accountability and performance tracking system, transparent reporting on progress will be a hallmark of the proposed Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. SDOT is committed to thorough and clear accounting of money spent and progress made on levy commitments.

The City of Seattle’s performance dashboard is a good model for how information on progress can be reported dynamically and would be expanded to cover the new transportation levy.

In addition, progress on the Bridging the Gap levy was monitored closely by a City Council- and Mayor-appointed oversight committee. An oversight body is also being appointed for the new transportation levy.

How can I get involved or share my feedback?

Together, we can make sure that our transportation system is more effective, reliable, and accessible for everyone.


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