Seattle Sound Transit board members propose improvements to ST3 package

Sound Transit Board members Mayor Ed Murray and City Councilmember Rob Johnson introduced amendments to the Sound Transit 3 (ST3) plan during today’s Board meeting in conjunction with other board members around the region.  The amendments effectively expand light rail and other transit services throughout the region.

“These changes are big wins for West Seattle, Ballard, and the neighborhoods near Graham Street and North 130th Street,” said Mayor Murray. “The public told us we need more light rail connections and we want them sooner. This expanded service and shorter timelines will help Seattle grow more sustainably and affordably.”

“As a daily transit rider, I’m proud to have worked with my fellow board members to deliver more transit to Seattle residents in a faster timeline than originally proposed – all while incorporating important public feedback on lines in West Seattle and Ballard, and infill stations at Graham Street, Boeing Access Road, and N 130th Street,” said Johnson, who also chairs the City Council’s Planning, Land Use and Zoning committee.

Murray and Johnson, joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, put forward changes today that are consistent with the stated priorities of the City of Seattle:

  • Fully grade- separated light rail to West Seattle and Ballard three years sooner than the initial plan;
  • Improve access to existing or previous planned routes with new stations at Graham Street, Boeing Access Road, and N. 130th Street; and,
  • Address immediate transit needs with investments in the RapidRide C and D Lines and Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit.

“Today’s decision to expedite the Graham Street Station by five years demonstrates our commitment to social equity and investments in District 2,” said Council President Bruce Harrell, District 2 (South Seattle). “The station will serve approximately 81% of minorities living within half-a-mile of the station. This will significantly enhance access for our seniors, walkability and transit use. I am thankful for the support the community has shown for this project. If it wasn’t for them this wouldn’t have been possible.”

“ST3 is a once in-a-generation opportunity we must not take lightly,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, District 7 (Pioneer Square to Magnolia).  “Our Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne neighbors deserve a grade-separated alignment to keep cars, freight, transit and commuters predictably moving.”

“As a city-wide representative and West Seattle resident I am incredibly pleased with the accelerated timelines, commitment to city-wide stations and the expanded service of Rapidride lines in the interim,” said Councilmember M. Lorena González, Position 9 (Citywide).

“I’m thrilled that Sound Transit has found a way to reduce the projected timeline by 3 years to deliver light rail to WS. Additional funding for near-term C line improvements is also a welcome improvement,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold, District 1 (West Seattle).

“With full grade separation and an accelerated timeline to Ballard, I am happy to see that the ST3 package reflects what I’m hearing from Ballard, Crown Hill, Fremont, Greenwood, Green Lake and Phinney Ridge,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien, District 6 (Northwest Seattle). “The draft plan remains flexible enough that if our communities continue to be united, I am confident we can make significant improvements even after the passage of ST3, in the years to come.”

The Sound Transit Board is scheduled to adopt these and other sub-area amendments at special meeting Thursday, June 2nd, and send a complete package to voters on June 23rd.  More information about Sound Transit is available online: soundtransit.org

Mayor Murray releases 20-year growth plan for Seattle

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Mayor Ed Murray today transmitted his proposal to update Seattle’s 20-year Comprehensive Plan to the Seattle City Council. Seattle 2035 focuses on equitable growth as Seattle expects gain 120,000 residents, 115,000 jobs, and 70,000 housing units over the next two decades.

“Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and while this growth provides a booming economy, we must continue to focus that development in livable, walkable neighborhoods with the amenities that help people thrive,” said Murray. “With this comprehensive plan, we will build a more equitable future for all residents with better access to the affordable homes, jobs, transit, and parks that make Seattle vibrant.”

Development of Seattle 2035 has been ongoing since 2013. The final proposal was informed by thousands of comments, 57 public presentations and 2,600 people participating in public meetings.

Seattle 2035 includes goals and policies, including those that:

  • Guide more future growth to areas within a 10-minute walk of frequent transit
  • Continue the Plan’s vision for mixed-use Urban Villages and Urban Centers
  • Monitor future growth in greater detail, including data about racial disparities
  • Increase the supply and diversity of affordable housing consistent with the Mayor’s Housing Affordabibility and Livability Agenda (HALA)
  • Update how we measure the performance of the city’s transportation and parks systems
  • Integrate the City’s planning for parks, preschool, transit, housing, transportation, City facilities and services

Seattle 2035 incorporates principles of the City’s Equitable Development initiative and new policies in almost every element of the plan specifically identify ways in which the City can reduce the risk of displacement for marginalized populations and improve their access to opportunities.

The policies in the plan governing industrial lands remain relatively stable. The mayor has begun a series of conversations with industrial and maritime stakeholders to develop new supports for their industries while balancing other pressures on land use in the City.

The plan and related legislation will be introduced to the Seattle City Council’s Planning Land Use and Zoning committee, chaired by Councilmember Rob Johnson, later this month.

Seattle 2035 represents years of work by so many here at the City and also reflects the feedback of thousands of Seattle residents,” said Councilmember Johnson. “The City of Seattle has always used the Comprehensive Plan to set ambitious goals related to sustainability, and I am so glad to hear that this update reflects a similar degree of ambition to combat Seattle’s equity and affordability crisis. I look forward to seeing the final plan and bringing it before my fellow Councilmembers.”

Seattle is required by Washington State’s Growth Management Act to periodically update its Comprehensive Plan. The last major update of the plan was in 2004. Seattle 2035 is consistent with State and County growth policies.

In 1994, Seattle’s first Comprehensive Plan was approved. The 1994 Comprehensive Plan was based around an Urban Village strategy. The Urban Village strategy designated certain neighborhoods as Urban Centers or Urban Villages and encouraged the development of new housing, jobs, and transit options within these areas. Over the past 20 years, about 75 percent of new housing and jobs have located in Urban Villages or Urban Centers, consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.

Levy to Move Seattle’s first 100 Days

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The Levy to Move Seattle recently passed its first 100 days of implementing new projects that enhance transportation in Seattle. Through the levy, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has already completed dozens of safety, maintenance and congestion relief projects throughout the city.

“When Seattle voters approved these transportation investments last fall, they sent a clear message that they wanted to see our bridges and roads repaired, more transit options, and safer streets,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I am pleased with the progress we’ve made in the past three months on these first projects.  As we move Seattle forward, we will continue to provide residents with accountability and transparency as we build a more interconnected and safe city for all.”

Approved by voters in the fall of 2015, the nine-year, $930 million levy provides roughly 30 percent of the City’s transportation budget and provides funding to improve safety for all travelers, maintain our streets and bridges, and invest in reliable, affordable travel options for our growing city.

“We supported the Levy to Move Seattle because it will provide increased access to transit and reliability,” said Shefali Ranganathan, Executive Director of Transportation Choices Coalition. “The transit-only lane in South Lake Union on Westlake and the improvements to bus stops near the new light rail station in the U District are already helping transit riders on a daily basis. I am happy to see both were prioritized for completion in the first 100 days and look forward to many more over the next nine years.”

A range of projects have been completed in the first 100 days of the Levy to Move Seattle.

Safety Projects:

  • Safe Routes to School projects at seven  schools:  Mercer Middle School, South Shore K-8, Rainier Beach High School, Hazel Wolf Elementary, Salmon Bay K-8, BF Day Elementary, and Bryant Elementary
  • Sidewalk repairs around six schools: Olympic Hills, Lowell, Bailey Gatzert, West Seattle, Leschi, and Franklin High School
  • Rainier Avenue safety improvements
  • Replacement of 500 street signs
  • Center City Bike Network implementation – 2nd Ave Safety Project public outreach and design initiation

Maintenance Projects:

  • Two pedestrian stairway rehabilitation projects
  • 104 bridge structural repairs
  • Magnolia Bridge expansion joint replacement project
  • A pedestrian safety rail improvement project in SODO
  • 30 trees planted on Renton Ave S

Congestion Relief Projects:

  • South Lake Union bus stop improvements to support the Rapid Ride C & D lines
  • Montlake Triangle bus stop improvements to support the new U-Link station
  • Upgraded signals at California Avenue & Stevens, Fauntleroy Way & Myrtle St, and S Forest & 6th Ave S
  • New traffic cameras for real-time traffic information and incident management at 23rd Ave & Rainier, Pacific St & 15th Ave NE, 15th Ave NE and Campus Pkwy, and 15th Ave NE and NE 45th St
  • 196 new bicycle parking spaces
  • Upgraded traffic signals on Second Avenue at University St.

“Better signals, signage, and sidewalks are among the many improvements delivered in the Move Seattle levy’s first one hundred days,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “My thanks to Seattle voters for providing these critical funds and to SDOT’s team for getting the work done.”

While the projects completed in the first 100 days are not comprehensive of all projects currently underway, they support SDOT’s mission to deliver a high-quality transportation system that is accessible, safe, and interconnected for all residents.

Additionally, Mayor Murray and the Seattle City Council are convening a Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee. The resident-led group will review how levy revenues are spent, make recommendations on project priorities, and respond to potential project cost savings or overruns. The Mayor and City Council will announce appointments to the oversight committee by May of 2016.

Join Mayor Murray for this year’s Find It, Fix It Community Walks

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Today Mayor Ed Murray announced the schedule for his 2016 Find It, Fix It Community Walks to occur in seven neighborhoods this summer and fall. Now in its third year, the walks bring together City officials, business owners, and community members to address each neighborhood’s needs.

“These walks provide a unique opportunity for community members to identify neighborhood needs and discuss challenges directly with City leaders,” said Mayor Murray. “Together we invest in a spirit of engagement and community volunteerism. Find It, Fix It Community Walks are one way the City can support neighbors committed to improving their own communities. I look forward to working with community members this year to make these walks a success.”

This year’s Find It Fix It walks will be held in:

  • Aurora/Licton Springs– Early June
  • Belltown – Late June
  • Roxhill – July
  • Judkins Park – August
  • Crown Hill – September
  • Georgetown – October
  • Wallingford – Mid-November

Each walk will follow a route determined by community members on Community Walk Action Teams convened by the Department of Neighborhoods. Specific dates and locations will be announced two weeks prior to each walk.

If you are interested in becoming part of a Community Walk Action Team to help plan a walk in one of the seven neighborhoods, contact the Find It, Fix It Program Coordinator, Hilary Nichols, at hilary.nichols@seattle.gov, (206) 386.1907.

The City will continue to offer Community Project Grants for every walk, which provide up to $5,000 to support community-led revitalization and beautification projects. In 2015, 166 community volunteers, with assistance from City staff, completed 18 projects around the city. Projects included painting a mural on a public staircase in South Park, constructing a community kiosk in Cascade, and planting flowers in Hillman City.

Mayor Murray spearheaded the Find It, Fix It Community Walks in 2014 in partnership with Cities of Service, a national nonprofit that works with cities to provide support and training to encourage civic volunteerism.

Whether your neighborhood is part of this year’s walks or not, community members can report safety needs or city maintenance issues anytime with the Find It, Fix It mobile app. Android users can download the app from the Google Play Store and iPhone users can download it from the App Store.

New bus service rolls out across Seattle

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Thanks to voter approval of Transit Proposition 1, today Mayor Murray and transit supporters celebrated the first day of expanded weekday Metro bus service in neighborhoods across Seattle. In just nine months, since the first round of Proposition 1 funded investments hit the street last summer, Seattle has seen the largest increase in transit service in more than 40 years.

“Thanks to the voters, today more than 70 percent of Seattle residents live within a short walk of frequent bus service,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Taking the bus has never been more reliable and convenient. Improved RapidRide service to Ballard and West Seattle, as well as bus only lanes through South Lake Union, are transforming the commute for thousands of workers.”

Seattle voters approved Transit Proposition 1 in November 2014 and provided the City of Seattle with approximately $45 million annually for the next six years to purchase additional bus hours from Metro to improve and expand in-city bus service. Instituted on March 26, these last service additions will improve the reliability of the two RapidRide lines while connecting riders to growing employment markets in South Lake Union and Pioneer Square.

Bus lines seeing more frequent and reliable service in this expansion include: improved connections and frequencies on many routes that serve the new light rail stations at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill; more reliable service on Route 8 to Capitol Hill and Mt. Baker, Route 38 to Martin Luther King, Jr. Way South, Route 45 to Loyal Heights, and Route 48 from 23rd Avenue to the U District; new east-west connections on Route 62 from Sandpoint to Fremont; and new connections from Northeast Seattle to South Lake Union and First Hill on Route 63.

The City’s Transit Proposition 1 also funded the splitting of the RapidRide C and D lines, extending the RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union and the RapidRide D Line to Pioneer Square.

Supported by infrastructure investments from the Levy to Move Seattle, the number of rush-hour transit trips has more than doubled on Westlake Avenue North due to:

  • New RapidRide C Line service, every 7 to 12 minutes from West Seattle via Downtown
  • More service on Route 40, every 9 to 15 minutes from Northgate via Ballard/Fremont to Downtown seven days a week
  • A shifted Route 40 to Westlake Avenue for ease of access and use
  • More peak time service for Route 70 from the U District to Downtown
  • More service with a reliable, shortened route for Route 8 from Seattle Center to Capitol Hill/Rainier Valley
  • More service on routes 26, 28, 62 and the E Line
  • Dedicated transit lanes on Westlake Avenue North
  • Transit stop upgrades such as real-time transit information signs, shelters and wider sidewalks

“South Lake Union is one of the fastest growing parts of our city. In the Center City 31 percent of commuters travel alone by car, while in South Lake Union almost half of commuters do so,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “For the neighborhood to continue to grow, we need to rapidly increase transit service and provide commuters better options than driving alone. This investment in transit and on-street bus facilities, with a bus or streetcar arriving every two minutes, is a major step.”

To ensure the reliability of the new service, SDOT changed the way Westlake Ave N operates so buses can get through heavy traffic more efficiently. Changes include:

  • North end – A southbound transit only lane on Westlake Ave N between Ninth Ave N and Valley St (by restricting southbound on-street parking between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.)
  • Mid-section – Transit only lanes on both sides of Westlake Ave N between Valley and Lenora streets
  • South end – A northbound transit only lane between Lenora and Stewart streets

“Our neighborhood has been growing exponentially and these transit updates are welcomed with open arms,” said Danah Abarr, executive director of the South Lake Union Chamber. “Just in time for spring, added bus service and improved streets will make getting around South Lake Union more efficient. This is a win-win for everyone – employees, residents and visitors alike.”

For more information on the project and a map, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/transitSLU.htm.

Center City Connector streetcar recommended for $75 million grant

Today the City of Seattle’s Center City Connector Streetcar Project was recommended for a $75 million grant in President Obama’s 2017 Budget. The project would link the existing South Lake Union and First Hill Streetcar lines, creating a system that would connect over a dozen Seattle neighborhoods in Seattle’s Center City.

If approved by Congress, this $75 million grant would be one of the largest federal grants the City has received for a transportation project in recent history.

“Seattle thanks President Obama and our Congressional delegation for the incredible support so far for downtown transit,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “We look forward to working with our supporters in Congress to change how downtown residents, workers and visitors move around the urban core. With a dedicated lane for the new streetcar, as well as connections to existing streetcar lines and transit hubs, the Center City Connector would deliver frequent, reliable service for thousands of riders every day.”

By linking existing streetcar investments, the Center City Connector is designed to provide a seamless streetcar system that will serve major visitor destinations, employment centers, and areas where the city is experiencing significant growth. The fully integrated system is projected to carry up to 30,000 average weekday riders.

Once completed, the Connector will serve Seattle’s three intermodal hubs at Westlake, Colman Dock and King Street Station. The system would provide convenient transfers to the Third Avenue Transit Spine at both ends of Downtown, to Link Light Rail via multiple Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel station entries, and to Sounder Commuter Rail at King Street Station.

The project would:

  • Address current and future mobility needs for residents, workers and tourists
  • Meet the growth in demand for Center City circulation trips
  • Address constraints on expansion of Center City transportation
  • Provide affordable transportation access to key social and human services located in the Center City
  • Mitigate greenhouse gas emissions resulting from vehicles and traffic congestion

“With these critical grant funds, we can connect our South Lake Union and First Hill lines and create a far reaching streetcar system for Seattle,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “I would like to express my appreciation to the Obama Administration and Washington’s congressional delegation for supporting this important project.”

The line is estimated to cost $135 million and the City will present funding options for its local match later this year. The local match will include $6.8 million in previously appropriated funds, $17.8 million in utility funded improvements, and $34.4 million in City Capital Improvement Program funds. The City also previously received a $900,000 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant. Pending congressional appropriation of Small Starts Grant funding, the City will work with FTA to complete an agreement for these grant funds.

Additional information about the Center City Connector can be found here:  http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/centercity.htm.

To review the successful Small Starts application for the line, please visit:  http://www.seattlestreetcar.org/docs/CCCSmallStartsApplication10-23-2015.pdf.

The Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee is Seeking Candidates

The Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee seeks candidates to apply for service on the Committee. Candidates will be selected and appointed by the Mayor and City Council.

The Move Seattle Levy Oversight Committee serves as a vital mechanism of accountability on how Move Seattle levy revenues are spent. The Oversight Committee is an advisory body that monitors revenues, expenditures, and program and project implementation. The Oversight Committee advises the City Council, the Mayor, and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on responding to program and project cost savings or overruns.

In addition, the Oversight Committee reviews SDOT’s program and project priorities and financial plans, and makes recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council regarding the spending of levy proceeds.  SDOT staffs the Oversight Committee and provides all of the required background and reference materials.

Oversight Committee members are appointed for four years and all appointments are subject to confirmation by the City Council. One member is required to be a licensed engineer with bridge and structures experience.

The Oversight Committee is interested in applicants with diverse backgrounds, including transportation, management, bridge and structures engineering, public policy, advocacy, social services, and business. Oversight Committee members serve without compensation. Members must be residents in the City of Seattle.

To be considered, email a letter of interest and resume to elliot.helmbrecht@seattle.gov by February 7th, 2016. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis.

Move Seattle begins with Beacon Hill paved trail for students

Thanks to voter-approved funds provided by the Move Seattle levy, today the City of Seattle began construction on its first 2016 Safe Routes to School project at Mercer Middle School.

“Thanks to Seattle voters’ approval of Move Seattle, we will make major investments to maintain our roads and bridges, make our streets safer, and give people new options to move around and through Seattle,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Our Move Seattle investments begin right here, with the groundbreaking of our first Safe Routes to School project of 2016.”

Following through on the levy commitment to complete a Safe Routes project at every public school in the city, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is building a paved, off-street trail to give Beacon Hill schoolchildren a safer place to walk and bike.

Approved by voters in November 2015, the nine-year, $930 million Levy to Move Seattle provides funding for Safe Routes ($207 million), Maintenance and Repair ($420 million) and Congestion Relief ($303 million).

Parallel to the busy 15th Avenue S, the new trail at Mercer Middle School will replace a gravel path and connect the northeast entrance of the school to a pedestrian crossing at South Spokane Street and Lafayette Avenue South. Approximately 2,000 feet long, the 12-foot wide path will be adjacent to Jefferson Park on Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) property and connect two neighborhood greenways. The project is a partnership of the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, SPU and SDOT.

SDOT will construct 12 Safe Routes to School projects this year, encouraging active commuting by schoolchildren and families. The Safe Routes program is part of Vision Zero, the city’s plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Safe Routes projects improve safety for communities by building healthy places where kids can safely walk and bike to school and through their neighborhood.

Thanks to Move Seattle levy funds, SDOT has budgeted $6.7 million for Safe Routes to School projects at the following schools in 2016:

  • Aki Kurose Middle School
  • Arbor Heights Elementary
  • Bailey Gatzert Elementary
  • DF Day Elementary
  • Bryant Elementary
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary
  • Mercer Middle School
  • Montlake Elementary
  • Rainier Beach High School
  • Salmon Bay Elementary
  • Sanislo Elementary
  • South Shore K-8

“Safety, especially for children, is the number one priority for SDOT,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Connecting neighborhood greenways and next to a park, this Move Seattle Levy funded trail will keep our most vulnerable residents safe as they travel daily to and from school.”

A Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) grant is funding education and encouragement aspects of the project. Construction is funded through Seattle’s local funds and the grant, with the total cost of project construction estimated at $955,000.

To learn more about the Safe Routes to School Five Year Action Plan, please visit:  http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/srts/SRTSActionPlan.pdf.

For more information about the Mercer Middle School project, please visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/SafeRoutesMercerMiddle.htm

Seattle announces new funding for affordable housing near transit

Mayor Ed Murray submitted legislation to the City Council this week to invest an additional $1 million in land acquisition near transit hubs for affordable housing in Seattle. The Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) fund creates a regional pool of resources that will be used to secure land near existing or planned high-capacity transit.

“Supporting an equitable and affordable Seattle means creating housing options near transit that working families can afford,” said Murray. “We must make the smart investment now to acquire land near transit centers, so we can locate convenient, affordable housing as our community grows.”

Implementing the REDI fund is one of the many recommendations made by the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda committee last summer, and exemplifies Seattle’s commitment to strong regional partnerships in housing affordability issues.

“Aside from housing, transportation is a family’s greatest expense,” stated Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who promoted the allocation of City dollars for the REDI fund in the 2015 budget cycle. “Investing early on in affordable housing options near transit centers ensures we are developing our city equitably into the future.”

The idea for the REDI fund emerged from a 3-year regional planning effort, Growing Transit Communities, which concluded in 2013. The City Council authorized the $1 million in the 2015 budget and asked the Mayor and the Office of Housing to develop a Regional Compact with King County, the State of Washington, and other regional public and private partners to govern expenditure of the fund. A total of $21 million will be invested in the fund – $5 million from public sources and $16 million from private and other sources.

“Seattle, like many metropolitan areas across the country, recognizes that housing affordability is a regional issue as much as a local one,” stated Steve Walker, director of the Office of Housing. “Both Denver and San Francisco have created similar tools to acquire land for affordable housing, and have shown that this works.”

The City Council PLUS Committee will discuss the REDI fund on Dec. 1, with a vote scheduled for Dec.15.

Seattle, King County, Sound Transit and Downtown Seattle Association Announce Center City Mobility Plan

Already one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, Seattle’s center city is projected to add 56,000 jobs and 25,000 households over the next 20 years, presenting challenges for accommodating this growth on Seattle’s existing streets. Today the City of Seattle, King County, Sound Transit and the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) announced they will jointly develop a Center City Mobility Plan, focused on better connecting people and goods within Seattle’s center city to the rest of the region, while fostering an inviting center city for all.

“As Seattle grows, it is critical that we develop a coordinated transportation system,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Transit and transportation agencies from across the region, as well as major employers, must all invest and plan together if we are to meet the needs of downtown workers and residents.”

The Center City Mobility Plan is an outgrowth of efforts by the longstanding Downtown Transportation Alliance (DTA), a coalition of downtown stakeholders, local government and transit agencies focused on supporting a mobile and thriving downtown. Concentrating on an area that serves as the economic engine for the Puget Sound region, the Center City Mobility Plan will include downtown and neighborhoods immediately surrounding it—Belltown, Denny Triangle, Uptown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Pike-Pine, the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square.

“To maintain dynamic growth in a highly developed urban environment we must maintain and increase mobility, and that takes thoughtful, thorough coordination,” said King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine. “This Center City plan will help us efficiently manage transportation systems and make the right connections for light rail, buses, bikes, and pedestrians.”

Earlier this year, the City developed Move Seattle, an integrated strategic plan that incorporates all modes of transportation —transit, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, parking and freight. The Center City Mobility Plan will incorporate Move Seattle, King County Metro’s Long Range Plan, Sound Transit 2 and a prospective Sound Transit 3. The recent passage of the Move Seattle levy also highlights voters’ interest in addressing congestion and transit issues, especially around the center city. As a first step toward creating a unified mobility plan for downtown, the City of Seattle issued a request for qualifications last week to hire a consultant to support the planning and outreach process.

“We want everyone who travels to, in and around downtown to have a great experience,” said Jon Scholes, DSA president and CEO. “As more employers and individuals call downtown home, it’s critical that the elements of our public realm work in concert – that’s everything from sidewalks and lighting to wayfinding and transit connections. This plan helps provide a framework for future improvements in downtown.”

The backbone of a future transportation system capable of serving a denser population is already taking form with Link light rail expansion to Northgate and Redmond, streetcar lines at both ends of downtown that will come together in downtown Seattle, existing and future bus rapid transit being provided on key corridors into downtown and more convenient, reliable bus service throughout the city. The plan will consider how to best integrate these services as well as incorporate the state’s current plans for the highway system and tolling, and also include consideration of future changes expected in travel innovations, needs and behaviors.

In addition to a long-term plan that establishes a transportation vision for 2035, the effort will create a near-term transit operations and transportation management plan by mid-2016 along with a public realm plan for enhancing the right of way to better serve residents, employees, shoppers and visitors. The plan is estimated to cost $1.5 million and is being funded by the Downtown Transportation Alliance, a partnership of King County Metro, the Downtown Seattle Association, Sound Transit and the City of Seattle.