Action Alert: Stop the $80 Million Cut from Seattle Multimodal Projects
  • Bike and pedestrian funding would be slashed under the proposal by Seattle Councilmember Alex Pedersen. 
  • Residents should tell City Council to prioritize bike and pedestrian projects requested by the community and proposed by SDOT.
  • Seattle’s racial equity and Vision Zero goals are at stake if these cuts move forward.

A recent proposal spearheaded by Councilmember Alex Pedersen would redirect $80 million from bike, pedestrian, and transit projects to pay for bridge maintenance, leaving high-priority community investments unfunded. 

The funding at issue comes from a $20 vehicle licensing fee authorized in the fall of 2020 for all cars registered in Seattle. When the fee was authorized, Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) engaged stakeholders in a Transportation Equity Workgroup to identify key projects and priorities to advance racial equity in the city’s transportation plans and create a spending plan for the revenue. This in-depth process led to a list of community supported projects that would provide crucial investments in active transportation and transit, centering Vision Zero priorities, sidewalk repairs, bridge maintenance, safe bike routes, and bike/pedestrian/transit planning. 

Many of these projects were located in underserved South Seattle, where in March, a person biking died after being run over by a person driving a truck at an intersection with no safe bicycling infrastructure. These community-based projects would prioritize safety, equity, and sustainability in crucial areas of historic underinvestment, and come at a time when Seattle is falling tragically short on Vision Zero goals.

However, earlier this week Pedersen announced a huge amendment to this spending plan--cosigned by Councilmembers Lisa Herbold, Andrew Lewis, and Teresa Mosqueda. The amendment flips bridge maintenance to 75 percent of the investment from 24 percent in the original plan. This would leave the city’s racial equity goals--and its sidewalks, active transportation, and long-term multimodal planning--to fight for the remaining 25 percent. Debt service on $100 million in additional bonding would ultimately take $40 million of the funds. 

A pie chart showing the proposed city council VLF spend plan. 75% of the chart is "Strong Bridges and Structures" while 25% is "Other Transportation Infrastructure"

The graphic on the left above shows the community supported investments that would be slashed by the Pedersen proposal, at right.

Not only does this amendment completely disregard the recommendations made by community members who put racial equity, climate justice, and Vision Zero goals at the forefront, it also would fail to cover the needs of bridge maintenance while simultaneously cutting tens of millions of dollars in multimodal funding. Bridge funding is important, but it has a higher likelihood of coming from state and federal sources. Additionally, the costs associated with bridge repair and maintenance can’t even begin to be covered in this proposal. That means this funding would be a drop in the bucket of what’s needed for bridge repair, but it would make an enormous impact in communities where sidewalk safety and bike and pedestrian fatalities are of huge concern. It is crucial that these local dollars are spent where they were originally promised, and that we honor the city’s commitments to local communities who spent a year and a half planning as part of the Transportation Equity Workgroup. 

The community has spoken, and this recent proposal would toss out the thoughtful recommendations gathered from Seattle residents who want their city to become a safer place to bike, walk, and roll. Contact the City Council and tell them to reject the Pedersen proposal. We need to ensure that community voices are heard and that recommendations from communities most impacted are honored when divvying up funding and resources. We cannot afford to ignore the needs of our communities and continue to fall short on our safety, climate, and equity commitments.

<Tell the Council: Protect bike and pedestrian funding in the city’s budget and advance the city’s racial equity goals! >

Tamar Shuhendler's picture
Tamar Shuhendler