We had a GREAT turnout for the Move Seattle levy “fix-it” tour on Sunday! About 50 participants showed up as we toured paths from Wallingford to the U-District, mostly people from Wallingford. Seattle City Council Transportation Committee representatives Jean Godden, Mike O’Brien, and Tom Rasmussen all attended, and news stations were there as well. For a wonky tour of neighborhood greenways and an I-5 bridge crossing that’s a great turnout!
While we were on the walk all three council members spoke in favor of improving Wallingford’s connection to the U-District, along with several community members. Tom Rasmussen, chair of the Seattle City Council transportation committee, said he would have SDOT draw up a response to our request. More on that as plans come into view!
Once again, nobody from the mayor’s office or SDOT leadership attended the walk, continuing their streak of not visiting Wallingford once for Move Seattle levy planning or feedback. My sense is that the mayor is having SDOT operate through an exclusively top-down process and simply doesn’t want any dialogue with little people at the neighborhood level. We might pull them off message.
We were blessed to have the presence of Brian Dougherty from SDOT on the walking tour. Brian seems to be the only guy in city government that everybody loves, but is a lower level transportation planner and not higher up in city government (unfortunately). Brian indicated that SDOT would favor beginning the process to build a bike and pedestrian bridge at 47th, although some neighborhood participants favored the more pedestrian-centric option of improving the NE 45th street bridge.
The good news is that we already have more traction and attention from Seattle City Council than we ever got from Scott Kubly at SDOT or the mayor’s office. It remains to be seen if city council’s attention translates into action, but at least there’s a dialogue and that’s a huge step forward.
One point that was made clear by multiple people at the walk that know more than me about the process is that there is only one reason Northgate is getting a bike and pedestrian connection to light rail and we aren’t: Northgate activists demanded it at the right time. I’m an engineer and I like to think of city government as rationally looking at safety data and traffic patterns and building networks according to cost / benefit analysis. On that basis, it’s really clear this very dangerous, congested, and obvious connection needs to be built. Unfortunately, city government priorities are really about greasing the squeaky wheel. Thanks to Wallingford for squeaking today!