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Seattle mayor sets his sights on new Ship Canal bridge, rail transit

The mayor says the Ballard and Fremont bridges carry so much traffic that it slows down existing transit options. (MyNorthwest.com Photo/File)

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn wants to spend $500,000 to study the effects of a new bridge over the Ship Canal.

The bridge would be dedicated to transit, bikes and pedestrians only. The mayor says it will improve mobility.

"Rapid growth in jobs and housing is a factor," said McGinn. "If you go to Ballard you hear from folks there, you'll hear from folks in Fremont too - 'we've added the housing, we're adding the jobs - now where is the new transit to go with it?'"

The mayor says the Ballard and Fremont bridges carry so much traffic that it slows down existing transit options, and neither were designed with bicycle and pedestrian accommodation in mind.

"It's hard to get around Seattle on a bike, especially if your trip requires you to cross the Ship Canal as your options are either intimidating, inconvenient or not safe. It doesn't have to be this way," Craig Benjamin of the Cascade Bicycle Club said in Wednesday's news conference. "Another crossing would make it safer and faster for everyone to get around Seattle, whether you drive, ride transit, bike or walk."

McGinn also wants to spend $300,000 on an additional study to research the possibility of a new high-capacity rail line that would connect South Lake Union and the U-District. It's not to be confused with Sound Transit's University Link light rail.

He believes 25,000 people would ride it daily.

The route was identified as a "top priority high-capacity transit corridor" in the city council's Transit Master Plan approved last year.

KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan contributed to this report.

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