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Seattle wins Bloomberg Climate Change Grant; Critics question Durkan’s commitment

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan walks alongside former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg on Friday. (KIRO 7 image)

On Friday morning, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan stepped off the bus with former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Bloomberg’s American Cities Climate Challenge just awarded Seattle a $2.5 million grant to help the city advance ways to meet climate change goals.

“Buses, cars and trucks make up about two-thirds of our climate burden. We have to shift,” said Durkan at a news conference at Kerry Park. “We need to get people out of their cars out of single occupancy vehicles and into other modes of transportation, transit, biking walking.”

But critics question the mayor’s commitment.

She put a hold on finishing the downtown streetcar when she found out costs had spiraled to $252 million.

The city is delaying or reducing the number of protected bike lanes because of unexpected costs.

Drew Johnson leads a public transit advocacy group called Seattle Subway.

“It takes real commitment to push forward with real projects that are going to affect the environment. And blocking pedestrian, biking and transit, transportation, street car. Blocking these kinds of projects does not show a willingness to have followed through on those platitudes.”

On the streetcar, the mayor says she’s made no decision. “I think no one should mistake the fact that you, the fact you ask hard questions doesn’t mean that you know what the answer is. It just means the public deserves to know the true cost of every project.”

Bloomberg says that’s key to building public support.

“Convince the public that they are spending their monies efficiently and on the right things and when you do that I’ve always found that the taxpayers are willing to pony up.”

Commuters we met seemed to have an open mind. We spoke with Marty Field and his son Kyler.

“If there’s a way for us to be progressive and move forward and make things better for his generation and generations behind him I’m all for it. I’d pay a little more.”

Durkan is looking at congestion pricing to discourage traffic in downtown Seattle. She says the Bloomberg award will go to examine ways that might work.

By Essex Porter, KIRO 7

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