Mayor Ed Murray boasted about improvements through Rainier Valley and said that millions of dollars more in Seattle road work is just around the corner. But he also used a press conference on Monday as an opportunity to take a jab at President Trump’s recently-proposed budget.
“Providing better access to transit, providing safer routes to schools is ultimately not a safety issue, it’s not just a mobility issue, it is also an equity issue,” Murray said. “And it reflects the values of this city’s budget versus the budget we saw proposed last week in Washington D.C.”
Standing in front of Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, Murray began the press conference — meant to discuss successes with Rainier Valley road work — noting the many cuts in Trump’s budget, and drew a connection to city road issues.
“One cut that has not gotten much attention are the slashes to our transportation system,” Murray said, noting that it is a $2.4 billion hit to transportation programs across the nation.
The Rainier Valley road improvements are part of Seattle’s Vision Zero effort, a program aimed at ending traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. The recent work on Rainier Avenue, phase 1, is finished. The results are so positive, Murray said, that he is accelerating work on phase 2.
More Seattle road work
Phase 2 of the road work on Rainier Avenue will put $2.25 million toward pedestrian improvements. That road work is expected to be completed by 2019.
Before work on the stretch of Rainier Avenue between Kenny Street and Alaska Street (phase 1) , city officials said there was about one car accident per day. It took roughly 45 minutes to clear each scene. But that has all changed after adding left turn lanes, crosswalk improvements, and signal changes.
“The results are pretty clear,” Murray said. “Injury collisions are down 31 percent. Pedestrian and bicycle collisions are down 40 percent. Total collisions are down 14 percent.”
“As we fixed our pedestrian and safety problems, as we redesigned Rainier Avenue, those improvements also affected cars,” he said. “It improved travel time by 3 minutes during peak hours. The opposite of some of the information you may see out there.”
Murray said that the city will also be focusing on sidewalk improvements throughout the city with a $22 million investment for 50 blocks of new sidewalks in 2017 for Beacon Hill, Roxbury Heights, Rainier Valley, Greenwood, Lake City, and Ballard. The city is on schedule to build 250 new blocks of sidewalks by 2024, he said.