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Council candidates discuss their fixes for Seattle traffic, lengthy commutes

Traffic in downtown Seattle. (SDOT)

With Election Day fast approaching, many voters remain undecided on their selections for Seattle City Council. Others still are wondering how seven races for open council seats will affect the entire region, particularly for commuters. To help answer those questions, District 7 candidates Jim Pugel and Andrew Lewis weighed in.

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Proposals from both Pugel and Lewis range in their focus and scope. For Pugel, he hopes to shorten commutes altogether.

“A lot of the people that are commuting are our janitors, our baristas, restaurant workers, hotel workers,” he noted. “They have to commute from an hour to an hour-and-a-half away, it’s creating a big carbon footprint, [and] they arrive at work tired.”

To that end, Pugel proposes housing closer to Seattle’s job centers.

“Let’s take our public surplus land and convert it to workforce housing … for the people that we depend on to make this city work,” he described.

Lewis agrees with that approach, but from a broader perspective, he sees a need to address public transit.

“One of the best things we can do to get congestion off the road so it’s easier for people in their cars, is to get people into mass transit,” he proposed.

He also voiced support for Seattle’s Transportation Benefit District, which provides additional service hours for King County buses, allowing for more daily riders both in the early morning and late evening commutes.

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In terms of other methods, Pugel cites Viadoom, the weeks-long period in early 2019 before the new SR 99 tunnel opened and after the Alaskan Way Viaduct closed, when city officials expected downtown traffic to skyrocket.

During those weeks, though, traffic was roughly the same, with many workers choosing to telecommute or adjust their shifts to occur outside of rush hour. Pugel sees that as a potential long-term solution.

“We should get our employers here to allow their great employees to work alternative shifts and do more telecommuting,” he said.

You can check out MyNorthwest’s guide to District 7’s candidates here to get the full rundown on both Lewis and Pugel ahead of Election Day on Nov. 5.

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