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Jenny Durkan: Seattle traffic to get worse before it gets better

Seattle mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan spoke with Mike Lewis and Colleen O'Brien on KIRO Radio's Seattle's Morning News. (Dyer Oxley, MyNorthwest)

Seattle’s next mayor will face a range of issues, including worsening traffic and voters want solutions. Candidate Jenny Durkan has a frank answer for commuters, however.

“The bad news for the listeners is that traffic is going to get worse in Seattle before it gets better,” Durkan said frankly on KIRO Radio’s Seattle’s Morning News. “In the next two years, downtown may be almost impassible.”

RELATED: Jenny Durkan’s free college plan for Seattle grads

A big reason for that is because Seattle’s population is growing dramatically, combined with various road projects inside the city.

“You know they are doing the work on the ferry dock; hundreds of cars waiting for the Bremerton and Bainbridge Ferry are now going to be literally parked on Alaskan Way,” Durkan said. “First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue torn up. We heard this morning that Pike and Pine are being narrowed.”

While Durkan promotes that traffic solutions have to come with a regional approach, there are things that a Seattle mayor can do to address the traffic in town.

“We have got to have a more holistic way to get traffic flowing through Seattle,” she said. “We got to do things like going to employers and seeing if they can stagger start times during this really crushing time.”

But what about government employees? Durkan, as mayor, would be in charge of Seattle’s workforce. Seattle’s Morning News asked if she would be in favor of staggering work times for the city’s own employees.

“I would commit to looking at it, and we did that when I was U.S. attorney,” Durkan said. “We tried to get lawyers on flex time and working from home. And we’ve got to do it in a smart way, so that maybe on Tuesday one group of people isn’t coming in, and on Wednesday a different group, then Thursday. And we got to sit down with all the major employers in this area and say, “OK guys, we got to solve this together.’”

“We also have to get people out of their single cars and into transit,” she said. “We got to incentivize carpooling and van pooling again. We got to use all our tools because otherwise Seattle is just going to be gridlock.”

Durkan’s opponent in Seattle’s mayoral race, Cary Moon, was previously asked the same question about traffic. Moon said that staggered work times could be “part of the solution.” She said she would pledge to encourage city employees to use alternatives to driving during peak times, and that cheap, reliable transit service with efficient bike lanes are part of the ultimate solution.

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