It looks like the funding to help plan a Northgate pedestrian/bike bridge, connecting the community college with the future light-rail station, is gonna stay in the city budget after all. And there'll still be some money for a "green boulevard" project on Fauntleroy Way in West Seattle, too.
I wrote last week about a budget maneuver by council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen, which would grab $500,000 originally aimed at Northgate bridge planning and funnel it toward the Fauntleroy project instead. Rasmussen thought he could do that and then fund the bridge next year; pedestrian advocates and frustrated neighbors thought losing this bridge money would compromise other funding.
More than $1 million was to come from sidewalk work that SDOT couldn’t start until 2015 anyway, and half a million was to be diverted from design work for a Northgate pedestrian project related to light-rail service that is still almost a decade away. Advocacy groups including Feet First pointed out that while the service is far away, the project involving an overpass needs to be designed ASAP or else some other parts of the project might be in jeopardy. So this morning, in response to our followup question, Councilmember Rasmussen said he plans to propose leaving the $500,000 in the Northgate budget, and downshifting the Fauntleroy request to $1.3 million, and that he is hopeful his fellow councilmembers will support that.
There's a lot more about the Fauntleroy project over at WSB. Some people involved have been looking at this funding fight as a neighborhood-vs.-neighborhood thing, with Rasmussen living in (and possibly running in) the West Seattle council district, and poor neglected North Seattle without a council member to call their own. And that's an interesting view. But for his part, Rasmussen says districts don't come into it at all; he supports both projects, and they're both neat new ped/bike/transit-oriented infrastructure.
I also talked to state representative Gerry Pollet (D-46) this morning, who confirmed that taking those city funds away from the bridge could make it more difficult to secure much-needed state funding, because it "would imply a lack of support, that it wasn't ready to go." Now, after talking to Rasmussen, he says, "I'm very pleased that he's not going to pull that funding."*
So: Congrats, both Northgaters and West Seattleites. Everybody wins! (Erm, except that most of that $1.3 million comes from funding for sidewalks, which is, as everyone knows, North Seattle's most serious gripe with the city since forever. But keep it cordial, Northies!)
*A quick side note on the topic of the bridge's utility and importance: Pollet also explained that "the surveys show a lot of the users of the [current Northgate transit center] parking live within a mile as the crow flies, but to the west of Northgate, on the other side of I-5." So they drive cars over to the transit center, park, and then use transit. This project expects to cut out a lot of those car trips, since people will be able to just walk or bike over the bridge. Super-cool, right?