Last night I posted the letter that Mayor Mike McGinn sent to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer about the 520 bridge, citing the threat of a lawsuit that could delay the bridge and proposing a town hall. Microsoft wants construction to proceed as planned (the company even took out a splashy ad to make its point), but McGinn, along with a coalition of neighborhood groups and local lawmakers, wants the design to better accommodate transit.

In addition to addressing Ballmer, McGinn included a missive for Microsoft employees. The company employs 40,000 people in Washington state. In the letter, McGinn says he is seeking "a project that will support a more socially just, environmentally sound solution that addresses neighborhood concerns." To make his point, he says the current design favors people who "have enough money for a car" and the lack of sufficient planning for transit fails at Seattle's goal to become a carbon neutral city.

The letter appears after the jump.

Dear Microsoft Team Members:

We support a regional transportation option that better serves employees of Microsoft and other commuters, who contribute so much to our city and region. Our concerns relating to the SR 520 project have to do with creating a project that will support a more socially just, environmentally sound solution that addresses neighborhood concerns. This is why we do not support the "A+" option for the Montlake

Social Justice concerns:

The current preferred option (A+) does not adequately support people of lower income. With this option, if you have enough money for a car, to pay the toll to cross the bridge, and to pay for parking when you’re done with this plan, then this is the plan for you. We support mass transit as part of this project (above and beyond the current bus service), in the form of light rail and bus rapid transit.

Environmental concerns:

Though we currently have a state law that requires us to consider VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and our goal is to reduce vehicle miles traveled, this project will increase the number of vehicle miles traveled. Yesterday (2/22/2010) the City Council announced its legislative priorities for 2010. Climate neutrality (or, becoming a “carbon neutral city” with zero greenhouse gas emissions) was a major announcement. However, if we continue to design highway megaprojects that increase automobile capacity and do not promote mass transit, this goal will simply not be reached.

Neighborhood concerns:
Protecting the Arboretum, which is an impressive regional resource, is of great importance. Traffic that may overwhelm the neighborhoods is also a negative effect of option A+, as it includes off-ramps that will increase traffic. Additionally, the A+ option does not allow for efficient connections to transit.

Thanks again for your comments.

Mayor Mike McGinn