Council Member Tom Rasmussen says he's trying to tweak the city budget to fund two different pedestrian/bike/transit improvements, both of which are important. As I wrote yesterday, while his plan removes $500,000 from planning for a Northgate pedestrian bridge so he can use that money to fund a green boulevard in West Seattle, he says he's quite certain that adding the same money back into next year's budget will be good enough to keep the bridge project on schedule.
But advocates for the bridge project strongly disagree. This morning, local pedestrian advocacy organization Feet First wrote a letter to Rasmussen asserting that his budget change "could jeopardize completion" of the Northgate ped/bike bridge, which would connect the future light-rail station with the communities on the other side of the highway. They say that his move to take away planning money could put the bridge behind schedule.
Here's why, says Feet First:
It is vital that this project move forward, particularly in 2014. Although the city and Sound Transit have committed a combined $10 million towards partial funding of the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, this project still has an $8–$10 million funding gap. The agreement between the city and Sound Transit stipulates that this funding gap must be closed by the summer of 2015 or the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project will be cancelled and the money reallocated. The city is currently pursuing grants to close the funding gap. However, any delays in project development will weaken efforts to secure these grants; the lack of a preferred alternative will make this project less competitive against other grant applications that are closer to construction.
They also get a jab in at the neighborhood angle, noting that "for years, north Seattle's pedestrian infrastructure has been neglected." North Seattle, you'll recall, is the only future city council district that can't count a single city council member as a resident. A PDF of the full letter is right here.
The West Seattle project is a great project, and Rasmussen has every reason to support it, even outside the framework of the new districts (he lives in West Seattle). But projects get prioritized for a reason, and while he doesn't seem concerned about how this will affect the bridge's funding, plenty of other people, including the often-overlooked neighborhoods the bridge will serve and regional organization Feet First, certainly are worried.