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New Seattle transportation plan hinges on voters approving $1.4B tax renewal

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(The Center Square) – The Seattle City Council has approved of a 20-year plan to improve transportation in the City of Seattle that heavily relies on a levy renewal up for a vote this fall.

The Seattle Transportation Plan identifies six main goals for the transportation department to achieve through 2044. The goals include: safety, equity, sustainability, mobility, livability, and maintenance and modernization of roads throughout Seattle.

Notably, the plan does not include specific funding. Instead, the plan is intended to guide future funding decisions by the city.

The Seattle City Council approved the plan by a unanimous vote on Tuesday.

“From filling potholes to expanding access to public transit, this 20-year vision for the future of Seattle’s roads does just that,” Seattle City Councilmember Joy Hollingsworth said in a statement.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s annual budget has been over $700 million in recent years with 20-30% of its expenditures coming through the current Levy to Move Seattle, which Seattle voters approved in 2015. This levy expires in 2024 and the city could soon consider a new levy to continue funding transportation needs.

The eight-year, $1.4 billion transportation levy was proposed by Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell and funds are intended to repair bridges, repave streets, connect neighborhoods to the light rail and build sidewalks.

According to Harrell’s office, the levy proposal would cost a median Seattle home valued at $866,000 roughly $36 per month, or about $435 per year, a $12 monthly increase from the expiring Levy to Move Seattle.

If Seattle voters approve of the levy, the city’s newly approved transportation plan already has a list of 81 projects that would maintain critical infrastructure like bridges and roads, construct new sidewalks and work to reduce traffic deaths and injuries.

According to the plan, each of the 81 projects are estimated to cost at least $10 million. Therefore over the course of 20 years, the 81 projects could cost at least $810 million if they are all fully implemented.

The levy renewal is scheduled to be considered by the city council’s Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy on May 7.