Seattle Department of Transportation director Peter Hahn and Mayor Mike McGinn presented a 2012 "Transportation Action Agenda" this morning that looked significantly less ambitious than many of the initiatives McGinn rolled out in his first 18 months in office, including an $80 vehicle license fee for transportation; the "Walk Bike Ride" plan, which was originally supposed to fund $13 million in alternative transportation; building light rail to Ballard and West Seattle; accelerating funding for the pedestrian master plan; and killing the downtown tunnel.

Instead, the proposal we got today---which covers this year through 2014---includes headline-grabbing, voter-friendly proposals such as:

• Reduce the number of collisions per 1 million vehicle miles traveled from 60 to 56;

• Increase the number of arterials where most people drive the speed limit from 30 percent to 40 percent;

• Increase the number of SDOT-owned street trees that are pruned to address height clearances from 1,000 to 1,215;

• Distribute 4,900 more snow brochures;

• Increase the number of potholes repaired within three days from 59 percent to 80 percent;

• Boost bus boardings citywide from 282,000 to 303,000;

• Increase bike volumes by 100, from 3,900 to 4,000;  and

• Add 15 more food carts.

Inspiring, isn't it?

Sarcasm aside, the reasons for this year's extremely modest transportation agenda are likely twofold. First, as McGinn and SDOT director Peter Hahn acknowledged today, there simply isn't any money for big, ambitious proposals.

"I can't stand here and say that this action agenda will eliminate the maintenance backlog, build all the transit we need, or take care of all the sidewalks we'd like to build in the city," McGinn said. "It is what we can do with our existing dollars."

Hahn echoed: "We're not going to solve the backlog. We're not going to go much faster on filling the needs of the bike master plan, the pedestrian master plan, or the transit master plan." Nor, he implied, will the pothole situation get much better in the short term. "The story of the potholes is that we have very much recurring symptoms of a system that is failing. The 25,000 potholes [filled in 2011] is not a good story."

However, McGinn rejected the idea of attempting to pass a transportation levy---or convince the legislature to allow the council to increase transportation taxes on its own, something legislators specifically excluded Seattle from doing late last month---any time in the near future.

"We're not anticipating proposing a transportation ballot measure this year," McGinn said. And given that voters rejected Proposition 1, a $60 vehicle license fee to pay for local transportation, last year, "It's pretty unlikely that I would propose or the city council would approve" another license fee proposal.

Oh, and the second reason? McGinn would probably just as soon have voters forget his reputation as "Mayor McSchwinn"---the mayor who wants to spend the city's whole transportation budget on bike lanes---in the runup to the 2013 election.
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