Seattle Mayor's Race 2013

Murray Clarifies Comments on Northgate Ped Bridge, Park-and-Rides. Sort Of.

Mayoral challenger Ed Murray clarifies comments about light rail park-and-ride lots and the Northgate pedestrian bridge. Sort of.

By Erica C. Barnett October 25, 2013

In a questionnaire for the pedestrian-advocacy group Feet First, mayoral challenger and state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) appears open to two positions that are anathema to pedestrian, bike, and transit proponents.

First: Asked whether he supports a proposal to provide city funding for a proposed bike and pedestrian bridge over I-5 that would link North Seattle Community College with the Northgate light rail station, Murray responded: "the bridge is currently underfunded by $8-10 million, and Sound Transit will reallocate any unspent funds if this project remains underfunded by July of 2015." As an alternative to the bridge, Sound Transit proposed a new 600-to-900-stall parking garage that would serve just 8 percent of riders at the Northgate station—a stat that prompted the slogan, "We are the 92 percent."

Sound Transit estimates that the bridge will increase pedestrian ridership by 13 percent, and boost cyclist ridership by 4 percent.

"It’s an unfortunate reality that Seattle cannot fund every beneficial project. We simply do not have the money. We need to get clear on our priorities, rather than relying on half measures." 

Asked for clarification about Murray's actual position on the Northgate bridge, Murray campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said:

Ed's position is that improving bike and pedestrian access to the future Northgate light rail station should be considered a real priority, including an I-5 pedestrian and bicycle bridge. As Mayor, Ed will go a step beyond the current administration and not just commit partial money to a priority project, but find a way to work with public and private partners to actually fully fund it. That is what should have been done in the case of the I-5 pedestrian and bicycle bridge. 

Second: Asked how he would work to improve pedestrian connections to light rail stations in Seattle—particularly the Mount Baker station, which is notoriously unfriendly to pedestrians thanks to the freeway-like expanse of Rainier Ave. and MLK Blvd. and the empty, foreboding plaza underneath the elevated station—Murray said that the area's design makes it much more hospitable to cars than pedestrians, "but park-and-ride spaces are not provided at light rail stops."

That statements seems to suggest, at the very least, that Murray supports park-and-rides in the city (currently, they're only allowed at or near the ends of the line) as long as stations aren't easily accessible to pedestrians. Asked Murray's position on park-and-rides, Kaushik said, "Ed does not support creating an official Sound Transit or Metro park and ride at the station," and noted that McGinn loosened city rules banning paid private parking lots that cater to light-rail riders. 

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