Morning Fizz

Seattle Sound Transit Board Members O'Brien and Phillips Try to Save Northgate Ped/Bike Bridge

Caffeinated News featuring letters, voters, and numbers

By Josh Feit December 22, 2014


Caffeinated News

1. Trying to save the day for a bike/ped bridge in Northgate, two Sound Transit board members, Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien and King County Council member Larry Phillips, sent a letter to their colleagues on Friday asking the board to disregard the looming July 2015 funding deadline for a bike/ped bridge at the Northgate light rail station. 

The $15 million-to-$25 million project, designed to connect the light rail station to the surrounding neighborhood around North Seattle Community College by bridging I-5, suffered a serious blow in September when the feds turned down the city's request for a $15 million grant; previous Sound Transit and city funding totalling $10 million had been contingent on the federal grant.

Phillips and O'Brien wrote on Friday:

With the removal of the July 31, 2015 deadline, we can continue to stay committed and focused on supporting the regional expansion of Sound Transit’s Link light rail system and improving pedestrian and bicycle access to the light rail station for the Northgate Urban Center.

With additional time and greater focus from city and regional leaders, we are confident we can find the remaining funding necessary to construct the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge.

A handful of other local legislators also signed the letter: Seattle City Council member and council transportation chair Tom Rasmussen; Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw; state Sen. David Frock (D-46, N. Seattle); state Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46, N. Seattle), and state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle). 

As Fizz reported back in 2012: Calling themselves the 92 percent, pro-bike/ped activists in Northgate rallied around the fact that only eight percent of the 15,000 daily riders predicted to use the Northgate stop would be served by the 900-stall ST parking garage that had been planned for the station. 

The bridge would reduce the walk to the light rail stop from North Seattle College  from 1.2 miles to .25 miles.

Northgate light rail is set to open in 2021.

Voting data says young Amazon employees are not civic minded.2. While South Lake Union and Amazon have a lot of political clout with city hall—the revitalized neighborhood has gotten an estimated $1 billion in public investment in the last decade—preliminary data from Progressive Strategies Northwest shows that the residents there, presumably many of them young Amazon employees, are not civic minded.

Midterm election turnout was certainly low, but turnout in SLU and nearby Denny Regrade, was far below the 55 percent citywide turnout at 49 and 44 percent respectively.

And keep in mind, SLU turnout is boosted by the Mirabella, the large retirement home there. For example, among the "Creative Class" demographic that SLU is bringing to our city, 22-to-35 year olds, midterm turnout was only 36 percent in SLU and only 34 percent in Denny Regrade. By way of comparison, the city's traditional enclave for younger voters, Capitol Hill, had a 47 percent turnout among 22-to-35-year olds.

The rejoinder—that 2014 was a non-presidential year—only highlights the point: Young urban voters may be more focused on national issues than local politics. And that's a potential ironic aspect of the demographic  we're luring here to transform our city. (Seattle is counting on adding 120,000 people in the next 20 years)

3. Gov. Jay Inslee's $12.1 billion transportation proposal, which puts $2.2 billion toward environmentally-friendly projects, and his $1 billion carbon cap program got good marks from environmentalists last week. Sightline's Alan Durning, for example,  said Gov. Inslee's "Carbon Pollution Accountability Act" (as his cap & trade plan is being called) could be “the most comprehensive and probably the most progressive carbon-pollution regulation system anywhere in the world.”

But some local environmentalists also couldn't help pointing out a discrepancy: $400 million of the carbon cash is going to fund the transportation plan, but only 18 percent of that transportation plan is going to environmentally friendly projects. That vast majority, $5.9 billion, is going to new highway capacity.

File this under "Isn't it Weird That." Inslee wants to enact a cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then spend $400 million of that on a transportation plan that will increase emissions.



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