Seattle Councilmember Morales proposes bolder transportation levy focused on improving safety crisis

Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales is joined by community members and advocates as she announces a proposal for a $1.7 billion transportation levy

In partnership with community groups, labor organizations, and disability rights advocates, Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2) announced a new proposal today that would create a bolder transportation levy focused on improving traffic safety.

“I have heard loud and clear from constituents in every single council district during our public hearings that voters want a bolder transportation levy package that prioritizes safety investments for all. This Council has a once-in-a-decade opportunity to shape our City’s transportation investments to center mobility and safety for all who use our streets. We are in the middle of a local and national road safety crisis: we cannot afford to wait to be bold in our vision of what Seattle streets could look like. Lives are quite literally depending on it,” said Councilmember Morales

Why focus on safety?

Six people were killed on Seattle’s roads in just a one-week span in May. Those aren’t isolated incidents. Traffic deaths in Seattle are at record highs. In 2022, there were 256 serious injury and fatal collisions. That’s a 32 percent increase from 2019, according to the most recent Traffic Report from the Seattle Department of Transportation.

That’s unacceptable. Our community expects us to find solutions, not to slip further and further away from our Vision Zero commitments.

Unfortunately, the current transportation levy proposal, as written, is not bold enough to achieve these goals. The current proposal pits safety improvements against each other: we can either have bike lanes or safe bridges, road maintenance or improved transit, new sidewalks or repair existing sidewalks. That’s a false choice — we can and should do both.

What will Councilmember Morales’ proposal do?

Councilmember Morales proposal would fully fund many of the priorities identified by the community, other councilmembers, and the mayor. Compared to the current proposal, it would:

Create safer streets, sidewalks, and bike lanes ($90 million more invested)

  • $15.5 million more for neighborhood-initiated safety projects, a 38 percent increase.
  • $14.5 million more for the creation of new sidewalks and safe pathways.
  • $10 million more for sidewalk safety and repair.
  • $5 million more for safe street crossing.
  • $20 million to extend the Burke Gilman Trail along NW Market Street and Leary Way completing the Missing Link.
  • $20 million more for protected bike lanes.
  • $5 million to create bicycle connections for all ages and abilities with at least 5 new neighborhood greenways

Strengthen maintenance and modernization ($45 million more invested)

  • $30 million more for arterial roadway maintenance.
  • $10 million to redesign and improve Ballard Avenue Northwest through the historic district.
  • $5 million to support community-based planning around the future Graham and Chinatown-International District stations.

Expand Seattle’s tree canopy ($15 million more invested)

  • $15 million more to plant and maintain trees across Seattle

With these added investments, the total size of the levy would be $1.7 billion over the next eight years. It would cost the median assessed value property owner ($804,000 in 2024) about $546 per year in total, an increase of $48 compared to the current proposal. That works about to an additional $4 per month.

Poll after poll has shown strong support in Seattle for a bolder transportation levy of this size that better addresses Seattle’s needs.

What next?

Councilmember Morales’ proposal is scheduled for a vote this Tuesday, July 2 during the 9:30 AM meeting of the Select Committee on the 2024 Transportation Levy.