Transportation is a hot topic in Seattle. As our city continues to grow, we are realizing quickly that our transportation system lacks the infrastructure and investments to move people and goods around the city safely and efficiently. Traffic continues to slow and more and more people rely on public transportation to get where they need to go, particularly seniors, students and low-income communities. In a city as vibrant as Seattle, it is important for people to be able to get from place to place as easily as possible regardless of their preferred form of transportation.
The good news is that voters will have an opportunity to improve transportation in Seattle this fall, when the current transportation levy expires and voters have the opportunity to approve Seattle Proposition 1. Seattle Proposition 1 will replace the existing transportation levy and invest in more transportation choices, safe streets, especially around schools, and projects designed to ease traffic. For this reason, I hope voters will vote YES on Seattle Proposition 1 this November.
Seattle Proposition 1 will fund a number of important projects across the city, particularly in areas of the city with large populations of immigrants, refugees and people of color. As part of the levy, the city plans to run all projects through a racial equity analysis to ensure that projects benefit the communities who need them most.
Highlights of the Lets Move Seattle levy include:
• $10 million investment in a new light rail station at Graham Street. The Graham Street Station has been a priority for many communities, organizations and businesses in the Rainier Valley that would benefit from increased access to transit options, particularly for seniors and younger people, who now have to walk long distances to get to stations at Othello or Columbia City, which are separated by more than 2 miles. A Graham Street Station would also provide access to critical cultural and religious institutions like the Filipino Community Center and the Co Lam Pagoda.
• Safe Routes to School projects at all public schools. In many of our public schools across the city, students currently lack safe ways to get to and from school. Whether because of poor sidewalks, dangerous intersections or other reasons, this is unacceptable. Seattle Proposition 1 will invest millions of dollars to ensure every child and student can focus on their studies and not on navigating dangerous sidewalks and streets. Priority will also be given to schools with the highest level of free and reduced lunch.
• 150 blocks of new sidewalks. Many residents in our city, particularly in South and North Seattle, live in neighborhoods without sidewalks. From walking hazards to poor drainage, the challenges of streets without sidewalks are numerous.
• Seven new RapidRide+ transit corridors, light rail access improvements at three locations and repaving of 180 miles of roads. Regardless how you get around Seattle and your neighborhood, there is something in Seattle Proposition 1 for you.
These are just a handful of the many important transportation investments included in the new transportation levy. You can see which projects will benefit your neighborhood by visiting www.letsmoveseattle.com/projects/overview.
As the city grows rapidly, commercial properties will pay for two-thirds of the levy. Because Seattle Proposition 1 is replacing the current transportation levy, the cost of these investments is just $12 more each month for the median Seattle home. Whether you get around the city by car, bus, light rail, bike or on foot, Seattle Proposition 1 is an important investment to make for the future of our growing city. This is why the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) of King County says vote yes on Proposition 1.
Diane Narasaki is co-chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition (APIC) of King County and the executive director of Asian Counseling and Referral Service (ACRS). ACRS is the largest multiservice organization serving Asian Pacific American communities—immigrants, refugees and American born—in the Pacific Northwest.