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Photo: Seattle City Council/Flickr

On Monday, Mayor Ed Murray along with Council President Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Mike O’Brien, City planners and pedestrian advocates announced a $22 million updated Pedestrian Master Plan (PMP) to build 50 blocks of new sidewalks this year, among other traffic-safety projects.

Money from the $930 million Move Seattle levy, which voters approved in 2015, will pay for new sidewalks in neighborhoods throughout the city, ranging from Greenwood to Rainier Valley, as well as $2.25 million in updates on Rainier Avenue South. The PMP focuses these investments by prioritizing sidewalks that provide safer access to schools and transit options.The PMP is guided by an equity consideration, ensuring underserved communities are prioritized for pedestrian improvements.

“By prioritizing investments and improvements towards more walkable neighborhoods, we build stronger, healthier, safer, and more inclusive communities,” said Council President Harrell (District 2, South Seattle). “Our locally owned small businesses down the street thrive, residents walk more and become healthier, communities feel safer because of the social connections and eyes on the street, and the natural environment benefits.”

The pedestrian safety investments will be guided by the City’s updated Pedestrian Master Plan and Vision Zero safety program. Vision Zero is SDOT’s approach to traffic safety with a goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injury by 2030. The program is a blend of safety measures such as lowering speed limits, improving traffic signals, pedestrian and bike crossing enhancements, and increasing transit efficiency to make streets safer for all modes of transportation, especially pedestrians.

“All of us depend on a safe, accessible transportation infrastructure to get to work, school and everywhere we need to be in our daily lives,” Mayor Murray said when he made the announcement at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, in South Seattle, according to a press release. “The Pedestrian Master Plan calls for critically needed upgrades to sidewalks in underserved communities, and through our Vision Zero program, we are making busy streets and intersections safer for everyone. These safety investments can help make Seattle neighborhoods safer and more walkable for all residents.”

A 2014 crash in which a vehicle plowed into a building in Columbia City led to demands for safety improvements. ”Many people in the South Seattle community including myself have suffered due to the lack of safety improvements along the Rainier Avenue corridor,” said Phyllis Porter of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. “I am thankful for the initial phase of the Rainier Avenue Safety Project in the Rainier Valley and look forward to continued improvements along the corridor.” The city redesigned Rainier Avenue in Columbia City and says collisions are down 14 percent. City officials say they plan to accelerate similar work on the south end of the Rainier Avenue corridor, completing it by 2019.

“Every investment we make in pedestrian infrastructure can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien (District 6, Northwest Seattle). “I’m hopeful that these dollars and future funding keep us on track toward Vision Zero.”

A full map of the improvements can be found here.

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