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Seattle mayor wants millions to improve traffic safety on busiest roadways

Harrell's proposed budget sets aside $8 million for Vision Zero, the city's effort to end traffic deaths on some of its busiest streets.

SEATTLE — This week, Seattle’s mayor announced how he’d like to divvy up the city’s proposed $7.4 billion budget. Millions could go towards the city’s goal of ending traffic deaths on some of its busiest streets.

Members of Aurora Reimagine Coalition said from the bridge to the border, every bit of Aurora Avenue is unsafe.

“You could sit here for five minutes and inevitably, you'll see something crazy, whether it's a person or another car, someone's going to make a dangerous move,” said Tom Lang, with Aurora Reimagine Coalition.

Now, Mayor Bruce Harrell is hoping to pour more money into Seattle's Vision Zero program, a citywide effort to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries.

“We're investing millions toward needed safety investments along the city's high-crash corridors,” Mayor Harrell said earlier this week, announcing plans for the proposed budget.

Mayor Harrell wants to set aside $8 million for Vision Zero, and some of that money would go to improve Aurora Avenue. The roadway was deemed the city’s deadliest street according to a recent study.

“I think Vision Zero could use a lot more than $8 million. I think it's a good starting point,” said Robin Randels with Aurora Reimagined Coalition.

Improvement efforts along Aurora span back nearly 20 years. According to SDOT, the last comprehensive Route Development Plan for Aurora Avenue was published in 2003. SDOT said while recommendations for near-term improvements were included, few were made.

Currently, SDOT is conducting a $2 million long-term planning project. It’s also asking for the community’s input in a safety improvement survey through October 7th.

“We need to make sure that people who are trying to cross the highway or any street in the city are able to do so safely and at the speed that they choose,” said Lang.

While slower speed is a main concern of Vision Zero, those on Aurora said the road needs to be re-designed, and are looking to the mayor to help spur those efforts.

“Think about this urban highway, Aurora, as more than just the highway as really the centerpiece of a community,” Lang said.

The City Council will review the Mayor’s proposed budget over the next two months. There are public hearings scheduled for October 11th, November 8th, and November 15th.

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