Mayor unveils proposal to build more sidewalks in Seattle neighborhoods

Today Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tim Burgess unveiled a proposal that increases sidewalk construction throughout Seattle by utilizing more cost-effective designs and materials. Additionally, the City is proposing to develop new public-private partnerships to incentivize sidewalk construction.

“To be a truly walkable city, we need to provide safer pathways to schools, parks, transit and shops,” said Murray. “This innovative approach stretches our dollars to meet this need across Seattle by significantly reducing sidewalk construction costs. Everyone – from schoolkids to seniors – should have the opportunity to walk their neighborhoods safely.”

Using lower-cost materials, such as stamped and stained asphalt, sidewalk construction costs can be reduced dramatically. A traditional concrete sidewalk with curbs and storm sewers can cost $300,000 per block-face or more.

Over the next nine years, the Seattle Department of Transportation is planning to construct 250 blocks of new sidewalks – both lower-cost and traditional – for the same price as 150 blocks of concrete sidewalks. The plan is contingent on new revenue.

“A lack of sidewalks in neighborhoods across the city creates dangerous situations for those who live there, especially for children, individuals with disabilities and the elderly,” said Burgess. “Several months ago, I challenged SDOT to get more creative about sidewalk production and to figure out how we can do more with the resources we have. I’m pleased that they have come up with new, more cost effective solutions.”

SDOT will install new low-cost sidewalks at the following locations in 2016:

  • North Seattle:  At least seven blocks on 30th NE between NE 130th St. and NE 137th St.
  • Southwest Seattle:  Two blocks near Arbor Heights Elementary School
  • Broadview Neighborhood:  Partnering with Seattle Public Utilities on sidewalk improvements and storm water control elements
  • Southeast Seattle:  Two blocks (locations under evaluation)

The 2016 low-cost sidewalk improvements will cost $1.5 million funded through the Sidewalk Development and Safe Routes to School programs.

The City is also proposing new public-private partnerships to help expand its sidewalk network by:

  • Making it easier for homeowners and businesses to partner with SDOT to install new sidewalks, share development funds, or hire the department to repair privately maintained walkways.
  • Improving outreach and enforcement when private entities are responsible for repairing sidewalks.
  • Leveraging development underway in Seattle to incentivize building better pedestrian environments.
  • Providing more concept plans to ensure the right pedestrian environment for specific neighborhood conditions.
  • Updating SDOT’s tools for tracking sidewalk conditions.

“Through the low-cost sidewalk program SDOT can deliver three blocks of sidewalk at the cost of one traditional block,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “This innovative and cost effective approach will help address troublesome locations where our sidewalks end.”

As part of its Pedestrian Master Plan update and commitment to eliminate all traffic deaths through Vision Zero, SDOT has an online public survey seeking input on where to prioritize future construction of new sidewalks. The survey is open until the end of November.