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Seattle on pace to reach goal of 250 blocks of new sidewalks

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(The Center Square) – Seattle is set to reach its goal of 250 new blocks of sidewalks and walkways in the city, but 27% of city streets are still missing sidewalks with some sections costing up to $800,000 per block to install.

On Tuesday, the Seattle Transportation Committee was briefed on the current status of sidewalks throughout the Emerald City. The committee was informed that it would take more than 400 years to build sidewalks on every block in the city where sidewalks are missing.

Seattle District 5 has 36% of its streets missing sidewalks, the most among all Seattle City Council districts.

The rest of the seven council districts are missing sidewalks at the following percentage rates: Council District 1 at 22%, District 2 at 18%, District 6 at 8.4%, District 4 at 7%, District 7 at 4.7% and Council District 3 at 4%.

“The need is clearly great throughout the city and this is a critical equity issue as well,” Seattle City Councilmember Rob Saka said at the committee meeting.

It is not an easy task to fill the city’s gap in sidewalk coverage. According to city staff, the costs to install traditional concrete sidewalks ranges from $400,000 to $800,000 per block, whereas alternative walkways can range from $100,000 to $200,000 per block.

Alternative sidewalks include painted walkways, asphalt walkways and conveyance swales. However, these sidewalks require more maintenance and do not last as long as traditional sidewalks.

According to Seattle Department of Transportation Deputy Director Brian Dougherty, the city currently has 239 blocks of sidewalk completed, which means the city is one month away from reaching its levy goal of 250 blocks of new sidewalks and walkways in nine years.

Funds for sidewalks stem from the nine-year Levy to Move Seattle, which was approved by Seattle voters in November 2015. The levy has a rate of 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning a median homeowner in Seattle pays $256 annually.

The Center Square previously reported that the Seattle Department of Transportation identified the sidewalk repair program as one from which to redirect funding in order to avoid staffing cuts amid a revenue shortfall. This is because the program has exceeded expectations for the city.

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