If you’re still thinking about what to do this election, Feet First’s questionnaire gets into some deep transportation policy specifics in a variety of races. Notable details:
- Sen. Murray would not commit to funding the Northgate pedestrian bridge over I-5, while Mayor Mcginn would.
- Murray rightfully ripped the 100′ wide roadway planned for the waterfront.
- Murray also committed the 75th St bike lane gaffe, before retracting it, as reported by Seattle Bike Blog.
Then there’s Sen. Murray’s answer about Mount Baker station:
The Mount Baker light rail station, as with other stops in South Seattle, suffers from design and infrastructure flaws that hinder pedestrian and Transit Oriented Design more generally. For instance, the Mount Baker rail station is placed across busy, one-way arterials from retail destinations, and is some distance from connecting Metro transit stops. Many large, stand-alone commercial and industrial building occupy large parcels near the station, and the station itself is poorly connected to nearby residential areas. Further, like many neighborhoods in South Seattle, Mount Baker’s sidewalk and street maintenance has been perpetually underfunded. All of this renders the area much more hospitable to cars than pedestrians, but park-and-ride spaces are not provided at light rail stops. So, we find ourselves with under-utilized light rail stations and people continuing to drive.
There are some near-term strategies to improve walkability around the Mount Baker station. We should look at reconfiguring traffic flows along and around the area where Rainier Ave S. and MLK Jr. Way S, and explore whether converting one-way to two-way arterials would make it easier to walk to the station. But these strategies offer only moderate benefits. We have to do more.
I honestly don’t think it’s a hugely important for a mayoral candidate to have the details of the Mt. Baker intersection at his fingertips, even if it is the transportation nexus for all of Southeast Seattle. However, it is a bit disconcerting that no one on his team could avoid getting this one exactly backwards: those arterials are currently two-way, and indeed it’s changing them to one-way that provides the best opportunity for making things work better. One way arterials require only one light to be red for them to be safe to cross.
One can certainly forgive the other inaccuracy, because the media has done a terrible job of explaining that there are, in fact, parking spaces available near Mt. Baker and many other Rainier Valley stations; it’s just that drivers have to pay for them, just as they do on the DC Metro and many other systems around the world.