Bellevue has a progressive transportation levy on the ballot next month that will step up investments in neighborhood safety and connections. The levy augments baseline spending in Bellevue’s Capital Improvement Plan, accelerating local projects that would otherwise wait many years for funding.
Bellevue is growing quickly, and the growth has been accompanied by increasing public demands for better non-motorized connectivity as well as local congestion relief. The upshot is an $800 million deficit between the 20-year list of capital projects and projected revenue, much of that in transportation. A particular need for funding to accelerate safety, connectivity, and neighborhood congestion projects was identified.
The proposed tax rate is 15 cents $1,000 assessed value. The median Bellevue homeowner would pay $96 annually (on an assessed value of $640,000). The measure yields $6.7 million, or an estimated $140 million over 20 years. A second, similarly sized, levy for fire facilities is also on the ballot.
While not a very large program (about one-third the size of the Move Seattle measure in per capita/year terms), the mix of projects is impressive. There are no large highway expansions. Major planned efforts to extend the arterial street system in the BelRed area to coincide with the completion of East Link (where the City will seek TIFIA funding) are not included.
This measure, rather, supplements baseline capital funding to address the backlog of small locally-oriented projects that would otherwise be built over decades. 223 projects are identified as candidates, and the city’s interactive map shows projects spanning every neighborhood in the city.
Some story boards from the Bellevue Transportation Department illustrate the range of what would be funded. Priorities include:
- New sidewalks and trails will be accelerated. Bellevue’s CIP has a 30-year backlog of identified high-priority projects, many of which will be supported through the levy.
- Neighborhood safety. Candidate projects include 84 locations for traffic calming, 12 school safety projects, and 55 pedestrian crossings.
- Bicycle facilities with 52 identified projects to provide 57 miles of new or upgraded bike facilities citywide. Funding Bellevue’s Bicycle Rapid Implementation Program would expand the city’s network of bike routes from 107 to 128 miles, but more importantly would improve the quality of these routes, reducing unmarked shared facilities (wide lanes and shoulders) from 65 to 35 miles and adding 23 miles of separated bike lanes.
- Enhanced technology, including LED streetlights, video monitoring and analysis of accidents and near misses, parking and driver information systems.
- Neighborhood congestion, largely signals and intersection improvements. Notably, capacity is not being increased via added lanes or new roadway.
- Sidewalk and trail maintenance. This mostly comprises repairs and maintenance to defective sidewalks and trails due to root heave or aging. The city would also sweep trails and streets more frequently.
The measure is City of Bellevue Proposition No. 2, “Levy for Neighborhood Safety, Connectivity, and Congestion”, and deserves your support.