As the 9 year, $900m Move Seattle levy nears its halfway mark this year, it’s a good time to take stock of what small projects are already done, and if the big-ticket items are on track. SDOT’s Annual Report provides some clues.


The 2018 Levy Assessment recalibrated SDOT’s objectives given spiraling costs and the $300m Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuit ($). SDOT met or exceeded 30 of the 32 targets it set at the beginning of the year.

Through 2019, SDOT had spent $324m in Move Seattle funds to match another $321m from other sources for those projects. Spending remains under budget, partly because most construction work is happening later than planned.

SDOT listed its 2019 highlights as:

  • Built over 12 miles of bikeways, including important protected bike lane connections in the Center City Bike Network and neighborhood greenway routes;
  • Built 6 Vision Zero corridor projects and began taking aggressive action towards our transportation safety goal;
  • Repaved 35 lane miles of arterial streets, including delivery by both contractors and SDOT crews;
  • Made 32 transit spot improvements including adding red paint to dedicated buslanes;
  • Built 48 blocks of new sidewalk and 29 Safe Routes to School projects;
  • Started construction on Fairview Bridge Replacement;
  • Reached 90% design on Madison RapidRide G Line and Delridge RapidRide H Line projects;
  • Started construction on the Northgate Pedestrian/Bike Bridge;
  • Added over 100 bike parking spaces, completing the 9-year Levy commitment to build 1,500 bike parking spaces with Levy funds; and
  • Secured $9.9M in grants for Levy projects and programs.

Recall that Move Seattle has three piles of money: “safe routes” (22%), “maintenance and repair” (45%), and “congestion relief” (33%). The last one has freight and station access stuff, but over half of it is corridor mobility projects that include significant bus investments. These are generally behind the original schedule, and haven’t yet had time to fall much further behind on the new schedule. Still, quite a bit of external funding isn’t locked in yet, so there’s tons of risk there.

There is still $312m of budget available ($72m from Move Seattle) to finish these projects. That’s good because only one of the 12 is complete — 23rd Avenue Vision zero. Of the other 11, not one has completed design, much less started turning any earth. (Note that the Route 48 “Transit Plus” work is not done, and is distinct from the complete street work.)

RapidRide G (Madison), RapidRide H (Delridge), and Market/45th “Transit Plus” should start construction this year, so that’ll be a good test if the high-visibility transit projects are going to have a happy ending.

More happily, SDOT’s wildly successful transit spot improvements program made a record 32 fixes with a minimum of fuss and bureaucracy.

Long live red paint!

15 Replies to “Move Seattle’s 2019 Annual Report”

  1. And everybody behind a steering wheel who drives like they know what it means. Thanks for being on duty, Martin. And take care of yourself.


    1. Do you really think things will return to the previous course? I’m wondering. If you look at the Coronavirus maps, the biggest blobs — obviously — are large cities. Maybe they will look less attractive after this. I’m not predicting it, but it is certainly possible.

      We shall see.

      1. People say the same things about living in coastal areas after big hurricanes and living in river flood plains after major floods. SARS and MERS didn’t seem to put a dent on city living in Asia. We humans have been drawn to cities since at least ancient Egypt, and haven’t quite figured out how to make our economy function at its current capacity without them. But it remains to be seen–this is truly unprecedented stuff here.

      2. I agree with Brandon, although I take fault in saying it is unprecedented. In Asia, this is nothing new. Yet South Korea, for example, has not fled its cities, it has simply been more prepared for the next outbreak. The city — this city, definitely — will return. All those big offices downtown will be filled. All those trips around town will occur again. People will eat, drink and visit each other in the future. I would bet on it.

      3. Oh, and the “biggest blobs” per capita are actually a mix. New York City (believe it or not) does not have the most pandemic deaths per capita. That (dis)honor belongs to Albany Georgia. New Orleans is second, with Detroit fourth (both are hollowed out shells of their former selves). When this thing is over, there is no reason to believe that it will hurt the cities more than the suburbs — although you can bet your ass that some will try and spin it that way to push their (right wing, suburban) agenda.

      4. In Asia people have no choice where to live. We actually do here in the US. Obviously, very few people are going “back to the land” because of this, but it might very well make smaller cities more attractive to both employees and employers.

        Yes, if Boeing is sufficiently bailed out Seattle will be bustling again. Amazon and Microsoft employ plenty of people and it’s the financial capital of the Northwest.

        But I would not be surprised to see people lower some of their lifestyle goals after this. That means that they don’t have to go full rat-race and smaller cities might provide a perfectly satisfying life.

        It will be interesting to see what people take from this experience.

      5. In Asia people have no choice where to live.

        What??? Please explain what you mean by that.

      6. There are so many people that every city is big. That’s all. I wasn’t implying coercion, though some does happen in China. People don’t want to live in villages in China because there is no future for them nor in Japan because they’re wasting away. There is too little room in Taiwan and South Korea for much spreading out.

        People in the non-Tiger countries do live in the countryside, but they aren’t looking for office jobs.

      7. That is true of Hong Kong and Singapore (island cities) but it is not true of South Korea. The cities there are like L. A., valleys surrounded by mountains, which tend to concentrate them. But they also sprawl. You can see how Deagu, for example, sprawls into surrounding communities ( One of those small towns is Geoncheon, home to 10,000 people. It is a low density place that could resemble Barstow, if not for the letters on the sign ( The point is, there are plenty of places there to settle down, it is just that most of the people would rather live close to the heart of the city (which is common throughout the world).

        The same is true for Japan. Many of the rural areas and smaller cities are losing population. It is only Tokyo itself that is growing.

        If not for restrictive zoning, it is quite possible that the U. S. would look like that. L. A., for example, would be much more concentrated, while the surrounding towns would be smaller.

    2. I’ve been driving on bus lanes and down third avenue for the last few weeks.Cops don’t seem to mind. I’ve even been able to park at some bus stops, while doing errands. I’ll have to stop when things return to normal.

  2. Ross, for whatever it’s worth, here’s the approach I’m doing my best to cultivate ’til action’s possible on any front. There’s no sure bet that any “sitting” official will come out of these times with a job, let alone a chair. Don’t respect ’em? Take a leaf from the world and forget ’em. Also, not to say a ‘quake won’t also happen, but at least be glad this isn’t one.

    Though you’re also savvy enough to know that the bellowingly-bewailed “Boom” of, say, last month’s US economy, was really the combined reverberation of a lot of maintenance-deferral going down. Physical, organizational, political, and moral. Row of fifty rotten wooden power poles in Seattle, was it? Or that whole region of California power self-incinerating when its holding company tanked?

    And sorry, Senator Cantwell, but my mask won’t let me hold my nose hard enough to forget who got bailed out in 2008 instead of our homeowners, borrowers, and depositors.

    So instead, in the working days ahead of us, paid and otherwise, start looking for their possible replacements among the people you’ll doubtless meet for the first time. Or whose quality you’ll finally notice. Share what you know with them, about transit and the rest of life. And be ready to work on their campaigns.

    And meantime, from all distances, directions, and sources…watch it.

    Mark Dublin

  3. Any idea how much of the 12 miles of “bikeways” is actually just sharrow paintings and “share the road” type signage? I really hate it when politicians bundle this crap together with actually protected bike infrastructure (especially as part of the basic urban bike network) in order to take credit for a larger number.

    1. Read the report. The report describes the total lengths of new protected bike lanes, neighborhood greenways and bicycle lanes by the hundredths of a mile (or 52 feet).

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