Biking, walking & transit win big across Washington state

Photo courtesy of Adam Coppala

Voters statewide approved transportation measures to make healthier communities, safer and more connected neighborhoods, and economic opportunity for all!

After weeks of ballot counting throughout Washington state, elections were formally certified Tuesday, Nov. 29. New funding will create a world-class regional high capacity transit system that makes historic investments in making it easier to bike and walk to transit; safer streets and new school connections in east King County cities; a year-round passenger ferry system for new connections between the Kitsap Peninsula and downtown Seattle during commute hours; new trails for a growing Bellingham bicycle network, and a strong transit-oriented set of investments that will grow Spokane’s multimodal transportation system.

November’s passage of these impressive transportation investments continues the growing statewide momentum for a better future. Across Washington state, the unprecedented investments in biking, walking, complete streets, and safe routes to school made in 2015 and 2016 now total over $1.1 billion. These investments reflect what voters want — healthier communities, safer and more connected neighborhoods and economic opportunity for all. 

Read on for a roundup of some of the key investments Washington state voters made in November.

Regional transit expands through King, Pierce & Snohomish counties, including bike & pedestrian access funding

Sound Transit 3’s success at the ballot this November will reshape our region’s transportation system over the next two and a half decades, through a large expansion to the transit system. The $54 billion plan approved by voters will build 62 miles of light rail, add additional bus rapid transit, express bus and Sound commuter rail improvements. In addition to building light rail, the package includes $370 million funding improvements that make it easier to bike and walk to every station in the region. 

This $370 million investment represents one of the largest commitments by a transit agency ever to make it easier to bike and walk to transit. It couldn’t have happened without the voices of caring neighbors regionwide who know that biking and transit go hand-in-hand together.

“ST3 makes a high priority of providing safe and convenient ways for people to bike and walk to transit, including unprecedented investments in pedestrian and bicycle facilities throughout the 116-mile light rail system and regional bus facilities that will exist after the program is built out,” said Board Member & King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci of Bellevue.

A huge thank you to the volunteers who joined Cascade in the Mass Transit Now campaign to make phone calls and knock on doors. Together we reached thousands of voters!

A new fleet of passenger ferries will connect Kitsap Peninsula to Seattle 

New funding for passenger ferry service will give Kitsap County residents increased access to downtown Seattle thanks to voter approval of a county sales tax increase. 

Kitsap Transit will begin service of a passenger ferry fleet between downtown Seattle waterfront and Bremerton, Kingston and Southworth starting mid-2017 and rolled out in full over the next several years. The new routes will complement existing Washington State Ferry service between Kitsap and King counties, but will reduce crossing time to around 30 minutes each (see image for exact crossing times) and all be headed into downtown Seattle. This means that Seattle jobs, recreational opportunities (think shopping and Sounders games!), and the University of Washington and Seattle University, will be within closer reach. Revenue was included in the levy for Kitsap Transit to increase bus service to the new ferries — which will run AM and PM peak only — and, assumedly, help people get to the passenger ferries, via transit. 

Ensuring safe, connected and protected bike facilities around terminals, and ample bike parking at the terminals to help people access terminals via active transportation as well as transit will be critical in maintaining livability and mobility in the downtowns of Kitsap communities that will be home to the new passenger ferries. 

Spokane improves transit

Via an increased sales tax, Spokane voters authorized the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) to invest in 25 separate projects as a part of STA Moving Forward. While the voter-approved plan lacks direct biking and walking investments, these discrete investments to improve transit service moves forward a healthy and more active vision for Spokane that Cascade applauds. 

Take action — Join Cascade’s advocacy network & support work for safer streets statewide!

Getting the money represents a great success and victory for safer streets, but it’s only the first step. There’s much more work to be done and Cascade needs your voice. Please join us!

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