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Originally published May 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified May 7, 2009 at 3:00 PM

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Seattle aims to make it safer for foot traffic

The city of Seattle released a Pedestrian Master Plan Wednesday night that calls for spending $60 million in the next six years for crosswalks...

Seattle Times transportation reporter

Information

Seattle's Draft Pedestrian Master Plan: www.seattle.gov/Transportation/pedestrian_masterplan/

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The city of Seattle released a Pedestrian Master Plan Wednesday night that calls for spending $60 million in the next six years for crosswalks, sidewalks, warning signs, traffic lights, education and enforcement.

Voters approved the money as part of the 2006 Bridging the Gap property-tax levy, which also includes street, transit and bicycle projects.

Because the ballot measure called for a fixed tax amount — at $365 million — the money comes in even while sales taxes, car-tab taxes and others decline.

Residents can expect the master plan to increase the sort of features the city has tried as experiments.

These examples include 2009 projects that preceded the master plan but are based on similar goals:

• There will be 10 more of the all-ways pedestrian signals, similar to those near Pike Place Market, that let people cross in all directions, including diagonally. These will include four along First Avenue this year and next.

• Raised crosswalks — to add prominence — will be added on Martin Luther King Jr. Way at East Alder Street.

• Signs will be improved at 47 schools.

• Protruding curbs or median islands will be added to shorten the crossing distance on 35th Avenue Northeast at Northeast 130th Street; East Madison Street near 36th Avenue East; and Avalon Way Southwest at Southwest Yancy Street.

• Lighting will be added in First Hill and Columbia City.

• About 26 blocks of new sidewalks a year will be added by the city, including stretches in Rainier Valley near transit stops.

In addition, private developers also would add crosswalks as they erect new buildings. Sidewalks will be repaired in Wallingford along Northeast and North 45th Street, and on Ballard Avenue Northwest.

In choosing projects, the city will focus on areas with schools, retail shops or transit stations that attract pedestrians; areas where car ownership is low; and areas with low-income residents and people who are visually impaired and neighborhoods with high obesity rates where officials hope walking would improve public health.

The master plan sets criteria for improvements through 2020, said Barbara Gray, program manager.

"This is a much more strategic way of adding pedestrian projects throughout the city," she said.

Also, Gray said there will be about 10 crosswalk stings this year, during which decoy officers try to cross streets and police issue citations to drivers who fail to stop.

In a statement, Mayor Greg Nickels said, "We want people to be able to get around on foot: to the market, to school, to transit, wherever life takes them."

Public meetings and a hearing are planned in the next few months, followed by a City Council vote on the plan in September.

Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631 or mlindblom@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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