McQuaid
McQuaid

With some 17,000 daily vehicle trips across the aging Magnolia Bridge, disregarding a primary access point between Magnolia, the Pier 91 Cruise Ship Terminal and Downtown Seattle is too important for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and our City Council to dismiss with less efficient, cost-trimming options.

But that’s exactly what’s playing out with Seattle’s proposed 2019-20 biennium budget - absent a compassionate nod to the residents and businesses of Magnolia.

Mobility priorities and planning is critical to Seattle, whose growth far outpaces a willingness to plan for and replace its aging mobility infrastructure.

It’s important that this budget reflect near-term planning.  And specifically in Magnolia, there’s urgency to deal with the span as part of a critical arterial system in a regional transportation corridor for freight, Port operations, emergency response, and transit.

At a potential $350 - 400 million replacement cost — up from $262 million a decade ago, it’s a heavy lift, no doubt — especially when compared with the some 25 budget-palatable alternatives floated by SDOT as a part of a promise made in the 2015 Move Seattle levy, which allocated $1 million to study the dilemma.

The rub for Magnolia residents is that the promise fails to include a 1:1 replacement option of the aged span, where routine inspections last spring found vulnerabilities including deck cracks as long as 20 feet and flaking concrete near key support columns.

At stake is direct access for commuters and emergency services to an otherwise isolated residential community and a level of comfort that this important piece of infrastructure could withstand an earthquake.

Leverage of our local obligations with regional, state and even federal partnerships is a smart start.

By including funding in this budget to begin planning for a 1:1 replacement will signal an important commitment to Magnolia residents — and catalyze our state’s 36th District delegation to pursue funds in next session’s state budget.

Yes, it’s important that City Council and the Mayor agree on a budget that is fiscally responsible.  But to keep Seattle on track, we need a willingness to stay ahead of our growth with forward-thinking planning and infrastructure replacement.

We can do both.

Mike McQuaid is a fourth-generation Seattlelite, who has spent nearly two decades in North Downtown. He is the Transportation chair and immediate past president of the South Lake Union Community Council, and has worked extensively with local neighbors on mobility issues as an appointee to the Seattle Arena Redevelopment Community Advisory Group.