Seattle/ Transportation & Infrastructure
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Published on June 21, 2024
Seattle's Transportation Levy to Foster Equity, Mayor Harrell Embraces Racial Equality in City PlanningSource: Seattle Department of Transportation

Seattle's streets and transportation infrastructure play a crucial role in bridging the city's communities, but not all have been equally served. Aiming to correct this imbalance, Mayor Bruce Harrell's 2024 Transportation Levy Proposal, infused with the Racial Equity Toolkit (RET) framework, strives to elevate racial and social justice throughout Seattle's transportation system. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation blog, the proposal "aligns with our overarching goals of eliminating racial disparities and advancing social justice."

This effort to intertwine fairness into the fabric of city planning can't be overstated, as it seeks to methodically undo a past marred by systemic racism. The RET operates as a beacon to guide Seattle's policies, ensuring that Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), along with seniors and those with disabilities, no longer remain on the outskirts of transportation advancements. These groups have to disproportionately bear the brunt of navigation hardships, ranging from social isolation to accessibility barriers. The levy's RET aims to not only promote equal footings but to earnestly work "to remedy transportation inequities in underinvested communities," as showcased by a photo of a crosswalk at 5th and Jackson, symbolic of these intended changes.

At the foundation of the RET are several core principles, which include input from the Seattle Transportation Plan (STP) and the city's Transportation Equity Framework (TEF). Outreach, planning, and equitable practices were integral to the process, driven by community engagement and strategy sessions with the Transportation Equity Workgroup (TEW). "With the support of the TEW, we implemented 16 TEF tactics as we developed the levy proposal," reports the SDOT blog, highlighting a collective push towards inclusivity.

The proposal boldly prioritizes investments in areas that historically have been sidelined. Through strategies like participatory budgeting, detailed in the Neighborhood-Initiated Safety Partnership Program, Seattle is set to more effectively respond to—and prioritize—the needs of communities that have felt the weight of neglect. Whether it's revamping pedestrian safety measures or ensuring transparent communication with the public, SDOT is positioned to transform Seattle's streets into conduits of equity. "The levy proposal would equip SDOT with resources to respond to and prioritize the needs of historically underinvested communities and foster an inclusive equity practice," the blog outlines.

As Seattle progresses, the RET isn't meant to be static. It’s expected to continually guide SDOT's levy-funded initiatives, a responsive blueprint for social justice that evolves alongside the community it serves. This approach underscores a recognition that to build a transportation system that's truly equitable, the planning phase is merely the first stride on a longer, necessary journey of continuous reevaluation and adaptation. "Moving forward, the RET will be an evolving guide for ensuring that SDOT’s levy-funded projects and programs promote racial equity and benefit those most in need," affirms the SDOT.

Seattle-Transportation & Infrastructure