The 2018 University of Washington Campus Master Plan (UWCMP) is the regulatory vehicle for future development of the university’s main Seattle campus. The draft plan anticipates that up to 6,000,000 net new gross square feet of space may be developed over the next 10 years, adding 8,500 more students and 4,700 additional employees by 2028. All this growth will have a significant impact on the University District. Traffic is expected to grow significantly, putting additional pressure on the already taxed local transportation system.
Of interest to Feet First is the impact of the UWCMP on the Burke-Gilman Trail. Trail use on campus is expected to increase 230% by the year 2030, thereby increasing the potential for collisions at the many conflict points along the trail. In 2017, work was completed on a project to upgrade the trail between 15th Avenue NE and Rainier Vista, widening the trail and separating pedestrians and bicyclists. Although there are plans to eventually upgrade the rest of the trail on campus (including the sections from 15th Avenue NE to Brooklyn Avenue and Rainier Vista to NE 45th Street), these improvements are not currently funded.
Feet First, along with a coalition of stakeholders, including many labor, social justice, environmental, and transportation organizations has been monitoring the development of the UWCMP. In November, the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections released their list of recommended conditions for the proposal. In December, a three-day public hearing on the matter was held by the City Hearing Examiner, where the stakeholders’ coalition asked for additional mitigation, most of which was denied. Twenty-nine stakeholders have appealed this decision, which now moves on to the Seattle City Council for final adjudication.
The Feet First petition asks for relief on three items:
- Complete widening and separation of users on the Burke-Gilman Trail on the remaining sections within campus by 2021;
- Completely funding University District pedestrian projects identified in Seattle’s 2017 Pedestrian Master Plan and fully funding construction of ADA-compliant wheelchair ramps at substandard sites; and
- Conditioning the UWCMP to require that university reduce their SOV rate to 12% by end of 2024.
The City Council will render a decision on the appeal this summer or early autumn.