BELLINGHAM - Safety improvements for pedestrians near Western Washington University are in the works for 2013, and even more money could be spent on pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly projects after a transportation board vote Monday, Oct. 22.
Pedestrian improvements funded by the Transportation Benefit District and currently scheduled for next year are on or near Bill McDonald Parkway:
- Crossing improvements at Bill McDonald and the 34th Street Sehome Village entrance;
- A sidewalk on the north side of Bill McDonald, between 35th Street and the Birnham Wood Apartments;
- Sidewalks on both sides of 25th Street, from Bill McDonald to Douglas Avenue.
Total cost of the projects is about $1.4 million, to come from a sales tax for transportation improvements approved by Bellingham voters in 2010.
Bike-pedestrian projects and road repaving could each get another $400,000 in 2013. The benefit district board voted 5-2 Monday to spend all of the district's projected leftover cash for 2013 - a little more than $800,000. Voting against were Terry Bornemann and Cathy Lehman.
The board is comprised of members of the Bellingham City Council.
Some board members said money in the benefit district fund should not be held in reserve but should go immediately toward improvements and the construction jobs they create.
The extra money could be spent on the first projects to come out of Bellingham's upcoming bicycle master plan, said Public Works Director Ted Carlson.
The decision isn't final. The board meets again in December to approve its 2013 budget.
Last year, the board decided to fund road resurfacing, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, and the Whatcom Transportation Authority in roughly equal measures, using the voter-approved 0.2 percent sales tax increase. The tax is expected to generate $4.3 million next year.
The district's 2013 budget, as initially proposed by the city Finance Department, continued that evenhanded approach. Of the revenue expected in 2013, $1.56 million would go to the WTA and $1.4 million each would go to repaving and bike-pedestrian projects.
The WTA money pays for Sunday service, a route on Roeder Avenue and additional evening trips.
Monday's decision expanded on the idea presented by Mayor Kelli Linville in her proposed city budget for 2013. She asked for $500,000 in reserve to be spent on repaving, to help make up for a shortfall in the street maintenance fund.
Reach RALPH SCHWARTZ at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2266.