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September 4, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Seattle’s $14.8M in speed camera fines would go to pedestrian safety

Seattle’s $14.8 million windfall from speed-enforcement cameras would be spent to build safer passages for children walking to approximately 20 schools, in a proposal the city announced Wednesday.

Projects in all corners of the city will include sidewalks, amber warning lights, and curb bulbs to narrow the distance across a roadway.

Mayor Mike McGinn explained the Road Safety Initiative near Dearborn Park Elementary School, on mid-Beacon Hill next to the Chief Sealth Trail and South Orcas Street. Even as he spoke, a couple cars zipped by at close to 40 mph, while many slowed to the 30 mph limit or less.  The City Council already approved $2.9 million this year, would be asked for $3.3 million this fall, and would be asked to consider an $8.6 million line item next year, to total $14.8 million.

Speed-enforcement cameras are already approved in 2013 for Olympic View, Gatewood, Broadview-Thomson and Thurgood Marshall elementary schools this year, and are proposed in 2014 for Bailey Gatzert and Thornton Creek elementary schools, as well as Eckstein Middle School, where a suspected drunken driver killed two grandparents crossing Northeast 75th Street in March.  Four students at Eckstein have been hit in low-speed collisions in the past year, said Dr. Beth Ebel, a University of Washington professor with school-age children.

There could be as many as 15 schools with speed-enforcement cameras, with some sites yet to be determined. About 30 percent of next year’s $8.6 million would go to administer, operate and install cameras.

Dearborn Park would also have a speed camera on South Orcas Street, officials said.  A total of 23 elementary schools are being considered for other improvements, such as “speed humps” to slow cars near Roxhill Elementary, a pedestrian median near Gatewood Elementary, and citywide education programs. Sidewalks are proposed to be installed or extended at Wing Luke, Van Asselt, Dearborn Park, Viewlands, Montlake, Sanislo, Wedgwood, Olympic View, Broadview-Thomson, Arbor Heights, Sacajawea, John Rogers and Thornton Creek elementaries; Eckstein Middle School; and Nathan Hale High School.

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