Seattle’s Waterfront is the City’s “front porch” and a vital regional asset. The opportunity to reconnect downtown Seattle with the Waterfront was one of the principle reasons for selecting the deep bore tunnel option to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Compared to the surface street option, a tunnel would ensure that Alaskan Way did not become a surface highway to accommodate traffic previously routed along the Viaduct. City leaders and voters reasoned that this once-in-a-generation opportunity to replace the elevated freeway with a waterfront for people justified spending the estimated additional billion dollars for the tunnel.
Unfortunately current plans suggest that we will still be getting a surface highway along the Waterfront.
The current design proposal for the redone Alaskan Way calls for a multi-lane roadway. At the south end of the waterfront near Pioneer Square, the proposed roadway is well over 100 feet wide spanning eight lanes of traffic. This would include four general purpose traffic lanes, two transit lanes, and two left-turn queuing lanes for ferry traffic entering the Colman Street terminal. The great width of this roadway effectively creates a pedestrian barrier separating Pioneer Square and the Seattle Waterfront. This crossing distance will seriously impair the connection between the city and its waterfront.
Imagine if visitors to Seattle had an eight lane road to cross between the original Starbucks café on the east side of Pike Place Market and Rachel the Pig on the west side. The Market would not be the beloved destination it is today if it had such a pedestrian–hostile barrier. The walk-friendly geography of Pike Place Market is essential to ensuring that people enjoy the Market as a whole, rather than as a distinct destination separated by a large roadway.
Narrower roadways for vehicle traffic are a benefit to any neighborhood and downtown Seattle is no exception. Small roads have slower traffic speeds, increasing safety for people who walk and bike and ensuring that a walkable area is a destination rather than a throughway.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is currently accepting public comments on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Waterfront.
Please let the city know that it is vital that this EIS consider alternatives to the eight-lane highway they are now proposing.
Please attend the upcoming public scoping meeting, Monday, September 9, 2013, 4:30pm – 6:30pm at Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room, 600 Fourth Avenue.
If you are unable to attend in person, your comments can be submitted in several ways:
1. Online comment form – https://el2.envirolytical.com/feedback/form/182510a8-ca7e-434b-afe6-80146b711f50?ActivityId=10622
2. Email: UplandEISscoping@waterfrontseattle.org
3. Write to: Peter E. Hahn, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation, c/o Mark Mazzola, Environmental Manager, PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA 98124-4996
Your comments must be submitted by 5pm, September 25.
Learn more about the project here.
Feet First’s Waterfront Policy Paper: http://www.feetfirst.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Waterfront-Policy-Paper.pdf
Waterfront Seattle: http://waterfrontseattle.org/
Here are talking points to share with the City of Seattle to include in their upcoming environmental review on the waterfront.
- The EIS must consider alternative lane configurations for the stretch of Alaskan Way south of Colman Dock, including those requiring fewer lanes than the currently proposed eight lanes.
- The EIS should evaluate transportation system management methods that will reduce peak demand at the ferry terminal (and reduce the need for the ferry queuing left turn lanes). This would include practices such as instituting a reservation system for ferry users and variable time-of-day pricing to encourage ferry users to avoid peak times.
- The EIS should consider alternative routing patterns for transit to and from West Seattle that would remove the need to place two transit-only lanes through Pioneer Square along Alaskan Way. One alternative is to accelerate construction of the Lander Street overpass across the SODO railroad tracks, thereby allowing buses to get to the E3 Busway.