This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

The “Surface/Transit” option for replacing the viaduct seems to be picking up steam, according to the Times:

The state DOT says it is not studying surface proposals.

“I would say emphatically no,” said David Dye, the agency’s urban-corridors administrator. “We’re taking our lead from the statements of legislative leadership and the governor’s office. We’re focusing on working on the elevated design.”

But DOT itself has temporarily reassigned staffer David Hopkins, who was helping craft a regional highway package, to gather information about surface and transit ideas that Sims and King County transportation staffers are developing.

In other words, WSDOT is gearing up for the fight. Or, as transportation secretary Doug MacDonald says, “The surface discussion is coming like a freight train.”

Surface/Transit is just an idea at this point. Like “Bus Rapid Transit,” (BRT) it means different things to different people. The graphic that accompanies the Times article provides some detail as to what it might include, such as keeping 3rd Avenue bus-only through downtown.

The most innovative part of the plan, though, is to connect Highway 99 with I-5 interchanges at several points downtown. The problem now is that freight trucks coming off the waterfront have to take the Viaduct north through downtown. Their first real chance to switch over to I-5 (to reach destinations North and East of Seattle) is at Mercer Street. If you provide the trucks with the opportunity to hop over to I-5 South of Downtown, you alleviate that need.