This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

I’m just now getting around to Mayor Nickels’ appearance on the P-I‘s Opinion Leaders podcast.

It gets interesting (for our purposes!) when he gets a question about the Viaduct. He notes that he’s been meeting with Ron Sims and Gov. Gregoire, that they’re approaching a consensus, and they have people working together on a solution. In his response, he touches on the following:

  • Taking advantage of the underutilized street grid, especially 6th Avenue
  • Moving the Alaskan Way Streetcar to 1st Avenue, to potentially connect it to Ballard and West Seattle
  • Making I-5 more of a through-way and not a downtown street
  • Not advocating for a tunnel or an elevated highway
  • Some concerns about freight mobility

He also mentions the Embarcadero in San Francisco, a well-known example of an elevated freeway being replaced with a surface street, and notes approvingly the I-5 closure this summer in Seattle, which he said showed that traffic patterns are flexible.

Now, he didn’t commit to anything, but it sure sounds like hizzoner has all but embraced the so-called surface/transit alternative, that Sims is on board, too, and together they’re trying to convince the Governor to see the light. Good stuff.

I’m skeptical about a streetcar having enough capacity to serve the Ballard-Downtown-West-Seattle corridor, but at least he’s thinking along the right lines: no new elevated highway.

Anyway, he said we’ll hear more after the new year. Keep your eyes open.