Westlake Plaza
Westlake Plaza

We put out a blurb on the Westlake Hub Strategy about a month back in a news roundup, but I wanted to share some additional information I got from SDOT as well as bit of analysis.

The strategy is designed to help improve multi-modal transfers around Westlake plaza and help create a more attractive and lively pedestrian environment.  It includes a new pedestrian plaza in what is now Westlake Ave. This project takes big cues from NYC’s pedestrianization of Times Square. The expanded plaza will be created by closing the block between Stewart and Olive to all traffic except the streetcar, more than doubling the size of the existing McGraw Square and creating a public space that is actually functional and enjoyable.

More after the jump.

In addition to the plaza, SDOT is improving wayfinding between it and Westlake Station. Currently there are no plans to include real-time information for passengers that are tansfering between Link and the Streetcar. This is not surprising but still never-the-less disappointing.  SDOT looked at extending the streetcar to Westlake plaza, but complications with crossing over the DSTT and turning streetcars around became too problematic, so it was decided to focus on other improvements instead.

One very good detail of the plaza design is the inclusion of a vendor kiosk. Kiosks and street food are one of several details that are important for successful public spaces. People like places with other people and by giving people a reason to be there, a virtuous cycle is created. Food is a great way to do this because everyone eats, but also because eating is one of the most social activities that humans undertake. One glaring omission is seating, whether it be benches or just a nice staircase. It should either be added to the design, or the vendor should be required to provide ample and movable seating throughout the day.  Other musts include close linkage to street life, trees, and good maintenance.

Check out this must see video (all 6). They give you a great rundown of some of the components that go into making good urban spaces, and it’s actually really funny. The narrator has such a dry humor. It’s great.

Most importantly, this is a visionary and bold project that continues an exciting trend of re-prioritizing the use of public ROW for pedestrians and placemaking, not cars. This trend started with Metro’s 358 bus stop plaza improvements, then the Pike/Pine pedestrian improvements and finally Bell Street linear park. As I said before, two thumbs up SDOT.

Bell Street and the Streetcar plaza also show that the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department (which is funding a majority of both projects) understands the great opportunity that streets represent for creating new and affordable public open space in already built up neighborhoods. Going forward, it looks like this trend will continue. According to an e-mail I received, it looks like the next project of this type might be part of the new Summit and John park on Capitol Hill.

One side note. Last year in my Pedestrian Travel course at the UW I worked on a GIS based project related to the pedestrianization of street ROW. I wanted to see if I could create a GIS tool that helps show where, and what kind of pedestrian improvements are best on a block by block resolution. Generally this isn’t a difficult task but I want to create a tool that could be use on a city wide level to quickly screen for the best opportunities. For data reasons I limited my project to the neighborhood around 15th Ave in Capitol Hill and grouped improvements into amenity zone, shared space, and “normal” open space type improvements. Here are the zipped files (13Mb). Check out map 3, 4 and 5 first. More details and assumptions are in the paper. Input data is shown in the other maps. If you have questions comment and I’ll try to respond. It was a while ago and I only spent about two weeks working on this project so don’t expect too much depth from it.

78 Replies to “Westlake Streetcar Placemaking”

  1. Anything that makes it easier to transfer between street buses, the Tunnel, the Monorail (take ORCA already!!), and The SLUT is a welcome addition :)

    1. No only easier to transfer, but hopefully more clear when you don’t need a transfer because you’re 5 blocks from your destination! I think they’re going to have those downtown map signs, I hope they also have highlights like:
      5 blocks to Pike Place Market via Stewart St

      By the way, Google maps for Westlake and Stewart.

  2. That set of videos – was that William Whyte? Certainly the subject matter was right up his alley and that was his era. And I think that I recognize a few of the images from his book City: rediscovering the center.

    1. You know I have no idea. I originally saw the video a few years ago in my one of my urban planning courses.

    1. It would be great, but businesses might have a hard time surviving on such a steep hill with so little on each end. If we did infill development along the Denny corridor, maybe.

      1. So little on each end? On the Capitol Hill side, Melrose and Bellevue and covered in apartment buildings. On the SLU side there are more parking lots but it’s only a few blocks to all the housing in Cascade, not to mention Cornish.

    1. The technology certainly exists to move exhaust elsewhere and scrub it of its pollutants. Doesn’t mean it’s cheap, though.

  3. Thanks for the link to the old Holly Whyte videos. He was a brilliant man, and his work stands along side Jane Jacobs’. May their works live on.

  4. Where are the bicycle racks that were clearly contained in this plan and discussed at the Seattle Bicycle Board meeting on 11/4/09? They seem to have been replaced by bushes.

    Also – those new tracks that turn across Stewart Street are going to be problematic for cyclists (Stewart was just marked with Sharrows). However, if the cycle plan for 6th Ave and 7th Ave, to be worked in conjuction with this Westlake Plaza plan, this may be ok since cyclists may be routed over to Pine Street. How that component is realized will be key to making sure all people can safely move through this area.

    1. No new tracks will be laid and I think it is safe to say that a the decision to build a first ave streetcar is very far off. If it comes to that point I’m sure it will be addressed.

      As for the parking this image predates that meeting so you must have seen a more current design.

  5. Awesome post Adam. Totally agree that SDOT has really been upping their game over the last few years when it comes to thinking more holistically about ROW use.

    Denny may be too steep for a retail cap but Madison seems like a great candidate, you already have some nice retail on the East side and the Library is one block past on the West side.

    I’m still all about capping the whole area between Pike/Pine with a big public plaza. The sights and sounds of the freeway suck but the visual power of walking out of Capitol Hill and seeing the wall of skyscrapers downtown is really neat.

    1. I personally highly doubt that there will be any money for an I-5 lid any time in the near future but if it one was built I think that the area between Pike/Pine is by far the most promising, especially if it is integrated into a redeveloped Convention Center Station.

      Actually that block has a lot of interesting opportunities. When ST/Metro finally get around to redeveloping the site I hope they have an design competition. Seattle doesn’t do that enough of them and they often yield some pretty amazing projects.

      1. The Pike-Pine lid was the topic of my class’ design charrette at the College of Architecture and Urban Planning (as it was then) back in 1996. The CC Station air-rights were also included, as was the Pike-Pine corridor up the hill.

        Very interesting area for development; of course as with many design charrettes cost was not a mitigating factor! ;)

      2. :) of course not–wasn’t that the fun part?

        The real world reared its ugly head soon enough.

    2. I think that would be awesome, perhaps including retail along the street for at least part of the block.

  6. RE: 15th Ave area project, I have always thought it would be awesome to convert some of the ROW on 1300 block of E Harrison to a viewpoint park. (Did you incorporate view-shed into your GIS tool?) I actually brought this up with a Seattle Parks representative who said that this type of thing is on the table for Capitol Hill especially if they cannot find a suitable 10,000 sqft parcel for a new park in their current search.

    1. Kind of.

      I initially was going to include views as a separate “asset” because E Harris and E Thomas have amazing views but I ended up lumping them in with the “existing static activities” because both locations already had signs that people used them that way. E Harris had a couch in the sidewalk facing the space needle and E Thomas had a few seats and benches that were pointed in same direction. So kind of yes and no.

      I think the top of these street as well as 14th Ave have some interesting opportunities for larger open spaces or shared spaces as well as having needs that currently aren’t meet well. They don’t meeting the cities open space goals as well as having a large number of older apartment buildings where tenants don’t have access to open space.

  7. How can anyone make sense of this streetcar line configuration? How will it reach a terminus near 1st Ave, where will a station will be located between there and Westin, and how will Westlake vehicle traffic be diverted? (Possibly necessitating closure of southbound traffic on Westlake between 6th and 7th?) It looks poorly thought out to me.

    My thinking has been to turn west on Stewart (still possible to close Westlake, streetcars and buses share transit stops), turn south on 1st or 2nd Ave, turn east on Pike, turn north on 6th and reconnect. This arrangement reaches furthest into the commercial core. Good grief. I’m skeptical.

    1. Looks like SB tracks will go onto Stewart and NB on Olive in a couplet for a block, then I’m guessing they will both go along Stewart (Perhaps making a streetcar-only lane for the NB tracks which would be going against traffic) and then have them turn onto First joining the First Ave Streetcar.

    2. You realize Westlake already dead-ends into Olive? I don’t think the vehicle traffic will be a problem (it might actually help traffic since that whole area is a mess of intersections).

  8. I like it. I like it alot.

    As someone relatively new here and new to Seattle transit discussions in general, is this a one off project or the general direction the city wants to move to? Not just redoing open space, but removing and/or reducing automobile capacity (as it appears is happening here and in the Bell Street Linear Park link to) if necessary.

    Also, thanks for those vids. Entertaining and Educational!

    1. Yes is it a more recent trend. I would say it goes back to a little over a year or so. I think mostly related to the passage of Bridging the Gap.

  9. Unlike the ill fated closure of Pine for the original Westlake Mall closing this short segment of Westlake Avenue may actually improve traffic flow. I remembered the reopening of Pine was a key concession made to Nordstrom but there are a lot of interesting tidbits in this article from the Stranger circa 1999, Welcome to the GREAT MALL OF SEATTLE. A couple of tidbits:

    The key concession is the infamous parking garage under Pacific Place mall, which the city government paid $73 million for ($23 million above the actual cost for the project).

    The history of the city’s many give-aways is still in active contention, due to the election of two activists to the city council in the last election. Nick Licata and Peter Steinbrueck have attempted to reopen issues thought closed,

    1. Do you think they could retry the closure of Pine sometime? It seems like there’s not all that much automobile traffic on that block, and the street there mostly belongs to pedestrians.

      1. Would Nordstrom even be opposed to such a proposal (reclosing Pike) considering the transport improvements and generally changed atmosphere?

        Especially if done after this round of improvements and they turn out to be a success?

      2. I asked SDOT and they said that they did not look at it because it would hurt transit, which I think is a cop out. I remember when it was close and transit worked just fine.

        Regardless how about they close it to all traffic except buses. If transit really is the real issue then I would this would solve the problem will improving the plaza significantly.

      3. I commented on this earlier and it wasn’t well received on this blog, but… closing Pine at Westlake would bring little benefit and a significant inconvenience. Previously when it was closed, the buses were detoured to Union. That adds time for the left turn and traffic, and puts you a block or two from the intermodal transfer station and retail destinations, and a longer walk to most of Pike Place Market.

        It also inconveniences cars going from Capitol Hill to points beyond downtown, particularly SODO and the waterfront, because most southwest alternatives are blocked by First Hill and I-5. You can say “No cars”, but Capitol Hill residents do occasionally have visitors, and many of these do not have the intimate local knowledge to choose alternatives without getting lost. The main thoroughfares downtown are 2nd/4th, Pike/Pine, and Olive/Stewart. Putting a cork at 5th & Pine prevents these from functioning properly.

        Finally, it still looks like a street even when closed, so people don’t use the space much. Remove the curbs, raise the roadway to sidewalk level, and eliminate any road lines if you want people to treat it as one continuous park. (This would also prevent any vehicles from ever using it again. Ramps could be provided at the ends for specialized vehicle use, but ordinary drivers do not expect ramps in their streets.)

  10. Oh, pretty pictures! “Westlake Hub Transportation Strategy”. Yeah right. Why all the jargon if not that it’s a hard sell, one that’ll have to wait for and count on a dubious 1st Ave Streetcar line. Oh. It’s one more disappointment from Grace Crunican as SDOT director.

    1. I’m sorry. I don’t want to be a pill. I’m totally for light rail and streetcar lines. I’m just skeptical this one has reached final design stage. It looks like it may be a ‘left lane, center station’ arrangement on Stewart, like proposed on 1st Ave. I’m skeptical of that. And a traffic study has yet to be done. It’s not ready for praise in my book.

    2. I don’t understand why the 1st ave line seems so pointless to people. I think most folks who live downtown would use it on almost a daily basis.

      1. The 1st Ave Streetcar Line is proposed to be “Left Lane, Center Station”. That means the stations will be in the middle of 1st Ave, and the streetcar will stop at stations in the left lane. “Hey everyone! Let’s wait for the streetcar in the middle of the street! Won’t that be fun?”

        More overhead wires too! Oh wait. Metro may remove the trolleybuses and those wires! Yea! Hooray! Electric buses are too quiet. Only noisy smelly buses are safe! SDOT has plans they don’t tell the public about until it’s too late to voice your opinion. This half-baked street closure and streetcar extension ‘idea’ shouldn’t be teasingly dangled in people’s faces until it’s ready. What’s wrong with picture?

      2. Center-running streetcars work just fine, even better than curb running because they don’t have to wait for right turning traffic or illegally parked cars. It’s also a better configuration for cyclists. And there’s no problem running electric trolley buses and streetcars on the same street. It’s done all over Europe and here in Seattle where the #70 and the streetcar run together on Fairview.

  11. Hi Adam – Thanks for the post and the discussion on the McGraw Streetcar Plaza project. I’d like to clarify a few points if I could:

    1.While we are coordinating closely with the Parks Department, the proposed changes to McGraw Square and closure of Westlake Ave is a grant-funded SDOT project – unlike the Bell Street Park Boulevard which is funded by the 2008 Parks and Open Space Levy.

    2.The image above is an earlier conceptual diagram that shows not just the streetcar plaza but also the proposed streetcar extension to 1st Ave and improvements to Westlake in front of the Westin Hotel and at Westlake Square Park (the area that was just cleared of an old bus shelter and brick walls). The McGraw Square/streetcar plaza project planned for 2010 does not involve these two other items which are envisioned as follow-up phases.

    3.The project will definitely include weather-protected bike parking. We are currently exploring design options and if there is an opportunity for securing any of the covered bike parking, e.g. similar to a Bike Station.

    4.The plaza project is currently in design, and a Design Commission meeting is scheduled for Dec 3rd. To view the draft design, download “Alternative 1” from the project website: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/westlakehub_streetcarplaza.htm

    5.For more information on transportation improvements associated with the Westlake Hub, visit: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/westlakehub.htm

    Cheers,

    Casey Hildreth, SDOT Planner, Westlake Hub Project Manager

    1. Casey,
      Thank you for taking the time to share with us your intimate knowledge of the subject. Also thanks for your work to improve the city’s transportation and public space infrastructure.
      Matthew

  12. This looks nice – we definitely need to link up the Streetcar to the rest of Westlake and add some better signage. Folks barely know it is there. A more grandiose first station might also help if we can’t extend the streetcar so that is aligned with fifth avenue right by the Westlake Center.

    I agree too with writers who said above that we need to think about closing Pine to car traffic. I wish they would also do the same for Pike Place Market.

  13. What about bus access from Stewart to 5th via Westlake? This layout makes that impossible, and a right turn under the Monorail is problematic I would think, possibly adding a couple of minutes to a commute.

    1. When this is done, there’ll be no transit service on 5th.

      If you follow the first link in the post, the document says “Remove bus service from Fifth per Metro’s Blueprint for Transit”.

      and

      “Metro’s Transit Blueprint supports consolidating regional bus service on 2nd and 4th Ave, minimizing bus turns on and off of 3rd Ave, development of two-way Virginia St, and removal of transit service from 5th Ave”

      1. All for a small mostly concrete park space?

        That’s not a great trade-off IMO. 5th is the retail core. People who use transit want to be deposited in that retail core, not 3 blocks and an uphill walk away. Think Oxford Street in London.

        Not a fan of this plan.

      2. Nope not because of the park, because 5th Ave is too unreliable for transit service. That is why ST and Metro are moving buses off of it.

      3. I can attest to that as a person who rides the bus down that street. Buses get stuck in traffic in the morning and the afternoon. The street is only three lanes wide in many places.

        In the morning I’m annoyed at the excessive amount of stops and I’m nervous whether I’ll get to work on time. Metro’s removing stops on 5th to speed transit up.

        In the afternoon I could walk faster than traffic on 5th. It’s that bad.

        So I don’t mind walking 3 blocks uphill, if it means a more reliable and faster trip. In many cases I do that already from the transit tunnel when I travel between work and the UW.

        Oh, and SDOT’s main offices are on 5th Ave in the Municipal Tower and the bus stop in front of it is proposed to be closed by Metro. Which means I’ll be walking more anyway.

  14. The Westlake Hub recommendations seem to marginalize bus access that currently uses this corridor, and as someone who relies on a bus to get downtown, that’s a negative. If this is to be a hub point fine, but not at the expense of buses that pass through, and eliminating buses from the city’s “Main Street” makes no sense to me at all.

      1. Making 3rd transit only, making 2nd and 4th transit priority and designating 5th as an Urban Gridlock Refuge seems like a workable step forward. Stopped traffic is a quintessential part of the late 20th early 21st century culture. It promotes walking and experiencing the street level ambiance of the city. These ecosystems are fragile and without proper oversight may disappear entirely in a few short decades. How many of the next generation will have the experience of being able to “hail” a cab if we don’t preserve this resource now before it goes the way of the passenger pigeon ;-)

      2. Today I walked from my office at 5th & Cherry to catch the 43 at 6th & Pike. Took me just 8 minutes door to door. What a pleasure! I think I’ll be doing this from now on.

        It takes 3-5 minutes alone just to get from the Westlake underground platform to 6th & Pike and the same amount of time to get from my office to Pioneer Square station. That doesn’t include waiting for the train or bus.

  15. I like extending the Streetcar to 1st. I’m guessing there could be a terminal build on the Diamond Lot on the north side of Stewart at 1st? I have no problems with “Eminent Domaining” some Diamond property. However, would that just be one more stop? It’s only about 4 blocks to the existing stop at Westlake.

    Finally, how would the return track cross back over Stewart? Would it make sense to have a crossing at Stewart and 2nd, and have the lights do a 4-way Red so that the streetcar could cross over to the other side?

  16. I’m intrigued by this but have a few questions:

    1. How will this affect eastbound traffic on Olive between 5th and 6th? This area is already heavily used by cars and buses and is a bit of a nightmare at rush hour. I wonder if northbound traffic on 6th will stall even more if it’s not easy for any of it to turn west on Stewart/south on Westlake anymore, as is the practice of many drivers, particularly in the afternoon rush hour.

    2. What happens to all the traffic coming out of the many parking garages on 6th, such as Pacific Place and the Medical Dental Building? Currently lots of these cars travel south by first heading north on 6th, west on Stewart, then south on Westlake and 5th. Cars heading out of the garage and thence south will have a significant detour, and will enter into a newly created bottleneck (due to fewer lanes/wider pedestrian ares) on southbound 5th.

    3. What happens to southbound traffic out of Westlake and the South Lake Union area? I realize the point is to emphasize other modes of travel, but that’s a lot of cars to decouple and detour away from the new “main street” of 5th Avenue. Will southbound Westlake traffic be herded down 7th or down Lenora instead?

    I’m not pro-car or anti-transit by any means (I ride buses and light rail daily, and I don’t own a car), but I’m curious as to the impacts to vehicular (car and bus) traffic flow.

    1. 1 and 2. I’m not 100% sure I understand but cars can take a left from Stewart directly onto 5th to go southbound, rather than using Westlake in between. Essentially the park will become the center of a four sided counter clockwise traffic circle.

      3. Yes I think they will have to use 7th or Lenora both if which have light traffic. I worked around here and many of these “side streets” are very lightly trafficked and underutilized. The problem with the current intersection is that it has 5 legs which reduced capacity especially in the afternoon rush hour for westbound buses and cars on Olive. Also from my experience Westlake it a pretty low traffic street, much less than 5th, Dexter or Fairview. So in this way reducing this leg will improves east/west travel on Stewart and Olive and southbound travel on 5th, while redirecting a relatively few number of cars.

  17. A lovely design that proves no one is paying attention to the tourism and charter bus needs in this town. We have close to a MILLION passenger transits in and out of cruise ship piers from May through to October, and does not begind to accound for the huge convention business the Westin takes in year round.

    The Westin is now currently the second largest hotel in Seattle. On any given Summer Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and next year add Wednesdays and Thursdays, more than 30 charter busses fight to get the THREE Charter bus spaces that Westlake affords them.

    The Westin used to have charter bus loading and parking along most of the length of Virginia to the north, but this was very poor for loading and off loading luggage. A few years ago, Metro decided they needed it more than tourism, and that now leaves THREE spaces. A bus loading for a cruise ship takes between 30 to 45 minutes to load with luggage and passengers. More than half the rooms on cruise days are for ships passengers. Do the math, Remove the charter zone, and you now have no way to safely load the golden goose that has kept Seattle green for the last few summers.

    Once again the charter coaches get shafted. As a taxpayer, we have spent HUNDREDS of MILLIONs to get cruise ships to Alaska to leave from Seattle, and bring conventions to twon.. Now you are actively making in damn near impossible to get them from their overnight stays in Seattle to the ships, or convention and sport event shuttles.

    This is the LEAST tour bus friendly town on the coast. This move will seal us as NUMBER ONE for attempting to kill that golden goose. IF I was the Westin, with its many bids for convention and ship business, I would be HORRIFIED by this proposal. You cannot load coaches safely on Fifth… the passenger door opens to the traffic. Metro has the north and south sides of the building. THIS plan removes the ability for tour coaches. Period. Planners NEED TO SPEND A SUMMER DAY in front on Westlake and see what I have seen for the last 8 years expiditing. THIS IS A VERY VERY POOR PLAN when you take into account the multi million dollar tourism this city seeks.

    Other Examples of how penny wise and pound foolish the city is concerning tourism… remember each ship uses 25 to 30 busses and each bus means 40 to 50 passengers, or 25 fewer cabs and cars on the street. This does not include inbound tourbusses, conventions, etc. The Pike Place Market – the Cities LARGEST attraction – offers up THREE spaces for a coach to drop at the Market. When we have 3 ships in town, each uses 25 plus motorcoaches to shuttle tourists. You will often see up to 10 coaches in line blocking traffic waiting to drop safely at the market. 3 slots. THREE. We could fill the length of Western Avenue with bus parking in Summer. The Space Needle has FOUR slots on Broad.

    This is the same thinking that will not look at extending the old Benson line to Pier 91… but that is another post.

    1. This does not “Remove the charter zone”. Circles 5 and 6 in the diagram are “NEW CHARTER BUS PICK-UP/ DROP OFF” and “NEW TAXI WAITING”. I guess that pink bus in the diagram is supposed to be a charter bus.

      1. Yes, I saw that…. The hotel used to be able to load and dispatch 7 coaches. 3 on Westlake, 4 on Virginia. They have lost the 4, and under this plan would drop to TWO. Two coachs, 950 rooms. 1800 people. TWO coaches, and only ONE could be utilized, as the Grayline Airporter runs every 20 minutes in the OTHER slot, which needs to be kept open for it.

        ONE CHARTER COACH. When a convention runs a shuttle (to the convention center, or sports stadiums, or the Seattle Center) they use two spaces just to stage and operate a shuttle. Now add 3-5 tours busses whoses tours are staying at the hotel. Now add the 450 to 700 who need to all get from the Westin to the ships by 1 pm. Now add the 400 to 600 INbound FROM the ships.

        ONE DAMN SPACE. Remember ADA rules, luggage, and you have ONLY Westlake to load from.

        The tourism industry here (statewide) employs 149,900 people, generates total direct visitor spending of $15.8 billion and generates $1 billion in state and local tax revenue. 2008 VISITOR EXPENDITURES IN KING COUNTY
        Meals and Beverages $1,492 Mil. Lodging $1,287 Mil. Shopping $1,128 Mil.
        Ground Transportation (local) $500 Mil.Recreation/Entertainment $416 Mil.ion
        Total # of Visitors 9.34 Million. Average Travel Party Size 2.1 people
        Per Day Travel Party Expenditures $204 Average # of Nights Stayed 5.7

        From 2008 King County Visitor Impact Study by CIC Research, Inc.

      2. Based on my experience with SDOT – I can guarantee they haven’t discussed it with the business owners.

  18. The current space in Westlake is occupied most of the time by one or two homeless folks and their cardboard and shopping carts. They either sleep on the benches (tough) or right next to the low brick wall.

    Is the new design and lack of seating intended to discourage transients occupying this space? If not, what will?

  19. Why not lid I-5 all the way from Freeway Park to Yesler Way, and perhaps north to 520? That would reclaim an entire street for housing, offices, and a long park. There’s no money for it now but it could have been done in the heyday 90s and 00s, and it could be done on a block-by-block basis by extending the Freeway Park lid as money becomes available.

  20. I honestly think tour busses are an afterthought to most of the properties and the city. I have been a tour guide and coach expiditer since 1981, and with a very few exceptions, how busses fit into the plans of most property owners is an afterthought at best. The new tower at the Sheraton has space for two to three coaches on the Union Street side, but a lame lift for no more than 700 pounds (2-3 folks) or 19 steep steps for folks to load from inside the new tower to the coach load area. Ever try to load 40 bags up those steps? I have. And the door locks behind you so you cannot run in and help others hike the steps with their luggage.

    We build facilities on the cheap, and underestimate the use. Pier 66 was built for a 1,000 passenger cruise ship. Finished just as most ships exceeded that. Our convention center has the abiltiy to host up to 6,000… but room for 6 coaches curbside. Three lanes through that narrow to two, and a major exit and artieral to merge with. I have watched as upwards of 500 or more wait in long lines that thread up through the plaza while coaches take 20 minutes to pull out on a shuttle during evening “rush” hour, with six more coaches waiting to come into the tunnel.

    Hotels whose only coach load ability is to load wrong side in heavy traffic. Or have a space too short to have a coach. Or have great space but take it away for Metro use. This is yet another one.

    1. SDOT will not consider critical analysis. Under the current director, all the department will do is produce another flamouyant PR campaign and line up their sycophants. Get a load of all the ‘jargon’ in their “Westlake Hub Transportation Strategy” flyer. Seattle can’t wait for Grace Crunican to be replaced by Mayor Mike.

      Replacing the Waterfront Streetcar Line and extending it to Interbay is another good idea that director Crunican has intentionally prevented from happening. For years, she knew that a streetcar line through the middle of the Wide Plaza was nonsense, and knew that many environmentalist-types could be fooled into believing it possible. Once she was called out on the idea, she dropped replacing the Waterfront Streetcar Line entirely, anti-rail transit interest’s intention all along. She’s got to be replaced.

  21. As a tour bus driver, I have to agree with Seattle Greg. It appears that the powers that be will bend over backwards to accomodate tourist and convention attenders, but will not accomodate large tour buses that in reality help reduce traffic congestion because of the number of people they carry. Most tour buses will accomodate 47 to 56 people in comfort. That is a lot of cars off the road, when you have groups that need 4,5,6 or 10 or more coaches.

  22. the westlake hub project stems from a Nickels pronouncement from several years ago that there shalt be three major hubs in downtown Seattle (e.g., King Street Station, Colman Dock, and Westlake). He said that before the SMP was stillborn. (There are already additional hubs; there are five transit tunnel stations).

    consider how little the expanded park would help pedestrians go between the southern terminal of the SLU streetcar and Westlake station. the linear distance would not decline. pedestrians will still have to cross 5th Avenue and Olive Way.

    the transit blueprint is being updated. SDOT, Metro, and ST together must enhance and preserve the transit capacity of downtown Seattle. it is constrained. the constraint will be not be relieved until Link serves NE 45th Street and Northgate and north Seattle bus routes can be restructured. the bus trips of north Seattle routes could then be used by other routes. only then should they consider taking all bus service off 5th Avenue. in the meantime, the Westlake hub project may be dependent upon a traffic study to see if buses may turn to 5th Avenue directly from Stewart Street if the subject block of Westlake Avenue is converted to a park. 5th Avenue is used by ST routes 510, 511, 512, 545, and the one-way peak-only Metro routes from SR-520 and Route 64 to First Hill. if the buses cannot make the turn directly to 5th Avenue, they would have to go to 2nd Avenue and that may affect the transit capacity of that avenue. the agencies tested the turns. now SDOT has to address the traffic queues. it may not work.

    how may transit riders would be helped by the expanded park v. how many would be harmed?

    the changes to Broadway in NYC did not affect transit, as they have subways and other avenues for bus routes. Broadway is similar to Westlake in that both are diagonal against the main street grid. the SLU streetcar was placed on an under utilized arterial that was slow due to more signalized intersections as it cut across the grid.

    transit flows much better after Pine Street was reopened. Pine and Pike streets carry more that 8K daily riders to and from Capitol Hill on routes 7, 10, 11, 43, and 49. their path when Pine Street was closed was via Union: slower and less direct.

    when Seattle was considering reopening Pine Street in 1990, Mayor Rice vetoed the so-called Benson compromise that had passed the Council 5-4; it would have opened Pine Street to transit only.

    in the late 1980s, when the transit tunnel was being planned, the initial plan had two-way transit service on Pine Street, directly atop the Westlake station. it was changed to allow auto access to the hotel.

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