Seven months after the kickoff event, the South Lake Union Mobility Plan has been released. The plan, led by the SLU Community Council, Uptown Alliance, and both the Greater Queen Anne and SLU Chamber of Commerce, is structured around seven key mobility themes. Below is my high level summary with some commentary. The report is a refreshingly light read and looks pretty slick.
- Connect Communities: This section is all about East-West connectivity. If you tried to sever the connection between Capitol Hill, SLU and Uptown you’d be pretty hard pressed to do a better job than what we already did with I-5 and SR-99. This section calls for reconnecting the grid over Aurora, improving East-West bike/ped travel, and designing Harrison St to accommodate future East-West bus service.
- Increase Transit Service: The plan proposes to improve connections between Capitol Hill, SLU and Uptown with new service operating on Denny/Fairview/Harrison. It also proposes pulling some downtown routes off I-5 at Mercer St, routing them through SLU on Fairview into downtown. The plan mentions BAT lanes on Fairview.
- Serve Regional Access & Mobility: Boils down to funding Mercer West. Also make sure Republican doesn’t get hosed by vehicles exiting the deep bore tunnel.
- Encourage Walking: A smattering of pedestrian enhancement projects, such as green street improvements to Thomas St and complete the Lake-to-Bay Loop Trail. It also includes reconnecting the grid at Aurora and possibly a new bridge across I-5 somewhere north of Denny. I think the two highest priorities are reconnecting the grid at Aurora and making sure new sidewalks and streetscapes are built to a high design standard.
- Support Biking: In my opinion this section could have been bolder. The plan calls for adding a few signals to help cyclists cross arterials. It suggests that if BAT lanes are added to Fairview they could be shared between buses and bikes, in my opinion a DOA idea. No mention of cycle tracks. The plan calls for a bike share program but that is kind of a freebee unless company/developers are willing to chip in some seed money. King County is currently in the process of studying this.
- Leverage Private Transportation Investments: We have already seen some of this with employers chipping in to fund the 3rd streetcar during the PM peak period and Route 70. Also calls for providing passenger load zones for private shuttles along public streets and new legislation that “makes it easier for private business to share shuttle resources”. I wonder what they have in mind.
- Create Hubs for Mode Transfers: The plan proposes creating “mobility hubs” at Thomas and Harrison (a future RapidRide station) and on Valley St at the SLU Streetcar station. In case you haven’t been keeping up on your transportation lingo, mobility hubs (otherwise called “new mobility hubs”) are an idea the Cascadia Center and other tech firms have been peddling. It essentially boils down to a tech heavy transit center, with traveler information, electric car share, bike share, and other amenities.
The City Council will be briefed on the plan in their chambers, Monday at 10am.