Photo by Zargoman

This is an open thread.

74 Replies to “News Roundup: Viaduct Edition”

  1. A friend is flying into SeaTac Airport. I would like her to take light rail part of the way into Seattle and then I will pick her up in a car and drive north on the viaduct. Where is the best place to pick her up? She isn’t familiar with Seattle.

      1. Seconded. The Stadium station would be a second option, but is dead boring to wait at.

      2. The one nice thing about the Westlake station pickup, and you should meet her there, is that she rides all the way to the end. No getting off early.

        International district is tough to park around in a “standing” location during any of the rush hours. Same for Stadium station park & wait. But Stadium station being far enough South has much easier access to the Viaduct.

        Same for the Sodo Station, but Sodo has a higher likelyhood of free on street parking.

      3. I believe there’s a few short-term loading spaces across the street from Uwajimia.

    1. I was once in this situation and the unfortunate conclusion was that in the time it would take for us to find each other downtown, I could drive all the way to the airport. Of course, the accuracy of my statement depends greatly on traffic.

      1. It depends on what time of day she’s flying in but for the most part, yeah; suck it up and pick her up at SeaTac on Airport Drive. Take her for a ride on Link some other time. You can combine it with a ride on the Monorail (a Seattle must do if it’s her first time here) and maybe even take the water taxi.

    2. I often pick the Girlfriend up at Beacon Hill. There’s usually somewhere to park on one of those side streets next to the Red Apple, and Beacon Hill Station itself is kind of an interesting place to see.

    3. The correct thing to do is to pick your friend up at the airport. If you want her to experience Link, do it together another day.

    4. If the lady is arriving during normal hours, you might meet her at Beacon Hill Station, and go for a really good espresso at The Station Cafe, half a block north on 16th Avenue. Cafe is generally open ’til 7 at night. You could then drive down Holgate to First, and follow the signs to 99 north. Check out Mapquest to see route.

      Station Cafe is really great neighborhood place, clientele interesting and intelligent, most of them young. They use Herkimer espresso, which is one of the best, and their signature drink is Mexican Mocha, with cinnamon and other spices.

      On the other hand, you could park at Pacific Place and just meet her at Westlake. Longest train ride, and easiest drive to 99- up garage ramp to Sixth and just head north.

      Mark Dublin

      1. Her flight arrives at 6:20 or so, so getting to the airport on time would involve fighting rush hour traffic. And it’s not my car so I don’t get to decide. :)

        I was hoping there would be a convenient passenger load zone or kiss and ride facility somewhere.

      2. Again, King St. Station. Park just south of the station. It has a loading zone, it’s relatively easy to get to, and relatively easy to leave.

      3. Matt the engineer, it’s Union Station you want to be at. And at 6pm, the parking is closed on the station side on 5th to permit free flowing traffic. There is very little open on street parking at that time in the ID.

        However you can park in the Uwajimaya lot for a couple of bucks.

    5. I’d advise her to get in as late as possible and then disembark at Rainer Beach. Walk to a nearby convenience store and wait near a pay phone. Be sure she is carrying expensive electronics like an Airbook in a clearly marked bag.

  2. “On the Waterfront”: The best methods for moving people between the Central Business District and the Waterfront are good examples of the exact kind of technical scrutiny that needs to be applied to everything about this project.

    For this blog’s readership, most serious consideration of this kind involves designers’ continuing contention that First Avenue is close enough for streetcars or buses, and that for the project itself, pedicabs, small vans, and automobiles are good enough.

    “Low-Tech” Magazine showed an interesting solution a couple of years back: a huge 19th century funicular that could move a whole streetcar up or down an incline- somewhere in the eastern states. Something out of Steam-Punk except no dirigibles or zombies.

    As for being stuck with urban freeways, no rich technically advanced place is stuck with anything except lack of excuses. Just as an old railroad viaduct can become a nice urban park (work, incidentally, of Waterfront chief designer Dr. James Corner), any freeway can be converted to anything from a many-leveled linear park to a passenger rail corridor, with trains of all speeds.

    One thing necessary for the urban design of the future: engineers need learn to look at politics as a tool for achieving great things, rather than a hopeless hindrance.

    Mark Dublin

      1. Thanks, Matt! Looking at the double poles on the old streetcar, it comes to mind we could do the same thing for trolleybuses between Harborview and the Third Avenue wire at Courthouse Park. Technology would fit Pioneer Square historic theme perfectly.


    1. Didn’t we have a street car that did this?

      Seriously, street car South to the International district station, tunnel to Downtown.

      Or a series of escalators, there are quite a few between the ferry terminal and Downtown if you use the building’s ones.

      1. I like the tunnel idea. This could connect to a future light rail tunnel, as well as our existing one (with escalators).

  3. Please, please, please, no more sweeping plazas with little active space. How about some density ? Condo towers with a public boardwalk and restaurants/cafes along the length… but a promenade?

    1. Absolutely not. Seattle should not take whatever little open space we have and convert it into yet another boring condo tower for the rich. We need to preserve our open space wherever possible, and particularly along the waterfront.

      Now a block back from the waterfront? Ya, that is a good place for more residential units.

      1. Why not?

        And how do we lack for park/open space in this town? Myrtle Edwards is just to the north.

        Every time we dedicate park space we have decreased the tax base. That lovely promenade will be become another space to maintain and generate no new property taxes…

      2. There is room for a ribbon of ‘open space’ as well as productive uses.

        If we can’t have a streetcar then I’d prefer water, boardwalk, cafe seating/other activation, residential towers with retail underneath. Dead Space is NOT needed.

      3. For all the people who think space without revenue need to fly to Paris. Can you imagine the Champs de mars filled with condos just to collect tax revenue? Just because it’s grass doesn’t mean nobody will use it.

    2. I agree with you, sell it off for condos/offices above, and 2-3 floors of retail on the bottom, truly activate a then narrower (and thus busier looking, more appealing) waterfront!

      1. Great, tear down the viaduct because it blocks views of the water and then sell it off for highrise condos with yet more vacant retail below. If they sold off the real estate would it even cover the cost of building the tunnel? The Wall of Chopp is sounding better all the time.

    3. Did you look at the proposals (or rather pre-proposals)? It’s not a large, empty, windswept park or open space like the Big Dig greenway or NE 8th and 405. It’s several small spaces, designed to attract people, with cafes and little shops and food trucks and canoe rentals and artist’s studios and outdoor exhibits throughout it. They do seem to know what they’re doing in designing spaces, even if they’re weak in the transit area.

  4. Quoted from the article in King5 about the waterfront, “Designers discussed a promenade that would stretch along the waterfront, perfect for walking, bicycling, rollerblading and more.”

    Great. Just when will someone with real planning skills show up and see what its like when three distinct groups vie for the same space? As usual, chaos ensues. I wish we could have a cohesive system that allows all users minimal interruption. But I fear someone with a “grand plan” will be paid a couple hundred grand and then we’ll have another monstrosity on our hands.

    1. It’s what happens when designers and engineers try to do something without consulting the planners first.

      1. More like the architects are having the run of the show. As a civil engineer, I think this project first and foremost has to function – connect people, places, and activities – and needs more engineer input in the planning phases. Architects can sometimes focus too much on what they want it to look like (misting clouds!?), and create vast out-of-scale wastelands instead of usable places. I don’t want to see photos of idealistic laughing kids; lets see the park with homeless people on a rainy day. Then, maybe we can have a real conversation about what we want the waterfront to DO!

    2. The promenade is the existing sidewalk. Do you want too eliminate that? It works quite well.

    3. The bike trail is separate from the promenade; it would be next to the road, and is a normal bicicle trail. I think they want to move the road east, under where the Viaduct is and the lane east of it. So what’s currently Alaskan Way and half the Viaduct would be between the promenade and the bike trail/road. That space would be carved up into several little spaces, some of them gathering places for people, and others gardens or woods.

      1. An article I read somewhere indicated a sharp increase in fleet size was a part of the goal. I’ll see if I can find that reference. Still, even US$30M per carriage is extreme.

      2. It happens :), I wish I could retrieve some of my posts here, but once you hit the enter key, you’re screwed.

    1. That’s what you get for using custom, one-of-a-kind equipment designed by an aerospace company.

      They paid $160M for the original 450 car fleet. Of course that’s in 1975 dollars.

    2. Our very own Snow-pocalypse SDOT Grace Crunican as the new Director.

      I think Viadoom vindicate Ms. Crunican as being correct in that a surface/transit option was never going to work. That said, I’m no fan of the Surface/DEBT bore tunnel either.

  5. I was at the Waterfront presentation, I dont remember anything about a funicular. I DO remember in the QA, when the streetcar was brought up, there where cheers and some groans and boos. The biggest groan came from the lead designer of the thing- he really deosnt like it, says it takes up too much space and they dont have $$ for it. Both arguements are terrible- first there isnt money for ANY of it right now, its just vapor wear at the moment. Second the tracks could run on the street like streetcars in most of the world does.

    I also remember the kinda, well, dumb, cloud idea. They days when we dont have cloud cover we do not need to make a fake one!

    1. Also the space issue is a lie. They are keeping the 4 lanes of roadway, removing the 3 lanes worth of viaduct, and there is already a track there. It’s going to be wider than it was before.

      Someone in city government doesn’t like the Waterfront Street car which IMO is dumb. San Fransisco has a fleet of restored street cars and they are packed with tourists.

      1. Four lanes (like we have now), plus possible on street parking (which is typically a good idea to buffer pedestrians from the road), plus wider sidewalks on the non-water side, plus room for bikes and pedestrians on the promenade, and you quickly eat up most of the extra space.

        A streetcar on Alaskan Way is a tourist ride, not a transit option. So speed isn’t that important. Justr put the rails in the roadway and have the streetcars share the space with automobiles. The real transit should be up the hill.

        I’m OK with the gimmicky attractions if they are accompanied by actual development. Big open waterfront plazas with no retail or residential are a bad idea.

      2. 6 lanes of road in the plan, not 4.

        One of the reasons I think the streetcar on the waterfront is a good idea is because all of these plans have no parking and no transit to get from one end to the other. The planning seems to think that if you want to get from one end to the other you ether hoof it all the way or you go up to first and take the streetcar that will be there ( they dont seem all that concerened about the space it will take up in a much tighter, more established area).

      3. For its many flaws, the Benson streetcar was occasionally useful for getting to or from the ID. It wouldn’t be massively difficult to extend it on either end and make it really go somewhere.

        And yes, all of the future waterfront uses will need some sort of transportation. Just as the existing uses do.

      4. Also once the First Hill street car is built, the Waterfront street car would connect at the ID. Plus it connects with the ID transit tunnel.

        How can you claim it’s for tourists only when it has such good connections? People who work for the Port used to ride it from the Ferry terminal North.

  6. There’s ample room for both a large park and good development on the waterfront.

    Seattle does indeed have plenty of parks, but it lacks a central civic gathering space—whether a front porch like Chicago’s waterfront or a living room like Central Park—and the central waterfront is a unique, once-a-century opportunity to create one.

      1. Accessibility, legibility, utility, proximity, you name it. Also, it’s just an ugly space.

  7. Did anyone else notice an update to Metro’s Have a Say website? I don’t think it has been mentioned here yet, but they’ve added proposed June 2012 Service Reinvestments.

    Delete: 38, 42 (among others)
    Add Service: 1, 8, 44 (and others)

    1. Looks great to me too. I can’t wait to see some details about where the service hours we get from the 38 and 42 are going.

    2. That explains the mystery of why the 42 didn’t show up on the 9/12 list. I had my first 42 ride today – 3 of us from Rainier & Walker and just me from Dearborn on.

    3. How is Metro going to improve on-time reliability as they want to spend some of their service hours to do that. By restoring the layovers that they previously removed as “efficiencies?”

    4. The 180 will make a significant difference. Currently it’s impossible to get from Kent to Link or the airport in the evenings.

  8. I was curious if anyone had link numbers for the last few months, I don’t recall seeing them on here, and its always interesting to see how the system is doing!

  9. King5’s Joe Fryer: “…and something call a ‘fah-nick-you-lerr’!”

    I’m really trying not to be too harsh on this city, but this was one of those moments where I was reminded how little Seattleites expect each other — or themselves — to know about the outside world. Oy!

  10. (Open Thread Topic)

    In an internal Operations Bulletin dated November 13, Metro Operators have been instructed to call the coordinator and request MTP (transit police) response if anyone boards using one of the faux Orca (“Nope”) cards recently distributed at Westlake during Occupy Seattle protests, and elsewhere.

    For other fare evasion offenders, Operators are instructed not to do anything other than document the evasion back at base, and then only for repeat offenders.

  11. There’s more than just a mailer campaign against the pro-light rail candidates in Bellevue. If you were living in the “Bellevue – Issaquah” zone of Comcast you’d be treated to a hit piece ad campaign across networks paid for by a third party group (Friends of Bellevue Families and Neighborhoods).

  12. From WSDOT’s SR 520 – Bridge Replacement and HOV Program Update:

    Driver note: Starting Monday, only buses will be allowed in the westbound HOV lane west of 92nd Avenue Northeast [on SR-520]. New signs will direct carpools and vanpools to merge into general-purpose lanes at that location.

    Remember it’s closed this weekend but they are keeping the eastbound lanes open late to clear traffic from Husky Stadium.

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