It's Your Waterfront

Starting later this month the waterfront design project will kick-off a series of topical meeting relating to specific interaction elements of the design. Readers will probably be most interested in the February 8th meeting, Mobility and Access, but I personally find the other topics, specifically the first and last much more unique and interesting. Information below the jump.

The waterfront is a treasure that belongs to all of us. Join us for a series of informal discussions on some key topics that are shaping the future of the waterfront. Now is the time to get involved!

All Events Will Be Held From

5:30 – 7:00 pm; Downstairs at Town Hall Seattle; 1119 8th Avenue, Seattle

Tuesday, January 31: Climate and Context – How can we make the waterfront an attractive place for all seasons?

Wednesday, February 8: Mobility and Access – The waterfront is a crossroads. How do we balance the many transporation needs?

Wednesday, February 15: Uniquely Seattle – Seattle’s waterfront has a rich context and history. How can we design it to reflect the uniqueness of the place and speak to our past, present and future?

Monday, February 27: Environment and Ecology – How can the waterfront help to restore the natural ecology of Elliott Bay and showcase sustainable design?

Monday, March 5: Setting the Stage – How do we create vibrant spaces for arts, culture and entertainment?

Events are free. Space is limited. RSVP:

For directions visit:

Questions or comments?; 206.499.804;

19 Replies to “Waterfront Design, Topical Meetings”

  1. Second all of that, Adam, and many thanks for posting. It’s especially critical that as many people interested in, and even more important knowledgeable about public transit get close to this project and be ready to stay involved for the duration. Professionally and politically.

    My own view of the project at this time is that the only chance for the Waterfront Project to achieve any of its goals is to design a very strong transit element into the project from the beginning. Meaning stations drawn into the architecture of major structures, and fully reserved rights-of-way where conflicts with traffic are likely.

    The system that’s needed isn’t going to happen by itself. It’s going to take a breed of political advocacy many times better informed and technically skilled than average. Necessary mindset is transit not as an issue, but as a public utility through an expensive, sensitive, politically contested site where inches count.

    For starters, I’d like to encourage everyone who can to attend this afternoon’s meeting of the Seattle City Council’s Special Committee on the Central Waterfront, Seawall, and Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program at City Hall at 2:30 this afternoon. Agenda on city website promises nobody’s time will be wasted.
    For transit people, time to get involved in this project is right now.

    Mark Dublin

  2. Speaking of car free streets. Why are cars allowed to drive down Pike (through the market) WTF….Why hasn’t this been closed off to cars?

    1. Excellent point johnny — that road should be closed to cars during business hours. Seems like a no brainer — anyone know the justification for leaving it open?

    2. I can’t say why it hasn’t changed, but it’s useful as a local example of a woonerf. There’s a farmer’s market in the the street on Sundays in summer, so the street is closed then. The street is following the custom of the early days of automobiles, when cars and peds and horse-carriages had equal right to use the entire street. So it may be that when the law was changed for other streets, it wasn’t changed for Pike Place, and it has remained that way along with the rest of the Market.

      A pedestrian plaza would undoubtedly be nicer, but the cars don’t impede people from crossing the street, and drivers know to avoid that street if they’re in a hurry, so I don’t see it as a significant problem.

      1. It would be nice to have one street downtown that cars aren’t allowed. Is that to much to ask for? I know it’s a pipe dream to have pike ped/ transit only…give us the small stretch in the market.

      2. It would certainly disrupt the grid less to close Pike Place than to close Pine Street between 4th and 5th.

      3. It would just be nice to use the street space for normal walk space. It’s very crowded and with cars regularly driving through you can’t just wander in the middle.

    3. I’ve seen some tour buses drive through Pike Place Market. If the street were closed, the tour buses would have one less attraction to get people to ride. If the city tried to close it, I would expect the tour bus industry to object.

    4. Why close the street to cars? Pedestrians are doing fine now, where you want to walk is inside the market, or on the eastern sidewalk up against the retail business, or cross at intersections.

      Why kill the activity by making it pedestrian only?

      Pedestrian malls in urban settings, in our culture for sure and in many others, are death to urbanity and healthy urban communities.

      1. You’re right up to a point — ped malls don’t work particularly well unless you have huge pedestrian demand. There’s a great example of one like that in Pioneer Square (Occidental). They also work better if you have a very densely-woven grid — Downtown’s grid is quite coarse, particularly on the NW-SE axis. I would argue that during daylight hours, that kind of demand does exist on Pike Place, and it’s a non-grid street that’s very close to 1st Ave.

        At the very least, I would put up a sign at 1st & Pike prohibiting non-delivery turns west onto Pike Place, Mon-Sat daytime. That’s the narrowest and most congested part of the street, and cars trying to make those turns block the intersection for ages sometimes. While SDOT is at it, they can start enforcing the “No left turns except transit” rule for the southbound left turn from 1st to Pike St. People ignore that sign all the time and block the intersection.

      2. The fantastic thing about Pike Place is that pedestrians are winning not because of laws, but because of the physical design of the street and the associated culture.

        Close the street to cars, and you take away the ability of people to freely cross back and forth in front of cars, while those cars are forced to go at walking speeds.

        It’s exhilarating for pedestrians, and annoying for drivers, and I love it that way. :)

    5. It’s been discussed several times (although I don’t recall it being discussed here), but it remains open to vehicle traffic basically for delivery/pick-up access both by the vendors and their customers. And there is quite a lot of that.

  3. More pertinent than tangential, Bruce. But as usual, Seattle Waterfront has a major complicating factor that doesn’t exist for San Francisco’s Market Street: with the loss of the Viaduct, Alaskan Way and the two arterials passing Pike Place Market, Western and Elliott Avenues, stand to become a major through traffic corridor.

    This is in addition to serving the Ferry terminal as a highway artery, and also all the other civic uses that Seattle as a whole envisions for the Central Waterfront. Makes San Francisco’s waterfront rebuild a cake-walk by comparison. Reason effective advocacy requires a lot of on-site walking and measuring, and a basic grasp of relevant civil engineering.

    Johnny, good question. It’s always been surprising to me that conflicts with pedestrians at the Market haven’t been any worse. I think cars moving at a pedestrian pace have a different effect than cars at street speed. Would like to hear from someone with a stall at the market as to what pedestrian only rule would have on business. Seems like pedestrian-only is long overdue good idea.

    Mark Dublin

  4. The Seattle City Council’s Special Committee on the Central Waterfront, Seawall, and Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program this afternoon indicated to me that it’s time citizens in general, and those of us involved in transit in particular, start paying serious attention.

    The project, or more accurately the assemblage of projects for rebuilding our Waterfront, is starting to take on the level of reality where ideas start to displace rocks and dirt. Whether result is permanent obstacles or permanent right-of-way depends on who-all grabs a shovel.

    For purposes of this particular readership, two main facts emerge: one, with the close of the Viaduct, Alaskan Way and the two arterials to its north will become the major surface transportation corridor connecting the northwest and southwest sections of Seattle with each other, Downtown Seattle, and the Central Waterfront itself.

    Not to mention the point where a major part of the State highway system connects land with water. Along the very corridor which has also been promised to the people of this city as a historic reconnection with a priceless public place of beauty.

    Salient point for this audience: there’s no way on earth these things can be reconciled with passenger transportation depending mainly on private automobiles. Whatever the intentions and inclinations of the political and economic forces on the Waterfront, the “facts on the ground”, as the militarists say, have made this a transit project from day one.

    So I strongly urge everyone to start paying attention, through website, and also the City Council special committee that met this afternoon. And some special thanks are owed to Co-chairman Tom Rasmussen for his opinion to the Central Waterfront Committee that it’s time to start including public comment at those meetings as well.

    From several months’ attendance, an observation: most effective comments will be short on invective and long on transit experience, civil engineering knowledge, and common sense. This is a construction site now.

    Meeting agenda and report:

    Councilman Rasmussen:

    Mark Dublin

    1. “there’s no way on earth these things can be reconciled with passenger transportation depending mainly on private automobiles.”

      Is that your addition or did the council committee acknowledge that? What exactly did they say about transit and its future role there? Or did they mention it at all?

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