Waterfront Seattle Meeting
Waterfront Seattle Meeting

Last night, the Waterfront Seattle Project held their second open house, and it’s the one many of us have been waiting for. The topic was Mobility and Access: all about improving connections between the city and the waterfront, and of balancing the needs many different transportation modes that must coexist on the rebuilt waterfront: pedestrians, bikes, transit, freight and cars. Along with the waterfront team, staff from the city and Metro were present in force, and the meeting was well attended (a lot of cyclists, in particular), with vigorous conversations at each table for the duration of the meeting.

The event began with a presentation discussing the background and general considerations and goals of the project, along with a segment by segment discussion of the right-of-way cross-sections, from Belltown to Pioneer Square. The presenter noted that a streetcar had not been eliminated as a possibility within the roadway, although it wasn’t included in the cross-sections. After that, everyone was turned loose to five discussion tables to share their opinions with staff taking notes.

More after the jump.

I can’t possibly mention all the discussions I overheard or partook in, but I will summarize the issues that stood out to me (with the caveat that I make no claim of journalistic impartiality in what attracted my attention):

  • Some attendees suggested public parking structures for visitors arriving by car at the north and south ends of the waterfront. I think this is a terrible idea, and I’d give it about a 0% chance of happening, as both Pioneer Square and Belltown would fight a new public parking structure to the death. Moreover, cities should not attempt to replicate the car amenities of the suburbs, because they can’t without destroying the diverse, pedestrian-oriented urbanity that is their biggest and best asset.
  • I’m even more skeptical of the merits of running West Seattle bus routes into Downtown Seattle via Marion/Columbia (versus alternatives through SODO or Pioneer Square) than I was when I originally wrote about South End Transit Pathways. The cross-section for the southern part of the Alaskan Way surface street in the meeting showed bidirectional transit lanes in the AM peak and one outbound transit lane in the PM peak (the other reallocated to general traffic to make way for an additional ferry queuing lane; both street parking off-peak). That isn’t going to cut it. If buses are going to reliably navigate the traffic that ensues whenever ferries unload, they need full-time lanes all the way from the freeway exit to 1st Ave. Otherwise, give me a (perhaps slightly slower but more reliable) transit/bike/pedestrian mall on Main St, and cut the southbound transit/parking lane to make the street narrower.
  • As I pointed out over at Seattle Bike Blog, whatever bike infrastructure we build on the waterfront has to go somewhere. To the north, connectivity is good, but to the south is a different story. WSDOT’s great new bike trail from Holgate St to King St drops you out onto East Marginal Way, a really unpleasant place to ride a bike, but still the safest and fastest way to access any of the bike routes in West Seattle and Delridge. No more missing links!
  • I’m rather fond of the idea of a bike/pedestrian overpass similar to the one at West Thomas St connecting to Pioneer Square from west side of Alaskan Way, especially if it connects to a Main St transit/bike/pedestrian mall. This would give a very strong and safe connection to Pioneer Square. Regardless of any such bridges, many people stressed that the streets and signals should be set to keep traffic flow slow, to minimize tunnel diversion and maximize safety and the pedestrian experience.
  • really like the Pike Place “fold” discussed in the Seattle Times yesterday morning that would serve as a lid over the Elliot-Western connector. It hides the most road-like (versus street-like) element of the current plan, while drawing people down from Pike Place Market (where there are masses of them) to the waterfront (where there aren’t enough of them). Outdoor escalators (with elevators for ADA access) at streets like Union and University where the grade is too steep for a street would also be great.

As promised, this is an open thread, so what do you want to see on the new waterfront?

UPDATE: Here are the slides from the presentation.

77 Replies to “Seattle Waterfront: Mobility and Access”

  1. I really wanted to go, but I was sick yesterday. I was going to put my support for the return of the streetcar to the waterfront, only push the south end of it down to Starbucks HQ and then possibly east to the Link station at Lander. That way you connect the sports district to the waterfront and cheap parking down in SODO.

    As for the Parking at North and South ends of the waterfront. I agree with you on the no big parking areas to the north, but not to the South. There are currently some plans for WDOT tunnel staging area to be turned into a 7000 to 9000 stall parking garage with a green roof park on top of it. If we are stuck with a structure like that, I want to get as much year round use as possible for it and connecting it the waterfront would go along way to killing 2 birds with one stone.

    Ideally I would perfer the Seattle Subway and about 1/4 of the parking, but who knows when that will happen.

  2. If the AWV traffic is in a tunnel, why would a ped/bike overpass be needed simply to cross the new arterial? That sounds like an extravigence.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. I thought the whole point of redesigning the waterfront and reconnecting it with downtown was to make it so that Alaskan Way is no longer a barrier between the two. If we need an overpass, we’re doing something wrong.

      1. If I recall correctly (I unfortunately don’t have the slides yet) the highway cross-section at that point is either seven or eight lanes, mostly to provide one or two lanes for ferry traffic to queue while maintaining two GP lanes in each direction at all times, plus one or two transit lanes. Even well signalized, it’s a big fat road.

      2. The new Alaskan Way, though, will be an Aurora clone, since most of the SR-99 traffic will not be using the tunnel.

      3. “seven or eight lanes, mostly to provide one or two lanes for ferry traffic to queue”

        Ugh. I’ll say it again: downtown is a terrible place for a car ferry. Send the car ferries north and south, and just run a large set of foot ferries from downtown. Why are we lugging cars across the water and dropping them off in the middle of downtown? If people need to get downtown, feet work fine. If they need to get somewhere else, I can’t think of a worse path than right through downtown.

      4. I doubt Fauntleroy wants them either. I don’t see getting rid of them entirely, but it might be possible to move some of the vehicle queuing to that empty pier to the south.

    2. The traffic that’s currently on the Viaduct will be split between the tunnel and Alaskan Way, so that means traffic on Alaskan will increase significantly. This is due to several factors: (1) no tunnel exits downtown, (2) no tunnel entrances convenient for port trucks, (3) people dodging the tunnel toll, (4) tunnel capacity if it fills up.

      1. I agree with all of your comments except (4). Much more likely scenario is that the tunnel stays mostly empty most of the time, with tolls not generating anywhere near the expected (and necessary) revenues.

        Look for fiscal crisis 5 – 7 years out.

      2. I haven’t heard anything about tunnel financing since the vote. So… it’s all paid for and everything’s hunky-dory?

    3. By the way, one woman said she voted for the tunnel believing the Port trucks would switch to it. So that’s just one piece of misinformation reflected in the tunnel vote count.

      1. In the future I’ll sleep well knowing how I voted on the tunnel. I hope somehow it can be re-purposed in the future. Maybe I-5 can be re-routed through it! Okay probably not, but one can hope. Converted to condos?

      2. I like the I-5 idea – I’d pay for another tunnel if we could rip I-5 out of our city.

        Man those would be expensive condos, and with no view. But you’d have lots of fresh air with that ventilation system (the tunnel will use 25 million kilowatt-hours per year – I’d guess most is from fan energy).

        Maybe remove all cars and parking structures from downtown, and make this a massive parking lot? We’d just need to put elevators in every few blocks.

      3. Matt, I love the idea of a car-free downtown! Everyone should be riding bikes or walking there. If they’re handicapped or have too much to carry from one of the stores there, tough luck.

      4. [SC] How it’s generally done in Europe is only allowing small delivery vehicles, transit, and a few taxis in. It’s not like people drive between businesses downtown right now anyway – why is parking underground so much different than parking in a garage?

  3. I still say that it is ridiculous that they couldn’t restore the Waterfront Streetcar line … especially because it could have simply become an extension of the FHS … which, would of course require more new streetcars, but would be perfect for the tourism/businesses on the waterfront

    1. +1. It seems like a no-brainer to me to connect the two. Is there some sort of infrastructure problem that prevents that, like, the tracks are different widths or something?

      1. the only difference between the old streetcar line and the FHS is the voltage (the waterfront line used 600vDC and the SLUT/FHS use 750vDC) and the fact that they are high-floor only whereas the new ones are low floor.

        However. I would recommend that they sell/put in a museum the old Melbourne trams (as nice as they are) and concentrate on more inekon SLUT/FHS type cars … this way the lines could be connected for access to the MX base as well as through service. I can see a lot of potential for having streetcar access from the waterfront all the way to First Hill and Broadway. Sure there might be quicker ways … but not more pleasant ways.

        whether or not the line would require two tracks or simply having passing tracks like the old waterfront line had is not really an issue other than for frequency as the modern cars have doors on both sides.

        Besides restoring the infrastructure on the waterfront line’s tracks (or replacing them) really the only additional expenses would be for the additional trams required for the lengthened line (or two lines if not connected by revenue track) and the additional space needed at the car barn for said additional trams.

        If the waterfront redesign is really about opening up the space and making it tourist/citizen friendly, then restoring the streetcar line would only add to that while also creating a necessary transit link for the businesses, cruise ships, BC ferries, WSF, the aquarium, the market and other attractions on the waterfront.

        Furthermore … as Western/Pike Mkt./first ave is about 137 feet higher than Alaskan Way (15.8% grade) there is no reason why there couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be transit lines on both 1st ave and Alaskan Way.

      2. I’ve ridden both the SLUT and the old Melbourne cars and I don’t think much of the SLUT cars. The seats are hard, and spaced too close together. I’m tall but not that tall, and my legs don’t fit between the seats on the SLUT. Next the windows don’t open on the SLUT. Heck we live in a Temperate Rain Forest. It’s neither too hot nor too cold most of the year. So being able to open those windows on the Melbourne cars was great.

        Next the waterfront is a tourist zone. People pay good money and wait in long lines to ride the cable cars and antique street cars in San Francisco. We should follow their lead and suck in those tourist dollars.

      3. The two things that bothered me about the Melbourne cars were the infrequency (due to the single track) and the slowness (presumably due to the cars themselves, plus the traffic lights). I was in San Francisco recently and rode several different streetcars on the F line. I noticed that the older ones (e.g., Italy) were as slow as the Benson streetcar or slower, while the newest one (1950s San Francisco) was significantly faster like the SLUT. I saw the newer car both day and night, and the older cars just in the daytime, so it seems that the newer car is baseline service and the older ones are supplemental.

      4. Mike,

        The PCC’s were/are GREAT machines. Back in the ’60’s before the Muni Metro opened they used to run them flat out through the Twin Peaks and Buena Vista tunnels, bouncing and swaying at 55 on the rough track. A 50 cent amusement ride! They were every bit as fast as the Boeings and Breda’s in the tunnel and had great acceleration and braking for stops.

        It’s sad that the cynosure of streetcars was already so advanced when they became available.

    2. Given how valuable this space is the streetcar should run in the street like the “SLUT” and not take up it’s own space as it exists today… It could be given signal priority and have center of the road stations…

      1. It’s not dead, what are you talking about? Officially, it’s only temporarily out of service.

      2. Every single table at the event talked about streetcar service on the waterfront. There were a variety of opinions on exactly how that would work, where it should go and how it should connect, but it’s quite clear folks are interested in waterfront transit.

        How we pay for it, of course, is another story.

      3. Of course people want a waterfront streetcar, they also wanted a Monorail that connected Ballard and West Seattle…

      4. Agreed, thanks Mimi Gardner Gates!

        Now sell the damn Melbourne cars to San Francisco where they will be lovingly put back in service carrying passengers from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Baseball Park and the Caltrain station via the Ferry Terminal.

      5. “It is dead. Even the transit mafia wants a new streetcar on 1st Avenue.”

        This is a fundamental redesign of the waterfront, and they’re asking us what we want the major features to be. So it’s perfectly legitimate for streetcar fans to say, “We want the streetcar as one of the main features.”

      6. It is dead. Even the transit mafia wants a new streetcar on 1st Avenue.

        I disagree. There were actually quite a number of people at the event that supported the idea, including comments submitted. As for a street car on first, that IMHO is worthless, especially when discussing the waterfront. Their solution is to start imagining that escalators could make that street car accessible for the waterfront, but it just isn’t so.

        The biggest problem, however, is that there is very little space left after they put in the huge multi-lane highway. That seems like it’s the elephant in the room: There are great slides of close, dense, and vibrant urban scenes which will be on either way of a river of cars and trucks.

      7. I’m not sure who the “transit mafia” is. I assumed it meant some people with money closely aligned with the government. Or does it mean us? Some mafia we are, unable to kill the 42 or 25 or 38, or to get frequent evening service on the 5 or 120.

        In any case, the reason for transit on Alaskan is intra-waterfront trips. Sure, I can come down from 1st Avenue, and I probably will rather than taking the long way via Intl Dist. But once I’m at the aquarium, I want to go to the Sculpture Park or ferry terminal or somewhere else, and some of those trips are more than a mile. It doesn’t make sense to go up to 1st, take a streetcar, and come back down to the waterfront. People won’t do that. Waterfront transit would also encourage cruise-ship passengers and businessmen at the World Trade Center etc to see more of the waterfront. (And if it extends to Seattle Center, how much better for tourists.)

        Fortunately, the waterfront design team understands this, which is why there’s a secondary line on Alaskan Way. But they and the city seem to be the only ones supporting a streetcar on 1st.

        If the First Hill Streetcar continued to Alaskan Way, it would provide a more unique service than if it went on 1st, because travelers on 1st have a nearby transit option on 3rd. On the other hand, 1st may generate more riders because more people are going to downtown and Belltown than to the waterfront. But that may change if the waterfront becomes a major gathering place and gets enough retail to rival 1st. So we have to think about that too. Of course, if the First Hill streetcar does turn on 1st, that does not preclude a separate Alaskan Way line continuing to Intl Dist station.

  4. It really seems like there are too many needs for this area to satisfy everyone. Given that the waterfront will be torn apart for the sea wall replacement it’s too bad that in addition to the deep bore tunnel we are not doing a cut and cover tunnel for transit on Alaskan way. It could replicate the Columbia and Senca ramps and provide a real alternative to drivers using Alaskan way to get from the north to the south…

    1. Separating transit and general traffic is a good idea. But considering soil conditions on site- not really soil, but more like water with some dirt and a lot of junk in it- not a good place for cut and cover, even before expected rise in sea levels.

      Also, traveling in a place that beautiful, I’d as soon not have the view out my window be a concrete wall. Only thing worse is those miserable “wraps” on vehicle windows- worth an anti-vandalism campaign of the first order.

      Mark Dublin

  5. The Waterfront Streetcar lobby was well represented. At least three out of the five breakout groups — and maybe all of them — put it as one of their top concerns. The project leader was in my group, and several people told him directly they wanted the streetcar back, that it was itself a tourist attraction like the Space Needle, and it was well-liked by both residents and visitors. Many want the historic streetcar in particular; others would be just as happy with a modern streetcar like the SLUT. I said I want either of these or a trolleybus, 20-minute minimum frequency (preferably 15), and preferably with its own two tracks or lanes.

    The concept-plan says this:
    – The main north-south transit line is on 1st, connected to Intl Dist station, possibly a streetcar.
    – A secondary north-south transit line on Alaskan Way. It doesn’t specify what kind of transit that would be.
    – The Alaskan Way line terminates at Pioneer Square and Pier 70. Hopefully that just means “extensions to be decided later” rather than “no connection to Intl Dist station or Seattle Center”.
    – There’s a street median starting somewhere between Union and Madison going southward. It’s intended as a pedestrian refuge but the speaker said it could accommodate rail transit lane(s).
    – Traffic will be thickest from Pioneer Square to Madison, then thin out somewhat to Pike Place. At Pike Place the main traffic lanes will connect to Elliott and Western Avenues and move away from the waterfront, and Alaskan Way will continue as a quiet street to Broad Street.
    – Given the thick traffic south of Madison, the West Seattle buses, and the need to store ferry cars on the street when their “loading lot” disappears, the plan envisions the six lanes being divided up as transit-peak/parking non-peak lanes, one ferry-park lane in the AM peak, and two ferry-park lanes in the PM peak. (Or something like that: this implies zero general-purpose lanes northbound in the PM peak, which can’t be right.)

      1. Ah, thanks. I tried to find that on the website but couldn’t find any documents or reports. Unlike Sound Transit which always has these things in their project library.

    1. I’m awfully wary of that ‘streetcar in the median’ theory. They have pocket turn lanes taking away some of that space at some intersections, and it’s not consistent all the way north. My gut is that space might be useful for a center platform space for stations, but not much else.

    2. How would a streetcar get from Pier 70 to Seattle Center? Broad has some steep grades, and I don’t see any other way there, with the Sculpture Park in the way.

      1. How about it doesn’t? The sculpture park could become a transfer site to get up the hill, if that’s your destination and then continue north along Western towards Interbay/Ballard. Another option would be to have the street car go up the newly built road under the “folds” to Belltown/Pike Place Market and then back down Western to the sculpture park. People headed to the center would need to transfer there to a 3rd ave bus or monorail.

      2. We really need a transit line along the entire waterfront, not detour to Western. One, it’s a symbolic promise. (“Our waterfront has a transit line from end to end.”) Two, it showcases our views, which is why we’re redeveloping the waterfront in the first place. Three, it serves a more unique walkshed not served by existing transit.

        If the Seattle Center extension is too problematic, don’t do it. It’s just an idea, not something we must have. I don’t even know if it would have sufficient ridership. But we should study it and make a reasoned decision, rather than just ignoring it because we’ve never done it before.

        However, it would be good for the line to go at least partway up Broad to the Sculpture Park entrance. That would provide better disability access to the Sculpture Park, which is on a hill.

      3. I’m not heavily invested in the idea one way or the other. My main point was that a connection to the Space Needle shouldn’t be the deciding factor in whether a streetcar goes down there. I’d rather see something from the sculpture park to the ID than nothing, which is something I think we both agree on.

    3. Mike,

      Giving a bus its own lane for every fifteen minute service is dumb. Sorry to be frank but it is. A single track with a couple of passing sidings is sufficient for 15 minute frequency and takes much less space. Plus, in its own right of way it would run more reliably. The question is, which side of the street should it have? If it were on the seaward side it would never have to cross the streets perpendicular to Alaskan Way so no signal priority hassles.

      But it would be on the wrong side of the street for any residential developments.

      1. Passing sidings are fine, and I don’t care which side of the street. The Benson streetcar was on the east side. However, east will become west when the street is moved to where the Viaduct is now.

        The important thing is not to build a structure that makes it impossible to increase the frequency to 15 or 10 minutes.

  6. If they tie the stadiums to the waterfront well enough, the stadium lots/garages become a parking solution to the south. At least on days without a game/event.

    For that matter, I’m a bit concerned with how little attention is being given to connecting the Stadiums overall. The Waterfront should be a great place for fans pre/post-game, but it won’t without well planned Transit connections.

    1. The current vision, from what I heard, is that people would walk along the Railroad right-of-way (which would be lined with trees) and cross over to the waterfront side of Alaskan Way around the south tunnel portal. One of the big concerns at our table was the width of that crossing.

      1. If serious discussion is not being given to extending the Waterfront/First Ave streetcar (whichever wins) at least to Century Link, something is very wrong with this process.

  7. I was there too. As a strong supporter of the Waterfront Streetcar, I made sure my message was clear by plastering a post-it note that read “Bring Back The Waterfront Streetcar” on every map in the room. Talk about spreading the word! I won’t rest until everyone gets my message.

  8. Moreover, cities should not attempt to replicate the car amenities of the suburbs, because they can’t without destroying the diverse, pedestrian-oriented urbanity that is their biggest and best asset.

    Correct! Seattle should made it as hard as possible for cars, and send all of its growth and revenue to Bellevue.

    give me a (perhaps slightly slower but more reliable) transit/bike/pedestrian mall on Main St, and cut the southbound transit/parking lane to make the street narrower

    Excellent! The less convenient, the better!

    whatever bike infrastructure we build on the waterfront has to go somewhere. To the north, connectivity is good, but to the south is a different story. WSDOT’s great new bike trail from Holgate St to King St drops you out onto East Marginal Way, a really unpleasant place to ride a bike, but still the safest and fastest way to access any of the bike routes in West Seattle and Delridge. No more missing links!

    Let’s make all of downtown a car-free zone. Bicycles only!


    1. There is already plenty of underutilised parking in Pioneer Square (except for game days) there really is no good reason to build any new garages.

      While Beltown doesn’t have quite as much parking near the water, there is still a decent amount of parking to be had in the area. The sculpture garden has a garage and I have yet to see it full except when there is an event at Myrtle Edwards park.

      The real issue for suburban types with parking in Seattle isn’t a lack of parking spaces it is a lack of free or cheap spaces. Unless somebody wants to subsidize it there is always going to be a shortage of free or cheap parking in the denser neighborhoods.

    2. “Seattle should made it as hard as possible for cars, and send all of its growth and revenue to Bellevue.”

      Ideally yes, but this is the United States, not Canada or Europe. Our most pro-transit, road-diet mayor just barely got into office, and his opponents are vowing to make him a one-term mayor for questioning the DBT’s financing, and adding bike sharrows, road diets, and street-parking limitations downtown. We don’t know whether they’ll succeed, but it shows how difficult it is to limit parking and general-purpose lanes in this city. Find a mayor and councilmembers who will campaign on “Transit over cars, even if it drives shoppers to Bellevue (and supposedly damage Seattle’s economy)”, and win on that platform, and implement its, and win re-election, and then you’ll have a case for saying “Make it as strict as Europe”. (That winning re-election part may not matter as much if somebody is willing to do one term as a public service, but the benefits will last only if their successors don’t reverse the policies. Whether they do or not depends on whether public opinion is anti-reform or in the middle.)

    3. Seriously wondering how you got there from Bruce’s text. It’s not as if there aren’t plenty of other streets for cars in Pioneer Square; he’s advocating for changing one street, Main Street, much the same way (only with more emphasis) Third Avenue’s already working downtown.

      I have a hard time reading his message as “Bikes only!”

  9. “Ugh. I’ll say it again: downtown is a terrible place for a car ferry.”

    Having separate foot ferries and car ferries increases the cost and as long as 99% of the demand outside of rush hour is people traveling by car, if we tried to do this, the foot ferries would only exist during the peak, if they would exist at all.

    This would force people who wanted to get anywhere in the Kitsap Peninsula without a car to bus to out-of-the-way places to catch the ferry, with long waits and convoluted routes. As it is today, the Edmonds ferry is much more difficult to reach by bus than the downtown ferries and the Mulkilteo ferry is even worse. On Sundays, the only transit route to Edmonds I’m aware of is two Amtrak trips and for Multilteo, I don’t think there’s any transit going there whatsoever, unless there’s a special-event Sounder train (please correct me if I’m wrong).

    1. Interesting, Eric. The numbers tossed around at the meeting indicated that far more folks use the Colman Dock routes on foot than by car (I forget the exact split). But they didn’t break that down by time of day or day of the week.

      1. The foot traffic on the Winslow boat is highly concentrated during the morning/evening peak commute hours, as is vehicular traffic of course.

        During the balance of the day foot traffic is fairly constant at a much lower concentration, car traffic is less of course too – but it appears that truck traffic shifts to out of peak times and is more concentrated during off peak times – which makes sense.

    2. Eric, people will get used to it. Cars are evil. Let’s not accommodate evil. This is Seattle, and we are better than that.

    3. Eliminating the established auto ferries that have run for almost a century would be a far bigger decision than how to beautify the waterfront. It would require buy-in from the state and the westside counties. You’d be cutting off the entire penninsula, not just Kitsap County.

      The west sound should make itself more transit-accessible, with clusters of density linked by frequent transit lines. But wishing it isn’t going to make it happen. The fact remains that people need to get to the penninsula, sometimes for legitimate reasons, and you pretty much have to have a car on the west side except for two narrow cases: (1) you’re going to Winslow or Bremerton, or (2) you’re traveling in the daytime Mon-Fri and live hear a highway stop or P&R.

  10. Excellent posting, Bruce, and same for the January 3 one on possible transit routes between SR99 and Downtown.

    Agree on “Flex Lanes” for transit, as the project calls them. Basically like Elliott Avenue between Denny Way and part way to the Ballard Bridge: peak hours, buses share right lanes with right-turning traffic. Off-peak, linear parking lot.

    Especially around Colman Dock, this treatment certainly “won’t cut it.” Whatever happens elsewhere, between Yesler and Pine Street, transit has to be very emphatically separated from general traffic, if either is going to move.

    One point in current project discussion with clear lines for a very firm stand: considering the critical importance of every inch of space where Alaskan Way passes Colman dock and several blocks both directions, the idea of using lane space for street parking is completely out of the question.

    In the real world, street parking really blocks two lanes: one to store the parked cars, and the other for drivers maneuvering, with varying skill, to park. By current project plans of a four lane roadway with a median, this means one clear lane each direction.

    So when anyone says that there’s no room for reserved right of way for transit because room is needed for parking, answer is: the place for such parking is a well-designed structure with a built-in transit station along an extremely frequent line. That would be my own preference for how close I care to drive to the Waterfront.

    In any case, both the Waterfront Project and the powerful streetcar lobby (wish we had a street with a one-letter name for headquarters) deserve much credit for returning streetcars to serious discussion. Also, thanks to Seattle City Councilman Tom Rasmussen for initiating public comment at Waterfront project’s own meetings.

    Based on a year’s attendance and experience, it’s a good time now for everyone interested in transit to get seriously involved. Reasoned, technically informed input will be treated with respect. Chance of a lifetime.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Street parking does not “block two lanes”. Not if the street is a *local street*. The purpose of the street is to get to the street parking.

      It’s only if you’re trying, for some reason, to use the street as a thoroughfare that street parking starts seeming like it’s causing trouble.

      Which raises the question: why is Alaskan Way being thought of as a thoroughfare for cars *when you’re building this big-ass mega-expensive tunnel as a thoroughfare*?

      1. I guess I’m saying, four lane road on the surface *plus* giant tunnel? What the hell, Seattle? This isn’t even an Interstate route!

    2. I also spoke out against the on-street parking aspect. I don’t think that’s it’s optimal (except for the towing companies who stand to make a big profit everyday at 4pm) and I think it’s needlessly complicated. The transit/ferry lane switching I am A-OK with, but adding parked, unattended cars will lead to both unhappily surprised visitors (who will then lobby for it to be just parking all the time) and reduced capacity, especially if there is the one person who decides to ignore the no-parking or who hasn’t been towed yet.

      1. Part of the pushback is the businesses, who believe they’ll lose customers if there’s no street parking.

        Peak-hour transit in parking lanes ls already established all over the city, such as Roosevelt Way, Eastlake, and Aurora. So the opposition to that has already been tamed.

      2. I understand where the pushback is, but I’m skeptical about it actually achieving the desired effect, especially in the southern section which is where the cross section outlining the most complex lane swapping was. My experience with living near Cherry and now up in Roosevelt is that there is often a straggler car during peak, which causes all sorts of merging or just collisions when an inattentive drive suddenly discovers a parked car in their lane of traffic.

      3. Another major benefit of on-street parking is that it provides a huge traffic calming effect. When there are cars moving in and out of spaces, cars actually drive a lot slower and it becomes a more pedestrian-friendly environment. I don’t personally own a car but I can say with certainty that Seattle is a long way from shedding its dependence on cars. Parking is important and if you want to create a family oriented waterfront, you need places for those mini vans to park. You’d be hard pressed to find a mom who’d be willing to walk all the way from the stadiums with her kids to walk the waterfront.

        I definitely agree with Nathanael that this new right-of-way should be designed as a “local street”. The whole point of the tunnel was to free up space for a pedestrian/bike-friendly waterfront. I think the project will be a failure if the new waterfront ends up favoring cars and not pedestrians and cyclists. I think there needs to be room for all modes of transportation but peds/bikes should be the priority.

      4. Alaskan Way is four lanes even with the Viaduct. The tunnel is less useful than the Viaduct (less capacity, no downtown exits), so we can’t expect traffic on Alaskan Way to shrink. It will grow instead. In any case, there’s no way in hell it will shrink enough to make Alaskan Way two lanes, and likewise there’s no way a ferry access street can be two lanes, because at minimum you’ll need a lane for ferry parking. (Viz. Fauntleroy Way, Vashon Highway, and Bainbridge’s Highhway 305.)

  11. One comment that I wanted to float here for feedback would be the inclusion of roundabouts as a way to better connect both sides of the highway. The medians (23ft wide) provide a refuge for people crossing the street, but what will they be used for and how do they provide a link between the two sides?

    What I was thinking is that having one or two sizable, develop-able round-abouts would be a way to continue activity from one side to the other, while also spacing the need to cross four lanes of traffic. Thoughts?

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