This can’t wait for the next news roundup. Go read Fnarf right now about the ridiculous highway they’re going to put on the waterfront.

And if you haven’t seen it, his longer STB piece from 2010 on what to do there instead still holds up well.

61 Replies to “Fnarf on the Waterfront”

  1. Now I understand why there’s no room for a waterfront trolley to squeeze in there. I’m glad SAM knew what what coming when they kicked the Benson to the curb.

  2. (1. If we didn’t have to accommodate car ferry traffic, we could get by with 4 lanes and the cycle track (1 GP lane and 1 BAT lane in each direction). I really wish we could relocate the car ferry terminal outside of downtown. Maybe somewhere near the Port (near Jack Block Park?) with a direct-access ramp to the West Seattle Bridge? There is no need to dump a couple hundred cars onto downtown surface streets every hour.

    (2. I’ve heard that Metro won’t use a 2-way Columbia St for buses unless they get a bus-only lane (opting for the previously rejected Pioneer Square couplet instead), so maybe DOT is compromising with “MOAR lanes!”

    (3. The on-street parking is also totally unnecessary, due to the ubiquitous (and 40% unused) off-street parking all over Downtown.

    Why are they so intent on making this a parallel highway instead of a place for human beings?

    1. It is worth noting that the road will only be huge south of the ferry terminal. There you have 2 ferry queue lanes, 4 GP lanes and 2 Transit lanes (total 8 Lanes as shown above). The tranist lanes continue to columbia st, after that the road is 4 GP lanes with parking and frequent intersections (and hopefully a lower speed limit).

      Once you get past the ferry terminal the road is much more friendly, and that is the target area of the waterfront project anyway. If you look at the whole presentation the design team looked at many different examples from around the world on how to have a large road but make it pedestrian friendly. I think the result is actually a pretty good comprimise. Short of moving the ferry termianl (most likely not going to happen), or removing the transit lanes the road has to be that large.

      1. On street parking will slow the outside lanes; folks trying to find spot, trying (and failing) to parallel park. That’s what happens now on Alaskan Way. Having a transit lane next to a parking lane is just a joke.

        Two lanes for ferry traffic and four lanes for GP? Couldn’t we combine some that? 200 cars coming off a ferry will cause traffic backups during the time it takes them to disperse. Having clear signage and multiple exit routes, and giving a little priority to them will ease their transition into the traffic flow.

      2. 4 general purpose lanes is already too large.

        “Boulevards” with 4 or more driving lanes, and with at grade intersections, are the most dangerous sorts of streets (or roads. Or stroads.) for pedestrians and for people in cars. They have the worst crash rates.

        It is completely insane to build a road of this sort new.

      3. So this leads to a different proposal.

        (1) From Columbia St. north, replace 2 of the “general purpose lanes” with a pair of TROLLEY TRACKS, embedded in concrete, doubling as BUS LANES; and put them on one side of the project.
        (2) South of Columbia Street, replace the “transit lanes” with trolley tracks / bus lanes, and put them on one side of the project. Replace 2 of the “general purpose lanes” with 2 more ferry queue lanes, with all the ferry queues terminating at the ferry.

        And if that’s too many ferry queue lanes, remove some of them completely.

        Local traffic has a lot of alternative routes through Seattle. Ferry queuing arguably doesn’t. I just don’t see the justification for 4 general purpose lanes, which is what makes for a dangerous and unpleasant stroad.

      4. +1, Nathanael. The real issue here is the demand for 4 GP lanes, which is apparently ‘unassailable’ according to the Waterfront Seattle people. You are completely right.

    2. Bellinghammer,

      Hundreds of people walk on to the Coleman Dock ferries from jobs downtown every day.

      DO NOT MOVE THE TERMINAL! Just raise the fare for autos to and from Coleman Dock compared to the fare to and from Fauntleroy and Edmonds.

      1. Move the CAR terminal to somewhere near the Port, expand Colman Dock to take 6-8 passenger ferries, and run passenger-only ferries from W Seattle, Vashon, Bremerton, and Bainbridge. The waterfront is a horrible place for car ferries. Vancouver does quite well with terminals 12 miles (Horseshoe Bay) and 20 miles (Tsawwassen) from downtown.

      2. Agreed. Removing sounds like a really foolish idea.

        You might as well be giving the finger to anyone who lives west of Seattle. They (believe it or not) are also a vital part of the regional economy. It will be several decades before any kind of commuter rail reaches west sound (if ever) so cutting off the one reasonable lifeline they have to downtown Seattle is not worth considering (unless you have a bridge in mind?)

        I am not opposed to moving the docks though if that makes sense. The plan would have to be carefully designed to make this a good idea though. Also, better transit connections with the ferry seems like a brilliant idea. At a minimum, we would need excellent pedestrians between the ferry and the nearest high capacity transit connection (1st and 2nd for the street car and Ballard/West Seattle Tunnel if/when those go in).

      3. Several years ago, WSDOT had a plan to rebuild a new, larger Colman Dock on the now-vacant Pier 48 south of the old boat ramp, at the periphery of downtown. It died due to lack of money. It wouldn’t have completely avoided this problem, and it would have put walk-on passengers a little further away, but it probably would have meant a narrower roadway in the central section of the waterfront, and possibly better off-street car queuing for the ferry.

      4. Absolutely do not move the ferry. Moving the ferry to somewhere that is more difficult to access simply makes transit trips across the sound more difficult, forcing people to take their cars on ferries that go across the sound instead.

        In theory, you could mitigate this with passenger ferries to downtown, separate from the car ferries, and in a world of limited money, this might make sense. In the real world, the transit agencies are starved enough for cash as it is and money for separate passenger ferries would either never materialize, or run out after a few years. Simply put, the passenger capacity on the car ferries is available, essentially for free, once you take as a given that the state has to pay whatever it costs to keep it running in the name of subsidizing travel for cars. It would be a huge inefficiency to run separate boats for passengers and not take advantage of the free capacity that’s already there.

        And, if it means that the road through downtown has to be a couple lanes wider for queuing, I say, so be it. It’s only the south section and there will still be plenty of room alongside and plenty of crossing points.

      5. Except the crossing points will suck. Main is projected to be the key connection from Pioneer Square to the Waterfront; fairly recently, there wasn’t even going to be a refuge island to get across the 9 traffic lanes. Fortunately there will now at least be a refuge island. But imagine the CF that will result on heavy pedestrian traffic days thanks to the design. Writing off the southern end of the waterfront because ‘so be it’ doesn’t work.

  3. Fnarf is being a bit alarmist, I think. I’m not so worried by the plan here.

    1) No matter how much he’d love it, we’re not going to get an Italian village on the waterfront. The whole city is designed around a typical West Coast US city plan, and we are going to have some degree of open space no matter what.

    2) The very widest part of the highway — the one you show above — only exists for a few blocks at the south end. That is also the part where we desperately need transit-only lanes. If we don’t have dedicated transit ROW here, West Seattle will become completely inaccessible by transit in any reasonable amount of time. That part of the waterfront is not the part where the tourist activity is heaviest (or, really, exists at all). If the compromise to get transit-only lanes — which do appear in this report, and didn’t appear in the last one — is to make this south bit of the street a bit wider, I’ll take it.

    3) Wide boulevards may not be the best city street form, but they don’t have to completely destroy a city either. With good buildings and plenty of street-level retail they can be worked around. The better parts of Washington, DC are proof of that.

    4) Fnarf can make fun of trucks all he wants, but there is still a working waterfront on both sides of the central waterfront, one which is losing its grade-separated connection to itself and to NW Seattle when the viaduct disappears. Freight mobility is a valid concern for the replacement surface street. A two-lane street is not going to help with that.

    5) Wide sidewalks are necessary here. The volume of pedestrians is enormously high.

    Keep the cycle track, keep the dedicated transit lanes to Columbia, , keep good pedestrian facilities, and make sure the new buildings on the east side are built right… and I’m not too worried about an overly-wide street.

    1. Does seem a little hyperbolic, and I agree that full-time bidirectional bus lanes are absolutely essential. I think they could lose the parking lane on this short segment though.

    2. “3) Wide boulevards may not be the best city street form, but they don’t have to completely destroy a city either. ”

      They kind of do. Have you actually been to DC? The boulevards act as neighborhood barriers which nobody crosses on foot.

      “Freight mobility is a valid concern for the replacement surface street.”
      Really not. Let me count the ways:
      (1) Unload from ship to train. Transfer to truck at one of the railyards in Interbay.
      (2) Drive east to I-5, cross the Ship Canal, then head west on one of the large boulevard-sized streets north of the Ship Canal.
      (3) Take the Deep Bore tunnel, pop out at the far end, continue. Unless someone has done something unutterably stupid and excluded trucks from the Deep Bore Tunnel….
      (4) For traffic to downtown, take 2nd and 4th, which are absurdly wide already. Unless they’ve had trucks prohibited or something.

    3. Nor Coal Harbor in Vancouver. One thing that could be ditched would be the west-side sidewalk – increase the promenade width, instead. One problem is east-west pedestrian vs. north-south vehicle volumes – in a crunch, who is going to be served (people or cars)? Stop-light timing/spacing will be key – ideally, it should be such as to limit traffic volumes/speeds, even if that means increasing volumes/speeds on other streets. The speed-limit should be 25 MPH and enforced through cameras.

      One option for the Waterfront Streetcar would be to turn it into a one-way loop, running on both 1st and Alaska Way, which would limit the amount of needed lane space.

      Another concern is the bike/pedestrian interfaces – I’d like to see more of a 3D landscape, providing over/underpasses, along with vantage-point elevations for both bikers/pedestrians. This could provide for more varied usages, niches, walkways, green areas, open spaces, food carts, etc.

  4. If Fnarf didn’t exaggerate so much, this would be more compelling.

    “And how devoted it is to duplicating the unbelievably massive streets it replaces.”

    The AWV is not “unbelievably massive” it’s quite believable, actually.

    “but in reality it’s often fall or winter, and it’s raining, and the plantings, like all public plantings everywhere, have been allowed to bolt and go to seed, dry out and turn brown and fall over, get covered in truck exhaust, fill with cigarette butts and trash and dog excrement (or worse).”

    Come off it, that’s ridiculous.

    “Has anyone ever struggled through places like Lake City Way or Aurora up in Shoreline, where the meridians and buffers and verges have been planted, then ignored, and thought, “Yes, this is great, I’d love to have more of this in the heart of the city”? No?”

    Those are definitely the best parts of those streets.

    It definitely weakens his impact to be such an exaggerating blowhard.

  5. This is an extreme overreaction. I was at the last waterfront meeting where they took input on waterfront roads and transit, and this report doesn’t look substantially larger than that (although I haven’t read it closely yet). Alaskan Way was never, ever going to become a one-lane woonerf like Pike Place. That’s impossible with the ferry terminal, port freight, cruise ship terminal, and people driving from SODO to Interbay and Ballard. Are all those drivers supposed to go to 1st Avenue or 4th Avenue? Wouldn’t that make downtown congestion worse?

    The waterfront team has divided the area into three segments: high traffic (King Street to Yesler Way), near-high traffic (Yesler Way to Columbia Street), and medium traffic (Columbia Street to Pike Street). Two-way transit lanes will go from SODO to Marion Street and turn east on Columbia to 3rd, for RapidRide C. The ferry terminal needs a parking queue, which is a lane up to Madison. The main waterfront cultural area and pedestrian concentration is EAST of Madison, while the main traffic bottleneck and widest street is WEST of Madison. So you won’t be looking at six lanes of trucks in front of the Aquarium.

    East of Pike Street is outside this study area (it’s for a later study), but it’s presumed that the road will split, and the 4-lane boulevard will go northeast where the Viaduct currently is to connect to Elliott Avenue, and a 2-lane quiet Alaskan Way will go northwest to Pier 70 and Broad Street.

    The separate set of walk signals for each half of the road is a *pedestrian amenity*, based on current urbanist ideals. it allows the non-athletic to cross only two or three lanes at a time, and the (landscaped) medium makes it look like two smaller human-scaled roads rather than a monster highway. You may disagree with these ideals, but that’s the reason for the mid-intersection signals.

    The landscape pockets are supposed to be “natural” habitats that attract birds and critters, to bring wildlife back to downtown and repair the ecosystem. Not soulless empty lawns. Of course, later they may be either well maintained or neglected, but you can’t just dump the whole project now because they *might* be neglected in the future. It will be the city’s responsibility to maintain them, and the citizens’ responsibility to make sure the city does it.

    The plan includes several streetcar and bus alternatives: vintage streetcar, modern streetcar, full-sized bus, or minibus. The design can accommodate any of these, with trains and stations in the center lanes, or buses and stops in the outside lanes. (Yes, trains would share car lanes.) It doesn’t look like a decision has been made which of these modes to persue. In any case, the waterfront renovation will have to come up for a ballot measure before construction.

    1. Mike,

      Why are you talking about “East” and “West” in reference to Madison and Pike? Yes, I know the downtown grid is just about 45 degrees from “normal”, but in nobody’s mind are Madison and Pike anything but east-west streets, because they bend to the normal grid just east of the freeway.

      So, dear reader, everywhere Mike said “East” think “South”. Where he said “West” think “North”.

      1. No, I got it wrong. He actually means “North” when he says “East”. That is totally backward.

      2. The map I was thinking of has the bay at the top (facing west), and I forgot that left is south rather than west like it usually is. You’re right, the trafficky part is south (the southern waterfront) and the cultural part is north (the central waterfront).

    2. “The separate set of walk signals for each half of the road is a *pedestrian amenity*”
      Amelioration/Bandaid = Amenity. That’s one way to frame it. The problem being that the street is too damn wide. Please tell me they’re not gonna make people wait on the median for a separate cycle. There should always be enough green time for pedestrians to cross in one go. Even if it runs contrary to the ‘highway function’ of that particular street.

      Furthermore, this obsession with the green side salad to patch over mediocre and clueless public design.
      “The landscape pockets are supposed to be “natural” habitats that attract birds and critters, to bring wildlife back to downtown and repair the ecosystem.”
      Repair what ecosystem? Wildlife in downtown is a priority? Time has shown again and again that those nature bandaids make for bad urban planning and they will be neglected. If something naturelike is such a priority get a park. And there are enough neglected, mediocre parks around.

      1. The ecosystem that was broken when downtown was paved over. Human survival depends on a robust ecosystem, and we’ve already lost countless species from destroying habitat without thinking of the consequences. Every year scientists discover new ways that plants, animals, and fungi are helping us, so it’s likely that still more will be discovered in the future. It’s not about birds and trees to look at, it’s about a healthy environment to live in.

      2. If downtown paved over a valuable ecosystem (again, what ecosystem?), on which the health and future of humanity depends on, then why not clear out downtown?

        It’s a city (purportedly) and the health of its inhabitants is not ‘healed’ by some sickly side salad on a main diet of highway and ‘hobo rink’.

  6. Wow that is indeed a wide street. I do hope they think to put in some pedestrian bridges, otherwise this will be painful to cross.

    In Japan they usually deal with this by putting in giant cement platforms over the intersections so pedestrians can just bypass the problem all together. I can see an argument for doing this for the bulk of tourists that want to get to the waterfront (and to get bicyclists TO those nifty new bike lanes). Given the lack of room underground with the giant 99 tunnel going through I suspect there won’t be a lot of other options.

    Yeah we replace one cement structure with another, but its not for the whole length, and its not a double-decker…

    On another note, are those transit lanes going to stay bus, or do they plan to replace those with streetcar too?

    1. I think it makes sense just to have long light cycles for pedestrians. This will make car (and bike) traffic worse. I don’t think that is a problem. We want this road to be slow; it will be a slow but necessary way to deliver goods to the immediate area or get on the ferry. The last thing we want is for folks to view this as an alternative to taking the tunnel. Even those who are trying to get from one side of downtown to the other should prefer the tunnel; just take the tunnel and double back on the surface streets. Put in enough long and frequent light cycles for pedestrians and drivers will get the message.

      1. Also, get rid of the general-purpose lanes.

        Long stretches with 4 general-purpose lanes encourage people to treat it as a through road.

  7. I didn’t know JB had a new job (“Supreme Ruler of the Universe”). What in the world is he doing wasting his time here at STB? He has much bigger fish to fry.

  8. come on people. did any of you actually read the document? this is exactly what they showed us at the Open House in the Convention Center last month …

    Alaskan Way is NOT going to be a giant freeway.

    3 or so blocks from King St. to Yesler Way by the ferry terminal will because they need extra road space to hold cars waiting to enter Coleman Dock.

    90% of the waterfront will be two sets of traffic lanes w/parking lane separated by a planted median in some blocks.

    As for those worried about the lack of a streetcar in that misleading graphic …it doesn’t show a streetcar because if one is included (using the old waterfront line cars or new ones) it will already be running on First Avenue (leaves the waterfront at Yesler Way)

    1. I think Fox News would be proud of this STB post. Get your base riled up by presenting a limited piece of information without any context.

      1. Fil, you’re confusing the Stranger for the Seattle Weekly. Furthermore, the Slog is even one step below the Stranger.

    2. Because we all know the best streets are six lanes wide, plus extra “planted median” width for good measure.

      Yeesh. Even I’m surprised by the number of “Seattle is such a special snowflake that we literally cannot ever do something well” comments above.

      The urge to defer to the same traffic planners who have made so much of Seattle pedestrian-hostile for generations seems to be even stronger here than beneath Fnarf’s original Slog post.

      1. Take a look at the Embarcadero. San Francisco got rid of its waterfront freeway but it couldn’t get rid of the boulevard. It’s the same thing here. Or does that make us two snowflakes?

      2. Without the queuing lanes, cars waiting for the ferry would block the entire road. I don’t think there’s really a choice here.

      3. They’re not queuing lanes. They’re just the left-turn lanes that get you to the on-dock queuing area. And if SDOT weren’t obsessed with ridiculously long cycles that turn our arterials into awful highways, you wouldn’t back up the left-turners so far as to require multiple blocks of TWO left-turn lanes.

        Needless to say, SDOT’s obsession with extremely long light cycles is also super-horrible for pedestrians. Make the cycles short. Have a single left-turn lane, and clear it out every 30 seconds. Through traffic may suffer, but SCREW THROUGH TRAFFIC. That’s what the tunnel is supposed to be for.

        As for the Embarcadero: that’s still one of the worst, most abandoned ribbons of emptiness in all of San Francisco. They did exactly what Fnarf warns against: they tore down the elevated highway, then replaced it with absolute emptiness. And having jaywalked across it with shocking ease a hundred times, I guarantee you that its many-lane capacity is not needed.

        I’m sure that when you’re there, you’re distracted and elated by the segregated streetcar in the middle of the street. But since there’s literally NOTHING on the Embarcadero between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf, anyone trying to use the streetcar to or from points in between has a ridiculous access penalty for absolutely no reason.

      4. I do find the Embarcadero empty and uninviting and not many cars. But that emptiness is precisely what the waterfront project is trying to avoid, with gathering spaces and potential small buildings and a cycletrack and nature pockets. The reason the Embarcadero looks bleak is not the width of the road but the fact that there’s nothing attracting pedestrians on the sides of the road, except at the two ends. Of course the road could be narrowed, that goes without saying. But its width is not the primary problem.

        The dedicated streetcar lanes are a model for other cities. But I’ve given up on expecting that on our waterfront.

      5. @ d. p.
        >> Make the cycles short. Have a single left-turn lane, and clear it out every 30 seconds. Through traffic may suffer, but SCREW THROUGH TRAFFIC. That’s what the tunnel is supposed to be for.

        Exactly. The light cycles should also favor pedestrians. The last thing we want is for drivers to think they can avoid 99 or I-5 by going through a surface street.

        The only problem is ferry traffic. But I think to a certain extent, that is a state problem. Let the state pay for it. Seattle will roll out the red carpet for pedestrians, but if you expect to drive easily through downtown (whether you got off a ferry or not) then you will simply be disappointed. It is possible that a ferry could be delayed because traffic is so bad that the cars can’t disembark. That would be bad, but I’m not sure it is much worse than what happens at Edmonds when a train goes by. The entire line of cars in the ferry has to wait for the train.

        The nice thing about light cycles is that they can be modified at anytime. Lanes can also be taken away. But we will likely have to live with very wide streets which is rather boring.

      6. When a ferry arrives, it makes sense to get the cars off it as soon as possible. That will lead to long light cycles at Pier 52. If the car traffic off the ferry is forced to go south, it wouldn’t affect the tourisy parts of the waterfront. Those long light cycles will also calm traffic to the north.

        Relocating car ferry traffic to another site would be dumb because of the excess passenger capacity on car ferriies. Walk-on passengers should be accomodated with a pedestrian overpass of Alaskan Way (as they are today).

      7. AW, none of what you just said justifies the super-long light cycles for straight-bound Alaskan Way traffic, which results in the long left-turn back-ups to get on to the ferry, and which is why SDOT desires two left turn lanes running the length of Pioneer Square.

        Which is among the reasons the width of the whole shebang is crazy.

        The pedestrian overpass to the ferries is only acceptable because it happens to create a level path from 1st Ave to the passenger deck on the boats. But any suggestion that we should have a string of pedestrian bridges for general waterfront access — there have been a few such suggestions on this page — just shows how imposing a barrier this plan aims to create.

        As a rule, pedestrian bridges are not pedestrian amenities, but symbols of defeat.

      8. “I do find the Embarcadero empty and uninviting and not many cars. But that emptiness is precisely what the waterfront project is trying to avoid, with gathering spaces and potential small buildings and a cycletrack and nature pockets.”

        FAIL. “Gathering spaces” only work when there’s some reason to gather *there*. A cycletrack is… a transportation facility. “Nature pockets” are not points where many will go deliberately (I’ve been to enough,, you can count how few people go to them; parks on the far sides of highways are ABANDONED most of the time.) And the small buildings aren’t going to be built.

        “The reason the Embarcadero looks bleak is not the width of the road but the fact that there’s nothing attracting pedestrians on the sides of the road, except at the two ends. Of course the road could be narrowed, that goes without saying. But its width is not the primary problem.”
        The width is, in fact, the primary problem.

        The width is why nobody is going to build any of those “small buildings” which would create “points of interest” on the far side. Narrow the road and developers will start popping up on the ocean side.

      9. “The only problem is ferry traffic. But I think to a certain extent, that is a state problem.”

        Just continue queuing the ferry traffic south of the terminal. Ferry traffic should have little impact on street traffic north of the terminal. Long-term, WSF needs to look at relocating the terminal further south.

    3. As for parking lanes, I’m against them, but I’ve heard some urbanists argue that they give a buffer between pedestrians and moving cars, and that that makes a more pedestrian-friendly space.

      1. You could achieve the same buffer with landscaping instead of parking, so really, it’s just an excuse to have more parking.

      2. The best “buffer” is the street not being designed wide and fast in the first place.

      3. I have no problem with classic “two moving lanes, two parking lanes” streets. They work quite nicely.

        Once you have four moving lanes, the parking lanes don’t help so much. You’re on the other side of a giant chasm. People get in their cars just to cross “stroads” that wide.

      4. In the absence of anything else, Mike, yes, parking can fulfill that purpose. I’d rather have parked cars to walk next to than moving cars, particularly cars moving at 40 MPH.

        But that doesn’t mean that’s the *best* solution. And certainly, in the context of a complete rebuild of Seattle’s ‘front porch’ that’s going to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars and take years to complete, getting the little details right is crazy important.

        And saying that we *need* on-street parking to serve as a buffer, that’s just not so.

  9. On the width issue: An ‘Alaska’ could become a new universal unit of measure.
    “The walk from BTC to the end of the Link Platform is 2-Alaskas”
    “Ridiculous – the airport terminal is only an 8-Alaska walk”
    and the new walk score metric is of course in even Alaskas, rounded up.

  10. Waterfront plans have fewer general traffic lanes now, and thanks largely to former Metro CEO and stadium board member Tom Gibbs, the streetcars have gone from “definitely not” to “let’s figure out how to put them back.

    Especially passing Colman Dock, I’d also like to have them moving, rather than stuck in regular traffic every time a ferry comes in.

    Making allowance for the fact that renderings are not plans, the new waterfront still looks too much like something from the 1950’s and not enough like the 2050’s. Much attention to how the place looks, and too little about how it needs to work.

    I really think that the atmosphere and flavor of the new Waterfront will be a lot more attractive, including to tourists, if the place can earn its own living with advanced industrial design and small manufacture, rather than simply an open space.

    I also think it’s a lot more likely that a Waterfront like this will necessarily develop the transit system I’d like to see.

    Meantime, I’m inclined to be sort of hard-bitten about the needs of general car traffic. Let’s take the Tunnel proponents at their word: the Deep Bore Tunnel is there for motor traffic.

    Leaving the surface for other kinds.

    Mark Dublin

    1. “Waterfront plans have fewer general traffic lanes now,”
      When it’s down to one each way, let me know….

      “the streetcars have gone from “definitely not” to “let’s figure out how to put them back.”
      Cut two GP lanes, you have plenty of room for streetcars… (In the ferry dock area, you could use the two planned “transit lanes” as streetcar/bus lanes.)

      I’d suggest putting the streetcars on the “landward” side, and making the streetcar lanes double as bus lanes (something which has been done successfully in places including Seattle). Then the streetcars can keep moving even when ferry traffic is blocking the road up. Pedestrians heading for the ferry from the streetcar can of course use the overhead pedestrian bridge….

  11. I don’t see why we can’t just ditch the whole plan, sell off or rent most of this space to small lot development, put in a single lane road, and only access the car ferry from the south (via that giant tunnel we’re building). Maybe add another road for the streetcar. Put pedestrian-sized alleys in to access everything else.

    1. Hmmm….
      Is this your ‘secret plan’ to choke off access to the waterfront, then, with the small lots available for purchase, erect a large tower.
      Now what could we do with a large tower?

      1. We could certainly run gondolas over that single little street, and do it at the current level of the viaduct to keep existing views. Though that would free up street footprint, streetcars are a bit better for the short-distance travel required here.

        But I’m really advocating along with Fnarf. We could have a new interesting pedestrian-based neighborhood. Or we could have a new highway where our waterfront used to be.

      2. Thanks Matt. On a serious note, I’ve wondered how gondolas would pencil out going against the current alternatives to Ballard.
        Colman Dock-SeaCtr-LQA-UQA-Fremont-Ballard.
        You’d have to reserve enough seats for commuters, otherwise the tourists would fill every car, every time.
        If you’re up for it, use the same screening values ST/SDOT did for the current AA and plug in MattMobile ™ numbers, for a guest post. I’m guessing you would win hands-down.

      3. Distance will be an issue. Connecting Ballard to QA would be short enough, but if your trip is Ballard to downtown, that’s pretty far. Remember, you’re at a max of 14mph. That’s great up to the 2 – 4 mile mark, especially when competing with buses stuck in traffic and forced to follow street grids and geography. 5 miles competing with grade-separated rail? That’s 21 minutes ignoring stops. Not going to win, even factoring in the <1min frequency.

        I see gondola's role as extending the reach of light rail stations. For instance, you could Magnolia to either an Interbay or QA stop.

  12. Why do we need to 4 general purpose travel lanes? What’s wrong with two lanes, one each direction? Just rip out those two lanes and you’ve made the whole thing almost 20 feet narrower. Between the transit lanes and cycle track its still a lot for a pedestrian to cross, but not nearly so ridiculous.

    1. I agree. I think two general purpose lanes, a left turn lane (both directions), a cycle track, short light cycles and you are done. Maybe you need an extra couple of lanes to dump the ferry traffic.

      1. That seems sensible. So step one: figure out how many lanes are needed for ferry traffic, both in and out. Step two: design a road with only two GP lanes beyond that that. Step three: add in left-turn pockets where appropriate. Step four: add streetcar/bus lanes on one side (I’d suggest the land side). Step five: add cycletrack on one side. Step six: add side parking to the GP lanes only where there is appropriate “extra space” (probably mostly in the northern part of the road).

  13. “Step four: add streetcar/bus lanes on one side (I’d suggest the land side).”

    Run streetcars/buses only north-to-south on Alaska, looping them back north on 1st (then looping south again at Western & Elliott). That way, you only need one transit lane.

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