Tiffany Von Arnim (Flickr)
Tiffany Von Arnim (Flickr)


Together, we believe that a waterfront rebuilt post­viaduct is an opportunity to shape the city into a more sustainable, safe, vibrant, accessible, and connected destination for people of all ages and abilities.

While we stand by our original comments on the previously published DEIS, we would like to respond to new information in the SDEIS. Our earlier comments commended the City for its work towards the creation of new public space and easy walking and biking access between downtown and the waterfront. At the same time, we collectively urged the City to maximize transit reliability along the southern portion of Alaskan Way while exploring ways to reduce the excessive number of lanes in this area, helping provide a safe and pleasant experiences for people walking and biking.

Although initial analysis in the DEIS projects less congestion on the newly designed Alaskan Way corridor, research suggests that expanding the number lanes on Alaskan Way could inherently stimulate travel demand, resulting in the same amount of congestion. We understand your model forecasts demand and travel time, suggesting additional lanes to theoretically improve congestion. However, widening roads typically leads to immediate growth of vehicle miles traveled on a corridor. This induced demand has the potential to negate all planned benefits of additional roadway capacity, which eventually will not accommodate the entirety of predicted increased travel demand. We cannot build our way out of congestion. Instead, the city should build for the waterfront experience we want today, investing in proven travel demand management initiatives to increase the number of people who take the bus, walk, and bike. We again urge the City to use multimodal LOS standards to measure the success of a corridor, prioritizing the movement of people and goods instead of only the movement of vehicles alone.

The SDEIS presents a new alternative for the southern portion of Alaskan Way Corridor that reduces pedestrian crossing distances at several crosswalks. While we appreciate the City’s responsiveness to requests to reduce right­of­way width and improve nonmotorized connections between downtown and the waterfront, we are disappointed that this alternative sacrificed transit reliability to do so.

We believe that the Alaskan Way Corridor should provide safe, reliable, comfortable, and pleasant transportation options for all users. Crossings in this area should be designed to encourage easy travel between the newly developed waterfront and Pioneer Square, one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in Seattle. At the same time, the limited road space that we have should be allocated to modes that move the most people in the most efficient way possible, helping the City meet its climate and sustainability goals. Rather than analyze two alternatives that pit transit against walking and biking, we urge the City to develop an alternative that maintains transit priority and commits to Vision Zero safety standards.

Transit Priority in this Corridor is Essential

  • After the SR 99 tunnel project is complete, Metro will need a fast, reliable transit pathway for buses to and from downtown Seattle to replace the connection provided by the Viaduct.
    • As of 2016, approximately 600 daily bus trips carrying about 24,000 weekday transit riders from Burien and West Seattle neighborhoods use the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Columbia Street and Seneca Street ramps.
    • Use of the RapidRide C and D Lines continues to grow significantly each year. Since extending the C Line to South Lake Union and the D Line to Pioneer Square on March 26, ridership has jumped again (26 percent and 21 percent respectively) compared to the same period last year.
    • With more than 200 stadium events each year (and perhaps more in the future), transit reliability could be greatly affected without priority through this corridor.
    • Delays and congestion through this corridor would deteriorate service reliability, not just for southwest Seattle riders, but also for those also traveling on connected bus corridors to northwest Seattle communities such as Ballard, Queen Anne, and Interbay.

  • Vision Zero commits Seattle to design streets emphasizing safety, predictability, and reducing the potential for human error
    • A goal in Seattle’s Vision Zero plan is to transform the waterfront by ensuring safe travel for people walking, biking, and driving. The mixing of vehicular traffic, transit, pedestrians, and bicyclists on Alaskan Way will be significant. Many pedestrian collisions occur downtown. With the investments being made to the Waterfront, this will become a regional destination and the number of people in this area will significantly increase. We therefore recommend the following design changes:
      • Data ­driven pedestrian safety enhancements like leading or lagging pedestrian intervals, protected turn phases, elimination of dual turn lanes, signal improvements, and no turns on red are needed.
      • Reduce Alaskan Way speed limits to 25 mph.
      • Pair speed limit reductions with tools like radar speed signs and street design changes.
      • As mentioned above, access for transit through lane allocation and signal timing is critical throughout the corridor. However, transit spot improvements must also increase pedestrian safety with careful attention to transit stop and nearby station access.

We believe that the City can and should develop an additional corridor alternative that prioritizes the safety of people walking and biking, while maintaining reliable trip times for transit. Therefore, the FEIS should include the following:

  • Reduced speed limits to 25 mph, and related safety suggestions listed above (for all alternatives)
  • Reduced lane widths to 10 ft for general purpose lanes and 11 ft for regional transit lanes (for all alternatives). NACTO design guidelines, which have been endorsed by WSDOT, state that general purpose lane widths of 10 ft are appropriate in urban areas and have a positive impact on a street’s safety without impacting traffic operations. For designated truck routes, one travel lane of 11 ft may be used in each direction. This alone could help reduce crossing width.
  • An evaluation of at least one additional alternative that addresses both transit reliability and pedestrian comfort and safety. This means a commitment to working with the Port to achieve freight access, mobility and movement objectives in the Alaskan Way corridor set out in the memoranda of agreement, without compromising transit speeds or pedestrian needs between King and Yesler. This could involve the removal of a General Purpose lane in each direction and one of the ferry queuing lanes, using the money saved instead on demand management tools or a shared freight/transit lane during peak periods only.

While we also appreciate recent proposals to “future­proof” design so that the right­of­way can be narrowed later to reflect reduced future demand, we prefer to do the right thing now ­ making efficient use of our infrastructure, by focusing efforts on reducing the demand on our transportation system. Any transportation project of this scale should inherently be “future­proofed” during the planning and design phases of project development. We believe it makes little sense to build a $300 million right­of­way only to retrofit the street at a later date because we designed and built based on outdated policies.

This historic project should set an example of how the City invests in safe, accessible, and inviting places for the people who live, work, visit, and play in Seattle.


Shefali Ranganathan, Executive Director Transportation Choices

Elizabeth Kiker, Executive Director Cascade Bicycle Club

Lisa Quinn, Executive Director Feet First

60 Replies to “TCC, Feet First, and Cascade’s Letter on the Waterfront Alternatives”

  1. We all agree that reducing the number of general purpose lanes is the best solution. But I also believe that a contract already signed between the city and the port prohibits it. Short of re-negotiating the contract, I don’t see what the options are. Narrower lanes can help, but only at the margins, and you can’t make the lanes to narrow or buses in the bus lane won’t have room to pass large trucks in the adjacent GP lane.

    If the ferry queuing lanes are not protected by contract, perhaps those could be sacrificed. The existing Alaskan Way does not have ferry queuing lanes, and has survived for decades. If the holding area in front of the ferry were to routinely overflow, WSDOT could introduce a reservation system, similar to what is already done on the Port Townsend ferry to manage demand.

    1. Or, would it be the end of the world to add a second level to the car storage area at Coleman Dock? Most vehicles will fit in a space that is only 8 feet tall. Larger vehicles would need separate storage.

      That extra buffer means that vehicles waiting for the ferry could be loaded in a more timely fashion and in a way that doesn’t interfere with all other traffic. The long left turns when ferry traffic is in process is really painful to try to get through using any mode of transport.

      1. I suspect that this is the optimal approach, but who would pay the $80,000 a space?

      2. Increase the ferry vehicle fees?

        $80,000 / approx. 1,000 vehicles per day / 365.25 day per year / 30 years approx. lifetime = $0.073 per vehicle.

      3. I think that’s off by about two orders of magnitude. A given space gets used once per crossing, maximum, probably less. You are going to struggle to hit the 1000 per day number.

      4. Downtown real estate is a bit at a premium, especially with so many surface uses of the land (staging areas for trucks entering the port, staging for the ferry, traffic on Alaskan Way, parking lots). Some of that needs to be treated as if it has actual value.

        If they are only used four times a day due to peak period loading, then perhaps they should be subject to peak period charges to pay for them.

        Stadium Place charges $3.00 an hour. Seems like that’s a reasonable price to put on parking, weather it be on the ferry dock or in a parking garage.

      5. Pier 48 seems like a ripe picking because overflow is only needed on so many days. One plan for Colman Dock had some queueing before the tollbooth that would have reduced the width of Alaskan Way for queuing but I think that ended up being scrapped.

    2. The idea of ferry reservation systems on a commuter ferry doesn’t make sense. The problem is that everyone is going to reserve boats that travel during the peak hours. So every boat is full during the peak hours, but that happens anyway. Reservation systems are great for the outer island/peninsula docks since those have issues during holiday weekends, where people have options on when to travel.

      1. It has significantly reduced the amount of space consumed for car storage though. Those with a reservation aren’t using the space for car storage as they can arrive close to departure time.

      2. You would have extreme opposition from those who live here on my area because of commuters being able to squat sailings and not show up without a financial penalty being applied. Also the question will likely come up of if it might be better to grow again? Edmonds-Kingston regularly sees waits on both ends which suggests a 3rd boat which Kingston could handle with another lane of roadway to the Hood Canal and a new terminal that Edmonds has needed for awhile.

      3. Those same people take the same boat every day. The capacity per boat remains the same. What you reduce is their reserving their spot in line by parking it on the street for an hour.

  2. With the reconstruction of Alaskan Way and the waterfront, I wonder if a grade separated option for the ferry queuing lanes was considered? Either go up with an elevated structure or under with a cut and cover to the west of the 99 tunnel.

  3. For fifteen years, Alaskan Way had room for two general purpose lanes in each direction, an elevated structure as massive as it was ugly, and a fully-reserved transit right of way from one end of the scenic part to the other. Which largely still exists, untouched by everything except mold and rust.

    Making any claim that a Viaduct-free waterfront won’t have room for a transit-way by experience and the tape measure, garbage.

    So when the Viaduct is gone, by dynamite or tectonics, there should be plenty of room to restore the section from Pike Place Market south, and incorporate it gracefully and efficiently into the rest of the transit network the Waterfront needs.

    With no prejudice whatever to biking, walking, viewing, and also sitting at outdoor cafe tables.

    I’ve only handled a 30′ sailboat once- off Gothenburg, same trip as these pics. And read a lot about the last wind-powered freighters- understand some tankers fly sails now to save fuel. But enough not to hear about already-departed ships.

    Change of course routine. Though caution necessary when the “boom” under a very-large sail swings across the deck. Completely on-topic here because in a decade or two, Colman Dock or it successor will handle WSDOT passenger hydrofoils.

    Which the Transportation Coalition should consider as it also adds some recent transit past to this posting’s proposal for the future.

    Mark Dublin

    1. Before Seawall and Tunnel construction, Alaskan Way also had 2 ferry holding lanes for Colman Dock from Yesler to King Street on the east side of the surface street, beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The new plan moves those lanes out into the street. But those were always there. Also, north of Yesler there was always travel lanes beneath the AWV with angle parking. People needed to cross over that section before needing to cross the bike path, then street car tracks, then cross the 4 lanes of surface traffic to reach a 20 foot sidewalk in front of the piers. Nostalgia is fine, but lets not forget what was actually there.

  4. Just give it up already. Your initial comments were poorly thought out (if you’d looked at the funding agreements and MOAs you’d have seen you were in effect suggesting removal of the transit lanes), and now you’re suggesting other unworkable and pointless alternatives that will never pass muster with the project stakeholders or the public. This sort of nonsense is a big part of why infrastructure projects in the US cost so much and take so long.

    1. I’m a lot more than suggesting,Ron, I’m saying that whatever is or isn’t done with any car traffic lanes on Alaskan Way, the very transit-way that the new Waterfront needs has been left carrying nothing and nobody for eleven years.

      Also that, while we’re talking about waste of taxpayers’ money, some accounting for value lost by leaving a fully-equipped transit track, overhead, and stations lied derelict. Not to mention the wasted value of some excellent vehicles bought for about five thousand dollars each.

      I understand the Federal Government seriously considered demanding we repay a lot of money we left unused by idling those cars years before demolition started. I’m also saying that if I had time to waste for spite, I’d write and publish a letter to my elected Federal reps to take that money back as a badly needed lesson on waste by inaction.

      And also stating that the line should be at least re-activated as is- though it probably needs to be double-tracked. I’m also noting that at every public meeting regarding the Waterfront for the last several years- while I watched the streetcars that existed in early renderings get quietly erased to none.

      Accompanied by constant repetition that while there had been room for the streetcar line along with traffic lanes and the Viaduct, there’d be no room for it with the Viaduct gone. And would be incompatible with walking, biking, and relaxing. Which some close-up on-site observation here and overseas shows me is just plain wrong.

      Pass muster (jeez, thought the draft went away in 1973!) with the public and stakeholders? Are we talking about Dracula’s nemesis Dr. Van Helsing here? Might be worth some sacred wafer and garlic to get rid of a certain Republican candidate with a horribly accurate take on what-all the public will accept!

      Favor you can do me. Give me the rights to use your assessment of my ability to single-handedly stall and bloat public projects on both advertisements for my new consulting and lobbying firm, and also campaign literature. Nothing prompts action like a credible threat.

      The old CTA Howard Street Line talking here, but your opening demand has an accepted polite reply. “Oh yeah? Make me!” But main thing is that the red streetcar on your logo is exactly what I want for the new Waterfront line. Thanks for the visual!


      1. The sort of fraudulent claim made by government officials that they can’t possibly restore the Waterfront streetcar line… that’s the sort of thing which *reduces trust in government*. When you see the government blatantly lying to you in order to remove something popular, it really does tend to make people cynical and distrustful of government.

  5. My office has a view of Alaskan Way. Often enough that I notice it (but not every day), there is a giant line of trucks snaking southward toward the Port, starting around Pioneer Square. While study is needed, I’m extremely skeptical that a “shared freight/transit lane during peak periods only” would be anything more than truck parking or would result in functional transit priority.

    Transit priority is crucial for this corridor. It will be the primary route for transit riders to West Seattle, White Center, Burien, parts of Tukwila, and Des Moines for 20 years. I would rather have the corridor be wider than optimal than give up bulletproof transit priority in it. If two GP lanes is non-negotiable, then keep two GP lanes plus transit lanes. (But do narrow them to 10/11 feet!)

      1. Why have any GP lanes?

        This corridor serves several purposes:
        — local business access (1 lane each way)
        — truck traffic to the port (1 lane each way)
        — streetcars & buses (1 lane each way)
        — bicycles (1 pair of bike lanes)
        — pedestrians (big sidewalks on both sides)
        — ferry queuing (???)
        Is there any reason for “general purpose lanes”?

    1. Ignorant question from a north ender-

      I absolutely believe transit lanes will be needed on Alaskan Way; however, shouldn’t many of the buses from the SW be connecting to SODO Station so people travelling to the northern end of downtown, Cap Hill, UW, etc. be able to make the quickest transfer possible to a grade separated option through downtown? I was really curious how the viaduct closure reroutes worked out in this regard.

      1. The Rt 50 travels from Alki and Alaska Jct in West Seattle on 30 minute headways with a stop for SODO on Lander St.; The Rt 21 from Westwood Village, runs along most of the 35th Ave corridor, and stops on 4th at Lander, just around the corner with 20 minute headways on 6-15 minute headways during the morning peak period a a little less frequently through the longer evening peak period. Fill the buses and Metro will improve the headways.
        Both faced significant cutbacks before the Seattle Transit Prop 1 was passed by voters.

  6. Divert all auto ferry traffic to Fauntleroy and make Coleman Dock passenger only. Why would anyone want to drive onto the ferry during peak hours anyway? Sounds like a nightmare to me.

    1. Bad idea. Boats are extremely expensive vehicles to operate, and there are enormous efficiency gains to be had my moving the foot traffic across Puget Sound using the same boats that also move the auto traffic. In fact, if the car ferry were moved to SODO or Faunteroy, passenger service between downtown Seattle and Bainbridge Island would probably not even exist outside of rush hour, since the respective transit agencies can ill afford to pay for it.

      The end result would be a huge increase in people driving around vs. riding the ferry as walk-ons.

    2. +1

      Fauntleroy doesn’t even have the auto infrastructure to handle it and you take away Kitsap’s link to downtown in one swoop just to piss off someone else.

      1. Dave, you’re right about transit priority. If we wanted our runs to be stuck all the time, there’s plenty of general purpose car traffic happy to help.

        But seriously, I’d like to sit down with truckers and see what we can work out for the ground transportation system we need. Any ideas?

        I think I’ve heard some long-term talk about leaving Colman Dock for passenger ferries, since it’s already Downtown, and building a car-ferry terminal down toward Spokane street.

        Nothing against state highways, including on boats, but if we want to keep running them through our CBD, we can find the plans for the Viaduct and build it back to new earthquake standards. Unlike the pillars under I-5.

        Using passengers for steerage went down with the Titanic. (Term really did mean weight necessary to steady a ship to keep it under control). So let’s use cars for the job instead.
        Personally, if I wanted to limit my travel speed to cars moving at WSDOT ferry speed, I’d drive any freeway at rush hour.


  7. I am a little surprised that none of these organizations are using walkability-based arguments above. We should stress more the solutions that are important for pedestrians, and discuss less the motorized traffic specific technical issues like speed limits and lane widths. For instance:

    * What does it mean for waterfront integration to have 2/4/6 lane road slicing through the area? I feel that anything more than 2 lanes (a street that cannot be crossed at any place any time) is quite a big barrier. Maybe it is just me, but it may well be the central issue in the whole development plan. Does any planner have an idea how big a barrier this type of road is? I would even like to be a fundamentalist here and say that one should not move ahead with the plan before this question has an evidence-based answer.

    * What about traffic lights? Do they create more or less of a barrier when crossing the street? What about light cycles? Are there easy ways to create green wave for pedestrians, like beg buttons that give you green light instantly?

    * How does traffic speed, width of the sidewalks and eventual parking spots next to it play with all this?

    Wrote about similar issues in another context:

    1. Before Seawall and Tunnel construction, there were 14 lanes in operation along Alaskan Way (6 elevated on the Alaskan Way Viaduct – 3 NB and 3 SB), 4 on the surface street, and 2 beneath the AWV (either ferry storage from Yesler to King, or angle angle parking, local access from Yesler to Union). Fourteen lanes of capacity previously. The deep bore tunnel provides 4 lanes – for through trips. so through trips are now accounted for, but what to do with all the previous uses/functions?

      KC Metro identified AK Way as the route for their RapidRide line, so that’s two lanes from Yesler to Columbia.

      Colman Dock is not moving, and they need storage on street. Prior to construction they always had 2 lanes of storage along Alaskan Way, and its an agreement with the City that function would remain in the new design.

      So what is left is to answer how many GP lanes are needed. The proposal is showing 2 lanes in each direction – which given that AK Way is a freight corridor, and now a main route in/out of downtown (since the tunnel doesn’t serve downtown, but instead bypasses it) doesn’t seem out of whack to me. Reducing it to one lane in direction would cut capacity in half. Would that work, or be acceptable? Those are fair questions, but the idea of wanting a 2-lane road isn’t realistic.

      1. Agree, 2-lane road may not be realistic. But my point was that we should look at the design (also) from the pedestrian point of view. What does 2 vs 4 vs 6 lanes of road mean for pedestrian movement? What about traffic speeds? What about all the other street design elements?

        I am simply surprised that organizations like “feet first” discuss the lane width and traffic congestion, but not how it feels to be a pedestrian here.

      2. One problem with wide roads is that the crosswalks stay on for a longer period the wider the road (witness highway 99 in Shoreline) so traffic planners aren’t as willing to give them very often (witness how long it takes in Shoreline to be given a signal to cross).

  8. So… “signed agreements”, ‘eh? There’s a “signed agreement” involving the Port guaranteeing general-purpose lane capacity here. There’s a “signed agreement” between Seattle and WSDOT guaranteeing general-purpose lane capacity on Westlake until 99 construction is complete downtown.

    And there’s all this stuff transit advocates care about, where we trust the city and the state, and are constantly disappointed when it’s watered down. Maybe we should pursue various “signed agreements” around the Move Seattle BRT lines…

    1. In order to get an agreement, the other party needs to care about the issue enough to sign it. If you ask WSDOT to sign an agreement on minimum transit capacity, they’ll say it’s not their priority. The port cares only about freight mobility, and it supports minimum GP lanes because it knows it can’t get dedicated freight lanes so it’s hoping that four GP lanes will leave enough room for freight. The city is starting to care about transit more, but not enough to commit to minimum levels of transit before the Move Seattle corridors are designed. Transit capacity is a negotiable item in the zero-sum street width, not an a priori condition before negotiating. So you can sign a minimum-transit agreement with TCC and STB, but you can’t get the city or state or port to sign it. Not unless you really convince the city council that they should do this.

      1. Thanks, Mike, for making that letter to my Federal reps even more tempting. Looks like SDOT’s approach really owes to some Chicago Bears fans who really talk like Al Bundy in “Married With Children.”

        “Oh yeah? Transit? You an’ what army? Give it your best shot! Make me!” More musical to my ears than the memory of traction-motor ozone at the Howard where you could either transfer to the Skokie ‘el or walk a little way and get the (air conditioned) Northwestern streamliners.

        But would be even better to watch Maria Cantwell look the guilty parties in the eye and say: “Yeah!!!!!! I don’t need soldier one! Put ’em up!!!”


      2. Mark, it’s absolutely worth writing that letter. Seattle should be forced to return the federal funding.

  9. Front Avenue in Salem has six lanes. It’s annoying to cross but people do it all the time to get back and forth to the park. The median (with pedestrian refuge shelters for people to wait the 20 or so minutes between light changes) help a bit.

  10. The fewer total lanes the better. I’d prefer if GP lanes were removed, but if dedicated transit lanes need to be removed in exchange for some other transit solution, then so be it.

    That said, from Yesler north a lot can be done to add general thru-put by making improvements to Western Ave. The main problem there is the all-way stop at Virginia St. Make that a 1 or 2 lane underpass and you’d get a lot of bang for your buck. Not only would it improve thru-put on Western all the way from Yesler to Battery St, but it would also tie the Market in nicely to V. Steinbrueck Park — which would be an improvement for pedestrians.

      1. Because it is more important to have a good waterfront than it is to have transit note the waterfront.

        And we had dedicated transit lanes on the waterfront once before. Mot was called the Benson Streetcar. We took that out to build a sculpture garden and the world didn’t end.

        Then we replaced that with a green bus painted to look like streetcar and all the bus people declared it a rousing success. Supposedly that little green bus handled the tourist demand on the waterfront quite well, and that is most of the demand on the waterfront.

        As far as intermodal traffic coming off the ferries, that is going up the hill to DT anyhow and isn’t well served by transit lanes on the waterfront.

        So I think we could probably get along just fine without transit lanes on the waterfront. Build a really nice park and keep the little green bus and everything will be just fine.

      2. I don’t think anyone declared either the streetcar or the 99 a “rousing success.” Both are fairly bad routing, and rail bias made the streetcar marginally more successful than the 99.

        But that’s not the main point. There might not be that much transit demand actually along the waterfront, sure. But what about transit demand from all of West Seattle? Unless you’re planning to revisit the original post-viaduct routing plan – which is years old at this point – and route buses somewhere else with ironclad transit lanes, you need to put those ironclad transit lanes on the south end of the waterfront.

      3. @William C,

        Yes, I think the point is precisely to revisit the post viaduct routing plan. Nothing is cast in stone until the concrete is poured, and that is still several years off.

        We have time to tweak the plan and come up with something better. And most WS transit traffic will eventually move to rail anyhow. I’d hate to squander a once in a lifetime chance to do the waterfront right for something we already know is going to be temporary.

      4. If Metro and SDOT are ready to revisit that plan and guarantee similar transit lanes through Pioneer Square – whose opposition pushed the buses to Alaskan Way last time – I’d be game for that. Or, at least, maybe we could put a totally separate transitway on Alaskan which could be repurposed after Link comes in. But I’d want guarantees elsewhere before giving up priority here.

      5. “Temporary” is 20 years — a good chunk of most of our lifetimes — and 1st Avenue is a poor substitute. Even with bus lanes it will be substantially slower, and the bus lanes won’t work as well given all of the destinations, loading, and unloading that takes place in Pioneer Square and the stadium area.

        Once there are few buses using 99, in 2038, then rebuild again.

      6. Neither the streetcar not the 99 connected with anything on the north end. If you timed it just right, you could sometimes get from the stuff on Elliott to the 99 and save some time going through downtown, but there are obstacles including the Sculpture Garden bridge being closed in the evenings and the BNSF moving slow freight trains through there. The 99 was so horribly irregular that trying to do much with it required a lot of planning and considerable luck.

      7. “Because it is more important to have a good waterfront than it is to have transit note the waterfront. And we had dedicated transit lanes on the waterfront once before. Mot was called the Benson Streetcar.”

        There are two different transit needs. The waterfront streetcar was for circulation along Alaskan Way and to International District Station. The waterfront transit EIS recommends replacing this with an electric bus or minibus, and also outlines two streetcar options (vintage or modern). It also suggests extending the bus on the north end to Seattle Center, which a streetcar can’t do because of the hill. It could use the transit lanes south of Columbia but they’re not made for it.

        The other transit need is to get West Seattle buses to downtown, that are currently using the viaduct. That’s what the transit lanes are for, and they end at Columbia because the buses will turn there. The boulevard will already be slower than the viaduct because of stoplights and a new Pioneer Square stop. Deleting the transit lanes would make the buses even slower, like the 62 across the Fremont Bridge. That’s unacceptable for buses that were quasi-express (i.e., they used the viaduct). It would also be a cluster of traffic every game day. Link to West Seattle could obviate the buses someday, but ST3 isn’t final and hasn’t been approved yet, and it’s some fifteen years away for the stub to SODO. The buses might remain even after that until the final connection to the DSTT in the late 2030s.

    1. What is your “other transit solution?” Anything that subjects transit to general stadium traffic is not a valid answer.

  11. It appears that the new surface Alaskan Way was designed by the same people who gave us the new Mercer Street in South Lake Union ~ both are truly massive suburban-scale roadways. Absolutely uninviting for pedestrians to cross. So wide, they have to put a pedestrian signal pushbutton in the middle of the roadway, since so many will be unable to cross on a single WALK light.

    1. The SDEIS says the street can be crossed in one phase. You’d rather have the 8 lanes all side by side? Talk about uninviting…

      1. in one phase for a very fit person, perhaps – ask the SDEIS who their target pedestrian was. Older folks and disabled folks will most likely not make it across in a single phase.

        Regardless, the point remains that the Mercer crossing experience today will probably be quite similar to what crossing the future Alaskan Way will be like south of Colman Dock. Unpleasant and suboptimal, because we are trying to force a single street do too many things at once.

      2. @John S – Signal timing is not based on the fitness of a person – those travel rates are based on an aging population’s speed to cross. This is a standard practice. But as you say, that isn’t the point. No doubt the street is big south of Colman Dock because as you state its trying to do “too many things at once”. Mercer is a good comparison for this section, but Mercer is all about cars/trucks. AK Way is more specialized – ferry holding lanes, transit-only lanes (none of which are on Mercer). My point to RDPence was knowing all that this street is being asked to do, is having a median a good thing or not? I’d vote for a median on a street that big.

      3. There are three different parts of the waterfront. The southern part south of Columbia is a land of big roads and lots of vehicles: local cars, ferry patrons, and buses from West Seattle.

        From Columbia to Pike is the picturesque, heavily-toursted part of the waterfront, where the park features are most critical. Both the ferry lane and the transit lanes are gone by then. People will walk a couple blocks further south to Madison for the ferry and intervening businesses, but I don’t think it’s a big deal if it looks a bit more industrial there and the street is wider. I’m also not concerned much about the wide street around Yesler.

        North of Pike the boulevard turns east away from the waterfront, and Alaskan Way will be a quiet two-lane street. That’s another large area that’s beyond the scope of the current phase, but park-like features there can compensate for industrial-like features south of Columbia.

  12. Isn’t it good writing practice to define all acronyms in an article? Just in this 1 article, I had to look up DEIS, SDEIS, LOS, FEIS, and NACTO.

  13. Not sure the people of greater Seattle would prioritize buses and mass transit as part of rebuilding the waterfront. Seems like every north/south street in downtown is full of buses or a street car. Let’s leave the waterfront transit free. The waterfront can be so much more than bus stops for buses. Who goes to the waterfront to catch a bus?

    1. Don’t worry, you’ll get your transit-free waterfront north of Columbia St. And hardly anyone will be going to the waterfront to catch a bus; they’ll be traveling through several blocks of the waterfront on the way elsewhere… just like all your beloved car drivers.

      Meanwhile, you can enjoy a transit-free Sixth Avenue and Western Avenue.

    2. The issue isn’t people going to Alaskan to catch a bus. The people are already there.

      If you are trying to get from the ferry terminal to Lower Queen Anne or even SLU, Alaskan Way moves much faster than the congestion downtown.

      1. We’re not talking about the ferry terminal to QA or SLU. We’re talking about West Seattle to points elsewhere. The entire discussion here revolves around the stretch past the port and Pier 48 up to Columbia, where the buses will turn inland. See

        It’s always struck me as strange that we plan to develop a waterfront park between two huge vehicle-intensive asphalt lots, with the ferry between it and the rest of the waterfront attractions.

        In an ideal world with unlimited money we’d rebuild the ferry terminal at pier 48, put the park on the old terminal site, and all the pedestrian crossings would occur at Yesler and points north.

        In the real world I think we ought to replace the viaduct with a raised pedestrian park integrated with the new Pier 48. Vehicles travel underneath, visually and audibly separated from the park.

  14. Lazarus, I’m pretty sure you’d rather have a good leg than a femoral artery, but gangrene actually reduces leg quality and is also a hell of a repulsive way to die.

    Also, as cruelly critical as I’ve been about the design firm hired for the new Waterfront, I’d never be mean enough to say that we’ve wasted all that money on something that’ll attract so few people they won’t need line haul transit. Of any color, just so the windows aren’t wrapped.

    Suggestion for the 99 bus, besides kill it: Pave the existing streetcar trackway and run buses on it. Though on the for-real side, streetcars or not, the paved trackway can be trolleywired ’til it’s time to cross the BN tracks, and new buses can drop poles and climb to First Avenue on batteries.

    Meantime, archives room on tenth floor of the Downtown library has early very serious engineering studies from the Benson line’s concept days as to ways to get the streetcars beyond both Myrtle Edwards Park and Jackson Street.

    Parsons Brinckerhof’s and Kaiser Engineering’s work isn’t anywhere near as badly-thought-out as mine, which is why taxpayers have had to pay them more than they ever paid me. So there is a way to cut future costs….


  15. “Reduce Alaskan Way speed limits to 25 mph.”

    That would slow down the transit lanes too.

  16. I oppose the position of Main Corridor Alternative 2 that would compromise the Main Corridor Alternative 1 roadway design with narrower lanes and removal of bus lanes south from Columbia Street. As an older senior who does have difficulty crossing wide streets, I would appreciate median “safety” islands that could be pedestrian-friendly if designed with substantial bollards for protection from wayward vehicles.

    I ask that the Waterfront accommodate all design approaches to support transit schedule reliability.

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