This week Seattle kicked off planning for the North Downtown Mobility Action Plan to identify and prioritize transportation improvements in the Uptown, Belltown, and South Lake Union neighborhoods.
Potential changes are coming to the area, including the redevelopment of Seattle Center Arena and a new downtown public school on the Memorial Stadium site. SDOT is partnering with SLU Community Council, Uptown Alliance and Project Belltown to improve movement throughout the North Downtown area.
SDOT’s goal is to have a list of projects identified before the draft environmental impact statement for the renovation of the Seattle Center Arena, expected in the spring of 2018. SDOT acknowledges that “sustainable transportation options are fundamental to the long-term success of the arena project.” Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who represents the district where the Seattle Center is located, was present at the October 23 workshop.
In a deal negotiated by former Mayor Ed Murray, and still needing council approval, the Oak View Group will spend $600m to overhaul Key Arena to NBA and NHL standards, nearly doubling its size. Included in the agreement is an additional $40m for a transportation fund, which will pay for some projects in the North Downtown Mobility Action Plan.
The plan is part of the broader One Center City strategy of near-term and long-term comprehensive transit and traffic projects to connect ten of central Seattle’s neighborhoods.
As residents filled the Seattle Center Armory Loft, speeding up light rail to the area was once again a top suggestion. Many also pointed out the lack of east/west transit options, with one commentator suggesting “be realistic on movements in and out of the area, there are not good transit solutions east-west.” A common theme was adding more bus service and installing a transit hub, closer to the Seattle Center, to conveniently switch between modes.
Another popular suggestion was integrating the monorail into the ORCA system, which moved forward last summer. A 2017 study conducted by the city found this change could increase ridership between seven to 16 percent over the first three years of implementation.
Attendees also wanted to see additional protected bike lanes, the continuation of existing paths, and more bike parking. Pedestrian safety was a big issue for many residents who live in one of the surrounding neighborhoods; many wanted additional crosswalks with flashing lights and more enforcement on streets to prohibit cars from turning right on red.
The planning continues with an all-day charrette workshop scheduled on November 18th, which a SDOT representatives described as the critical time in the process for the North Downtown Mobility Action Plan, with an all-day charrette workshop scheduled for the 18th. Members of the public are encouraged to drop by during the day for tours of the neighborhood and also provide input on mobility projects. A draft of potential projects is expected in early spring of 2018 with a final list completed by August.