Danny Westneat, in a very good Seattle Times column last week, tears into the hypocrisy of parking being built at downtown and SLU corporate campuses, particularly Expedia:
This two-step between quietly nodding to our car-focused reality while espousing the greenest dreams perfectly captures what passes for transportation planning in the Emerald City.
We wish you wouldn’t drive, the government announces. But we know you’re gonna, the private market whispers in echo.
In fact the market is so certain you’ll drive that it’s building more space for your cars at this new high-tech campus than will fit in the garage at the Mariners’ stadium.
1000% agree. Developers are building a ton of new garages but no new road capacity. It’s worse than pointless. Seattle does have regulations that attempt to curb the amount of parking constructed in high-transit neighborhoods, but they’re not aggressive enough.
Later in the column, though, Westneat laments the lack of transit options to Expedia:
My view is that Seattle desperately needs more mass transit faster, to give better alternatives to all this driving. I’m a longtime fan of forcing this change sooner by turning some car lanes over to true mass transit, such as buses or light rail (not piddly stuff like the streetcar).
Yes, it’s true the train to Expedia is 16 years away. But it’s important to note that Expedia does have a very frequent bus: the D line. There’s also the 19/24/33 on Elliott. Unfortunately, both corridors have only intermittent transit priority. The D Line needs exclusive lanes through Uptown, and/or an Express variant, and the others need full-time bi-directional bus lanes all the way from Interbay to Denny Way.
The column prompted me to reach out to SDOT, where I learned that D Line and Elliott Avenue improvements are being studied this year as part of the ST3-funded “quick wins” (remember those? Still coming!) for Ballard and West Seattle. When Expedia first announced their move in 2015, SDOT also told us that they would consider off-peak bus priority on Elliott. As far as I can tell from Google Street View, nothing has changed since 2015: it’s still peak-only BAT lanes that end well short of Denny. If we want to make a dent in driving, we have to do more, and it’s disappointing that so little progress has been made in the four years since the Expedia announcement.
(In fairness, I’ll take a mulligan on this one as well: when I listed places to add bus lanes last fall, Elliott didn’t make the cut. I mistakenly assumed it was already a done deal.)
If SDOT does come back next year with a proposal for improving bus service on Elliott and in Uptown, there will no doubt be opposition from local businesses in those corridors. When that happens, it will be helpful to have Seattle Times opinion columnists, and not just us lowly bloggers, pushing back.