City Viaduct Retrofit Delayed
posted by March 3 at 17:26 PMon
After voters rejected both freeway options for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct in March 2007, the state and city departments of transportation (WSDOT and SDOT) came up with a list of “consensus” projects that could move forward while stakeholders debated what to do with the central waterfront portion of the viaduct. At the time, proponents of the surface/transit option worried about two particular projects—one that would replace the viaduct on the south end from South Holgate to Royal Brougham, and one that would strengthen the existing viaduct from Lenora to the Battery Street Tunnel. Surface/transit backers opposed the former project because it assumed a six-lane freeway on the waterfront, and the latter because it would effectively preclude any non-freeway option.
Well, the first project has reportedly been redesigned beyond recognition, and the second is effectively off the table. The south-end viaduct replacement has, according to People’s Waterfront Coalition co-chair Cary Moon (the earliest advocate for the surface/transit option), been redesigned in a way that could feed into a four-lane urban street, instead of the six-lane freeway the design previously presumed. (The images in WSDOT’s presentation still show six lanes, though.) Even more significantly, state transportation planners have indefinitely postponed the Lenora-to-Battery viaduct retrofit—because, as a WSDOT representative told the council’s viaduct committee this afternoon, “it became obvious that as we were looking at potential solutions for the central waterfront … that a significant portion of this could have to be reworked” if the city and state choose a surface-transit option. “We’re going to wait until we see what the central waterfront solution is before we pull it back off the shelf.”
The PWC’s Moon says WSDOT’s turnaround is “amazing. It’s just great, because that was the one squirrely [project] that forced there to be a highway in the central portion.” Moon notes that at least 15 different organizations wrote letters several months ago asking WSDOT to delay the project, including the PWC, which wrote, “Until the long-term solution is understood and traffic routings and volumes are known, this segment of high-volume, high-speed elevated highway should not be rebuilt.” By delaying the project, Moon says, “they basically said, ‘We heard you.’”