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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Viaduct Options Narrowed to Two—But Don't Believe It

Posted by on Thu, Dec 11, 2008 at 7:44 PM

The state, city, and county have narrowed the options for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct to two: a six-lane surface/transit plan, and a new elevated viaduct.

I'll have more to say about these options tomorrow, but it's worth noting now that House speaker Frank Chopp's proposal—a six-lane elevated highway enclosed by walls and flanked by (unfunded, hypothetical) shops, windows, and facades—isn't off the table. The options announced tonight are only advisory, and the state legislature (of which Chopp is perhaps the most powerful member) can still revisit them, adding or eliminating options. Given Chopp's determination to have his proposal taken seriously despite business, governmental, and environmental-community opposition, I think it's safe to say it's far from dead.


Comments (25) RSS

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crap, I was hoping a tunnel would be paired up against a surface-transit (six lanes? ogs...) The cost of the tunnel would probably get the kibosh, leaving the surface to pick up the pieces. But given the cowardly nature of the city the status quo might prevail.
Posted by vooodooo84 on December 11, 2008 at 8:07 PM · Report this
How dare these peasants defy King Frank? I'm sure he stormed off his throne at the Wallingford Tully's on 45th and angrily debased some fellow Democrats in order to loosen the icy grip of self-doubt that must have seized him.
Posted by Bob on December 11, 2008 at 8:47 PM · Report this

This says more about life than all of Time itself:…

Posted by Extreme Priscilla on December 11, 2008 at 8:51 PM · Report this
Spoiler: none of these options will actually happen; and cars will be driving on the same exact Alaska Way Viaduct forty years from now.

Light rail will never get finished, either. Sorry.
Posted by sobering vision of tomorrow on December 11, 2008 at 9:04 PM · Report this
How has this dipshittard been in office for 14 years in the most liberal district in the state?!?!?!?
Posted by pragmatic on December 11, 2008 at 9:06 PM · Report this
This is tooooooooo good.
Viaduct. Enclosed by walls. Tunnel.
When it's narrowed to one, I'm there.
Have to go multi-media with this post.
Posted by Must Eat Pussy on December 11, 2008 at 9:10 PM · Report this

Hey...can you guys pull your heads out of the sand for one second.

The NYT reports that commercial real estate is just about to take the same hit and worse that housing did. Wamu has already left the building.…

No one is going to want to add space or rent in downtown Seattle and in a few years it will be all but a ghost town.

What it Crazy Christine's response? Build more infrastructure for a dying town!

Posted by Miles Van Der Rohe on December 11, 2008 at 9:16 PM · Report this
is there a graphic of the one-way western avenue? at the market?
Posted by McG on December 11, 2008 at 10:25 PM · Report this
despite business, governmental, and environmental-community opposition

Ugh - what environmental-community opposition? Please please please be more balanced in your pieces. The ONLY business groups against this proposal are downtown/SLU property owners. They obviously don't want any additional competition by development elsewhere so businesses like the Cheesecake Factory and Niketown can keep rents high. Please ask others and not the Kemper Freemans of downtown Seattle.

It's kind of ridiculous when the Seattle Times reporting seems less friendly with big downtown developers:
Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle Industrial Association said his group supports the plan.

"There is more to the Seattle business community than the downtown development community," Wasserman said. "The North Seattle Industrial Association is enthusiastically supporting the Waterfront Parkway proposal."

When we started looking at viaduct replacements you were pushing public open space, pedestrian/transit friendliness, and the public good. Why have you suddenly become only worried about downtown developers?

Regarding open space, from the Times:
As for total open space, the three surface options would provide between 8.7 and 11 acres; the four-lane elevated, 9.2 acres; the integrated elevated proposed by Chopp, 21 acres; the deep-bore tunnel, 11 acres; the cut-and-cover tunnel, 11.6 acres; and the lidded trench, 8.4 acres.
Posted by i thought this was an "alternative" newsweekly on December 11, 2008 at 10:40 PM · Report this
i thought this was an "alternative" newsweekly @9: Ugh - what environmental-community opposition?

Hey, snarky one (who apparently feels compelled to post under a different snarky name on each Chopp-way thread)... The environmental community laughs at Frank Chopp's Rube Goldberg route--because they can recognize it for what it is, another viaduct in sheep's clothing and an urban planning disaster in the making.

Environmental organizations in this region have uniformly opposed the rebuilding of the viaduct, and they're not going to suddenly change that stance because it's Frank Chopp who's now putting lipstick on that pig.
Posted by cressona on December 11, 2008 at 11:02 PM · Report this

Building infrastructure creates jobs.

They obviously don't want any additional competition by development elsewhere so businesses like the Cheesecake Factory and Niketown can keep rents high.

Get real. Increased supply of commercial space does not necessarily equal lower rents. And who do you think will be controlling the office/retail space in Chopp's plan? Not the government. It will be private developers. They'll have to pay higher taxes for it, but, if Chopp's plan weren't complete shit, developers would be chomping at the bit for waterfront commercial space, whether there are extra taxes or not.

The developers recognize that the tourist activity on the waterfront isn't enough to keep 1.5 miles of retail buzzing. The developers recognize that there will never be enough parking down there to serve Seattle residents.

I lived in San Jose for several years. I witnessed the San Jose government trying to create retail space to "revitalize" their downtown. It failed every. single. time. When you build it, they do not come.
Posted by keshmeshi on December 11, 2008 at 11:09 PM · Report this
Few quick observations.

I'm relieved to see that the powers that be narrowed the options down to two. We'll see if they have the political will to continue the winnowing process and not go in the opposite direction. There are interest groups that are going to be trying to add their own little pet options into the mix right up until the ribbon is cut on the new route. (How else to explain the incredibly lame monkey wrench that is the "hybrid surface/tunnel" whatever that got thrown in at the last moment?)

I'm relieved to see a six-lane surface/transit option is still standing. I don't know the particulars of this particular proposal, but actually, I feel like six lanes is a worthier compromise than four lanes.

Oh, and if Frank Chopp is determined to keep his contribution to urban design alive, the only thing that's going to result is deadlock. There'll be just too much opposition to it from the city and county. Frank can't make his dream happen; the only thing he might be able to do is prevent anything else from happening. But maybe I don't have the best read on this political dynamic...
Posted by cressona on December 11, 2008 at 11:12 PM · Report this
Oh come on, its not going to matter what Gregoire and Nickels to build. We are going to have to vote on it next year after some jackass wants a citizens initiative.
Posted by blaire with an e on December 12, 2008 at 12:10 AM · Report this
Let me get this straight - the most valuable wonderful place in Seattle won't draw enough people to support businesses. Why wouldn't people want to shop on the friendly, warm, windless waterfront?

The zoning down there is DMC-160; how long before those landmark buildings have gribbels and need to come down?
Posted by McG on December 12, 2008 at 7:11 AM · Report this
People forget several key aspects of development:
1) Shadowing, as in, the Alaskan Rape Viaduct will cause just as many shadows (if not more) than the existing structure. The twin elevateds will cause even more. That's a public safety and ambiance issue
2) Exhaust-- the Alaskan Rape Viaduct will have a park on top that more than certainly will not survive too well. And unless you are intending on visiting only once, exposure to particulate matter will increase thanks to induced demand.
3) Functional open space, which is almost non-existent with the Alaskan Rape Viaduct or the twin elevateds. Don't be fooled into thinking the open space provided by twin elevateds can be used -- they are wide and throw too much shadow down
4) Legacy, which is important regardless of who you are.

Someone needs to flail Chopp with the reports that show exhaust exposure in South Seattle has increased cancer.
Posted by Chopp down the ARV on December 12, 2008 at 8:25 AM · Report this
Without commenting on Chopp's, do you really think the buildings that will be built there will produce less shadow? Do you think that 6 lanes crawling through the area will produce less pollution than 4 lanes of elevated plus the surface access roads?

Low speed stop and go traffic produces the most pollution. If a contained roadway is built at least there is a chance to scrub the air before putting back for general use. No such option for surface.

Posted by McG on December 12, 2008 at 8:36 AM · Report this
Jesus fucking christ. Build the surface-transit option already. Voters handily rejected a tunnel and an elevated rebuild last year. Stop fucking talking about it and just do it.

Posted by Mahtli69 on December 12, 2008 at 9:08 AM · Report this
Both the Choppaduct and a new viaduct are still on the table.
Of course, 5 public votes later we will decide to do nothing anyway...
Posted by K X One on December 12, 2008 at 9:16 AM · Report this
i just noticed the new elevated plan includes an intersection near the stadiums. this is the worst idea ever. it will create all the traffic problems of the surface option. having to choose between these two, i'm for the surface options unless/until that changes.
Posted by infrequent on December 12, 2008 at 9:42 AM · Report this
If Chopp does not get his way perhaps he'll just move back to Bremerton. He constantly refers to himself as a Bremerton moderate, and his BIAW buddies refer to him that way too. His viaduct proposal is really just a final f--- you to a city he despises and has done nothing for.
Posted by Bob on December 12, 2008 at 10:47 AM · Report this
@14 Noone wants to go visit down there on any type of regular basis. Unless you build a 750 car free parking garage, there simply isn't enough parking down there to make it any type of regular destination.

@11 hit the nail on the head. There simply is not the interest from anyone other than tourists to make that area a regular destination. Sorry.

Keep the 6 lane proposal, increase the amount of greenspace everywhere possible on both sides, build up two (4 hour max free parking) garages for the public on each end, and be done with it.

Enough already.
Posted by Someone needs a bootful of reality on December 12, 2008 at 11:44 AM · Report this
@21: Right, no one ever goes there, the parking's always full.

Lots of us who visit the market don't drive there. Ditto the sculpture park. Why would you have to drive to the waterfront?

People would go there if the spaces were done right. Check out William Whyte.
Posted by William Whyte on December 12, 2008 at 12:08 PM · Report this
what cressona won't tell you is that all the tunnel options would have tripled or doubled the global warming emissions in comparison to the other options.

Which is why they had to die.

Look, I like a good tunnel too, but where it makes sense.

And, quite frankly, this wasn't one of those places.
Posted by Will in Seattle on December 12, 2008 at 12:09 PM · Report this
@22 It's not that I am not taking pedestrians/cyclists into account. Those folks are a given and not a factor in a transportation/car routing decision that the Viaduct rebuild has to take into account. I'm all for folks using bikes, however you Urban Hippy wannabe mainstream folks aren't looking at the reality of the majority of citizens in the city/county. Those folks aren't visiting now due to the hassle of getting down there, and then the ridiculous request to pay for parking.

Sorry. Lots of taxpaying citizens have much better alternatives for their vote/approval/personal time decisions. If you don't make the new area car friendly, don't expect car driving folks to care about which Viaduct alternative is chosen, unless it also takes into account their wishes for the parking amenities.

Just sayin'
Posted by I agree with #21 on December 12, 2008 at 12:17 PM · Report this
Surface-transit is the better option, but I don't particularly like this version of surface-transit. There's way too much open space, and no planning for how to use what's there effectively. Six lanes is too much in any case.

I'd prefer just taking the AWV down, keeping Alaskan with four lanes, and putting in transit and bike lanes where the viaduct is now, broken up with some buildings at street level on the non-water side so that the whole thing isn't a pedestrian wasteland. Consider on-street parking as exists on other downtown streets, which is more pedestrian-friendly than no on-street parking. Accept that traffic will be much worse.
Posted by Cascadian on December 12, 2008 at 2:04 PM · Report this

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