Remember when one of the biggest promises of the Alaskan Way Viaduct removal project was that it would reconnect downtown to the waterfront? Well, that’s not going to happen unless we speak up to make sure the walking and biking environment is not crushed by a massive, 100-foot-wide speedway.
Plans for the new surface boulevard to replace the viaduct and the current four-lane Alaskan Way could call for as many as 7 or 8 lanes of car and freight traffic (in addition to the four buried underground), requiring people to cross 100 feet of roadway to get between downtown and the new waterfront park. That’s twice as wide as the viaduct. Doesn’t sound very inviting to me.
On top of that, some of the lanes could be as wide as 12 feet. We know for a fact that wide lanes and excess road capacity encourage speeding. Plus, less road means more park!
You have a chance to speak up for a safe, inviting waterfront tonight. From Cascade Bicycle Club:
Tell the design team to get it right from the start. There’s a workshop that’ll start with a brief presentation and finish with an open discussion and a chance to speak up. It’s 5:30 to 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Feb. 8 at Town Hall (downstairs, 1119 8th Avenue). RSVP for the workshop here.
Given that we are building a $2 billion tunnel for cars, the waterfront needs to be a human-scaled place. That means fewer and skinnier travel lanes with lots of pedestrian infrastructure making clear that people on foot are the priority. Even if (and that’s a big “if”) this means adding a couple minutes to vehicle travel times, that’s a tiny price for a welcoming and safe waterfront.
Cascade’s conditions for a waterfront boulevard are simple:
Safe means that the crossing distances should be shorter for bicycles and pedestrians, traffic speeds should be below 30 mph and intersections should be carefully designed and signalized.
Connected means that the bicycle facilities should be wide to accommodate the large numbers of anticipated riders, the facilities should work for all types of riders and there should be strong east-west connections for all modes.
As for bikes, it’s looking like we will create some kind of two-way cycle track on the west side of the new Alaskan Way, physically separated from the roadway (and hopefully the sidewalk, too). The facility would connect the new Alaskan Way Trail to the Elliott Bay Trail and, if done correctly, would be a family-friendly bike facility through downtown. Now, we just need to make sure there are some connections into downtown to make the trail really useful.