We’re at Madison Middle School for the “scoping” open house that’s offering information and taking comments on the proposal to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct‘s “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section with a “deep-bore tunnel.” Organizers say they’re pleased with the turnout so far – as of 6:30 pm, halfway through, about 120 people had signed in. The photo above, taken from the landing overlooking the area where the meeting’s happening, shows the layout – more or less traditional open house, easels with maps and lists of informational points, not just about the tunnel plan, but also about the funding, the timeline, and related projects such as Seattle Streetcar expansion, Metro RapidRide, and the Spokane Street Viaduct Widening work — project manager Stuart Goldsmith is here on behalf of the SSV and he tells WSB the “notice to proceed” was just issued today by SDOT for the next major part of the project, the new ramp to 4th Ave So. from the eastbound side (aka “express route to Costco”), so you’ll see equipment start arriving for that in the weeks ahead.
We also have a CD with the images that are being displayed around the room here, so we will post selections from that a bit later – in the meantime, if you see this before 7:30, there’s still time to come down and get questions answered from top-level experts (all the folks who delivered the official briefings on the project all along the way are here, including Ron Paananen from WSDOT and Bob Powers from SDOT).
8:24 PM: Almost everybody arrived in the first hour – final attendee total was about 130.
ADDED 10:03 PM: The rest of the story, including links to some of the handouts and infoboards made available tonight:
First, so you’re clear about the purpose of this open house: “Scoping” means figuring out the scope of possible environmental concerns/issues for a project. And “environmental” doesn’t just mean nature, pollution, wildlife – first on the list was “transportation.” While people circulated around the room to talk with the state, city, and county reps who were on hand, a table also was set up for people to either write comments or dictate them to a court reporter.
Close to the end of the event, we listened in on a particularly spirited discussion between WSDOT’s John White and a man concerned about the fact the tunnel is two lanes each way, rather than three.
White suggested that three lanes each way would not make much difference because you couldn’t feed three lanes into it or out of it. He also fielded questions on how drivers would get into the tunnel — three options when you reached its entrance at the end of the Viaduct South End Replacement Project, he explained, including heading west onto the surface Alaskan Way, or east into downtown. One of the easels set up tonight displayed the maps we featured last week (see pages 8-10 of this document) featuring the proposed traffic-flow pattern from West Seattle if the tunnel plan goes ahead as proposed:
Also on display, the latest on Metro’s RapidRide plans for West Seattle, including this look at what the buses themselves are supposed to be like:
The current version of the first West Seattle RapidRide line’s route also was on an easel, but the disc we received has the Ballard route instead of the West Seattle one (we’ll see if we can get that fixed tomorrow). We can tell you, though, that the route displayed for West Seattle is the one that’s been under discussion a while — following the 54 route except for a rectangle between Westwood Village and Roxbury, then from Westwood, through Fauntleroy, up California to The Junction, down Alaska to 35th, then to Avalon and onto The Bridge.
Among those paying close attention to the transit talk tonight was Southwest District Council co-chair Chas Redmond of Gatewood; he notes that Metro’s future plan to send more buses onto Third Avenue downtown means the proposed 1st Avenue streetcar will be vital for connections from the waterfront (including the Elliott Bay Water Taxi) — that’s the route currently envisioned to replace the out-of-service George Benson Line on Alaskan Way (currently served by green-and-yellow buses), and would theoretically run all the way to Queen Anne.
Other handouts from tonight that might interest you:
-This one addresses concerns the Seattle tunnel would be like Boston’s much-maligned “Big Dig”
-This one addresses safety concerns about the tunnel
-This one explains the difference between this tunnel and the one Seattle voters turned down two years ago
If you missed tonight’s meeting, here’s how to contribute your thoughts about the tunnel — which is still making its way through the Legislature:
Mail: Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Progra
999 Third Ave., Suite 2424
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 1 – 888 – AWV – LINE
If you missed it the first time, by the way, here’s the YouTube animation the state released of how the tunnel would work:
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