Columbia Street in the lead as post-Viaduct ‘transit pathway’

August 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

In Metro‘s work to figure out how buses will get through downtown once the Alaskan Way Viaduct and its central-downtown on/offramps are history, a reconfigured Columbia Street seems to be in the lead.

That’s according to a presentation made to citizen advisory “working groups” last week, and our followup conversation with a Metro rep.

Here’s the PowerPoint presented to the South Portal Working Groups which includes other Viaduct-related updates presented at their meeting last Wednesday – the “pathways” update begins at page 38. (The South Portal group includes West Seattle reps and is convened every few months to get updates and give opinions on work related to 99′s changes.)

The last time we heard much about the “transit pathways” planning was back in June, when Metro launched a survey for bus riders. Columbia and Main/Washington were the two alternatives on which planners were focused, after 11 other possible pathways were ruled out. At last week’s meetings, the presentation included survey results showing that Columbia drew more votes.

Though Main/Washington seemed to have more “pros” than Columbia, the community concern about a transit pathway through Pioneer Square, Metro’s Victor Obeso says, was significant. So the next round of studies will focus on the Columbia concept.

A note of major significance if you ride the bus to and/or from downtown via 99 – Metro’s presentation says, your travel time will go up no matter which pathway is chosen:

Right now, inbound from Harbor Island to downtown is 5 to 6 minutes, with outbound between those two points 8 to 9 minutes, but the Columbia pathway is projected to be 13 to 14 minutes inbound and 10 to 11 minutes outbound, while the Main/Washington option would be 14 to 15 inbound, 12 to 13 minutes outbound.

Obeso stressed that the Columbia pathway is not a done deal, but said they’re hoping to lock in on a final decision by the end of this year, though the implementation wouldn’t follow until The Viaduct comes down more than three years later.

32 Comments

  1. Ya gotta love a project which increases the transit and POV trip times nearly 100 percent and charges you money to get to Ballard or Green Lake. Let’s hear it for the Tunnel!! Hip Hip Hooray!!
    (end serious sarcasm – this project has done nothing but hurt and harm West Seattleites in our travels via any mode to any other part of the city)

    Comment by chas redmond — 3:37 pm August 8, 2012 #

  2. This is such upsetting information although it only serves to reinforce what we already knew about this ridiculous tunnel project. This is a tragedy for all of us WS bus commuters. Metro asked, what do you want for your bus route? We said, “quicker and more direct!” What do we get? 150% increase in travel time! We may be geographically close to Downtown Seattle, but the morons in charge of the Viaduct replacement project are ensuring that our commutes something out of a suburban hell.

    Comment by Lizzzle — 3:52 pm August 8, 2012 #

  3. Take the water taxi! It’s less than 10 minutes with or without a viaduct.

    Comment by james — 4:09 pm August 8, 2012 #

  4. Coming sooner than later…beginning late September, the former 54 express and former 54 route will be Rapid Ride to downtown. Will that bus take the Seneca Street exit? Curious as the current busses scrape bottom at 2nd Avenue and the new Rapid Ride buses are even lower to the ground.

    Comment by Junction resident — 4:21 pm August 8, 2012 #

  5. Wow. I just can’t believe how asinine this tunnel project is for actual Seattle residents. It seems that the only ones that are going to somehow benefit from it are those who are just passing through. It seems ridiculous that we will be expected to pay a toll just to get to the North side if we choose to use the tunnel. I doubt many people are going to want to pay the toll and so the I-5 is just going to get much worse than it is now. And so unfair for bus commuters who already have unreliable service to and from Downtown; what kind of city is this becoming when public transportation is such an afterthought?

    Comment by drummr — 4:39 pm August 8, 2012 #

  6. The whole south end of the CBD, the Spokane St corridor, and much of SODO, continue to be a mess for West Seattle residents trying to get somewhere. Throw in the new arena and it gets even worse. I’m pretty fed up with all this progress.

    Comment by Mike — 5:16 pm August 8, 2012 #

  7. For those of us who work in Pioneer Square, the slower inbound time will be offset by the closer drop-off location on Columbia (or Main). So — for some of us, at least — the delay is not as bad as it appears.

    Comment by js — 5:19 pm August 8, 2012 #

  8. Is 150% increase really that big a deal when the original time is 6 minutes? It’s not like they are turning a 15 minute trip into a 45 minute trip.

    Comment by Ronnie A — 5:33 pm August 8, 2012 #

  9. The way I see things, from the get go this tunnel project was by and for the elitists of Seattle.
    Downtown, First Hill, Capitol Hill, Eastlake , and South Lake Union are really the only parts of the city that are worth anything except collection tax revenues as far as our ‘government’ is concerned.
    Outside the elitist boundary, transportation suffers, roads crumble, even crosswalks go unpainted, while the preferred areas get their own streetcars, light rail connections, and continuous upgrades of their streets, and other infrastructure projects.
    The council is ready to throw away Port of Seattle jobs for another arena, so the downtown elitists have a place to exercise their influence and ability to suck just a bit more out of this city. Pandering to sports fans is a tactic borrowed from Roman Emperors.
    They have just thrown up their hands when it comes to us in West Seattle – except for the revenue we provide, we might as well be Federal Way or Renton as far as Downtown is concerned. We are certainly not worth anything else.
    Yes there are those in the bureaucracies; the Library system, City Light, and Parks, who do their very best to provide us with their services, but the framework and budgets they work within are set and controlled by the downtown/elitist interests.
    The council is interested in posing and posturing, witness amount of energy spent on the plastic bag issue, and their complete rollover for the arena – never saying no to someone who might be ‘valuable’ in the future.
    And the mayor – well, I think he’s just overwhelmed by the job.
    rant off-
    Somewhat off the topic of Columbia vs Main for Metro routing, but you guys started down this road!

    Comment by old timer — 5:50 pm August 8, 2012 #

  10. A “road diet” in the tunnel might make things a bit more equitable for all. Yeah,that’s it, screw it up for EVERYONE!

    Comment by Rick — 6:20 pm August 8, 2012 #

  11. Ooh,ooh! And a bike lane too!

    Comment by Rick — 6:20 pm August 8, 2012 #

  12. I could waste my time debunking the massive amount of intentional disinformation in Old Timer’ss comment, but I know from long experience that education can’t help those who are determined to be ignorant. Good job, Old Timer, you win my prize for least informed blog post of the day. Congrats.

    Comment by godofthebasement — 6:23 pm August 8, 2012 #

  13. drummr, the ones who will benefit from the tunnel are real estate developers. The ones who bought downtown property that’s “view” property once the viaduct comes down.

    Comment by KatherineL — 6:38 pm August 8, 2012 #

  14. KatherineL…you said it…have felt that way all along. The city planners are ignorant…we knew this would screw West Seattle, and those coming from the south from the beginning…

    Comment by JanS — 7:27 pm August 8, 2012 #

  15. I’m with you js…I transfer in the tunnel just to go back south after I get downtown. I’m annoyed that they didn’t think to put light rail in from WS during all this construction.

    As for tolls, raise your hand if you ever had an I-pass mounted in your car or had to use your cup holder for your toll change. Yes, Washington is behind the eight ball and should have started tolling long ago to pay for this stuff.

    Comment by Irishlady — 7:52 pm August 8, 2012 #

  16. Yeah, us cyclists already have a bike lane! How exiting there is one in the plans! And we’ll get to share a new potential renovated bike path with pedestrians (think Alki bike path) – that’s really neat. Really Rick, no one is getting a good deal. Everyone has been effected by this no matter what mode of travel one chooses.

    Comment by Al — 8:03 pm August 8, 2012 #

  17. Hopefully in the long term this will give a big boost to the water taxi! It is such a great service and if ridership goes up due to the tunnel that will only help the water taxi service grow.

    Comment by West Seattle luv — 8:53 pm August 8, 2012 #

  18. We need light rail! It’s the only option left now! Buses will not fix the WS commute to downtown. We need a high density transit that is seperate from the bus system.

    Check out Seattle Subway! Ben is trying to get support for expanding the light rail to Ballard and WS!

    Comment by Elisa — 9:01 pm August 8, 2012 #

  19. Just wondering how many Seattlites that voted FOR the tunnel did so knowing there would be no exit to downtown? That was the deal breaker for me at least. Of course it’s too late to do anything but live with it & the traffic disaster it will cause- as all going downtown will have to take surface streets or battle I-5.

    Comment by Anne — 9:12 pm August 8, 2012 #

  20. +1 for the Seattle Subway! The stupid tunnel is a debacle, yes, but either way West Seattle needs rapid, grade-separated electric transit. Let’s leverage the damage this tunnel is going to cause us into some action on a NEW WEST SEATTLE SUBWAY. Time to solve our traffic problems once and for all.

    Comment by cascadianone — 9:26 pm August 8, 2012 #

  21. what a bunch of crankypants!

    Comment by metrognome — 9:55 pm August 8, 2012 #

  22. We would have started riding the monorail three years ago had that not gotten voted to death :(

    Comment by quiz — 10:14 pm August 8, 2012 #

  23. If you have to work in downtown, or get past downtown, there will be days when you won’t even make it as far as downtown when the viaduct is finally torn down..

    Comment by Jiggers — 10:27 pm August 8, 2012 #

  24. All this so we can have a “people’s waterfront” dominated by a seven lane surface expressway. I’m having a hard time seeing any upsides to this tunnel.

    Comment by LWC — 10:34 pm August 8, 2012 #

  25. Hey Al,I had hoped my sarcasm would be obvious. I could claim that I don’t own a vehicle,walk,bike or bus to work and get the occasional ride here and there from friends but that would be …the truth. Words that come to mind about the tunnel are; fiasco,boondoggle(please show me it won’t be,after the fact),travesty,and almost unlimited thesaurus descriptions. Tired of being the red headed stepchild. Not cranky, how about “disenfranchised”. Or is that still a popular PC term? I’m not concerned with getting a “good deal”. I’d be happy with fair and equitable.

    Comment by Rick — 10:47 pm August 8, 2012 #

  26. Anyone who doesn’t understand that WS is the part of the city that no one in power gives a damn about is delusional. There is AMPLE evidence that the powers that be could care less about us. Constant problems every time there is a storm or snow even though we have to use bridges to get home; horrible roads; no consideration whatsoever about our commute during the viaduct/tunnel process; crappy bus service; not even a mention for light rail; proposing to put a zipline in Lincoln Park (wonder how that would have played in Volunteer Park or Discover Park – said with sarcasm); continued refusal to do anything to stop the damn trucks from the Port from screwing up traffic during rush hour; proposing to screw up our traffic even more by putting in yet another arena in SoDo with nary a mention by anyone in power about any impact other than the BUSINESSES in Sodo (basically it was the finger to WS) and the water taxi only has limited access because it’s a nightmare to get to it (add on at least an hour to your commute for parking and slow poke shuttle service) and it operates on a limited schedule. Yet, we are still forced to deal with the ferry traffic from Vashon and not a mention of changing that as we are severely negatively impacted by the tunnel project. There is AMPLE evidence of the fact that no one in power, especially the City Council, gives a damn about helping out our part of the City. What we need to do is figure out a way to make sure that these people are NOT re-elected unless and until they start earning our tax dollars. I am sick and tired of paying for the improvement of every part of the City except the community where I live.

    Comment by Rational Thought — 11:56 pm August 8, 2012 #

  27. I cannot believe my neighbors argued (and voted) for the tunnel as being the best for W Seattle and now they are already grumbling about it. I wasn’t expecting to be able to say I told ya so for years and years (done in 3 years? Sarcasm or sweet naivete?)

    Comment by Kelly — 6:19 am August 9, 2012 #

  28. Let’s see now, the two alternatives to the tunnel were the surface “option” (no SR99 at all), or a rebuilt viaduct (which would have meant a closed SR99 for 5 years). I can only imagine what the comments would be if either of those WS-killing options was be moving ahead right now.

    Comment by gatewooder — 3:37 pm August 9, 2012 #

  29. The viaduct replacement project has already doubled the commute time from west seattle and now the new rerouting required to accommodate the lack of a downtown exit from the tunnel will increase my commute by another 150%!!! Am I reading that right? Awesome.

    Comment by olivist — 4:51 pm August 9, 2012 #

  30. The 150 percent projected increase is for bus riders between Harbor Island and downtown. I haven’t seen recent projections for drivers/motorcyclists. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:53 pm August 9, 2012 #

  31. Is that sign still up in the Junction that says only fifteen minutes to downtown?….lol

    Comment by jiggers — 7:25 pm August 9, 2012 #

  32. All that I can see is the tunnel project is for is one great big pocket liner for the political good ole boys and their contractor friends. to hell with the people who need to get to their jobs to pay for the boondogles some halfwit dreams up. the bigger the job the more money they can funnel of to their pockets.

    Comment by robert — 7:06 am August 10, 2012 #

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