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.