Left to right, that’s Steve Pierce from SDOT (city), Ron Paananen from WSDOT (state), and Ron Posthuma from King County, as they delivered the latest briefing on data available as the three levels of government race toward a recommendation on Alaskan Way Viaduct] Central Waterfront replacement by year’s end. (They confirmed today, the timetable hasn’t changed.) The cozy briefing room downtown was crammed with media – this gratuitous TV-photographer shot is on behalf of Time Capsule Day:
Now, back to the information. Lots presented. You can read it all here, under “meeting materials.” But the bottom line: The most significant findings released today (and being discussed tonight with the Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee) had to do with potential travel times under the range of scenarios (all detailed here, on page 12 and 13 in particular) under consideration. Some West Seattle-specific breakouts were available: For vehicles, the fastest scenario northbound from WS to downtown in the morning would be the “four-lane surface” Option A, with “demand management” potentially including a “cordon toll” to get into the city. That is estimated to take 20 minutes (7 more than today), but the fastest route back the other way in the afternoon/evening would be “integrated elevated” Option E (20 minutes southbound in the PM, compared to 13 right now). For transit, they envision the current 21-minute average trip from West Seattle to downtown only increasing by a few minutes under any scenario (to 21 minutes in the morning; that was the only estimate provided) – and they pointed out that means transit and vehicle time will be much more comparable in the future, perhaps enticing more people to try transit. Overall, if you evaluated only in terms of travel time, the briefers acknowledged that an elevated replacement would be the closest to what we have now.
WHAT’S NEXT: One week from today, one major missing puzzle piece will be public – the cost analysis of the potential scenarios. Then on December 4th, components from these 8 scenarios, evaluated on six principles, will be cobbled into what’s expected to be three final options, from which the eventual choice would emerge. (As Paananen put it this afternoon, “In the end we’re going to take these 8 and boil it down to more like 3, but these three will represent the best of the 8, not an exact replica of any one.”) Right now, $2.8 billion is available for the project – a third of it already committed to work that’s under way – so funding for the eventual choice isn’t even a done deal yet.