Alaskan Way Viaduct future: New info on “fastest” options

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.

13 Replies to "Alaskan Way Viaduct future: New info on "fastest" options"

  • quiz November 13, 2008 (8:01 pm)

    Elevated. Please.

  • B-squared November 13, 2008 (8:42 pm)

    For the life of me, i don’t see why we just can’t rebuild it. make it esthetically pleasing, and up to code. keep the capacity the same. that has to be the least expensive option. no bells and whistles, no faux green spaces, no more shops… just another viaduct. please.

  • Kat November 13, 2008 (8:56 pm)

    I get downtown from Highland Park in 10 minutes… Woodland Park in 15… Greenwood in 18… All going the speed limit-ish.

    I think they are hyper inflating the current numbers to make the potential delay seem less.

  • Vlad November 13, 2008 (10:24 pm)

    Unfortunately all of the alternatives being studied increase car commute time from West Seattle to downtown by a factor of 50-100%, depending on the time of day. Associated bus routes (including “Rapid” Ride) will take 10-20% more time than they do today. In the post Alaskan Way Viaduct world (as envisioned in the current plans) West Seattle will be further removed from the rest of the city than it is today. There seems to be some kind of political continental drift that keeps moving us further and further to the southwest, no matter how hard we try to get closer.

  • natinstl November 13, 2008 (10:52 pm)

    I too get from Morgan Junction to downtown Seneca street in 15 minutes and I highly doubt a surface street option will get us there that fast unless there are zero lights. It takes me forever now to go on 1st avenue. Elevated please.

  • chas redmond November 13, 2008 (11:27 pm)

    And to be boldly honest, they’ve violated their tenant of moving people and goods efficiently because under any of the options listed, transit riders from West Seattle lose and from the preliminary review, West Seattle transit riders are the ONLY Seattle neighborhood residents who actually lose time using transit when compared to the existing conditions with the Viaduct today. This is all the more insulting considering how specious the city’s support for the Green Line monorail was and how much the city is violating its own recommendations in the Urban Village Transit Network plans with respect to West Seattle. No other area of the city is singled out this negatively with respect to transit. Frankly, I’m astonished that the WSDOT, KCDOT and SDOT folks believe this will actually fly. We are being taxed in time for living in West Seattle. It’s a new form of city tax – don’t provide any viable rapid transit and remove existing transit options which are actually somewhat useful.

  • JanS November 13, 2008 (11:33 pm)

    hmm…maybe they need to form a committee to study the committee that’s making these recommendations…

  • chas redmond November 13, 2008 (11:34 pm)

    For comparison purposes, here’s some baseline considerations:

    Use original Green Line time estimates for travel from Morgan or Alaska Junctions or Avalon or Delridge to – basically anywhere on the line;

    Use existing 21X, 54X, or 55X time estimates for travel from anywhere along California or 35th to downtown;

    Compare any of these with the transit times cited for any of 8 potential options;

    RapidRide will take longer than existing 54X, Metro knows this. Future without Seneca Street exit will take longer for 54X than today and RapidRide will be routed to the new 4th Avenue off-ramp and up 4th to either 3rd downtown or via the E3 Busway to 3rd downtown. Compare with exiting the Seneca Street off-ramp onto 3rd today.

    Yeah, baby – this is going to be fun, fer-shur.

  • JanS November 13, 2008 (11:34 pm)

    actually, the 3 guys in the picture? I wanna know where they live…and how does this impact THEM?

  • ptr November 14, 2008 (6:35 am)

    I agree with B-squared. Their numbers are hyper inflated. The viaduct is one of the few things this city has going right for them in regards to traffic flow. How very apropo that these politicians want to get their hands in it and screw it up. I understand the viaduct is outdated, in dire need of repairs, etc. But..
    1) the infrastructure is already set up
    2) it does wonders in helping ease congestion off of I-5
    3) dramatically reduces drive time compared to I-5 or downtown surface streets.

    I think we need to send in a panel of people who actually use the viaduct to do some real research. I hate traffic so much that I would seriously consider moving away from Seattle if they take the viaduct down. Please, just keep her raised and free.

  • Al November 14, 2008 (8:37 am)

    I agree 100% with Chas and ptr – those times given by SDOT are “best times” only. I just don’t see those times during rush hour. I recently rode home with a co-worker just after 5:00 pm and it took us 30 minutes to get to West Seattle, not anywhere near 13 and there was no accident.

    Slowing down buses is completely wrong. The differential between 13 minutes and 21 is astronomical in a commuting world and only gets worse in traffic. Don’t forget SDOT and Metro are NOT planning dedicated bus lanes (well, they are looking at a sort strip of Alaska St but it doesn’t help with the overall commute) but putting single car traffic once again above buses.

    I’d love to see the committee members commute with West Seattle residents for one month, both directions. One month committee members – you need to understand our commute both during and after rush hour.

  • Huindekmi November 14, 2008 (10:03 am)

    That’s some mighty fine forward thinking there.
    The population of the region is only going to increase. I-5 is already at or beyond capacity through the city with no ability to expand. So, let’s reduce capacity and increase travel times (for both cars and mass transit) on the only other route through downtown. That’s with today’s traffic levels.
    Planning for gridlock is not planning.

  • cakeitseasy November 14, 2008 (4:16 pm)

    Not just compromising our commute times, but our real estate value as well. I guess there just isn’t enough money or political clout in WS to get what’s best for us. And what’s with reporting…”only increasing by a few minutes under any scenario…” ONLY?! And how would the surface option be the “fastest”?. And was there actually mention of a TOLL?!

    Oh, NOW I know why we’re not on that coffee list.

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