In the two days since the two “scenarios” for Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront replacement were announced — one, a “couplet” of surface streets; the other, a new single-deck viaduct, 2 side-by-side structures — we have brought you expanded comments from some well-known voices: The West Seattleites on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, Vlad Oustimovitch of Gatewood (read his thoughts here) and Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point (read his, here), as well as former West Seattle Herald editor Jack Mayne (read his guest editorial here). Tonight, another voice, advocating on behalf of West Seattle economic concerns: the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce. WSB received a copy yesterday of this letter sent Thursday to area elected officials:
Re: Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Options
Dear Governor Gregoire, Executive Sims and Mayor Nickels:
The West Seattle Chamber of Commerce adopted position statements in May 2006 on various transportation issues. Included in this document is a position for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project:
The Alaskan Way Viaduct capacity needs to be fully replaced in either an elevated or tunnel alternative, the “boulevard” concept is unworkable.
Importantly, the current plan to remove all viaduct capacity during two years of construction is completely unacceptable due to the disastrous consequences of such a plan to both commuters and emergency vehicles.
These positions were adopted after very careful consideration. While the West Seattle Peninsula continues to absorb great population growth (home to approximately 20% of the City’s population), our region has failed to be recognized as meriting the transportation and economic infrastructure that it deserves to create a community that can be self sustaining.
Given this dynamic, West Seattle’s population continues to seek employment, medical care, goods and services that are situated off of the Peninsula. Our community sends thousands of cars OFF of the peninsula onto SR-99 and I-5 every day (presently including the Southworth and Vashon ferry traffic as well as industrial / freight transport) and thousands of cars returning each day. Our gravest concern is that the construction impacts along the waterfront will impede our community’s ability to access job, critical medical care, and services not available on the peninsula. It is equally clear that the re-routing of traffic to I-5 will cause great hardship to our commuters, our businesses, the neighboring industrial community, and emergency vehicles. We must remind you ALL that access to jobs and medical care is paramount.
We have strong concerns about the long term impacts of a surface design and strongly urge you to retain at least one tunnel option on the short list.
The tunnel options provide for on-going movement to the downtown corridor during construction; lessens the overall impact of any additional congestion on I-5; maintains capacity for freight and commuters thereby easing a significant burden on West Seattle; and after completion, provides for both through access and an improved waterfront boulevard, the best of both worlds.
We request you give careful consideration to the long term impacts on the West Seattle community that would result should a surface option be implemented. We formally request a more thorough investigation and disclosure of genuine economic and social impacts on the West Seattle community as a whole.
The superficial and cosmetic appeal of a surface option will quickly disappear when the West Seattle Bridge and Spokane Street Viaduct become parking lots; when Alaskan Way, Second Avenue and Fourth Avenue become truck routes; and traffic sits idling at stop light congesting our streets.
We urge officials to preserve the tunnel options and consider truly “putting people first.”
Our organization is committed to working with state, county and city transportation agencies to bring about change for the good, to help meet the demands, but our adopted positions are ones that speak clearly on behalf of our community.
Thank you for your attention.
(West Seattle Chamber of Commerce board)
Thanks to those who have shared their Viaduct opinions with us so far; there’s still room, and time for more (firstname.lastname@example.org) – and your comments are vital too. All WSB Alaskan Way Viaduct coverage is archived here, newest to oldest; project information is at alaskanwayviaduct.org; and as mentioned previously, an important opportunity to voice your opinion “in person” is the public forum at Town Hall this Monday night, starting at 5 pm (here’s a map/directions to TH). To read what citywide news sources are reporting about the Viaduct, see the latest links on the WSB “More” page (which also automatically picks up citywide media coverage of West Seattle).