Another Viaduct voice: West Seattle Chamber of Commerce

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.


Dawn Leverett
(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 ( – and your comments are vital too. All WSB Alaskan Way Viaduct coverage is archived here, newest to oldest; project information is at; 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).

6 Replies to "Another Viaduct voice: West Seattle Chamber of Commerce"

  • JO December 13, 2008 (7:28 pm)

    Well said! We agree!

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle December 13, 2008 (10:20 pm)

    Thanks to both the WS Chamber for writing the letter and WS Blog for “printing” it. I don’t think there is a simple answer here, but there are certainly some that are not good fits. If the current economy is going to prohibit a REAL solution, then perhaps a retrofit is the best answer for now. I certainly remember the impact that the six-years that the low-level bridge was disabled and the high-level bridge was built did to the community. During that time, there were fewer cars needing to leave their homes and many fewer residents and it was absolutely awful. I grew up on Fauntleroy Way, and the daily morning backups were predictable and unavoidable. At that time, at least there was the option of West Seattle Hospital for emergencies. I hate the thought of ambulances being delayed getting to the downtown hospitals. I think the only way to imagine the impact losing the viaduct would have is to compare it to what happens every time there is an accident on the bridge, I-5 or the viaduct. I have been patiently waiting for YEARS for good public transportation that would get me downtown faster than my car. Yes, I know buses move quicker from areas like Calif/Alaska but I do not believe driving and congesting someone else’s neighborhood to catch a bus is a real solution. I voted for, and eagerly anticipated the monorail. Lets get that touted Rapid Ride going NOW. Prove to the community that it is a great way to go and they will use it. Hey, I’m willing…just give me an option. It is getting harder to feel good about my property taxes, my husband’s HUGE B/O taxes for having a business located within Seattle and feel that our collective West Seattle voices are so easily ignored. Sometimes I think it would be easier to live in Stanwood and get a bus in to Seattle.

  • Jake December 14, 2008 (11:18 am)

    The “deep-bore tunnel” is the way to go, though has strangely been left out of consideration.

    Instead of focusing on replacing the existing viaduct with something in its place, let’s think outside the box (not necessarily a strength of govt) and bore a deep tunnel under downtown Seattle, remove the existing viaduct “afterwards” then build the surface street / park thing along the waterfront.

    In this way we will provide both a higher volume passenger and commercial vehicle transport solution plus a clean, friendly front to Downtown Seattle.

    For an example of a “deep-bore tunnel” we need only look across the West Seattle Bridge at the tunnel through Beacon Hill. It can be done efficiently and within budget (just as the light rail tunnel has been done).

  • Bob December 14, 2008 (11:23 am)

    Doing things half ass.
    We built the Kingdome…The cheapest way
    We attempted to remodel Key Arena..The cheapest way
    What has it cost us in the long run ?
    Viaduct options ? Give me a break.
    Aren’t there any local leaders that can give Nickols and Sims a kick in the ass and send them out of town with Wellingham (if his bus hasn’t left yet)

  • DALYDBL December 14, 2008 (12:28 pm)

    Thank you Dawn!

  • ZS December 14, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    Very well stated WS Chamber of Commerce!

    It boggles my mind that a municipal government would even consider removing a highway and traffic capacity in a city that is already highly congested and growing rapidly.

    Has it ever been done by another city? Was it successful? Imagine Los Angeles removing one of their freeways completely for surface road – it would be a disaster.

    About the waterfront: Why on earth would a large boulevard consisting of multi-lanes of traffic at surface level be attractive and safe to pedestrians and tourists? This road would technically have a 30 MPH speed limit but will in reality be gridlocked at peak times and have dangerous speeders in off hours with those coordinated lights – take a look at a New York City street at 10:00 PM sometime.

    Only conclusion is special interest groups, I can’t figure out who they are but it is very scary to live in this twisted city.

    I won’t even get started with the monorail which one an election to be built 3 TIMES only to be stopped by some special interest groups.

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