(meeting now concluded at 5:35 pm- to recap, the two “finalist” scenarios just made public are “surface/transit hybrid” and “elevated bypass hybrid” – 6:54 pm update, all the materials presented today/tonight are now posted online – here are graphics of the two options)
(above photo added 3:45 pm, just after Executive Sims, Gov. Gregoire, and Mayor Nickels sat down)
ORIGINAL 3:23 PM POST: We’re at City Hall, where state, county, and city leaders are about to be officially briefed on the final scenarios for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront replacement. We’ll post first word of what they are, as soon as we get it – we’ve all just been allowed into the briefing room, where the officials (elected and otherwise) are gathering. The mayor, governor, and county executive haven’t come in yet – city council Transportation Committee chair Jan Drago is here, though, as are the officials who’ve led this project for the three agencies, including SDOT director Grace Crunican, WSDOT’s Ron Paananen, and Metro’s Ron Posthuma. (There’s a name card for West Seattle’s King County Councilmember Dow Constantine, too, so we’re expecting to see him.) They say they’re not handing this out in print ahead of time – so we’ll type and post as announcements are made. For reference, here are the 8 scenarios that have been under consideration to date. A spokesperson is telling reporters that TWO scenarios will be unveiled here momentarily. 3:37 PM UPDATE: Still awaiting the briefing. Councilmember Constantine’s here now; he notes this is actually a regular monthly meeting that the leaders from the state, county and city have been having for quite some time – he and City Councilmember Drago participate as chairs of their respective councils’ Transportation Committees.
BULLETIN: The final scenarios are L, “surface/transit hybrid” – with two roads along the waterfront – and M, “elevated bypass hybrid” – with two elevated bridge structures side by side. More details to come.
3:45 PM UPDATE: The governor, county executive and mayor are here now. It appears there is no TUNNEL of any type involved in either of the scenarios.
3:52 PM UPDATE: They have finished background review and are now moving on to explain more about these scenarios. Reminder, these are new HYBRIDS with elements of the original 8 – they had said, and we had reported, all along, that they would not choose 2 of the 8, but take elements of some of them and make “hybrids” for final review.
3:57 PM UPDATE: A few more details on Scenario L – Alaskan Way would become one way southbound with three lanes and a bike lane; Western would (starting near Yesler) be one way northbound with three lanes and a bike lane, connecting to Battery Street Tunnel.
4:03 PM UPDATE: Turns out they’re STILL in background. More on the “elevated bypass” scenario – two independent bridge structures side by side, two lanes in each direction, connecting to B-Street Tunnel at north, new south end project at King Street. Also noted, a Delridge RapidRide bus route would be part of this. Also noticing – the INTRO copy on this page says “further analysis will be done on investigating a bored bypass tunnel.” (added) Just got more printouts. The explanation on the tunnel is, “The bored tunnel was not carried forward due to its high cost. However, it does have advantages associated with avoiding some of the construction on the central waterfront. The agencies will continue to investigate the costs of the bored tunnel as a future project that could be constructed if the I-5/surface/transit hybrid alternative is agreed upon.”
4:16 PM UPDATE: In response to Mayor Nickels’ question, WSDOT’s David Dye explains the two elevated structures would be somewhat separated and slightly different elevation – one could be built alongside the existing structure, so it would be ready to take on some of the traffic when the existing viaduct comes down, then the other structure would be built after the existing viaduct is demolished. As for whether they would be taller than the current one – WSDOT’s Ron Paananen says that could be determined in the design process. As we’ve mentioned on partner site White Center Now in the past few minutes, both scenarios also mention “expanded park and rides” in White Center and Burien (as well as Shoreline).
CONTINUE TO READ RUNNING COVERAGE POSTED DURING MEETING, BY CLICKING AHEAD:
4:29 PM UPDATE: Dye is explaining why the so-called Chopp scenario (the “integrated elevated” favored by House Speaker Frank Chopp, with a park on top of an enclosed viaduct, and commercial development below) was thrown out – safety concerns, among other things, he says. And too expensive. Here’s the official news release just sent by WSDOT about the two “finalist” scenarios (will substitute a LINK for this long copy as soon as it’s available online):
WSDOT, King County , and the City of Seattle announced they are down to two options for replacing the central section of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall: an “I-5/surface/transit” hybrid alternative and an “SR 99 elevated bypass” hybrid alternative. These were developed from the previous eight scenarios. They are called “hybrids” because they package together the best elements from the previous eight, including improvements to I-5, surface streets, transit, and demand management.
The I-5/surface/transit hybrid alternative is primarily a combination of the three previous surface boulevard options based on what performed well in the evaluation:
* Includes two one-way boulevards on Alaskan Way and Western Avenue each with three lanes of traffic.
* Increases open space on the waterfront for pedestrians, and offers urban design benefits.
* Accommodates a similar number of trips as other options when additional improvements are made to the transportation system, such as adding transit service hours and improving I-5 through downtown.
* Moves the same amount of people and goods but with some of the trips made differently.
The other hybrid alternative chosen, known as the SR 99 elevated bypass, is the most similar to the existing viaduct:
* Includes two independent bridge structures with two lanes in each direction.
* Preserves mobility on the SR 99 corridor as a bypass of downtown, and maintains Elliott/Western connections.
* Maintains travel times for freight and vehicle trips within the city of Seattle .
* Offers the lowest cost of the bypass scenarios.
Cost is not a distinguishing factor between the hybrid scenarios. The surface and transit hybrid alternative and the independent elevated structure are estimated to cost up to $3.5 billion. The cost estimates are higher than earlier estimates as they include improvements to I-5, transit, surface streets and demand management.
Robust transit service was added in both alternatives, although there are more service enhancements included in the surface alternative. Analysis showed the people will use transit when additional service is provided. Examples of transit improvements include more RapidRide service to Ballard and West Seattle, new RapidRide routes on Delridge and Lake City Way, an expanded electric bus network, new park-and-rides, and more express bus service.
A bored tunnel was not formally carried forward as a hybrid alternative at this time due to high cost, but the agencies acknowledged that it does have advantages associated with avoiding some of the construction on the central waterfront. It could be built in the future as a stand-alone project with the surface and transit alternative being advanced. More discussions about this option, including cost, will be discussed over the next week.
WSDOT, King County , and the City of Seattle will spend the next few weeks gathering input from the public and the Stakeholder Advisory Committee that has been meeting monthly since December of last year.
A public forum will be held on Monday, Dec. 15 at Seattle Town Hall to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the two hybrid alternatives and get questions answered by representatives from the three agencies. The meeting is from 5 to 7:30 p.m.
The last Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting of the year is on Dec. 18, where committee members will give feedback on the hybrid alternatives. Governor Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims, and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels are expected to make a recommendation on a preferred option by the end of the year.
4:52 PM UPDATE: They are finally getting to describing the two hybrids. First, the surface option. Access coming to downtown from West Seattle, they say, will still need to be analyzed, since the Seneca offramp will no longer exist, just the south end ramp at King Street. It would create a 104-foot-wide “promenade” along the waterfront.
5:11 PM UPDATE: Lot of discussion now about whether the surface/transit hybrid really would work independent of the concept of maybe adding a “bored” tunnel in the future. David Dye says, “depends on what you mean by ‘work’.” Some people do have longer travel times, especially through downtown, rather than those driving TO downtown.
5:17 PM UPDATE: Now they’re discussing the elevated scenario. The difference, staffers say, is that some transit’s been added. Access from West Seattle still an issue that has to be studied, they note. “In both of your scenarios, who’s gonna pay?” asks Governor Gregoire, noting that both are over the $2.8 billion that’s allotted. “Us does not include the state,” she states flatly, after Dye said “all of us.” Gregoire: “I started with 2.8 – that’s all I got, I got no more. If you all are saying to us, these two options, surely you must have discussed who’s paying for the rest. So which of you two are paying for it.” Nervous laughter in room. The time frame is 2015, staffers reply – we don’t need to nail that down immediately. (The costs are listed on the documents as follows: $3.1 billion-$3.5 billion for surface/transit, $3.2 billion-$3.8 billion for elevated bypass. Crunican says, these are among the cheapest, but you’re making it clear the state doesn’t want to pay, so we’ll figure it out. Seattle Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis interjects, “Governor, you do have an option – there are some things in each of these options then there are some things you can choose not to do.” “Then give us those scenarios,” says the governor, “so we can go shopping.” She says, “How soon do you get those?” Next week, says Dye — a full menu of costs for each improvement. Governor frowns mightily. Mayor clarifies, “But this is all part and parcel of the decision we’ll be making by the end of the year.”)
5:30 PM UPDATE: Meeting wrapping up. (Stakeholders’ meeting already has begun, elsewhere in City Hall.) County’s Harold Taniguchi reveals he prefers surface/transit. City’s Grace Crunican and WSDOT’s David Dye, elevated. State House Rep. Judy Clibborn says she’s glad elevated is one of the proposals under consideration. Councilmember Drago says she’d like to see a decision and will work toward support. Councilmember Constantine says: “I’m heartened to hear that I-5 works under both scenarios, something we’ve been worried about and now we can move past it – for the perspective to West Seattle, I’m glad you’re going on the south end work because it will demonstrate to folks we can improve mobility – and folks need to realize, none of these scenarios have a midtown offramp – I guess I have to say on looking at these and listening to the discussion of the future years, I don’t want our generation’s legacy to be a new 80-foot wide elevated freeway through the city, though the elevated freeway is something I grew up with, I can see a world without it, if we can make it work.”
6:56 PM UPDATE: All the handouts are now posted online; see them here.