Duwamish “vision” released: Water taxi? Aerial gondolas? Or …

Just back from a media-geared boat tour along the South Park stretch of the Duwamish River with BJ Cummings of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, immediately after her group released its report on a year-in-the-making community-created vision of the Duwamish’s future. The “vision” – she was careful to caution, it’s a vision, not yet a plan – covers the West Seattle side of the Duwamish Valley as well, and we have maps, drawings, and video to show you; we’ll be adding them to this report over the next hour-plus (the map is available online now, as a 29MB zip file or as a smaller, zoomable image). This is all coming out now as the EPA works on the next stage of the cleanup of the waterway that’s so polluted, it’s a Superfund site. But there’s hope for its future, and in fact, perhaps this was a good omen for the tour: A California sea lion surfaced alongside the boat; Cummings said recent sea lion sightings on that section of the river are the first in a long time, though no one’s sure why they’ve come back. A water-taxi route along the river, from the foot of the West Seattle Bridge southward, and aerial gondolas (like the relatively new tram in Portland), are part of the plan, which you can inspect firsthand during an event at the Duwamish Tribes new Longhouse this afternoon, 4-6 pm. 1:47 PM UPDATE: Maybe a water taxi like this? Here’s the one used for this morning’s tour, with Captain Howie Dickerman at the helm:

He does his biggest business in dive charters. And here’s the clip from our second pass under the South Park Bridge (which needs to be replaced, and now federal stimulus money is the best hope) – listen to the eerie sound of traffic going over, as we pass under:

Click ahead to see Cummings explain what the report is for, and describe its toplines (as we continue to add to this story):


The news conference that preceded the boat tour also featured city, county, federal, and Port of Seattle officials – that’s Port Commissioner John Creighton in the foreground with Cummings, and you likely recognize City Council President Richard Conlin off to the side:

Conlin said he thought it especially fortuitous that this report was coming so close on the heels of the dedication of the long-awaited longhouse just a few miles away (WSB video coverage here). Meantime, back to those envisioned aerial gondolas – this section of the “transportation” portion of the vision map shows a horizontal line marked with diamonds in two spots toward the bottom, over Highland Park and again over Beacon Hill – those are suggested as possible future gondola routes:

Still more to come. 4:51 PM UPDATE: Here’s one of the highlighted spots from the tour – “Slip 4,” across the street from Gateway South Park, an area envisioned for a water-taxi crossing, where neighbors already have worked to reclaim the shoreline:


The report itself is 143 pages so we’re still trying to figure out if we can upload it here somehow. Meanwhile, if you’d like to take a boat tour with DRCC, they’ve got two opportunities coming up March 14th; check out the sidebar information here. ADDED 10:29 PM: Here’s the full report. And one more clip, featuring a couple more sites – and sights – along the way, including the aforementioned sea lion toward the end:

10 Replies to "Duwamish "vision" released: Water taxi? Aerial gondolas? Or ..."

  • cjboffoli February 19, 2009 (12:40 pm)

    When I was recently in Boston I was impressed at how many small, independent water taxis were in business. You could zip back and forth from the airport to any of the wharves downtown. And you could hop on catamaran commuter ferries which were all interconnected. West Seattle’s water taxi is great. But I think there is still an unrealized opportunity to put our proximity to the water to better use in a way that does not require billions for things like tunnels and roads.

  • Alcina February 19, 2009 (12:57 pm)

    In Vacouver, BC they have small (12-20 passenger) electric powered water taxis that go from the mainland to Granville Island are various other places.
    http://www.granvilleislandferries.bc.ca/
    Something similar may work on the Duwamish eventually.

  • d February 19, 2009 (1:35 pm)

    cjboffoli & alcina –

    WORD! I am so on board with expansion of water taxis and catamarans! Thousands of cars would be taken off the road. And, people could even have fun commuting. How cool would that be?

    Boat business people: Opportunities await in local water ways transportation companies!

    Puget Sound is ready for it!

  • Native Pride February 19, 2009 (1:36 pm)

    How absolutely exciting and what a wonderful project to get underway! Being Native American (Lushootseed), I have heard all the great stories of how my people would gather at the banks of the Duwamish and fish for life-giving salmon and barter with other tribes from the “Large Lake”. Hopefully there will be some Native American influence on the design in this area (especially the gondola) which would only be prudent given that this was our land originally ;-)

  • datamuse February 19, 2009 (1:41 pm)

    Brilliant idea. There are tons of water taxis and ferries on the river in Bangkok and they’re a great way to get around. I’d love to see something like that here.

  • IndianPower February 19, 2009 (1:48 pm)

    Native Pride – It’s about time we are recognized and paid homage to because your right, this WAS our land! I thank the Great Spirit each day when the sun rises that I am Indian and I would like to see some more of our peoples character and art displayed in more public places. The 21st century is the New Indian Age, and we are very fortunate to be here Native Pride!

  • DRCC February 19, 2009 (2:29 pm)

    The Duwamish Tribe is a driving force behind the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and the Duwamish Valley Vision – the Vision includes public tribal art installations, a native market and support for art and film programming at the Duwamish Tribe’s new Longhouse. Come by the Open House at the Longhouse this afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. to learn more about the Vision and the Superfund cleanup of the river. Maybe in the future, you’ll be able to hop on your local water taxi to get there, but for now you’ll have to take West Marginal Way South ~1/2 south of the West Seattle Bridge and just across the road from the river and Herrings House Park at 4705 W. Marginal Way S.

  • Water Taxi Time February 19, 2009 (2:31 pm)

    Or, maybe, something like this?

    In Chicago on the Chicago River:

    http://tinyurl.com/cxt6q3
    http://tinyurl.com/b7fsye
    http://tinyurl.com/dxgg8n

    In Baltimore:

    http://tinyurl.com/cfyd4v

    In Sydney, Australia:

    http://tinyurl.com/btsdut
    http://www.uaeyachting.com/images/seabea1.jpg

    In Tampa Bay (proposed):

    http://tinyurl.com/cdaszr

  • cjboffoli February 19, 2009 (3:09 pm)

    Not to highjack this thread (probably too late) but here are a couple shots of just one of the Boston water taxi companies. It was a great system. You walked up to the dock and opened a waterproof call box. You’d tell the dispatcher where you were and where you were going. A taxi would usually arrive within ten minutes from one of the various companies. MBTA commuter catamarans serviced pretty much the same docks but on a regular schedule.

  • leah February 19, 2009 (7:16 pm)

    I haven’t read more then just this quick post but i wonder what the environmental impact of more boats and traffic on an already polluted river would be? The river while fairly wide isn’t really that large. What about the seals and bird life? don’t they stay away from lots of boat traffic?

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