Light-Rail Project to Inconvenience Downtown Seattle Commuters
수정일 2017년 06월 26일 월요일
등록일 2018년 12월 31일 월요일

Convention Center expansion delay will leave extra time for tunnel buses in Seattle.  A vote Monday is expected to allow buses to remain in service until 2019 when the new light rail system debuts.

Seattle commuters will get some reprieve with this vote, however, sooner or later when construction is in full swing for the rail system traffic congestion will worsen.  The question is how much of a hassle will citizens have to deal with?  And will officials be able to come up with a plan to alleviate the problems?

Aside from the Convention Place Station closure, there are several others listed below.

• Ferry terminal rebuild: Starting in August and finishing in 2023, to cause detours on and alongside Colman Dock.

• First Avenue streetcar: Rails and new concrete to be installed in center lanes from 2018-20 if federal transit grants aren't slashed by President Trump's budget proposal.

• Madison Street bus-rapid transit: Includes a downtown loop where Alaskan Way meets Madison and Spring streets.Construction early 2018 to late 2019.

• Highway 99 tunnel completion: Tube bypassing downtown may open sooner than early 2019 schedule.Permanent closures of Alaskan Way Viaduct, its mid-downtown and Belltown exits, and Battery Street Tunnel.

• Viaduct demolition: Expected in 2019 after tunnel opens.Will cause cascading street closures.

• KeyArena renovations: Oak View Group's proposal, if approved, calls for construction January 2019 to September 2020.

• Waterfront Alaskan Way: To be rebuilt with promenades, more lanes and bike trails in 2019-23, after viaduct demolition.

• SLU street grid: Harrison, Thomas and John streets to be extended across Aurora Avenue North in 2019-21 after tunnel opens.

Sources: One Center City government diagrams; Seattle Times reporting.

The county center authority will purchase convention place station for $161 million.  The expansion will double the center's size which will also have office and housing towers across the street.

Land clearing is planned to start during late 2018.  The deal will halt hundreds of buses in service from the downtown tunnel out to the city streets by March 2019, if they are able to secure the permits for the project by July 1, 2018.  If the permits arrive past the July deadline, the buses will remain in service until September 2019.

Supporters of the convention center plan claim the detours and delays will be worth the sacrifice as they see feel the finished project will boost tourism.   Dow Constantine County Executive, has proposed a bust stoppage as early as October 2018 in the sales plan, however, developers think the permits will arrive too late for that to happen.

Interstate-5 express lanes will be blocked by construction and Olive Way will be filled beyond capacity causing huge congestion and delays.  In the span between 2019-2023, the Viaduct at Alaskan way will be demolished, while the surface waterfront is being rebuilt as well as the downtown ferry terminal.   More streetcar tracks are planned to be installed all the while housing and office structure keep going up.

This just spells more and more congestion in the downtown area which is already quite full, however, relief will be provided when the Roosevelt, U District, and Northgate light-rail station are opened with their super-long four car trains.  Although those aren't planned to open until 2021, so in the meantime, commuters will have their share of extra headaches until then for sure.

Marcy Carpenter, a blind woman and head of the city transit advisory says "They talk about a few minutes more.My experience with traffic is, it could take a lot longer."  Carpenter already spends 20 minutes on a bus where she commutes from I-5 to Third Ave through the Stewart Street corridor.  In reference to the pushing busses out of the transit tunnel and onto the streets she says, "I'd really like it if they can wait until Northgate Link opens.  Then if not that, at least until Sound Transit has more railcars."  But country officials will most likely not wait, instead, they are in the midst of a traffic planning effort called One Center Way.

Metro will be changing some routes so that buses connect directly with several trains to reach the downtown area after the bus tunnel closures.  This will offer some reprise for traffic congestion and commute time.

Also, they plan to add a stop at UW Station-Husky Stadium for more buses on the Highway 520 route.  From there the train reaches Westlake Station in no longer than six minutes.

A typical all bus trip from the Eastside to South downtown which usually takes from 32 to 46 minutes is going to take 38 to 54 minutes in two years traveling the same route.

However, riders will be able to take both train and bus and cut the commute to 30 to 41 minutes.

Shefali Ranganathan, executive director of the Transportation Choices Coalition says "How do you create a situation where people aren't angry, where they can make a seamless transfer?"  And Metro Deputy General Victor Obeso says, "It's going to be more convenient for some, and less convenient for others."  

Source: Pixabay - Author: jp26jp

That seems to just about sum it up.

Happy travels fellow citizens.

Althusser Wright 기자
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