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City of Seattle

April 27, 2:06 PM click here to comment > 3

Protecting Seattle streets and neighborhoods from 520 bridge traffic

I’ve heard a lot of concerns from residents about the traffic impacts of the state’s project to build a new, six-lane SR 520 bridge. The basic issue is how to accommodate additional traffic on an already congested Interstate 5 and at the Montlake Cut. In addition, the state only has enough money right now to build a six-lane bridge from the Eastside to Foster Island, where it would merge down to four lanes.

We need good data that shows us what the traffic impacts will look like. But the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) hasn’t given us a clear picture of what may happen to Seattle neighborhoods. Their preliminary traffic analysis was based on an earlier version of the design. They could be engineering a traffic jam right next to the Arboretum and in Seattle’s neighborhoods.

We need to better understand and address the impacts of this megaproject. We’d like to work with the state to get some better data and have them commit to help fix traffic impacts, especially before the Final Environmental Impact Statement is finished later this year. Seattle Department of Transportation Director Peter Hahn wrote to Paula Hammond, head of WSDOT, with specific requests for new research and for mitigation of traffic impacts on neighborhood streets. City staff are ready to work with WSDOT to figure out exactly how to make this project work better for Seattle neighborhoods.

It’s important that we get this right. Now is the time to take a close look at the traffic impacts, before we’re too far along to correct course. The cost to taxpayers, to neighborhoods, and to our quality of life is too high to wait.

Peter Hahn’s letter is below – click here for a PDF version.

April 27, 2011

Paula Hammond, Secretary of Transportation
Washington State Department of Transportation
310 Maple Park Avenue SE
P.O. Box 47316
Olympia, WA 98504-7316

Dear Ms. Hammond:

As you know, the City of Seattle and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) continue to have major concerns with the State’s preferred alternative for the SR 520 bridge replacement and HOV project. Impacts to Seattle streets are chief among these concerns. If this project moves forward, we have a basic obligation to understand these impacts clearly and to ensure we are adequately addressing them. I hope this letter will begin a constructive dialogue with you and your staff and move towards further study and targeted solutions that address traffic impacts.

We have specific requests that I believe will lead us toward those solutions. In April 2010, SDOT submitted technical comments on the state’s Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS). In that comment letter we requested “a fully-calibrated VISSIM-like model for Montlake Boulevard, Pacific Street, 23rd Ave., and Lake Washington Blvd.” The traffic modeling that we have reviewed to date is based on an earlier version of the corridor’s westside design. During the ESSB 6392 process, the design was changed, and we have not had the opportunity to review the updated traffic analysis for this new preferred alternative. Since the publication of the SDEIS, there have been design refinements that affect neighborhood traffic.

Prior to publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), SDOT requests the two items outlined below.

1. Full study of the traffic impacts (i.e., traffic volumes, intersection LOS, and total intersection delay in seconds) on city arterials between Madison St in the south and 75th St in the north, and from Montlake Blvd west to I-5, undertaken by a third party. This study will include, at a minimum, the following:

a) VISSIM-like model of the city arterials
b) Traffic analysis for the new Preferred Alternative using 2010 traffic data
c) Sensitivity analysis of travel times under varying tolling assumptions
d) Sensitivity analysis of travel times for major construction periods
e) Traffic analysis for city arterials testing the network impacts due to bascule bridge openings in the hours immediately before and after the peak period

2. Once this study is done, we request a list of mitigation commitments by WSDOT for identified traffic impacts. Examples of appropriate mitigation elements could include:

a) A comprehensive intelligent transportation system (ITS) program for Montlake Boulevard and 23rd Avenue. Key features of this program should be dynamic message signs, signal system upgrades, emergency vehicle preemptions, and live travel time information.
b) A traffic management plan for Lake Washington Boulevard that includes traffic calming measures, improved pedestrian crossings, etc.
c) A transportation demand management program to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in an effort to meet the state mandated reduction targets.
d) Funding for transit on the corridor and on city streets.
e) Transit priority treatments, such as queue jumps and bus-only lanes, to help both local and regional transit in the project area.

SDOT staff is committed to working with your staff on these requests prior to publication of the FEIS. We look forward to making this project better for the city of Seattle and the region.


Peter Hahn, Director
Seattle Department of Transportation

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn


Comment from pete delaunay
Time April 28, 2011 at 12:33 pm

You are so accurate about the SR 520 situation and the WSDOT/Big Biz/Big Labor jaugernaught. Standing up to WSDOT on behalf of Seattle neighborhoods is great! I represent the Boyer-Furhman-Portage Bay area and, while Mr. Hahn’s letter did not address our area, we respectfully request the following Boyer Ave. topics is included in the discussion:

1. Construction Staging Area – Frolund property at 2528 Boyer Ave. (they are working now to tear down two houses and who knows what else…?) that WSDOT purchased for $1.3M. as a ‘staging area’…How will the site be developed as a staging area?
Noise & Vibration – staging area activity, construction/pile driving Property Access – 24/7/365? Round the clock construction?
Boyer Ave. Corridor Closures – bridge construction, traffic delays for coming/ outgoing trucks Traffic Detours Related to Construction Sequencing – thru traffic detours
Boyer Ave. closures of 10th, Delmar & Boyer Ave. Street Parking – near SR520 construction site & furhman-boyer street corridor
Mitigation Construction Best Management Practices (BMPs) –
Limiting time/duration of truck traffic Control noise, vibration, night time lighting during construction; Dust and dirt control on structures/vehicles; Reimbursement for lost house/apartment/moorage slip rental income and/or use
Long Term Mitigation
Leaving Frolund property as permanent park/shoreline open space –
Reclamation of south portage water area and shoreline
Repair damage to Boyer Ave. pavement, sidewalks, and underlying and adjacent utilities
How will mitigation for these impacts be included in the final EIS and related documents

Visit to see how WSDOT has treated our area for the past 49 years…thx for being an advocate mike(s)!!

Comment from Montlakeon
Time May 5, 2011 at 11:49 am

Mayor Mike is right about doing a workable “Working Waterfront” Surface-Boulevard Alaskan Way Design FIRST. The “wise” tunnel option of C/c, or, an elegant-elevated could follow, if necessary. And do a better job than the DBT+MercerWest messfiasco.

The engineering community outside Seattle respects Mike Mcginn’s instinctual understanding of proper engineering. The majority outside Seattle think you guys have screwed up, big time. Thanks to Mayor Mike and partner O’Brien. Thanks for the Mikes Mcginn & O’Brien Showdown against some worst dumb DOT ideas.

Please folks, just pass it along… be prepared for a barrage of info-mercials of misinformation pro-supportive of the dear little dbt, pay no attention to how a Lake Union- to-Queen Anne “HIGHWAY” zooms more traffic through and face a steep decline at the Mercer Place turn north. Such bad planning, it’s embarrassing.

The Seawall should be strongest for future sea level rise and storm. The strongest seawall has cut/cover behind it for maintenance and repair. Also offers a “compensatory” sub-surface waters channelling system that works better than as planned for the DBT.

Waterfront Streetcar lines are a Historical must-have, no buts. Reignite the Broad RR Bridge concept design interest, at least for managing traffic during reconstruction if not a permanent installation.

Sorry to bother you guys, but I’m concerned and offended by both right and left argumentation. Your mayor is willing to cooperate with people who aren’t near as willing. As candidate he was & as mayor he is the man for the job, with able help from fewer spokespersons and while the new design crew are now showing promise. Thanx and again, sorry for inability to understand how transit designers can miss the premise of circulator one-way trolleybus routes would revolutionize downtown seattle transit.
Talk about yer no-brainers…Sheesh

My prescription for Alaskan Way is a doable “Pre-AWV” rather than a “Pre-seawall Piered Openings”. The new seawall must be strengthened at its current location; perhaps pushed-west 30+’ at Old Ferry Landing to create plaza.

Comment from Montlakeon
Time May 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm

The following is a transcript of Mayor Mike’s South Park Bridge Project Inaugural. Enjoy.

“Um, it’s great to be here. I do remember being here for the wake for the bridge. And I just want to say it was one hell of a party. So, I imagine that when you want to celebrate the building of a new one it‘s going to be a hell of lot better. So I’m looking forward to it.”

“I’m going to be heading out. Going to some of the restaurants in the neighborhood. And we’ll be there to meet with community residents.”

“You know that when the bridge shut down; what a hardship for the folks that were living and working here. And I just want to give credit to the departments in Government: the police department, economic development, transportation. And we all came together, to ask how can we help on this transition?”

“And we’re still doing that. We’re still available. Um, if there’s something you need, seek me out, talk to me. We’ll see what we can do to help. We know that there’s more work to be done. There’s more construction to be done and it’s going to be a little while. Just let me know what you need and we’ll see what we can do to help here.”

“Uh, It’s just a pleasure to be down here. You all know this is a refrain we’ve been saying awhile: This isn’t Seattle’s bridge. It’s King County’s bridge. But, this is our neighborhood here. This is Seattle’s neighborhood. And it connects Seattle neighborhoods. So we’re glad to be able to contribute to it. Glad to be a part of the regional partnership. And we’re glad to be able to help out this community. So, thank you all.”

Mayor Mike. Please. Stop the dbt mistake. It is too dangerous and a bad plan compared to its alternatives. Like you’ve always said, a surface boulevard design can be devised to work BETTER than the DBT. Thanks Mike.
Yur Awesome!