Waterfront street a viable alternative - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
John Norquist and Scott Bernstein shed light on Seattle’s latest Alaskan Viaduct considerations. After reviewing WSDOT’s analysis of the “no-replacement” option, Norquist and Bernstein find exaggerated assumptions and inadequate considerations as to how traffic in downtown Seattle can be absorbed by the existing street grid. According to the columnists, the “no-replacement” option could reduce traffic congestion, increase economic vitality in downtown Seattle, and help the region meet its desired air quality standards.
Friday, September 22, 2006
Waterfront street a viable alternative
SCOTT BERNSTEIN AND JOHN NORQUIST
… The three replacement options would have very different economic and environmental consequences. The elevated replacement would add no value to the downtown area. Both the tunnel and the transit and streets options will enhance the downtown and stimulate redevelopment, but the tunnel's beneficial impact is constrained because much of state Route 99 would remain as a grade-separated barrier between downtown and the water.
The transit and streets alternative would stimulate transit-oriented development in Seattle. An increasing number of households would be able to get around while owning one less car. This could reduce their transportation costs by $300 to $400 per month and increase their disposable income by 10 percent. Using those incentives, the Seattle region could meet environmental goals as well. To reach local greenhouse gas reduction targets, Seattle's Green Ribbon Commission found that it must significantly reduce the number of automobile trips. Increasing traffic on a higher capacity elevated or underground highway would take the city in the opposite direction.
We urge city leaders to consider a streets and transit alternative as they decide the fate of Seattle's waterfront. Both the tunnel and the elevated freeway options are expensive and would bring damaging side effects for years to come. A surface street alternative has the potential to add more value at significantly less cost and risk. An urban street would allow Seattle to correct the mistakes made a half-century ago and reconnect the downtown with its waterfront.
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