The majority of the Cascadia Center's activities are focused in Central Puget Sound. Cascadia's program in this region includes replacing the earthquake-damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct; renovating, improving, and integrating the regional network of interstates, arterials, and bridges; integrating the various transit modes in a series of downtown multi-modal stations or hubs; and through a conference, coordinating over 60 federal programs that support transportation for people with special needs. Cascadia is also involved in facilitating a Transportation
of civic, business, labor, and environmental leaders who are examining transportation planning, funding, and governance in Central Puget Sound, and assessing the implications of potential changes for making progress in transportation in the region in the short, medium, and long term.
For a comprehensive and introductory overview of the above projects, read the article, 'Sticker Shock'
by Cascadia Director Bruce Agnew.
ALASKAN WAY VIADUCT AND SEAWALL
The Cascadia Center serves on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Leadership Group, which was formed following the damage that the Viaduct sustained in the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the City of Seattle are moving to address the Viaduct as soon as possible as it carries one-fourth of the traffic flow through downtown Seattle, and is a critical element of the transportation network supporting the Port of Seattle. The Center supports the tunnel alternative for reconstruction of the Viaduct and Seawall because it integrates the Seawall as part of the tunnel structure and provides a direct connection between downtown and the waterfront while maintaining traffic capacity. This alternative would reduce traffic and noise and provide a safer environment for pedestrians and cyclists. For information on the current EIS process contact WSDOT
In tandem with the replacement of the Viaduct with a tunnel, Cascadia Center
has proposed a series of transportation improvements that would integrate ferries,
urban transit, intercity and commuter rail, and pedestrian movement in the downtown
area, and improve road connections between the Viaduct and I-5 along the Mercer
Street Corridor and between the Port of Seattle and the Ballard-Interbay Manufacturing
Industrial Complex (see item below on "Downtown Seattle Transportation Facilities" and
associated renderings). For a map of the Seattle waterfront, click
. For an article on Cascadia's views regarding the Viaduct,
Time For An Extreme Makeover?'
REGIONAL INTERSTATES, ARTERIALS, AND BRIDGES
The most important element of the current regional transportation system in the Greater Seattle region is the network of interstate and arterial roads and bridges. This system comprises principally I-5, I-90, I-405/SR-167, SR-99, and SR-520. The timely preservation and improvement of this system of roads is essential to the stable functioning and improvement of transportation in Central Puget Sound overall. Interstate, arterial and bridge improvement needs include:
- Replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct
- Replacement of the SR-520 bridge over Lake Washington
- Resurfacing of I-5
- Improvements to the I-405/SR-167 corridor
Proposed improvements to existing transportation systems include:
- Freight mobility improvements to I-90 through the Cascades
- Combination of HOV lanes, HOT (High-Occupancy Toll) lanes, and BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) lanes
- Conceptual proposal to modify existing reversible lanes to allow bi-directional, HOT lanes without expanding the I-5 footprint.
Such a wide-ranging approach to the Central Puget Sound roadways could improve capacity and reliability and contribute significantly to financing the renewal of the roads.
DOWNTOWN SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES
Existing and planned urban and intercity transportation systems should be enhanced through an integrated set of hubs, terminals, and stations to improve mobility in downtown Seattle. Cascadia has developed and promoted this concept through renderings by artist and Cascadia Center Fellow, J. Craig Thorpe, that depict proposals for new transportation infrastructure and redevelopment related largely, but not exclusively, to a possible tunneled replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the seawall. Specifically:
EASTSIDE RAIL LINE
- King Street Multi-Modal Station - The Cascadia Center has
long supported efforts by the WSDOT, Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad,
and the city of Seattle, to renovate and modernize the aging King Street Station,
including integrating local transit to make the facility a multi-modal station
(Future King Street Station 1 and Future
King Street Station 2).
- Seneca Street "Living Bridge" Pedestrian Corridor - Current and expanded passenger-only ferry service will be more attractive if there is convenient, efficient, and attractive pedestrian access to central downtown Seattle from the waterfront. This
proposal would connect a passenger-only ferry terminal at pier 56 to
the Central downtown at First Avenue along Seneca Street, by way of a covered
elevated walkway that would contain shops, services, restaurants, and observations
- University Street (Mid-Town) Transit Hub - The convergence
of existing and planned transportation modes at Benaroya Hall makes it an ideal
site for a central
downtown multi-modal transit hub. Such a hub would vertically link street
transit, taxis, and autos along Second Avenue; bus service and planned light
rail service in the transit tunnel; and a new rail station for Sounder commuters
and Amtrak intercity rail passengers in the BNSF Tunnel below Benaroya Hall.
To read more on the Mid-Town Transit Hub view, 'Underground
Transit Hub Plan Surfaces For Downtown'.
- University Street Arts Corridor for Pedestrians - This
proposal envisions a redesigned pedestrian access from the waterfront
along a pedestrian-only section of University Street to the base of Harbor
Steps at Western Avenue where tourists, commuters, shoppers, and residents
could enter a pedestrian tunnel providing access both to the Seattle Art
Museum and to the University Street Transit Hub on the west side of Benaroya
Hall at Second Avenue.
- Pier 70 Rail Transit Station - A
transit station across from Pier 70 at Alaskan Way and Broad Street (adjacent
to the Olympic Sculpture Park, currently under construction) providing access
to the waterfront trolley, Sounder commuter rail, local transit, and possible
regional rail service to counties north of Snohomish County.
- Mercer Street Corridor – A lidded Mercer Street Corridor from the north end of the new Viaduct tunnel to I-5 and a multimodal transportation center at South Lake Union complementing the plans of the city of Seattle and Vulcan Northwest for the development of the South Lake Union area. In addition the proposal will depict connections for North Seattle industrial traffic access to the Port of Seattle via the proposed tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
Due to the fact that transportation corridors are so scarce in this region every effort must be made to ensure that the existing corridors retain their transportation utility in a fashion compatible with the communities they serve. The BNSF eastside rail line from Renton to Snohomish is no longer used for freight movement, and BNSF is interested in selling the line. To assist in evaluating the line's potential for public transportation use, the Cascadia Center has pledged $10,000 that would leverage an additional $40,000 as part a $500,000 grant request by WSDOT to The U.S. Department of Transportation for funds to study potential uses of the BNSF rail line (the Dinner Train line). The proper development of this line holds the potential for improving personal mobility among the communities on the eastside of Lake Washington.
RECLAMATION OF URBAN LAND - THE I-5 LID
In the report, "How Do We Get There From Here?" the Cascadia Center urged the city of Seattle and State Department of Transportation to consider lidding a section of I-5 between 42nd and 50th Street connecting the University of Washington and Wallingford. The Center proposed that Civil Service unions would build affordable housing for teachers, firefighters and police officers that work in Seattle. The lid would also contain parks, fountains and sports fields. In addition, High Capacity Transit would operate (monorail, light rail, or bus rapid transit) on the I-5 median with a station on the lid. Bruce Chapman and Bruce Agnew produced an op-ed for the Seattle Times titled, 'Put
A Lid On It.'
SPECIAL NEEDS TRANSPORTATION
Cascadia is working with an alliance of human services, education, transportation, and other officials who implement the more than 60 separate federally-funded programs that provide transportation for people with special transportation needs. In June 2004 the Cascadia Center organized, sponsored, and hosted a regional leadership forum to improve coordination of transportation for people with special needs at which Federal Transit Administrator Jenna Dorn was the keynote speaker. Following up on the forum, Cascadia is continuing to work with the special needs transportation community to secure support for a demonstration project that will significantly cut costs while expanding services for citizens with special needs.