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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 Working Group 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.


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 here. For an article on Cascadia's views regarding the Viaduct, see, 'Waterfront: Time For An Extreme Makeover?'.


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: Proposed improvements to existing transportation systems include: 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.

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:

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.

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.'

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.

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For More Information Contact:
Cascadia Center
208 Columbia St. — Seattle, WA 98104
206-292-0401 — Fax: 206-682-5320

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