Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Seattle Viaducts

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Yesler WayConditionUrban Wasteland - parking is all it's fit forGloom and doomFormer Waterfront Streetcar TrackMotorcycle parking
Alaskan WayThe barrier effect

Seattle Viaducts, a set on Flickr.

The Seattle Post Intelligencer this morning released the first images of what the waterfront could look like once this monstrosity has been taken down.

The fact that most of the currently abandoned Waterfront Streetcar remains intact and useable is a sign of hope. In fact, if this track were doubled and modern streetcars or light rail were used, the number of people that it could move would be double that of each level of the viaduct.

LRT ≥ 20,000 people per hour per direction
4 lanes of expressway = 9,000 pphpd (2,000 vehicle per lane per hour at average 1.25 occupancy).

The proposal of course does not include that. Indeed, the current idea is to build a tunnel to replace the viaduct. If you take a look at the Google satellite view below, it is clear that there is in fact a great deal of available space – but most of it is taken up now by roadways and parking. Vehicles are great space wasters. In San Francisco, along the Embarcadero, removing the freeway actually increased vehicle capacity – and the new F line streetcar tracks added even more people moving ability.

Seattle Viaduct Google Satellite View

Seattle Viaduct Google Satellite View

I am relieved to see that the Seattle idea is mainly about Waterfront open space. Unfortunately, the current example of the Lake Union waterfront (which does incorporate a street car) does not fill me with hope.

The South Lake Union Trolley and the park

The South Lake Union Trolley and the park - my photo


Corner, whose most recent, high-profile project is lower Manhattan’s popular High Line elevated park, said ultimately a successful, post-viaduct waterfront would have to accommodate many disparate  groups.

so perhaps my fears are ungrounded.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 20, 2011 at 10:50 am

Posted in Transportation

One Response

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  1. Angry Transit Nerd’s “Take on the Tunnel vs Surface/Transit” is a very useful summary of the history of the present proposal and what is really needed

    Stephen Rees

    May 25, 2011 at 8:21 am

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