Downtown Access Strategy in Detail
Seattle is facing unprecedented change in the next decade. Major new infrastructure is being constructed: the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall replacement projects, Mercer Corridor project, and a new substation and power grid are the largest of these projects. Although outside of the downtown core, the extension of the Sound Transit Light Rail system to Northgate and the Eastside (of Lake Washington) will also affect downtown Seattle by eventually forcing buses out of the Downtown Seattle Tunnel (DST) and onto downtown streets. Add to this the high number of new development projects that are proposed to be constructed in the downtown core. There are also many smaller projects such as new cycle tracks and a potential streetcar connection through downtown that are still in the planning process, but could be constructed in this same time frame.
A host of adverse impacts can result from long, drawn out, complex construction projects, particularly ones within the realm of transportation, that can significantly disrupt normal business operations. Potential impacts can include traffic diversions, lane reconfigurations, changes to traffic lights/signals, reduced accessibility for both vehicles and pedestrians, interruption or adjustments to transit stops and service, removal of sidewalks/blocking of entrances, reduced parking supply, decreased visibility, and interruption of utility services. Beyond these, there are often also psychological barriers in construction areas even if there is no actual decrease in physical access.
Historic South Downtown (HSD), in partnership with the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA), and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), are in the process of developing a Downtown Access Strategy to ensure that Downtown Seattle remains the economic engine of the region during the extraordinarily high level of transportation infrastructure activity scheduled.