As work continues on replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, more riders are leaving the car behind and taking Metro into downtown Seattle.
With funding from the state to offset the transportation impacts of viaduct replacement, we’re seeing nearly 17,000 new daily riders – that’s a 22 percent increase in ridership. With more people boarding buses, SR 99 is also less congested. The added service we’ve put in place has led to a 23 percent decline in average daily traffic on the viaduct!
Unfortunately, the very transit improvements that have kept people moving during viaduct construction face an uncertain future.
State mitigation funds run out in June of 2014 – well before work is completed on the tunnel and waterfront improvements. The result will be a loss of 120 to 130 daily bus trips and the elimination of 7,500 daily transit seats in the SR 99 corridor. The ripple effects of traffic slowdowns will be felt throughout the region as vehicles divert to Interstate 5 and other arterials to avoid construction delays.
Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond talks about the challenges that lie ahead in keeping Seattle moving in his most recent e-newsletter. Kevin also briefed Seattle City Council members on Feb. 4 about the need to maintain service during viaduct construction and waterfront improvements.
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How can mitigation funds expire before the project completes? That makes no sense and makes a mockery of the concept of mitigation.
Hi Carl – In 2007, the state of Washington, King County and City of Seattle came to agreement on the first phase of a long-range plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The Moving Forward agreement included a $32 million commitment from the state for enhanced transit service and to mitigate traffic impacts of the initial phase of replacement. That agreement was followed by a second agreement in 2009 outlining agency responsibilities for the remainder of the replacement program. The 2009 agreement called for state legislative authorization of a 1% Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) for King County to cover $140 million in necessary transit improvements to maintain access and mobility to and through downtown Seattle. However, the legislation giving King County the authority to collect the revenue was never approved. But the states earlier $32 million contribution did fund significant transit improvements in the corridor. That funding expires in June 2014. More details like this are available at http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/get-you-there/alaskan-way-viaduct/faq.html
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