Friends of the Market Newsletter
The missing link in Seattle’s streetcar network is called the Center City Connector. When built, it will connect with the South Lake Union line at Westlake and First Hill/Broadway line on Jackson Street in the International District. This new link was approved last year by Seattle’s City Council. Final confirmation of federal funding is imminent and Seattle Department of Transportation is finalizing construction documents.
Negative Impact Concerns
As currently planned, Friends of the Market is concerned that the proposal will have a dramatically negative impact on the operations of the Market.
Last year, we learned more about the City’s plans to provide restricted streetcar lanes by removing parking and loading zones on First Avenue and reducing general-purpose lanes to one lane in either direction. Preliminary designs for a pedestrian loading station near the Market’s entrance will make these changes even worse, as it will create an island loading zone for streetcar riders in the middle of the First Avenue on either side of Pike Street. Subsequent designs have shown the loading platform stretching all the way from Pike to Pine Streets.
If the current designs for a Pike Place Market station are not modified, the changes will have a significant impact on how the Market functions.
Loss of Loading Zone
Car and truck traffic on First Avenue will be routed right next to the sidewalk curb where there is now a parking and delivery buffer zone. Loss of a very active curb-side loading zone will be especially challenging. Businesses that require First Avenue alley access will lose their only day-time delivery zone.There will no longer be a place to park emergency and medical response vehicles without blocking the one lane of traffic. There will no longer be a place on First Avenue for guests, visitors, and families to unload, pick up, or catch a taxi. It is a real pity if volume and variety of traffic are added to already crowded entrance to Pike Place.
Loss of Easy Access
Also troubling to some of the larger businesses in the Market is the loss of convenient access to the Market when driving north from anywhere south. Left-hand turns from First Avenue into the Market will, at best, be reduced to the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street, and even that is uncertain.
Currently, SDOT’s design works well for streetcars and pedestrians, but will be a misery for the Market’s everyday operations. The simple solution is to move the streetcar pedestrian island loading zone to where the street is not as congested, or let cars and trucks share the street lanes when they are not being used by streetcars. SDOT has not been receptive to these ideas.
During the month of February, new plans and designs for the Market streetcar loading zone location are being made public. Presentations will be hosted by the Market Historical Commission and Pike Place Market PDA. When the date is known we will let you know in the hope that you will attend.
For more information: Seattle Streetcar Center City Connector
Written by John Turnbull, Friends of the Market Board Member