As Seattle has grown over the past decade, it isn’t much of a surprise that the city is now in the midst of a transportation crisis, as new residents to the Puget Sound region and growing employment in the downtown core have led to worsening traffic and climbing commute times. In order to help ease growth management, the Downtown Seattle Association, Sound Transit, City of Seattle, and King County are working together through the formation of One Center City, a partnership to craft a two-decade long plan that will transform “how we move through, connect to, and experience Seattle’s Center City neighborhoods.”
One Center City is made up of neighborhoods stretching from the International District and Pioneer Square, and across the city to Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, and Uptown. Together, these areas are home to approximately 70,000 residents and 250,000 jobs, most of which (approximately 230,000) belong to commuters. The goal of the organization is to increase mobility while growing public spaces and streets, as projections indicate that Seattle could add as many as 25,000 households and 55,000 jobs by the year 2035.
In addition to focusing on making improvements in the long-term, they are also looking at changes that can be made in the next few years. As Seattle Times recently reported, there are number of projects either already under construction or expected soon, from additional bike lanes and bus/streetcar changes, to the highly anticipated LINK Light Rail expansion. Many of these initiatives will improve walkability, bike-ability, and access to public transportation.
The Downtown Seattle Association’s recent 2018 Economic Report outlines a number of projects that are already paying dividends for residents and commuters, including the streetcar linking and expansion, Colman Dock updates, more bus service, bike lane expansions, and the new SR-99 tunnel, which is expected to open this fall.
In addition, they outline their leadership in an effort to “transform downtown’s Third Avenue into one of America’s great streets.” Accommodating over 52,000 transit riders daily, Third Avenue currently suffers from “traffic, broken utility infrastructure and narrow sidewalks [that] discourage foot traffic and keep the area from anchoring an optimal retail mix.” Their revitalization plan will include streetscape improvements and a “new pedestrian friendly interaction at Third and Pine.”