Coming in at a eye-glazing 516 pages, the draft environmental analysis for building the new addition to Seattle’s convention center is the most detailed account to date of how the massive project will transform Denny Triangle, Downtown, and Capitol Hill.
Around 40 people gathered at the Washington State Convention Center last week to comment on the draft environmental impact study of the $1.4 billion project (included at the bottom of this post).
Truck traffic, especially along the Terry Ave green street, easily topped the list of concerns. While trucks won’t be rumbling up Capitol Hill, the flood of truck traffic arriving in 2017 will impact car, bike, and pedestrian movement between downtown and Capitol Hill.
Excavation of 574,000 cubic yards of material will require an estimated 57,4000 round-trip truck trips through the site. Tens of thousands more truck trips would follow during the foundation and construction phases. Overall the project would require more than133,000 round trips, according to the analysis by the EIS team lead by EA Engineering.
Several representatives from Cornish College of the Arts voiced concerns about the truck traffic route along the school’s downtown campus. According to the draft EIS, “outbound freight/truck traffic would utilize Terry Ave. to exit the site (including during the PM peak hour) and could affect the Green Street character of Terry Ave. to the north of the site.”
“As an urban school we are excited to see our neighborhood grow,” said Cornish president Nancy Uscher. “We’re ready to accept a new convention center … we’re not ready to accept semi trucks traveling in front of our school daily.”
The EIS, required by the state due to the size of the project, identifies adverse environmental impacts to the project and proposes alternatives. It covers a wide range of topics, including shadows the new buildings will cast, the amount of soil that will be dug up, construction noise, greenhouse gas emissions, and pre/post-construction impacts on traffic.
Around 20 people offered comments, including a few residents who were mostly supportive of the project. The public comment period on the draft EIS ends April 11th. The Final EIS will be completed later this year. You can add your comment via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The WSCC addition will be built on land along the north side of Pine just across I-5 from Capitol Hill where King County Metro’s soon to be defunct Convention Place Station is located today. Plans are currently in the works to phase buses out of the existing transit tunnel in order to vacate the space. In November, WSCC reached a deal with the County to buy 4 acres in downtown for $147 million.
Pine Street’s speedy pace on the project has slowed substantially since it really got underway last year. The project is in the midst of acquiring 44 permits or approvals from 18 local, state, and federal departments or agencies.
There is also a $24.5 million fight underway over the decision by Pine Street to drop the general contractor and construction management company that had been lined up to build the planned 1.2 million-square-foot pavilion. Lawyers for the Skanska-Hunt joint venture recently filed a lawsuit attempting to block a rebidding of the job and calling the decision illegal.
CHS wrote about the various public benefits discussions surrounding the Convention Center expansion projects earlier this year as the project began its tour with the Seattle Design Commission, one of the myriad review processes that will — slowly — shape it. The next round of design reviews is scheduled for May.
Meanwhile, organizers of a campaign to have the WSCC work towards creating a lid over I-5 as part of its public benefits package are ready to start taking public feedback. Friends of Lidding I-5 is holding its first design charrette May 7th at Capitol Hill Housing from 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.
- Pike/Pine Urban Neighborhood Council chair John Feit lamented the project’s severe impact on Boren Ave. “Poor Boren Avenue. Boren Avenue is kind of the whipping boy of downtown Seattle,” he said. “This is Boren’s last chance to be a proper street and this project is going to continue the abuse, unfortunately.”
- “We want the convention center, but we want the convention center keeping our quality of life on our campus,” said one Cornish trustee.
- Another Cornish official said the amount truck traffic through Terry and Virginia was very troubling.
- Briel Schmitz, head of Spruce Street School, said she was concerned about the safety of 200 elementary school kids in the area.
- “The Denny Triangle is growing as a neighborhood,” said Cascade Bicycle Club’s Andrea Clinkscales. “This plan to route trucks down Terry at all hours of the day will really quash that vision.” She also asked developers to consider bike route impacts.
- A proposal to temporarily close Olive Way to pedestrians was “unacceptable” said one Capitol Hill resident who uses the street to walk to his job downtown.
- Developers proposed an “anemic amount of street trees,” said one commenter.
- Proposed construction truck traffic along 9th Ave threatens to shut down the Paramount, said STG president Greg Mollner, and cut revenues for the theater by up to 10%.
- Developers proposed several ways to promote public transit options in the city:
- Transit pass promotions for events, including free light rail rides from Sea-Tac.
- Include transit information on a WSCC app.
- Invest in Commute Seattle, Bike Month, and Transit Month.
- Real-time transit information screens in and around WSCC properties
- Offer Pronto bike sharing maps and information.
- If far-fetched hypotheticals interest you, the EIS did address what would likely happen if plans for the addition and co-development sites were abandoned altogether:
In all probability, once King County Metro no longer needs the CPS site (Site A), subsequent, commercial or residential development would occur. Such development would comply with existing development standards and be consistent with potential, future development that was envisioned in Seattle’s Downtown Height and Density Changes Final EIS for the CPS site. 10 That analysis anticipated a mixed-use complex of buildings that included: 900 residential units; a 600,000-sq.-ft. office tower; and an 800-room, 400,000-sq.-ft. hotel. Similarly, Site B and Site C could also be expected to be redeveloped – consistent with the DMC 340/290-400 zoning that exists. No City rights-of-way would be vacated. This alternative would not include a WSDOT ground/air rights lease.