In a win for the Seattle downtown, the Viaduct’s replacement is going to be a tunnel, various news organizations reported. Sure, it’ll take until 2017 (according to early estimates), but this is a major win for Seattle’s walkability and pedestrian orientation that should have knock-on effects in surrounding neighborhoods (including Capitol Hill). The more people come to expect walkability in the downtown core, the easier it’ll be to make decisions in support of those expectations. Non-obvious benefits for Capitol Hill could include more (or better) sharrows, investments in crosswalk safety, and an overall tilt in the balance between cars vs. people and bicycles.
Good comment by cheesecake, who asked: “How will building a new highway tilt the balance between cars vs. people and bicycles?”
My response: this project recovers land for pedestrian and bicycle use. The amount of walkable, bikable land in the heart of the city center will grow tremendously (80-114 feet by 1.6 miles, roughly). I’m not saying that this alone will flip the balance between walking and driving, only that pedestrians and bikers will be gaining much while cars merely get a *replacement* for what they had before (two lanes less, in fact).
Furthermore, if the project is ultimately successful (comes in without huge budget overages and creates new economic opportunity for the downtown core) then it creates new momentum behind other projects to revitalize significant tracts of core infrastructure and land. What if this early success cascades and eventually has us burying I-5 itself? Unlikely, but let’s dream a little about how awesome that could be.
This is bold. Seattle’s moving towards a less car-centric future.