Downtown Seattle seeks to rework pedestrian traffic flow to accommodate transit growth

ByShannon J. Cortes

Sep 8, 2022

The Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) has a plan to help improve downtown Third Avenue as ‘unprecedented growth’ has left the central street struggling with transportation, traffic and crime, making the area unstable. attractive to pedestrians.

Third Avenue as of 2019 has over 290 buses per rush hour, more than any other transit street in the United States or Canada.

“In fact, actual growth trends have upended expectations as Seattle added about one-third of these estimated new residents in the past two years alone,” reads the report, authored by Kathy O’Kelley and Sabrina Villanueva. . “And in 2018, for the third year in a row, Seattle had more cranes than any other city in the country (65 in total). That’s 25 more than second place Chicago.

The DSA estimates that at its current growth rate, the city will reach its growth estimate for 2035 this year, 13 years ahead of schedule, according to the latest report released by the DSA.

In 2016, the Seattle City Council passed a comprehensive plan that estimated Seattle’s 2016 population of 686,800 would increase by 120,000 over the next 20 years.

Seattle’s current population has already exceeded those expectations and is currently estimated at 762,500, according to the Office of Community Planning and Development.

The DSA, along with the Downtown Transportation Alliance and partners from the City of Seattle, King County, and Sound Transit, founded Commute Seattle to encourage single commuters to use more efficient transportation.

“Since Commute Seattle’s inception in 2005, car-only car trips have been declining and Seattle leads the nation in transit ridership,” the report said. “In 2017, Seattle saw more new transit trips per capita than any other city (2.5 million total) and increased transit ridership by 2.3 percent. Today, even though a record number of workers come to the city center every day from all over the region, only 25% travel alone by car.

Research shows that Third Avenue has relatively little sidewalk space compared to other streets in the city. About 45% of its rights-of-way are developed for pedestrians, as of 2019.

“Some people report avoiding Third Avenue altogether due to the lack of personal space and unclear walking paths,” the report said. “This puts retailers ahead of stores at a clear disadvantage to competitors on adjacent streets.”

Young man shot to death on Third Avenue in Seattle, investigation underway

Amid the daily traffic jams Third Avenue faces, violent crime has also increased in this area over the past year. Mayor Bruce Harrell called the situation along Third Avenue “completely unacceptable” after a deadly shooting took place in February.

Earlier this year, the Seattle Police Department increased patrols on Third Avenue in response to recent violent crimes. Acting Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said in a letter that the department would initiate patrols in the area of ​​Third Avenue between Pike and Pine streets.

“I know the past two years have been a difficult time for our city, especially for you, our members of the Seattle Police Department,” Diaz said. “But, at the same time, I think we’ve reached a milestone and can make a positive impact with the support of Mayor Harrell, City Attorney Davison, and the vast majority of the community members we serve. “

Despite the increased volume of crime, the DSA report lists a lack of public or private open spaces, high volumes of pedestrians and long bus queues, poor infrastructure maintenance, walls or blank facades that lack engagement and a high volume of office towers with underutilized lobbies as the street’s biggest concerns.