Seattle is way behind the curve on mass transit, and the Center City Streetcar extension is certainly a step in the right direction. However, in examining the details of this project, and especially the portion of the Center City Connector where it turns off of Westlake Ave and goes down Stewart St. to 1st Avenue, we are very concerned about the negative impacts to traffic flow by taking two lanes out of Stewart St. between 5th and 4th Avenues.
You may or may not be aware that there are two new 500’ residential towers currently in the MUP approval process on the ½ block of 5th Avenue between Virginia and Stewart Streets that plan to direct almost all of their traffic down the alley between 5th and 4th Avenues. These two projects will total 1,036 new residential units (364 hotels rooms and 673 apartments) with over 400 parking spaces. We have video evidence that the alley is already blocked 30% of the time.
Additional alley traffic created by the two hotels and their restaurants and bars will include food deliveries, laundry service, trash removal, employee arrivals and departures, guest arrival and departures by auto, and taxicab and limo arrivals and departures. Additional alley traffic from the two apartment components will include move-in, move-outs, maintenance servicing, and daily in-and-outs from residents. For the one existing residence on the alley, much smaller than either one of the two proposed, there were over 2,500 alley deliveries in 2015.
The traffic circulation plans and loading berth angles for both buildings in their MUP Applications definitely indicate that almost all of the traffic will enter the alley from Stewart St., and much will exit on to Stewart as well. Without additional alley setbacks, the sheer amount of new alley traffic combined with inadequate loading berth depth on the 5th & Stewart project and a short perpendicular loading berth on the 5th & Virginia project will undoubtedly create backups along Stewart St that will effectively kill one of the remaining two auto/bus traffic lanes much of the time, creating chaos and safety issues for both drivers and pedestrians.
These significant impacts merit additional study for the streetcar plan down Stewart Street from Westlake to 1st Avenue. Please send your thoughts on these issues to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday, June 8. Your voice counts!