People's Waterfront Coalition

The Citizens' Alternative to Rebuilding Seattle's Viaduct

ECONOMICS

THE BOTTOM LINE

The cost picture for replacing the Viaduct is not pretty. Once you add in the lost opportunity to develop a vibrant, exciting civic and ecological shore, it begins to seem unconscionable. The alternative scenario for the downtown waterfront, as illustrated in the Seattle Strand plan, starts to frame a compelling economic argument:

THE LARGER PICTURE

Our greater waterfront is a working waterfront. The container industry, commercial fishing, recreational boating and related maritime businesses comprise one of the foundations of our economy. Seattle's industrial businesses are mostly located at SODO to the south and BINMIC (Ballard-Interbay-Magnolia Industrial Corridor) to the north of the central waterfront. These businesses, and the jobs they provide, are crucial, and need to be cared for and sustained.

However, freight use of the Viaduct is often misunderstood. The Port of Seattle doesn't use the Viaduct for container cargo. About 80% of container traffic comes and goes by rail, and nearly all of the remaining 20% comes from or goes to I-5 and I-90 on trucks. Only a tiny percentage of the containers are headed from or to Seattle businesses. Freight trips, some of which are between our two industrial areas, account for about 4% of total Viaduct trips, which is about average for freight use of any arterial or highway. Freight mobility is important throughout the city, because the distribution economy serves the restaurants, stores, and businesses in EVERY neighborhood. Solving the larger problem by investing in freight only lanes and freight priority access on important truck routes everywhere may be more cost-effective than investing billions in a single facility.

A healthy shore and dense downtown growth complement Seattle's working waterfront. Commuting from downtown to these jobs is easy. The visibility of container shipping and our maritime industries from downtown is an essential element of Seattle's identity, keeping our city 'real'. And a healthy Bay ecosystem would ensure that fishing and boating economies thrive.