Seattle Industry Opposes Road Diet

Once again plans for an SDOT road diet are upsetting someone. This time it’s the road diets planned for Airport Way and East Marginal that are being opposed Seattle’s industrial interests. At a forum sponsored by the Port of Seattle, PubliCola reports:

The city has proposed some version of a “road diet” on both streets. On East Marginal Way, which carries only about half of the cars it was built to accommodate in the 1960s, the city would reduce the number of lanes from six to four, plus a turning lane. On Airport, it would add bus bulbs and reconfigure parking to improve pedestrian safety; that proposal was generated by the surrounding community.

Longshore union representative Harold Ugles said accommodating more cyclists and pedestrians on either street would lead to job losses and traffic gridlock. “We’re under attack,” Ugles said. “What we’re trying to do is prevent gridlock, because gridlock drives away the jobs, it pisses off the public, and it’s a problem for everybody.” BNSF government affairs director Terry Finn warned grimly that if Seattle keeps adding “luxuries” like sidewalks and bike lanes, we’ll end up like Portland, a supposed dystopia where “income is 20 percent below that in Seattle.”

Seattle transportation director Peter Hahn tried to counter the dire warnings, noting that although opponents have predicted disaster every time the city has proposed a road diet, those predictions have never come true. “The harm that has been forecast did not occur.” And if it did, Hahn noted, the city could always just re-stripe the road for cars again. “It doesn’t cost millions to reverse it.”

Seattle Industry, a magazine and web site covering issues important to industry, laments that “SDOT’s top priority isn’t mobility – it’s safety, especially more safety for bicyclists and pedestrians.” (via PubliCola) The industry eBulletin suggests that this focus on safety threatens Boeing Field’s productivity.

However, as usual the impact of these road diets will be minimal to mobility and significant for safety. The lane rechannelization on East Marginal takes 5 lanes of vehicle traffic to 4, taking a lane away from the less-busy side of the road, which now has 3 lanes. The road diet on Airport Way makes the neighborhood of Georgetown safer for pedestrians by adding curb bulbs to allow pedestrians to cross safer. This closes a southbound lane to vehicular traffic (the less-busy side of the road, again) that is currently used for parking the 22 out of 24 hours in the day.


4 Responses to “Seattle Industry Opposes Road Diet”

  • The gridlock bogeyman vs. pedestrian and cyclist safety is my bedtime favorite story.

    Let’s define this “gridlock” in a way that can be objectively measured, and agree to return the road to its current condition should the bogeyman appear. With a solid outcomes-based approach like this, we should be able to experiment freely and diet all over the place.

  • I travel East Marginal Way almost every day on my way to and from work. I bike this route 1-2 days a week, bus or drive on the others. I get people honking at me all the time for taking up a full lane when I’m biking. The traffic levels on this road will be fine with one less lane, and cyclists will be *much* safer.

    Shouldn’t SDOT’s focus be on safety? What is more important, safety or vehicular movement? Roads are public spaces and cars do not have exclusive use of them.

  • However, as usual the impact of these road diets will be minimal to mobility and significant for safety.

  • Safety first before anything else.

Comments are currently closed.