Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels has committed in writing to improving vehicle and freight access from Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne to the new deep-bored tunnel, according to a press release issued today by Reps. Mary Lou Dickerson and Reuven Carlyle. Nickels wrote that the city will work with WSDOT to improve traffic flow on N 46th St., N 39th St., Nickerson St., Dexter Ave. N, Mercer St. and West Mercer St. The city also said it would work to improve congestion at the north and south ends of the Aurora Bridge.
“The major arterials within our community will need attention and we’re focused on ensuring the city is focused on the needs of residential and commercial traffic,” said Carlyle. Both representatives had asked the mayor for a formal letter expressing the city’s commitment on improving traffic flow to Seattle’s Northwest neighborhoods. As you know, tunnel access has been a hot topic in Ballard’s industrial and freight community, most recently at a town hall held at Ballard High School last month. Read the press release below…
OLYMPIA– State Reps. Mary Lou Dickerson and Reuven Carlyle have secured a formal, written commitment from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels to ensure residents of Ballard, Magnolia and Queen Anne have more efficient access to the new deep-bored tunnel.
The 36th District state representatives insisted on written commitments that the City of Seattle would move forward on improving traffic flow and access by enhancing major arterials including Mercer, Nickerson, Western, Dexter and other streets when and if needed.
The written commitments they required on behalf of residents of the 36th District were provided by Nickels on April 15 after Dickerson and Carlyle jointly requested a more formal response from the city than verbal statements. Dickerson and Carlyle secured the unanimous support of the House Transportation Committee for their request.
In a letter to Dickerson and Carlyle, Nickels outlined specific steps and projects the city would undertake to ensure “adequate and efficient access for freight and vehicles, as well as for neighborhood residents along the State Route 99 corridor.”
“This is great news for our communities,” said Dickerson, who sits on the House Transportation Committee. “The Viaduct has been essential to our local economies and families for a long time, and we had to make sure our transportation needs will be met when the Viaduct is taken down and replaced.”
“Now that the decision around the tunnel has been made, the most important issues for our community are efficient access and reduced traffic congestion,” said Carlyle. “The major arterials within our community will need attention and we’re focused on ensuring the city is focused on the needs of residential and commercial traffic,” he said.
The written assurances in the letter from Nickels include plans providing for “efficient traffic flow from neighborhoods in northwest Seattle to the north portal of the deep bored tunnel…” To accomplish this, the city says it will work with the Washington State Department of Transportation to address efficient movement on the major arterials for northwest Seattle residents: North 46th Street, North 39th Street, Nickerson Street, Dexter Avenue North, Mercer Street and West Mercer Street. The city will look at strategies such as synchronizing traffic lights and addressing on-street parking. It will also work to manage congestion at the north and south ends of the Aurora Avenue Bridge.
The April 15 letter from Nickels commits to the items specified by Dickerson and Carlyle in an amendment they were considering as part of legislation authorizing and approving of the tunnel project. The lawmakers agreed to remove their amendment upon receiving the written commitment from the mayor.
Dickerson, who backed a rebuild of the viaduct, said, “Reuven and I will be working together a lot as the Viaduct is replaced. With so much at stake, we need to make sure that commitments are kept and that Ballard, Queen Anne and North Seattle generally get what’s right, and not just what’s left, in transportation funding decisions.”
“We share a healthy respect for the ‘Trust but verify’ approach to accountability,” Carlyle said.