Mayor promises to improve access to tunnel

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.

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15 thoughts to “Mayor promises to improve access to tunnel”

  1. 39th or 46th huh? They do realize that the underpasses under Aurora preclude many trucks passage? That's WHY they went down 15th and onto Elliott to get onto 99. There is a great lack of thought going into all this.

  2. Mayor Nickels……do you mean the guy who was committed to the Seattle Monorail project, and then after I had been dinged upwards of $500 in taxes for it, decided he was against it?

    THAT Mayor Nickels? Good luck with any promises he makes to the people in Ballard.

  3. I suspect Nickels won't lose any more sleep over this issue than he did during the snowstorms when everyone who lived somewhere OTHER THAN along the route from his house to his office suffered from impassable streets for days. The access from northend neighborhoods to the tunnel could be hellish, and he'll 'give it a B+' grade, just wait.

  4. No actually there is way too much thought going into this. Each new whine and we add another billion to the cost. You can’t please all the people all the time and trying to do so wastes money and energy. Trucks can go 15th to the newly improved Alaska Way that will replace the viaduct and connect to 5 that way. Honestly I wonder sometimes how Seattle ever got past horses and buggies. CHANGE, OH THE HORROR!

  5. Hey Reuven_

    “Efficient movement on the major arterials ” sounds like road widening to me. I'm all for the tunnel, but not at the expense of turning our neighborhood streets into even bigger arterials. Haven't we lost enough crosswalks in this town yet? Let's not lose sight of families and pedestrians in this process…

  6. Does Nickels understand it is OBVIOUS he is starting his next campaign. Along with the Nickerson St construction (that was put on hold) is crazy how he just SAYS what he feels will get him press… Seattle is worse off for his mayor(ship). hopefully we will not have to put up with his ridiculous moves any longer

  7. This mayor will promise anything to get his way. He has bullied this tunnel through because he has wanted it from the get-go….to please the developers and the tourist businesses! To heck with the Seattle residents who pay enough taxes and are just trying to live here! Never mind us! I am really sick of having things crammed down our throats that we have voted down!

  8. The only widening the Mayor can promise is his waist. Mayor McCheese will say anything to get reelected and make false promises. It's time for someone to hapoon this fat whale.

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