Initiative 123 saves our VIEW, not the viaduct.

The extended tunnel delay means it's still years before the viaduct can be removed, so we have time to improve the downtown waterfront plan. Without adding costs or time to the construction schedule, we can harmonize Alaskan Way Elevated Park, a brand new garden bridge with Seattle's favorite view, into the plan which will bring immense beauty, value and public benefit to Seattle. It's a legacy we can pay forward that will keep us and the next generations connected to the grandeur and the majesty of the Pacific Northwest via the spectacular panoramic views that the one-mile 6 acre park from Pike Place Market to Century Link Field will deliver. Vote Yes on 123 today.  


KUOW hosted a debate on Initiative 123. Have a listen...


Do you have a few more minutes? 

Click here for the YES on 123 Message or check out this self-guided presentation


Initiative 123 is about locating our downtown waterfront park promenade where the best view is, where the most beauty is, where the greatest value and public benefit is and where the most people will be attracted to visit. 

The SDOT plan for the downtown waterfront locates the wide park promenade down on the street level of Alaskan Way with the freight route and the touristy amusements on the piers where views are very limited and the tone is decidedly commercial. The space is very seasonal by nature and would be either very expensive to populate or empty much of the year as it is now, but bigger. 

For the same cost and the same funding sources, Initiative 123 puts the promenade up where the view is on a brand new garden bridge. It's peacefully above the traffic where you can see over the piers to the spectacular Northwest territorial view of the mountains and Elliott Bay on one side and the entire downtown skyline on the other.  Alaskan Way Elevated Park would be an inspiring and elegant park promenade with spectacular views and acres of gardens. 

Like Green Lake, everyone will go there all the time to enjoy the view, get some exercise, gather with friends and family, tool around on bikes with the kids, people watch, take the dog for a walk, have a picnic or to just to go check if the mountain is out. Those park visitors will help activate the boardwalk, Pike Place Market and downtown businesses after the cruise ship season is over.

Remember, it's not Alki down along Alaskan Way. 

The views down at street level feature a lot of trucks and cars and commercial buildings. It's hard to see the water or the mountains. 
view at street level

Up at 55', the view is a muse. It's a breathtaking panorama.

In our focus groups, every single person said that they prefer the elevated view over the street level view for our downtown waterfront promenade. They said they would enjoy Alaskan Way Elevated Park regularly. Many noted the significant sense of ownership and pride they have in that view and lots of them admitted to taking that route coming into town from the airport with friends and relatives just to show off our view. You know who you are. :-) 

So while the viaduct has to go, let's make our public park investment up where we can capture the superior beauty, value and public benefit of that elevated view.  Alaskan Way Elevated Park is a much better investment than a wider boardwalk at street level. 

Alaskan Way Elevated Park.  Same cost. 
More beauty. More value. More visitors. 

Torchlight Run View Over Ivars


Here's the big picture...

We can still improve the commercial boardwalk and the freight route arterial down on Alaskan Way without trying to force a big civic space in there, too. The lower location just does not have the valuable view so essential for attracting park promenade visitors. The space would be impossible to activate off-season, meaning after the cruise ships leave. It would be empty most of the year, just as it is now but wider, which is not good. Making the boardwalk the right scale - the width of the recently installed new sidewalk with the glass blocks - is essential to keep it welcoming. Busy in summer, but not desolate in the winter. 

Harmonizing Alaskan Way Elevated Park into the mix would mean that the whole downtown waterfront sizzles and pops culturally, environmentally and economically all year round. Promenades with spectacular views are people magnets that attract healthy behaviors. The elevated park would help the boardwalk merchants and the Pike Place Market merchants to overcome their painfully slow off-seasons. 

Alaskan Way Elevated Park is a one-mile, 6-acre, brand new garden bridge from Pike Market to CenturyLink Field - a completely inspiring and accessible linear green space that connects downtown, the market, the piers, Pioneer Square and the stadiums. The grand gateway to the park is from the downtown bluff at Union St, with seamless connections to the market and CenturyLink Field, and elevators and stairs every couple of blocks to continuously connect Alaskan Way. 

An anchor building would be developed at each end of the park to sustain the projects. The north anchor building at Pike St Station would connect the park to Pike Place Market and would replace the viewing ramp building called Overlook Walk in the SDOT plan. A downtown elementary school and many other uses could be considered for that location. The south anchor building at Bent 121 or the south end of the existing viaduct could be a brand new architecturally significant aquarium or many other possible uses.  

The beautiful new single level garden bridge would be supported by widely spaced single columns. The park would create over 2 acres of new gardens. It would become Seattle's next landmark and a huge attraction for locals and visitors alike.  

Alaskan Way Elevated Park will be like having a Green Lake or a Seward Park downtown - a place where we can enjoy the view, get some exercise, gather with friends and family, play with the kids, take a walk with the dog, and more. It would be an authentic place that speaks to the unique character of our region and the people who live here. 

Alaskan Way Elevated Park is the romantic edge our city deserves.

Finally, Seattleites will have a reason to visit the downtown waterfront. 


Here's a video from a KUOW panel discussion that makes it easy to gather the basics in video form.  Vote YES on Initiative 123 - Alaskan Way Elevated Park. Ballots arrive in mid-July. Election Day is August 2. 

Vote YES on 123. Same cost. More beauty. More value. More visitors. 


What will it look like?

It will be beautiful. The garden bridge structure would be expertly designed to be the landscape architectural crown jewel of the downtown waterfront. The chance to design the bridge will attract the most creative minds in the world. 
London Garden Bridge
Building new garden bridges for elevated parks is a fairly new idea with both London and Washington, D.C. getting construction of theirs under way this summer. Formerly, they were mostly built on old infrastructure.
In earthquake territory, it makes perfect sense to build a new garden bridge for Alaskan Way Elevated Park because it will be massively strong, incredibly beautiful and extremely cost effective compared to trying to re-purpose the viaduct.
The top-shelf Initiative 123 Feasibility Study's main consultant, BuroHappold Cities | Engineering, put that new garden bridge option on the table within the first hour of the workshop that kicked off their study in 2014. Save the view, not the viaduct. It makes sense. That's why we brought them on board for the study because they're smart and they know what works. 
The specific form of the bridge will come later in the design phase. It has conceptually been identified as a concrete box girder structure for the purpose of estimating. It was estimated as cast-in-place, but could possibly be pre-cast.

The London Garden Bridge above is a concrete box girder structure, also. Our bridge would be beautiful like London's.  


We'll have good company deciding to elevate the park promenade. Other cities have been putting this idea to work for over 20 years now. No cars, no land costs, no problem. 

 London Garden Bridge

The London Garden Bridge: Shown in the picture above is the London Garden Bridge designed by Heatherwick Studio which starts construction this summer. The rendering is by ARUP-London. Isn't it lovely? That could be us.

 

The High Line

The High Line in NYC (2009):  Two dedicated New Yorkers worked for almost 10 years to bring The High Line to fruition. Opponents refused to see the potential, but finally gave in. The rest is history. The High Line is the world's most popular park. That could be us.

 

The 606 in Chicago (2015): A 3-mile elevated trail connecting neighborhoods. Check out this Chicago Tribune video. That could be us.

 

Promenade Plantee

Promenade Plantee in Paris (1995): The first elevated park in the world, Promenade Plantee's charming gardens stretch for 3 miles. That could be us. 


Scope, budget and funding...

Further comparing the SDOT Downtown Waterfront Plan with the street level promenade and Initiative 123 plan with the elevated promenade....

  • costs are the same
  • funding sources are the same
  • both plans remove the viaduct

With Initiative 123, we can realize great economy, immense value and huge public benefit simply by optimizing the sizes and locations of the various plan components. Making these tweaks to the plan means the difference between a project that would drain us operationally and a project that would pay our public investment back in spades. 

The elevated park with integrated anchor buildings at each end replaces the enormous body breaking viewing ramp called Overlook Walk and the wide freight route promenade called Tideline Promenade in the SDOT plan. By reconfiguring these plan components, capital costs stay the same, operational costs go down while beauty, value, public benefit and attractiveness to visitors skyrocket. 

This is the budget and funding pie for the waterfront projects. 

Budget and Funding Graphic

The status quo downtown waterfront plan and the Initiative 123 downtown waterfront plan are funded by the same sources and cost the same amount of money. The governance change is the biggest difference.

Instead of the Mayor's office being directly in charge of the the waterfront projects with the Office of the Waterfront, the Mayor's office instead administers the Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority through the Office of Intergovernmental Relations that puts a city council-approved board of 12 expert and watchdog citizen volunteers between the politics and the projects.This arrangement works very well at Pike Place Market and it will work well here, too. This constrains project budgets nicely as well because PDAs don't have any of the budget wiggle room that the general bureaucracy allows itself when it comes to big projects.  

The biggest piece of the funding pie is a Local Improvement District where a certain group of landowners who will receive an extra special value benefit from the downtown waterfront improvement plans can be legally taxed more than everyone else.  

The SDOT waterfront plan is already in trouble in that area because preliminary studies could not prove any special added value for nearby landowners.  The wide boardwalk along the freight route doesn't add special value, the viewing ramp doesn't add special value, the hard to program spaces don't bring special value. 

Alaskan Way Elevated Park would have no problem proving that added value. 

The next biggest piece of the funding pie is philanthropy. Both the Initiative 123 plan and the SDOT plan require raising a lot of private money. In NYC, the High Line was also funded to a large extent from donations. 

Alaskan Way Elevated Park would also likely qualify for Federal grant money which the SDOT plan cannot access. 


 

 This is what you will see on your ballot that will arrive in mid-July. Remember to vote by August 2. 

Ballot Title

The purpose of the PDA is clearly defined in the charter of the Downtown Preservation and Development Authority (modeled after the Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority).

ARTICLE II. PURPOSE. With the construction of the SR 99 tunnel, there is an historic opportunity to change and revitalize the central waterfront to benefit the citizens of Seattle. The viaduct provides unparalleled views of downtown, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains accessible to those using the viaduct. The DWPDA enables the City to create a “waterfront for all” with a plan that includes a commercial boardwalk, cycle track and streetscape along the piers, an elevated park and associated development that features a world-class car-free promenade and a spectacular view for use by pedestrians and slow-moving bicyclists, and a surface roadway configuration of the Downtown Waterfront that balances the needs of the many interests, users, and transportation modes in the corridor. The DWPDA will provide public view access by retaining approximately 400 feet of the existing viaduct from approximately north of the Pike Street Hillclimb to just north of Union Street. This will be joined to a new wide (approximate 45 feet) garden bridge for pedestrians and slow-moving bicycles to Century Link Field. Other amenities will be provided such as an accessible bridge from Union St to the elevated park and Waterfront Park, frequent stairs, ramps and elevators, redevelopment of Waterfront Park, anchor real estate developments at the north and south ends of the park to sustain the project, and seamless integration with the Pike Place Market. DWPDA will seek private monies (without relinquishing control of the Corporation) to carry out its purposes and goals or part thereof as well as money from government sources. To this purpose, the City Council of Seattle shall make funds available to the PDA from any source available to do so including, without limitation, the general fund, grant funds from any public or private entity, and by issuing Councilmanic Revenue Bonds if advisable to facilitate the purpose of the DWPDA and its plan for the Seattle waterfront.


 Here are some diagrams and images to help visualize the park.

engineering diagram new bridge 

Diagrammatically, if you think in a terms of a "section" which is a slice through the entire scene this diagram below is the proposed configuration of Alaskan Way with Initiative 123. Alaskan Way is enormously scaled at 180' wide before the bend at South Washington St narrows it a bit. The piers are on the left and downtown is on the right. 

The park is up at 55' and is 45' wide and one mile long. The 30 or so columns would be 100' - 150' apart. Walking below the park, the ceiling would be 4 stories above your head. Possibilities for things below the park are a great dog park / dog walk, a flea market, food truck rodeos, exhibits and more. Sheltered from rain, it would create a place downtown where people could expect fun events and activities rain or shine. Extending the seasons is so important on the waterfront.  

A one-way (south) parking lane on the east side of the right-of-way has 150 back-in angled parking spaces to function as a teaser lot to attract people who need to drive to the park. This keeps the parking maneuvers off the freight route. The freight lanes can be configured many ways. Freight and transit needs to be prioritized in the corridor to ensure freight mobility. These hours are not on the weekends, so that works really well with activating the waterfront spaces for more pedestrian uses on those days. 

 Section Through Alaskan Way

This is the collage we've been developing from photographs to remind us all how spectacular the 360 degree view is and how accessible and welcoming the promenade will be - truly a waterfront for all - all ages and all abilities. Watch for the next version of the collage coming soon. Meanwhile, you get the idea. Of course the real park would have a railing at 48". 

123 Draft Collage


The top-shelf Feasibility Study produced by BuroHappold, Donald MacDonald Architects and National Constructors Group in 2014-15 defined the vision. Click here to take a look at the study. 

Alternative 2 (the preferred plan) from the study preserves and retrofits an architecturally interesting glimpse of the old viaduct near Pike Place Market (light blue in the diagram) and continues south with a new single level, single column garden bridge to the stadiums (dark blue in the diagram). A grand gateway bridge connects the downtown bluff to the park and the piers at Union St (gray in the diagram). The total project cost is $165.2M. 

Alternative_2.jpg

Talmadge + Fitzpatrick did excellent legal work - first a Feasibility Study in 2014, then the ballot measure in 2015.

Phil Talmadge, who served 16 years in the Washington State Senate representing West Seattle before his private practice, stressed the importance of stating a clear purpose for the Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority, the governance entity like Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority, established by the YES on 123 vote.  

This is purpose of the Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority as stated in the charter: 

ARTICLE II. PURPOSE. With the construction of the SR 99 tunnel, there is an historic opportunity to change and revitalize the central waterfront to benefit the citizens of Seattle. The viaduct provides unparalleled views of downtown, Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains accessible to those using the viaduct. The DWPDA enables the City to create a “waterfront for all” with a plan that includes a commercial boardwalk, cycle track and streetscape along the piers, an elevated park and associated development that features a world-class car-free promenade and a spectacular view for use by pedestrians and slow-moving bicyclists, and a surface roadway configuration of the Downtown Waterfront that balances the needs of the many interests, users, and transportation modes in the corridor. The DWPDA will provide public view access by retaining approximately 400 feet of the existing viaduct from approximately north of the Pike Street Hillclimb to just north of Union Street. This will be joined to a new wide (approximate 45 feet) garden bridge for pedestrians and slow-moving bicycles to Century Link Field. Other amenities will be provided such as an accessible bridge from Union St to the elevated park and Waterfront Park, frequent stairs, ramps and elevators, redevelopment of Waterfront Park, anchor real estate developments at the north and south ends of the park to sustain the project, and seamless integration with the Pike Place Market. DWPDA will seek private monies (without relinquishing control of the Corporation) to carry out its purposes and goals or part thereof as well as money from government sources. To this purpose, the City Council of Seattle shall make funds available to the PDA from any source available to do so including, without limitation, the general fund, grant funds from any public or private entity, and by issuing Councilmanic Revenue Bonds if advisable to facilitate the purpose of the DWPDA and its plan for the Seattle waterfront.
 

The petition was circulated in the Summer of 2015. 30,000 signatures were collected. Initiative 123 qualified for the ballot in July and was put on the August 2016 ballot by the city council. 

This is the full text of the Initiative 123 petition that was circulated for signatures in the spring of 2015.

This is the Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority Map. 

 


 

What does the budget and funding look like for Initiative 123?  


Both the SDOT plan and the Initiative 123 plan cost the same and they are both funded from the same sources shown below, although Initiative 123 would likely qualify for Federal funds as well.

With Initiative 123, great economy and value is realized by making the plan components the right size and putting them in the right place. 

Additionally, with the Initiative 123 plan, the LID funding tool works well. "The High Line Effect" would create special value to the landowners within the taxing halo, which is the only legal way you can apply a Local Improvement District. 

budget and funding

 


There are 8 public development authorities in Seattle, including Pike Place Market. They are all administered by the Mayor's Office of Intergovernmental Relations. The City Council approves all of the PDA councilmembers. 

LEARN ABOUT PUBLIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITIES: 

"The City authorizes the establishment and chartering of one (1) or more public corporations, commissions and/or authorities (in this chapter called "Public Corporations"), each as an independent legal entity, to: improve governmental efficiency and services and general living conditions within the City; administer and execute federal grants and programs, receive and administer federal funds; perform all manner and type of community services; provide and implement such municipal services and functions as the City Council may direct; and allow a character of community participation in appropriate municipal projects and activities that are, in practical effect, restricted by the organizational structure of City government, all as authorized by RCW 35.21.725 through 35.21.755."

City of Seattle Municipal Code Pertaining to PDAs

Eight PDAs in Seattle and the Washington State Convention Center PFD are administered by Mayor Murray's Office of Intergovernmental Relations. Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority is a well known PDAs.  King County's 4 Culture is also a PDA. 

Public Development Authorities Paper by K+L Gates 


Over $400,000 in cash and in-kind donations were raised over the last 3 years to establish an excellent planning and legal foundation for Initiative 123 and to circulate the petition. 

Now we need to keep building support and raising money to get the word out. 

Please declare yourself a supporter by visiting our endorsements page.  

Tell everyone you know to VOTE YES ON 123. Like us on Facebook@alaskanwayelevatepark.

Give generously at whatever level is comfortable for you and if you have a little time to spare, volunteer to help Initiative 123, too.

Vote YES on 123. Same cost. More beauty. More value. More visitors.  


Questions? Please post a comment here. 


  

 

 

 

 


Showing 8 reactions

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  • commented 2016-07-23 06:40:01 -0700 · Flag
    When I first saw a sign on lakecity way to vote no on this,I thought oh god here we go again…. So I looked this site up. This is a better proposal than I would have thought. The opposition is going to make it look like you want to keep the viaduct up. For this to survive you need some better coverage. Maybe some positive media coverage. I love the highline in New York. One of the most beautiful parks on the east coast. But you need the public to understand its not going to cost an absorbent amount to have this amenity.
  • commented 2016-07-21 16:07:36 -0700
    Hi Andy. The Downtown Waterfront Preservation and Development Authority will have its own maintenance and security teams and this will be go a long way to keep things civil and welcoming to all. What they found in NYC parks was if they kept the users in ratio meaning women and children and all sorts of other users were present, then any users that would repel folks are kept in ratio. The High Line is carefully choreographed in this way. I think ours will be much less of a problem in that way because its programmed by the view like Green Lake or Seward Park and healthy behaviors like strolling, jogging, riding bikes, family gatherings, etc. Certainly homeless folks are welcome to use the park, it’s the uncivil behaviors that have to go, i.e. not using homelessness as a euphemism for mentally ill or addicted folks because we have no intention of tolerating any of that and the PDA has the prerogative to set their own rules. The SDOT plan has a real problem in this area because that big wide commercial area between the freight route and the piers will be a desolate downer in the off-season and that will become a troubled area as will their viewing ramp which will also be empty much of the year. View promenades stay busy all year. People are moving as opposed to staying in one spot which helps and we want to welcome lots of kids and that chases away many ill-behaviors as well. – Kate
  • commented 2016-07-21 15:43:58 -0700
    I like the idea minus the fact that there are so many homeless people in Seattle living under the bridges, what is to keep them from coming up there and turning it into their new home.
  • commented 2016-07-20 10:36:28 -0700
    Hi Tyler. The PDA will be in charge of the Downtown Waterfront including the parks created by the plan. Seattle Parks and Seattle Police Department do not have the resources needed to keep the downtown parks welcoming to all users and in tip-top shape. One of our priorities is to make sure everyone is attracted and welcomed including woman, children, older folks and the disabled which the PDA will be able to focus on and achieve.
  • commented 2016-07-20 10:04:53 -0700
    Jeffery, Seems like tearing down the Viaduct will have two major effects: (1)it robs the people of Seattle of an incredible elevated view over what is our most pronounced resource – our environment, the Sound, the Olympic range, the islands, the geography – and all that for everyone and for free. And (2) it privatizes that view to the people who have business in the downtown, and their clients. Now that the downtown business interests, with the SDOT plan, have enhanced their businesses by allowing their clients an improved view these same interests want to commercialize all of the waterfront. It is simple: big money in big pockets at the expense of Seattle’s general citizenry. If you can wrap your head round the idea that the elevated park is, at it’s core, not about making money but instead about improving Seattle’s aesthetic environment, it will be easier to understand.
  • commented 2016-07-19 10:49:04 -0700 · Flag
    Is there any plan to turn over the park to Seattle parks after it is finished and if not what is the rational against doing so? I apologize if you’ve answered this question elsewhere and would be appreciate direction to where you have done so if you have.
  • commented 2016-07-17 11:38:17 -0700
    Hi Jeffrey. Thank you for your comment. When analyzing the downtown waterfront we concluded that the elevated perspective actually delivers the waterfront and the street level is where we get cut off with the freight route arterial and the buildings on the piers. The new garden bridge will be beautiful and strong and will allow the people to stay connected to the water and the mountains with the spectacular panoramic views it will afford. – Kate
  • commented 2016-07-15 07:59:30 -0700
    We’ve regretted the “wall” that the viaduct presents visually between downtown and the waterfront for 50 years, and finally have buried the highway, and you want to build an even more pronounced wall? I am dumbfounded by this plan.