Friday, August 10, 2012

Proposed Seattle Arena Threatens Port Ops, Studies Say

Three different reports presented to the Port of Seattle Commission recently state that traffic congestion and pressure on industrial businesses brought by a proposed sports facility near the waterfront could squeeze out small business, disrupt port operations and limit the potential for the port growth.

A panel of experts in transportation, maritime economics and land use presented their findings to the port Aug. 7. The discussion came a little over a week after the King County, Washington Council voted 6-3 on July 30 to move ahead with plans for a new $490 million sports arena in the SoDo area. 
The port previously urged county and city officials to conduct a thorough study on the issue before moving forward.

During the panel discussion, the three experts noted several key issues that must be addressed regarding the proposed arena, including how port terminal operations are significantly impacted on game days because game traffic makes reaching terminals difficult for trucks.

Also according to the panel, congestion increases transit time and costs and makes the gateway less attractive for customers, therefore, SoDo’s well-documented traffic management issues would theoretically worsen the situation.

Additionally, when industrial businesses are squeezed out of the waterfront area by other land uses like entertainment, they must relocate farther out, which increases the cost of doing business, according to the panel.

“People’s jobs are at stake here. Let’s take the time to analyze the full impacts and the trade-offs that will be made if the arena is built in SoDo,” Commissioner Bill Bryant said.

The panelists during the discussion were Marni Heffron, who has more than 25 years of experience as a transportation engineer and has led transportation studies for development and infrastructure projects in Seattle and at the Port of Seattle; Paul Sorenson, Principal of BST Associates, who has participated in planning, economic and financial assessments of transportation projects for 35 years; and Peter Steinbrueck of Steinbrueck Urban Strategies, who has years of experience in land use and zoning, urban design, public policy and urban planning.