Friday, August 25, 2017

Port of Seattle Addresses City Traffic Woes

By Karen Robes Meeks

A critical east-west street corridor for Port of Seattle freight and commuters will be receiving a significant financial boost to improve its safety and accessibility.

Civic, business and port leaders this month announced a memorandum of understanding that would dedicate up to $10 million from the port toward finishing the $123 million South Lander street bridge project and $5 million to find ways to improve traffic and safety issues on key freight and transit corridors throughout Seattle, according to the port.

“The City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle, the state of Washington, and federal leaders like United States Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell all came together around this vital infrastructure project because we are all committed to building a thriving, 21st Century economy that channels our booming $38 billion maritime industry,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “I’ve worked on this project dating back to my time in the state legislature, to support our industrial and maritime economy. Our shared economic values of mobility, safety, living wage jobs, and a clean environment all aligned around this bridge to the future.”

The program will create efficiency for freight, and continue the safe movement of cargo through the gateway, said Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton.

“This partnership will improve transportation for commuters, truckers, buses and bicyclists in these critical corridors,” he said.

Considered one of the nation’s busiest rail crossings, the South Lander Street bridge shuts down for nearly five hours a day because of rail traffic, which affects 13,000 vehicles.

Also one of Washington state’s most high-risk rail crossings, the corridor was the site of three deaths since 2011 and has reported an average of 485 track violations daily from cars, pedestrians and bicycles that ignore deployed rail barriers and cross the track.

The project, which is expected to break ground early next year, will take out all at-grade access to the tracks and result in a new four-lane bridge that will safely link 1,400 pedestrians who mainly travel between the SODO light rail station and area employers daily, according to the port.

“Washington state loses millions of dollars in economic activity because of train, truck, and urban traffic congestion at Lander Street alone,” said U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell, who helped secure an additional $45 million FASTLANE grant for the project last fall. “By moving freight faster, we can fuel our export economy and create good paying jobs.”