Let’s Bury I-5: Redux

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Earlier this year I proposed capping Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle. The original idea was radical, and it received a flood of positive and negative feedback. This entry looks at the project more critically, dials it back to a reasonable scope, and includes additional details. I’m tackling this again because I plan to pursue it as a thesis for my master’s degree over the coming year. I chose not to update the original post in order to preserve it as a record, but to accommodate new readers I have repeated (and edited) some of the original content here.

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A Planner’s Visit to Vancouver

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The Vancouver skyline.

After growing up and living the Pacific Northwest for many years I finally had an opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Columbia last weekend. Along with Seattle and Portland, it is an important hub of the Cascadia region and I was intrigued by what I’ve heard about it. And, quite frankly, I had a stunning experience. Though I was only in the city for about 30 hours, I could see that Vancouver is much more progressive in its city planning and design, resulting in an urban environment that is highly sustainable and delightfully livable.

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It’s All About Streets

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Think of different types of public space and parks, plazas, and piers probably come to mind. Streets are another type that often make up the largest share of publicly-owned land within cities, but they may not be obviously “public” in the civic sense when a community only uses them for transportation (and most frequently, for moving cars as fast as possible). In many cities streets are an overlooked opportunity to serve many other purposes; when properly designed, they can be places for people to do business, meet each other, play or wander, and eat and drink, along with moving people and goods. Urban denizens spend much of their time on streets, regardless of how they are designed, so these spaces offer one of the greatest potentials to enhance livability. Make great streets, and you’re on your way to great cities.

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Pronto Set for a Rainy Start

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Pronto Cycle Share, previously working under the name of Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS), has secured sponsorships, station locations, and is set to launch on Monday, October 13th. Annual memberships ($85) started being offered this past Monday, with the first signup being none other than Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. According to the Pronto website, the system will open with 50 stations and 500  bicycles through Downtown, Belltown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and the University District. The system will contribute to the city’s diversity of transportation options, but because of its late launch it may be off to a rocky start.

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Germany Visits South Lake Union

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Last week I led a tour of students and professors from the University of Munich’s Department of Geography through South Lake Union (SLU) . It was a great experience for me, as I’ve never done anything like it, and the German group got to see the city’s most rapidly evolving neighborhood. Their primary studies are in the economics of geographic tourism, but among the mix of undergraduate and graduate students some were more interested in ecological design, urban planning, or related subjects. In our brief walk through the neighborhood we also had an enlightening discussion about the differences between American and European cities and culture.

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Seattle’s Transit Tunnel Is About To Get Busier

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Early Saturday morning I had the opportunity to participate in a simulation of bus and light rail service in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel (DSTT). The DSTT is unique among transit systems, with both buses and trains sharing the roadway and stopping at the same platforms. With the tunnel already facing mass-transit congestion (a good problem to have), the simulation tested if the tunnel could support increased capacity.

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More Streetcars, Please

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Seattle is an era of streetcar expansion, which is good news for commuters, businesses, and transit enthusiasts alike. In an update to an earlier post, on Monday the Seattle City Council approved further study and pursuit of federal funding for a downtown streetcar line on 1st Avenue. This will connect the First Hill and South Lake Union (SLU) lines possibly by 2018. Seattle Streetcar, the official name of the network, is also studying a short extension of the First Hill line. This post will look at why streetcars are returning to the fore and propose additional connections between the city’s central neighborhoods.

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