Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Comments on the Supplemental Draft EIS for the Bored Tunnel Viaduct Replacement Alternative

The Seattle Marine Business Coalition was invited to submit comments to the Draft Environmental Impact Study that the state is required to complete prior to moving ahead with the Bored Tunnel replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. 

The city must prepare and submit a similar study. Below is the text of the comments we submitted to the state today. We will update you with responses from the state and city when we receive them.

The Seattle Marine Business Coalition represents roughly 300 marine industrial land users within the city limits. Most of our member companies are clustered at the north and south ends of the viaduct, and rely on the efficiency that structure provides for movement between the two industrially zoned neighborhoods of the BINMIC and the Duwamish.

We are concerned with the effects the bored tunnel alternative proposal will have on traffic movement between those two neighborhoods. We believe there has been inadequate analysis of the cumulative impacts of the project on vehicle mobility on I-5, Alaskan Way and other city truck routes, arterials and residential streets. Without more comprehensive analysis, there is insufficient information in the SDEIS to provide adequate notice to the potential users of the revised road transportation system, and/or to plan and provide for appropriate mitigation of the impacts of the project.

Specifically, the analysis should address the following:

1. The state project managers have consistently held that the current tunnel portal configuration and access points mean that virtually all freight movement will be diverted from the existing viaduct to a new at-grade Alaskan Way. What are the expected truck volumes along Alaskan Way?

2. Given that trucks operate differently from single occupancy vehicles, what will be the effect of the additional freight volumes on Alaskan Way to overall travel times between BINMIC and the Duwamish?

3. Tolling seems to be increasingly attractive to the state as a revenue source to help offset construction costs of the bored tunnel, yet the effects of various tolling scenarios are not well defined in the Draft EIS. What will be the diversion patterns for the various tolling scenarios? Which tolling scenario is the preferred scenario? What are projected revenues for that scenario, and what effect will that scenario have on Alaskan Way traffic volumes and travel times?

4. The bored tunnel alternative will by definition cause a reconfiguration of the street grid. What happens to existing recognized truck routes in the post bored tunnel scenario? It would be helpful to the freight community if WSDOT or SDOT could create a schematic to illustrate truck routes developed to accommodate freight needs under the bored tunnel alternative.

5. Finally, we note that two other alternatives were compared to the bored tunnel in the Draft EIS: the cut and cover tunnel and a new elevated structure. Why was maintenance and seismic upgrade of the existing structure not included in the comparison? Several of our members served on Viaduct Advisory Committees. From that participation and independent study, we know that such a seismic upgrade would cost roughly ¼ of the cost of the bored tunnel alternative, and would maintain existing capacity and travel times.

Thank you for the effort represented by this Draft EIS, and for the opportunity to provide input regarding our concerns over the proposal.

Your responses to these concerns will help the freight community understand the effects the bored tunnel proposal may have on our businesses, such that we may work collaboratively with the city and the state to develop solutions that will help maintain the economic viability of the maritime industrial communities represented by the Seattle Marine Business Coalition.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Peter Philips
Seattle Marine Business Coalition