Would an NBA/NHL arena in SoDo snarl traffic to a point that it severely impacts operations at the Port of Seattle? If you've been following Chris Hansen's efforts to erect such an arena, you know the question is open to debate. And, as has been established, the Port of Seattle fears it would. This much was once again made clear today by a three new reports commissioned by the Port and released to the public.
The proposed new arena in the SoDo neighborhood will adversely affect operations of the Port of Seattle's marine cargo terminals, some of which are located directly west of the site identified for the new arena. Standard practice and the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) require the proponent of any large new development with the potential to create significant adverse impacts to determine, dis-close, and as needed, mitigate those impacts. To date, insufficient analysis has been performed by the arena proponent, the City of Seattle, or King County to determine the specific magnitude of impacts of the new arena.
The Port of Seattle has expressed concerns about the arena project based on current and past experi-ence operating terminals in proximity of Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. As with any development proposal, including the proposed SoDo arena, the burden of evaluating and mitigating project-related impacts falls on the applicant and not on those, such as the Port, that would be impacted. The Port of Seattle was not consulted regarding the arena, its location, or its potential impacts until negotiations with the City and County were in advanced stages. Once the arena proposal was made public, the Port provided the most recent analyses it has performed for terminals in the site vicinity in order to provide context and background for its concerns. The Port has prepared these types of analysis when it sought permits for a project or as part of long-range planning. The Port's most recent analyses were performed in 2006 when it converted Terminal 30 from cruise operations back to container operations. The Port also performed transportation analyses in that year to support its long-term growth forecasts. Since then, Port data have been compiled to support WSDOT's efforts to plan and design the Alaskan Way Viaduct (AWV) Replacement Project as well as the SR-519 project. The truck traffic estimates developed for the Port's SEPA studies and other planning support efforts are still valid, and as detailed in this report, the long-term growth targets for Port operations are achievable. The traffic operations docu-mented in WSDOT's various studies for the AWV Replacement Project and SR-519 are also still valid and reflect the conditions that will exist in the future when those projects and many others are completed. The Port's concerns are not only based on these technical analyses, but knowledge of the Port's day-to-day operations, and many decades of experience working to maintain traffic operations in the vicinity of these terminals.
In the same report, the Port of Seattle's "primary operational concerns" are listed:
The Port of Seattle's primary concerns about a new arena in SoDo relate to how additional traffic and changes in land use could affect Port operations. The primary transportation concerns, described further below, are that:
A. Additional events at a new arena will make it harder to reach the Port, increase cargo shipping costs, and affect the Port's ability to retain and attract customers;
B. New incompatible land uses will affect the Port's ability to operate;
C. The large number of new events reduce the Port's effective operating hours;
D. Port traffic will occur in the evenings and conflict with new arena event traffic;
E. Proposed street vacations will exacerbate congestion along the Port's main freeway access route;
F. Additional pedestrian and vehicular activity at nearby railroad crossings increases the risk for train-related collisions and rail and road system delays;
G. Concurrent events at two or more venues greatly exacerbate congestion to, from, and within SoDo;
H. Alternative sites have not been considered; and
I. The proposed arena has not detailed its mitigation needs or identified funding for mitigation
You can find the full reports on the following page.