Is anyone reading the letters from Pioneer Square?


WSDOT may have approved a plan for overhauling the Alaskan Way Viaduct, but one that is deeply flawed in many ways – people out to protect Pioneer Square’s pedestrians, historic place and beauty are speaking out against this plan in the form a detailed letter.

WSDOT has approved a flawed plan for revising the Alaskan Way Viaduct, currently condemned for structural unsoundness (meaning, it won’t survive the next earthquake).  The section that needs to be reconstructed runs fearfully close to Seattle’s historic Pioneer Square

Posted by Megan RisleyJune 24, 2011

While a beautiful, storybook neighborhood located at the south end of downtown Seattle, Pioneer Square is also struggling to become economically participatory in the life of the soggy city.  Many things about the approved plan for re-doing the viaduct would further hinder an already limping community.

And people are standing up to say just that.  A letter, dated June 14, 2011, was sent to members of the Federal Highway Administration and National Park service urging Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to reconsider their decision.  This ten-page document provides background, and details in great length why WSDOT should either consider less invasive alternatives than, for example, the 14-lane interchange connecting to Pioneer Squares streets that currently is in the plans or redraft the plans to include more protections for the neighborhood’s residents, pedestrians and historic area.

This is not the first time this community has tried to make its voice heard.  For over a year, several preservation organizations and community members have been trying to gain protections for the historic district of Pioneer Square under “ection 4(f) of the USDOT Act of 1966.  This law “prohibits a federal agency from approving any transportation project that uses a historic site, unless the applicant state agency does all possible mitigation planning and shows that there is no feasible or prudent alternative”, as Cary Moon from the People’s Waterfront Coalition writes.  There has either been evasive or no response from policy makers.

But, that is about to change.  With a well-research, strong letter from people who are putting health, sustainability and community first, it can only encourage those in charge of construction plans to consider those same values and make changes in their favor.  And, a step towards sustainability is a step in favor of all of us.


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