The One Center City Advisory Group has been formed in Seattle, to create a 2035 vision for how all current and future transportation projects and services can best be streamlined to create stronger connectivity among the city’s central neighborhoods.
Announced in November 2015, the One Center City initiative is a nearly two-year effort to draft a mobility plan focused on better connecting people and goods in the center of Seattle to the region. That includes Downtown, Belltown, Denny Triangle, Uptown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, First Hill, Pike-Pine, the Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square.
“It’s about making investments,” said Don Blakeney, vice president of advocacy and economic development for the Downtown Seattle Association, a planning partner with the city of Seattle, King County Metro and Sound Transit. “How do we share information, so we’re not making investments in a vacuum?”
DSA formed Commute Seattle more than a decade ago, providing consulting services for downtown businesses, property owners and managers to reduce drive times, and it also encourages Metro and Sound Transit commuters to buy Orca cards.
Blakeney said last year the topic of lowering transportation costs and coordinating projects to improve the commuter experience came up in Commute Seattle. A high priority for DSA, he said, is enhancing the public realm around transit, which includes good wayfinding and streetscapes.
The One Center City initiative is funded at $1.5 million, the bulk of that covering the hiring of lead consultant Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates and some sub-consultants, said Eric Tweit, project manager with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
The One Center City Advisory Group had its first meeting in September, and will be meeting monthly over the next 18 months, said Jacqueline Gruber, DSA policy and planning analyst. The group is comprised of 35 members, and should wrap up its work in December 2017, she said.
Tweit said advisory group members applied to join the effort, after invitations were sent out to residents and business owners in the coverage area, asking them to either join or nominate a candidate.
“We know this committee’s not going to represent everybody,” he said, “and it’s only one part of our outreach plan.”
The group will spend the next several meetings in 2016 discussing opportunities and challenges surrounding the current transportation system, as well as future improvements, such as Madison Bus Rapid Transit, Move Seattle projects, connecting the South Lake Union and First Hill streetcar lines, Sound Transit’s $53.8 billion ST3 plan, which is going before voters in November for approval, and also the state’s plans for its highway system and tolling.
“As you start to zoom in on closer, smaller areas, you have to work out which street should this go on and can this work on both of these streets,” Tweit said.
The One Center City Advisory Group will take a closer look at the future of the region’s transportation options in early 2017, Tweit said, and work on strategies for improving travel connections. Public meetings are also expected to start next year.
A One Center City Mobility Plan will cover as far as 2035. The Seattle City Council is expected to consider the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan, Seattle 2035, in October. The mobility plan will be its own document, Tweit said.