Making Connections

Draft recommendations for Westlake Hub to connect bus, streetcar and light rail

Looking south towards the streetcar terminus and the retail core along Westlake Ave. The City is planning to close Westlake Ave betwen Olive Way and Stewart St in 2010 to create a pedestrian-friendly plaza connecting bus, streetcar and light rail.

Looking south towards the streetcar terminus and the retail core along Westlake Ave. The City is planning to close Westlake Ave between Olive Way and Stewart St in 2010 to create a pedestrian-friendly plaza connecting bus, streetcar and light rail.

What is a transportation hub, and what makes for a good one? For starters, usually lots of transit service coming together that brings great regional access with just a single ride or transfer. In many cases this “hub” of activity takes place around a single structure, like New York City’s Grand Central Station or King Street Station here in Seattle; other times it occurs over several city blocks around a large public park or series of pedestrian plazas.

Westlake is one of the latter: it’s five (soon to be six) forms of transit, plus easy access to thousands of jobs and world-class shopping, make it a popular stopover for both local and regional trips. Only a portion of this activity, however, takes place underground in Westlake Station. For the most part, Westlake is defined by what happens on the surface – people using city streets to reach transit, shop, and often simply to hang out and observe other people. In fact, Pine Street over the Westlake Station has more pedestrians per day (> 30,000) than any other street in Washington.

The number of people and connections will increase as both Seattle and the region continue growing with more housing and jobs, and the transit system expands to bring new riders.  That is why SDOT has laid out a vision for the Westlake Hub.

Top on the list? Developing a pedestrian plaza to improve access between the Seattle Streetcar, buses and light rail, to be constructed in 2010. By closing Westlake Avenue between Olive and Stewart, the project will help improve wayfinding and reduce unnecessary crossings at a complex five-way intersection. With an additional focus on addressing public safety concerns and neighborhood walkability, the project is one of several recommendations that emphasize livable streets – and inviting urban places – as critical elements to a successful Westlake Hub and vibrant Center City. 

You can find the draft set of recommendations, and more conceptual drawings of the improvements on our website at www.seattle.gov/transportation/westlakehub.htm 

streetcar opening 12-12-07
Westlake hub connects five (soon to be six) forms of transit: light rail, streetcar, electric trolley bus, hybrid diesel bus, monorail, and……drum roll…..Bus Rapid Transit

On Thursday, August 6th SDOT gave an overview of the Westlake Transportation Hub Strategy to the Seattle Design Commission. The presentation marked the public release of draft package of recommendations for comprehensive transportation and public space improvements in and around Westlake Station over the next 20 years. Comments on these recommendations will be accepted through September 15th and be used to help develop a prioritized list of near-term action items.   

“The City has been exploring for some time how to knit together the many transit and transportation modes at Westlake,” says planner Casey Hildreth. “It is such a dynamic place, however, and has so many variables over the long-term, that we’ll likely have to continue tweaking and updating the hub strategy as opportunities present themselves.”   

“The amount of existing and forecasted pedestrian activity, though, makes us confident sidewalk and urban design improvements – like the new plaza – are a critical piece of the puzzle that we can and should get started on now.”

To stay updated on the Westlake Strategy or to offer comments, please visit www.seattle.gov/transportation/westlakehub.htm, or contact Casey Hildreth at (206) 233-3780 or casey.hildreth@seattle.gov