Denny Way Gridlock Watch


[ Rendering of the Bernard Apartments ]

Inspired by The Seattle Condo Blog’s summary of new and proposed development around Denny Way west of I-5, I thought I’d take a crack at doing the math:

Hyatt Place Hotel and Apartments (Denny and 6th): 160 hotel + 56 apt.
Borealis Apartments: (Denny and Dexter) 53 units
Taylor 28 (Denny and Taylor): 197 units + retail
Marselle Condominium (115 Aurora Ave): 132 units
ICON Tower (Denny/6th/Wall): 224 units
Mirabella
: (Denny and Fairview) 500 units (senior housing)
1200 Stewart: 300 units + retail
2200 Westlake (Denny and Westlake): 160 hotel + 261 condo + retail
Enso (Denny and Westlake): 135 units
Rollin Street Flats (Denny and Westlake): 208 units
Trio: (Denny and Western): 116 units
Bernard Apartments (Denny and Warren): 62 units
Expo62 (2nd and John): 116 units

Grand total: 2680 units.

And that’s not including housing projects within two or three blocks of Denny including Alley 24, Stewart and Minor, 1823 Minor, Cosmo, Mosler Lofts, Insignia, Gallery, and probably others that I’m missing, as well as commercial projects.  Not to mention neighborhood projects that have not yet been proposed — the City projects 16,000 new jobs and 8,000 new homes by 2024 in South Lake Union alone.  

First point:  From the perspective of sustainable development, these projects are great news for the City.  The Denny Triangle and South Lake Union have been highly underutilized and are superbly located.

Now, regarding the inauspicious fate of Denny Way:  Taking into account that all of the projects listed above have more parking stalls than units, and that many of them include retail, as a wild-ass guess we’re probably talking about at least 2000, maybe 3000 (or more?) vehicles hitting Denny Way every day.

Denny Way is central Seattle’s most important east-west route. And already it is backed up all too often. Is future gridlock not assured? Adding lanes to Denny Way is pretty much out of the question.

Gordon Price, the former mayor of Vancouver, BC, is known for his quip “congestion is your friend.” By this he means that only when travel by car becomes painful enough will people seriously consider alternatives. Apparently Seattle has a hankering to test his theory.

17 Responses to “Denny Way Gridlock Watch”

  1. Cosmo Seattle

    hi dan- a proper bike lane would help.

    nice blog!

  2. Ripper

    A bike lane would help? Help what? Add more congestion, sure.

    Anyway, Denny is already a “f*** hole,” as my girlfriend put it. I avoid it at all costs. 35th Ave in West Seattle and Aurora/Viaduct are really the only traffic free throughways these days.

    Ripper

  3. Steve

    Congestion is much more your friend when you also have grade-separated transit, obviously.

    Of course, most of this development is a short walk from downtown. It would be interesting to know the expected work location breakdown of the new residents.

  4. dan bertolet

    Ripper, methinks Cosmo is on my case about contradicting myself with respect to my prior post advocating bikes on 23rd Ave. But no doubt Denny Way is also a festering gash that will seriously impede any kind of pedestrian travel between SLU and the Denny Triangle. It’s an awfully long way between the only crosswalks: Westlake, Fairview, and at the bottom of the I-5 bridge.

  5. Cosmo Seattle

    ripper- i ride a bike for much of my transportation needs. when it’s necessary to cross or ride on denny, a proper bike lane would make the ride a little more pleasant. in fact, it’s a lot safer to ride on denny when it’s congested, cars are moving slower or stopped. so, yes, a bike lane would help.

    dan- i didn’t read your festering gash post. the title and picture, and that i already dont like 23rd ave, were enough that i agreed with you.

  6. Nate

    This is the kind of question we should be asking more often. We’re inviting thousands of new residents to move into the city, but as bad as traffic is, should we perhaps ask them not to bring their cars with them? My wife drives to work everyday because she has free parking. I ride the bus, because my benefit package includes a FlexPass. I get to read the paper, but she gets to work faster (we work in the same part of downtown).

    I urge all city dwellers to make sure our needs are represented strongly in the next round of transportation investments, and taking the new online Sound Transit survey will help shape policy.

    It’s only 6 screens, so it won’t take but a moment of your time: http://www.emcresearch.com/soundtransit/

  7. Matt the Engineer

    Don’t forget Queen Anne. On the top they’re building dozens of new developments, and they’ve finished quite a few on the bottom. Currently there are two ways off the hill: 99 (the on-ramp is at around a 20 minute wait during rush hour), or hopping over to 5. Queen Anne Avenue is already backed up near rush hour, but relating to the Denny issue – that’s were many of these cars go.

    Without grade-seperated transit, that entire region of Seattle will turn into gridlock.

  8. Cascadian

    The solution is clearly to build more grade-separated transit, even if it means making congestion even worse. Eventually Seattle will need a west light rail line to Ballard and West Seattle and probably another line north/south along 99. So some kind of east-west circulator is a good idea. Maybe construct an elevated rail line along Denny/Olive/John, then up 12th, and looping back along Mercer. It could have a stop on Broadway near the light rail station there for people heading north or south out of the city, and presumably it could integrate with stops for the other north/south rail linjes. Of if that’s too local of a line, keep the Denny/Olive/John part of the line but extend it to 23rd, and then loop back along 45th/46th/Market. That could eventually integrate with a future 520 line.

    This is all going to cost a pretty penny, and we have to be willing to pay for it. Otherwise, our only alternative is learn to live with total gridlock.

  9. BK

    Of course I agree density is great news, but dense with whom? I’d like to see the average income of all those moving into those 2,680 units. Who is moving downtown? Are they choosing Denny Way over Woodinville? Yes, yes, I know this is a post about roads and congestion, but just wondering.

  10. Apartments Are the New Condos | hugeasscity

    [...] As with the Denny Way projects, I can’t resist doing the math: [...]

  11. Density Plague Infests Bellevue | hugeasscity

    [...] For your analytical indulgence, some Bellevue data to contemplate in perspective with the number of new housing units in the Denny Way corridor noted here (2680), and the number of new apartment units in downtown Seattle noted here (3217): [...]

  12. Bring On The Life Care For Successful Aging | hugeasscity

    [...] Like Skyline, Mirabella will offer “life care.” And not to be outdone, the 400-unit project includes all the amenities Skyline has, plus a wine tasting room. Its marketability as walkable is a bit of a stretch — neither SLU, nor the Denny Triangle neighborhood across Denny Way are especially compelling to explore on foot, though both can be expected to improve over time. I wish them the best of luck crossing Denny. [...]

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  14. Tony

    The developments along Denny and other downtown condo / apartment projects are a perfect opportunity for the city to implement some parking MAXIMUMs. Given the proximity to downtown and its attendant transit options, if anyone anywhere is going to go car free in Seattle, it would be here. I’m not saying no parking (ah if only), but something like a standard TOD ratio no more than 0.75 parking spaces per unit would do.

    This has three advantages:

    1.) It reduces total auto use, easing congestion.

    2.) It allows people who already want to go car free to self select into these prime locations rather than having to compete for the spots with (wealthier) car owners.

    3.) Its cheaper to build (underground parking cost ~$30,000 per space) AND because you limit the market, the policy also reduces demand. Lower construction cost + lower demand = lower market price = affordable to mere mortals.

    I know its unorthodox, but it has been done elsewhere and it has worked very well.

  15. Matt the Engineer

    I agree. Don’t forget advantage #4: Any time you have less than one parking spot per unit, parking spots and units will be priced seperately (as opposed to included with unit). If I have to pay an extra $100/month for parking, I’d consider getting rid of my car.

  16. Steve

    I’m all for planning for fewer cars, but I think parking maximums are a little dangerous politically — there’s already a “libertarian” faction that believes planning is a socialist plot to eliminate the freedom of driving, and parking maximums give that group ammunition in a way that reducing parking requirements does not.

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