UPDATE: Election results were certified on August 16, 2016. Initiative-123 failed by a wide margin (17.13% Yes to 82.87% No). Thank you!
Seattle voters have a decision to make on August 2 that we at Argosy Cruises have strong feelings about, so we are sharing them with you this #MeetUsMonday.
Initiative 123 (I-123) seeks to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with another elevated structure topped with a park…that will essentially become another tall cement wall between downtown Seattle and the waterfront.
I-123’s plan seeks to copy the success of The High Line elevated park in New York City, but without the civic, public, or stakeholder support, planning, environmental studies, or oversight such a plan requires. I-123 would massively disrupt the current plans for the same waterfront space that already has ALL of this support, and more.
Initiative 123 Points to Consider
- I-123 would establish an authority with its supporters automatically elected to its board, and with no public accountability.
- I-123 would grand this newly-formed board the power to seize City funds and land it considers necessary for the project, and would take control from the city’s own waterfront planning.
- I-123’s plan for the new elevated structure would push traffic closer to the already existing waterfront pedestrian promenade.
- I-123 would remove the pollutant-filtrating stormwater buffer that is currently in the “Waterfront for All” design, which would directly affect salmon spawning habitat in our area.
- I-123’s elevated structure would completely intrude on the already-in-motion plans for the expansion of the Seattle Aquarium and the new Pike Place Market-waterfront connection (being constructed at this time).
The Seattle Aquarium board of directors has themselves voted to oppose I-123. You can read their reasons for opposing the initiative here.
Current Plans for the Seattle Waterfront
Waterfront Seattle is led by the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront, and works closely with civic leaders, stakeholders (like us at Argosy Cruises) and the broader Seattle public. Their goal is a “Waterfront for All” – providing local residents of the city and visitors from around the world the opportunity to experience all the natural, historic, and architectural beauty of our city.
Over the past seven years, the City of Seattle (including the Mayor’s Office and the City Council) has worked with local public and civic leaders, the public itself (through dozens of public meetings and events), and waterfront stakeholders to plan and prepare for major changes to the waterfront area, including:
- Replacing the nearly 100-year-old seawall along Elliott Bay
- Preparing to take down the 63-year-old Alaskan Way Viaduct
- Designing the new Alaskan Way surface street to both move vehicle traffic and create welcoming public access from Seattle’s downtown to the waterfront.
The Damage of I-123
If passed, I-123 would throw all these long-developed plans into disarray, and also affect other nearby projects, such as the extension of the Pike Place Market and the Seattle Aquarium expansion. I-123 would rebuild (yes – rebuild!) the physical wall between the waterfront and downtown Seattle. This new wall, on the exact spot of the current viaduct, is a structure voters have sought to eliminate after 63 years, not take down and rebuild.
With the well-planned “Waterfront for All,” we have a chance to restore the waterfront into something truly special for visitors and locals. I-123 on the other hand would replace one obstacle with another, again dividing the waterfront from downtown, and disrupting widely-supported a civic and community-based plan that has been years in the making.
We at Argosy Cruises urge you, Seattle voters, to say NO to I-123. The Seattle Waterfront is where Seattle began – let us be connected to the city once again.
What Local Media Has Said About Initiative 123
“It seeks to build an elevated walkway from Pike Place Market to CenturyLink Field, including keeping a block-long segment of the seismically unstable viaduct. This will destroy the “Waterfront for All” vision we have all worked so hard to achieve.
Seattle Times Opinion: I-123 threatens Seattle’s newly designed waterfront park
“Building the garden bridge on the area currently assigned for the new Alaskan Way would force the street westward, where space is currently designated for the pollutant-filtrating plants, bike path, and wide pedestrian promenade. These areas will be narrowed or removed altogether under the I-123 proposal, and waterfront visitors will walk underneath a towering structure on narrowed sidewalks and closer to traffic.”
The Urbanist: Why You Should Vote No On Seattle Initiative 123
“[F]or those of you who really do care about the views up there, the city's waterfront park plan includes a large overlook offering the same views of the water and skyline. I-123 is a half-baked non-plan that has had no meaningful public input or support. Vote no.”
Other Opponents of I-123