Welcome

Welcome

Welcome to the Pioneer Square East West Pedestrian Improvements project online open house.

This online open house originally ran from April 2 – 25, 2019. We have closed the survey portion of the online open house and are currently continuing to develop our design for pedestrian improvements on Main, Washington, King and Yesler streets by considering the feedback we received. We will keep the remainder of the content up as a resource until we’ve reached our concept design milestone.

At this online open house, you can:

  • Learn about the Pioneer Square East West Pedestrian Improvements project
  • Hear about opportunities and challenges for people walking in Pioneer Square
  • View our initial concepts for improving the pedestrian environment on Main, Washington, King and Yesler streets

To keep up to date with the project and learn about our next steps for outreach, sign up for our email list.

: Photo of two people crossing a street on foot on a fall afternoon in Pioneer Square
Justin Clark Photography

Yes! Keep me posted

Project overview

Project overview

The City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront & Civic Projects, working with community partner Alliance for Pioneer Square, has begun an effort to improve east-west streets in the heart of Pioneer Square. This project will design and construct improvements on portions of Main, Washington, King and Yesler streets between 2nd Avenue and Alaskan Way.

This effort will:

  • Connect the heart of historic Pioneer Square to the new 20-acre waterfront park
  • Provide safe, convenient and graceful pedestrian connections
  • Improve accessibility for people of all ages and abilities
  • Strengthen the renewal of public spaces such as Occidental Park
  • Support the economic vitality and culture of the district as a whole
Map of the study area for the project, which run on Main, Washington, King and Yesler streets between Alaskan Way and Second Avenue.
Map of the study area (click for PDF .7MB)

Schedule and design process

Graphic showing the schedule for design and construction of the Pioneer Square East West Pedestrian improvements, as well as community engagement milestones. Design began in late 2018 and will continue through the end of 2020, with a milestone for a concept design commitment in mid-2019. Construction will begin in mid-2021 and continue through the end of 2022. Community engagement will occur throughout the whole project, with an upcoming milestone on April 2, 2019 for an open house and walking tour.

To ensure the project is informed by the community, we’ll continue to engage the public through:

  • Public open houses and pop-up events in Pioneer Square
  • Business and property owner meetings
  • Monthly meetings of the project Sounding Board, representing a broad constituency of Pioneer Square stakeholders

Project budget and funding

There is a total budget of $20 million for all project costs including design, permitting, construction and management. The project is primarily funded by the Waterfront Local Improvement District (LID) and is supported by other City funds.

Pioneer Square budget considerations

  • The budget will fund significant pedestrian improvements in the project area
  • A key outcome of the concept design phase (ending June 2019) will be a proposal for blocks to focus on
  • We’ll look at where the most public benefit can be achieved
  • The budget is not intended to address every location within the project’s geographic area

Values

We’re committed to designing improvements for Pioneer Square that are:

People enjoying food while sitting outdoors in a colorful Pioneer Square alley
VIBRANT
(photo credit: Billy Hustace)
A crowd at Pioneer Square Park, including people using wheelchairs and other mobility devices
ACCESSIBLE
Young people sitting at a parklet eating pizza together
COMFORTABLE 
(photo credit: Billy Hustace)
A close-up of a “leaf of remembrance” in Pioneer Square, a metal leaf inlaid into the pavement that bears the name of a person who died experiencing homelessness in the area
RESPECTFUL
An adult and a child playing ping pong at the public tables in Occidental Park
EQUITABLE

Connecting to the waterfront

Connecting to the waterfront

This project will link Pioneer Square to other public features that will be built as part of the Waterfront Seattle Program, including the new Alaskan Way, the park promenade along the water, the reinstalled Washington Street Boat Landing Pergola, a habitat beach south of Colman Dock, and a future open space opportunity at Pier 48.

Click through the slider below to see more about these projects.

A historic bond and lost connection

The land Pioneer Square now rests on has long hosted people – from Coast Salish communities to early settlers – whose daily rhythms were tied to a deep connection to the Sound. The introduction of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the shipping industry’s move to containerized cargo diminished Pioneer Square’s historic connection to Puget Sound. With the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the neighborhood and city want to ensure that the bond between water and land is reestablished.

Click through the slider below for historic images of connections between the district and the waterfront.

Weaving land and water

These east-west corridors knit past and present, open space and commerce, and intimate and expansive spaces together. This corridors, once woven together, can mutually strengthen one another, inviting waterfront tourists into the district, underground tour attendees into Occidental Park, and diners out to the habitat beach to watch the sunset.

Map of the Pioneer Square highlighting the waterfront and Yesler, Washington, Main and King streets, laid over a map of the original lagoon in this area that shows how these streets connect to past links between land, forest, and water.

Base conditions

Base conditions

The opening of the SR 99 tunnel, the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and construction of both the 20-acre waterfront park and Center City Connector streetcar means that the ways people access the neighborhood will change significantly over the years.

To begin planning improvements, we looked at the current conditions and expected future conditions of Pioneer Square, considering the other elements of the Waterfront Seattle Program. The maps below show the base conditions for Pioneer Square in 2025, assuming implementation of the new Alaskan way, the new waterfront park and the Center City Connector. This does not include any revisions to the parking on the east-west streets.

Map of Pioneer Square showing which streets are high, medium, and low-volume. The high-volume streets are Columbia Street, Alaskan Way, Second Avenue Extension, and Fourth Avenue South. The medium-volume streets are Cherry Street, Yesler Way, South Jackson Street, South King Street, and First Avenue South. The low-volume streets are James Street, South Washington Street, South Main Street, and Occidental Avenue.
Street functions for Pioneer Square in 2025
Map of current traffic volumes, showing the number of vehicles that drive on each street per hour during peak times in the morning and afternoon. In the project area between Alaskan Way and Second Avenue South, Yesler Way show volumes between 100 and 400. Washington Street shows volumes between 35 and 125. South Main Street shows volumes between 110 and 170. South King Street shows volumes between 200 and 460. On all four of these streets, traffic volumes decrease going from east to west, while volumes stay steady or increase going west to east.
One-hour traffic volumes for Pioneer Square during afternoon (PM) peak travel times in 2025
Map showing expected areas for parking in Pioneer Square in 2025. If this project is not built, there will be spaces for parking and loading on most blocks in the project area, except for select blocks such as the south side of Yesler between the alley west of Alaskan Way and First Avenue, blocks near Occidental Park, and the first block King Street between Alaskan Way and First Avenue.
Base conditions for parking in Pioneer Square in 2025
Map showing the expected directions of streets in Pioneer Square, including where vehicles cannot turn. Without the improvements of this project, Main, Washington, King and Yesler streets are all expected to be two-way streets. From Yesler, Washington and Main streets, it will not be possible to turn left onto southbound Alaskan Way. Similarly, from southbound Alaskan Way, it will not be possible to turn left onto Yesler, Washington and Main streets. It will not be possible to make any turns from First Avenue on onto Yesler or Washington streets, and it will not be possible to turn left from northbound First Avenue onto Main Street, nor from southbound First Avenue onto King Street.
Street network for Pioneer Square in 2025

Area challenges

Area challenges

Pioneer Square currently faces many challenges to creating pedestrian improvements, including:

  • Aging infrastructure
  • Difficult underlying soils
  • Historic, protected areaways
  • Steep sidewalk cross-slopes
  • New traffic patterns
  • Passenger and truck loading needs

Sidewalk cross-slopes

Many existing sidewalks in Pioneer Square are aging and have steep cross-slopes, where the sidewalk slopes away from the adjacent building-face. These slopes can create significant challenges for people trying to navigate the neighborhood in a wheelchair, with a walker or even a stroller. Sidewalk cross-slopes of more than 2% exceed the guidance from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) on travel path cross-slopes. We're considering designs that create more accessible paths of travel for pedestrians on certain blocks where cross-slopes are steep.

Map of the cross-slope percentages in Pioneer Square in terms of compliance with the Americans for Disabilities Act (ADA). The greatest slopes are on the south block of Yesler Way between Alaskan Way and the alley before First Avenue, along parts of both sides of Washington Street between Alaskan Way and Second Avenue, on the south block of Main Street between Alaskan Way and the first alley, and on the north block of King Street between Alaskan Way and Occidental avenue.
Aging sidewalks in Pioneer Square can have steep cross-slopes, some with a greater than 8% slope

Areaways

Areaways are open spaces that exist underneath sidewalks, or between streets and adjacent buildings. Areaways present unique challenges for vehicle loading, addressing cross-slopes, working with prism glass and other technical considerations. This means areaways are often costly to work in or around. Pioneer Square has many historic, culturally-significant areaways that are protected from being filled in. With the limited funding available, we are considering designs that avoid impacts to these protected resources and focus improvements on the surface conditions where they will have immediate impacts.

Map highlighting locations of areaways in Pioneer Square, including both sides of most of Yesler, Main, Washington and King streets between Second Avenue and Alaskan Way.
Areaways can be found under existing sidewalks at the locations highlighted in red
Three people in construction vests investigate inside an areaway, a large open space beneath a sidewalk
Crews working within areaways under sidewalks in Pioneer Square

Providing a level surface

The existing streetscape present several challenges for people using wheelchairs, walkers or any other mobility assistance device. Poor soils, areaways and settlement means that, in some cases, sidewalks have a cross-slope of up to 28%. There are four basic strategies that can be used to make the sidewalks comply with civil rights law:

Cross-section of a street that shows the existing sidewalk sloped away from a building at a 28% slope, out of compliance with ADA. This strategy extends the existing sidewalk out and makes the sidewalk extensions flat to provide an ADA-accessible pathway next to the sloped area.
Strategy 1: Build extensions from the existing sidewalk into the street, creating a space that all users can navigate and which complies with federal law: a cross-slope of less than 2%.
Cross-section of a street showing a sidewalk that was previously at a 28% slope now changed to a 2% accessible slope by building the sidewalk up to level it out, and creating a step between the first part of the sidewalk and a second area that is extended out into what was previously the street.
Strategy 2: "Stair step" the existing sidewalk. A strategy like this is used on Post Alley between Columbia and Marion streets, and on Occidental Avenue between Jackson and King streets. Feedback from our Sounding Board suggests that this is not a preferred strategy.
Cross-section of a street showing a sidewalk that was previously at a 28% slope now changed to a 2% accessible slope by building the whole sidewalk up to level it out.
Strategy 3: Rebuild the cross-section of the right of way completely. This option is more expensive and may also necessitate reconstruction of existing areaways.
Cross-section of a street showing a sidewalk at a 28% slope where the roadway itself is raised up and leveled out to a less than 2% slope.
Strategy 4: Raise the existing travel lanes, connect them to the sidewalk and then allocate some of the "filled" streetscape to pedestrians.

Main and Washington streets

Main and Washington streets

Main and Washington streets serve an important purpose in weaving together Pioneer Square. As non-arterial streets, there are great opportunities to improve the pedestrian experience on these streets, connecting existing open spaces like Occidental Park to the waterfront.

Map of Pioneer Square showing connections between Main and Washington Streets, and Alaskan way and Second Avenue
Main and Washington connect pedestrians from Occidental Park to the waterfront

Main and Washington options

We are exploring three different options for expanding pedestrian space on Main and Washington streets:

Option 1

Balanced pedestrian improvements along the streets

  • Pedestrian access improvements on one side of the street
  • Maintains existing traffic patterns
  • Calms traffic by narrowing lanes, adding street trees and vegetation
  • Significant planting/tree opportunities on one side
  • Reduces on-street parking/loading availability
Cross-section of an example block on Main or Washington, showing a 12 foot wide sidewalk on one side of the street, one 8 foot wide lane of parking/loading, two vehicle lanes that are each 10 feet wide, and a 25 foot wide sidewalk on the other side of the street.
Two-way traffic with parking/loading on one side
Map of option 1 for Main and Washington streets, showing one lane of vehicle traffic in each direction, ADA improvements on both sides of the street, wider sidewalks, plantings and street trees, one lane of parking/loading on most blocks, and a raised pedestrian crossing at Occidental Avenue.
Option 1 maintains the existing traffic patterns on Main and Washington but reduces on-street parking/loading

Option 2

Curbless street with prioritized pedestrian gateway to Pioneer Square (parking clustered near 1st Ave)

  • Pedestrian access improvements can be prioritized to one side or split on both sides of the street
  • Maintains parking/loading access to all frontages
  • Calms traffic by narrowing lanes, potentially adding curb bulbs and plantings and reducing crossing distances
Cross-section of an example block on Main or Washington, showing a 17 to 19 foot wide sidewalk on each side of the street, two 8 foot wide lanes of parking/loading, and a one-way vehicle lane that is 12 to 15 feet wide.
One-way traffic with parking/loading on both sides
Planview alt text: Map of option 2 for Main and Washington streets, showing a curbless street concept that prioritizes pedestrians, with two lanes of parking/loading clustered closer to 1st Avenue South. This concept has a one-way lane of vehicle traffic on each Main and Washington, with additional space for greenery and street trees. There is also a raised pedestrian crossing at Occidental Avenue.
Option 2 features a curbless street providing a gateway from the waterfront to Pioneer Square

Option 3

Prioritized pedestrian connections to Occidental Park

  • Pedestrian access improvements can be prioritized to one side or split on both sides of the streets
  • Maintains access to all frontages
  • Calms traffic by narrowing traffic lanes, adding plantings and trees and reducing crossing distances
  • Significant planting/tree opportunities
Cross-section of an example block on Main or Washington, showing a 17 to 19 foot wide sidewalk on one side of the street, one 8 foot wide lane of parking/loading, a one-way vehicle lane of 12 to 16 feet, and a 25 to 27 foot wide sidewalk on the other side of the street.
One-way traffic with parking/loading on one side
Map of option 3 for Main and Washington streets, showing prioritized pedestrian connections to Occidental Park. This option includes a one-way lane of vehicle traffic on each street, with parking on one side of the street and wider sidewalks. There is also a raised pedestrian crossing at Occidental Avenue.
Option 3 helps link the new waterfront park to public space at Occidental Park

A one-way couplet

A one-way couplet on Washington and Main offers the potential to reallocate more space in the right of way to pedestrian movement. If a one-way option is preferred, initial analysis suggests an eastbound Main Street and westbound Washington Street would offer the following advantages:

  • Increases space available for pedestrian improvements on Washington and Main streets
  • May increase space available for parking and loading on Washington and Main streets
  • Provides convenient one-block loop for all destinations
  • Better circulation for Occidental Avenue north of Washington Street than other couplet option
  • Likely reduces traffic in the center of the neighborhood around Occidental Park
  • Could enhance views to Washington Street Boat Landing
Map showing potential for Main and Washington streets to be one-way, with one street going westbound and the other going eastbound. Restrictions to left-turns from these streets are noted, particularly restrictions from turning left from Alaskan Way onto either Main or Washington, as well as left-turn restrictions from 1st Avenue onto Main and Washington streets.
A one-way couplet on Washington and Main streets allows increased space for pedestrians, as shown in Options 2 and 3

Yesler Way and King Street

Yesler Way and King Street

Yesler Way

Yesler Way is an arterial street that will accommodate higher volumes of traffic than other east-west streets. Yesler Way will also contain a protected bike lane in the future. For these reasons, there are more limited, discrete options to add sidewalk extensions, curb bulbs and improve crossings.

Yesler Way has higher volumes of vehicular traffic

Yesler Way prioritizes pedestrian improvements on the north side of the street to connect:

  • The crossing to the ferry terminal
  • The connection to Pioneer Park
  • Connections to the transit tunnel

At the same time, the improvements accomodate Seattle Department of Transportation's (SDOT) future, two-way protected bike lane.

Yesler Way prioritizes pedestrian improvements on the north side of the street

King Street

King Street is an an arterial street that will accommodate higher volumes of traffic in its western blocks. King Street is also a large-vehicle access route for bringing oversized loads (e.g. boats) to the stadiums.

King Street provides access to the stadiums

The proposal for King Street's pedestrian improvements are generally more discrete than on other corridors, with:

  • More in-ground planting
  • Additional street trees
  • Curb bulbs

At King Street and Occidental Ave, an alternative could be to raise the intersection, creating a pedestrian linkage with Occidental Mall to the north.

King Street links Pioneer Square to Occidental to the north and stadiums to the south

Next steps

Next steps

Over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be developing a preferred concept design.

To finalize the concept design, we will:

  • Gather and consider feedback from this open house and online open house, our Sounding Board, the Pioneer Square Preservation Board and stakeholder meetings
  • Prioritize potential improvements within project budget
  • Develop a preferred concept design by June 2019
  • Report back on the concept design at meetings and public events in summer 2019

In future phases of design, we will address how the design can:

  • Reveal the multiple, sometimes hidden, histories of the neighborhood through interpretive elements
  • Define a tree and landscaping palette
  • Explore the material language of Pioneer Square and the new waterfront park to determine a hardscape palette
  • Propose street furnishings that support pedestrians (such as benches)