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Thu April 5, 2012
New arena backers will study traffic, have confidence it'll work
Seattle basketball and hockey fans are inching closer to having a new stadium. The mayor and hedge fund manager Chris Hansen announced plans to study transportation and parking impacts south of downtown.
Private investor Chris Hansen announced that he will pay for the fast-tracked study, due to be out in six to eight weeks.
The announcement came days after the Port of Seattle said a new arena will jeopardize maritime and other industry. The Mariners also sent a harsh letter to city and county officials complaining that a new stadium “simply won’t work,” citing scheduling and traffic problems.
But Hansen says his group specifically chose the SODO area because it is zoned for stadiums.
“I’m not here to say we have all the answers to address everybody’s concerns. I think you all should just know that when we undertook a site evaluation, traffic was one of the key benefits of this area. When we looked at a lot of the other potential sites, we thought this one was the best.”
Confidence in the plan
The study will look at existing and planned transportation systems as well as the demands a new arena would have on parking.
Earlier this week, a citizens’ advisory panel completed their review of plans for the stadium and called them favorable but identified traffic as a key concern.
Mayor Mike Mc Ginn says by 2016, the SODO area will be well equipped to handle both sports fans and industry as transportation options converge.
“You know we have light rail here; we’re going to have a streetcar; we have new bus service; we have the Sounder train which goes north and south. This is probably the most transit-rich place in the Pacific Northwest.”
McGinn, along with King County Executive Dow Constantine, will work with the Port, manufacturing industry and the sports teams, because they say, the movement of goods and services is as much of a priority as moving people.