SODO Traffic – Look Out!

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not sodo
      Not SODO

Topic? SODO traffic. Location? Corner of 1st Avenue South and Edgar Martinez Way. A TV news crew was conducting the interview when a cargo truck sideswiped a car in a nearby lane, forcing the car up over the curb and across the sidewalk where one tire ran over my left foot. The TV crew dispersed like bowling pens.

No damage was caused except to the shine on top of my left shoe. Three years later, the moment endures as one of those “only in SODO” moments. Unusual? Perhaps. Unique? Probably not.

Like mothers, everyone has one when it comes to “only-in-SODO” traffic moments and you can tell yours at a brown-bag lunch in SODO on June 15 or a community roundtable on June 18.

The input will help the local business community put together a shared effort to better inform elected leaders and transportation agencies about SODO transportation needs, hopefully building on efforts that include Mayor Murray’s attempt to finally build the Lander Street Overpass, a long-delayed safety and mobility project.

Workable SODO

An earlier opportunity to weigh-in on SODO traffic was provided during 2012 by the Workable SODO research project published by the Duwamish Transportation Management Association (TMA). A copy of Workable SODO is available online at

The report was based on input from more than 420 SODO employees and 50 SODO businesses who helped reveal a major contradiction at the root of SODO traffic.

In many ways, on a regional basis, SODO is an amazing transportation hub that accommodates huge volumes of in-and-out traffic that mixes special events, marine cargo, fleets of delivery trucks, giant railroad yards and train traffic, along with thousands of cars, pedestrians, cyclists and not nearly enough buses. On many days, this cluster works surprisingly well. And, at least a few days each year, it is a disaster.

But, at a local level, for those who work in SODO, transportation problems are chronic. Bus service is inadequate and in large stretches, non-existent. Both heavy-gauge and light-rail trains run through the neighborhood continuously. Sports fans arriving for games create barriers for other businesses. Cyclists and pedestrians often feel unsafe. Roadways and sidewalks are often poorly maintained. Side roads are often unpaved. Drainage is poor and mud puddles sometimes grow to the size of small lakes.

Results of the Workable SODO survey were shared with Mayor Murray while was a candidate for Mayor and some of us believe that helped prompt him to take a closer look at SODO issues.

This year, all nine positions on the city council are up for election, making it a good time for the community to articulate neighborhood needs to candidates and incumbents.

Reality Gap

You can share your views and experiences at the brown bag Monday, June 15, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Home Plate Center, 1501 1st Avenue South in north SODO. Or, you can speak up at the roundtable Thursday, June 18, 4-5 p.m. at the Georgetown Campus of South Seattle College.

Yep, SODO being SODO, on June 18 there is a ball game at Safeco so the community roundtable is being held in Georgetown in the Gene J. Colin Hall at the southwest end of the Georgetown Campus. Enter the parking lot at 6737 Corson Avenue S. Or, take the bus. Unlike the vast majority of SODO, the Georgetown campus gets bus service.

The June 18 roundtable will provide the chance to express your concerns directly and informally to SDOT director Scott Kubly, and Seattle City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the council transportation committee.

Both the brown bag and the roundtable are cosponsored by the new SODO Business Improvement Association (BIA), the Duwamish TMA and the Manufacturing Industrial Council (MIC). The June 18 open house is being cosponsored with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

Outsiders don’t always understand SODO. One view of the reality gap is illustrated below.

The drawing is an artist’s rendition of what Holgate Street might someday look like in the view of a developer.

holgate fake

The photo below shows the real Holgate Street.

holgate real

How would SODO get from the photo to the drawing?

Sheesh. In SODO, it’s hard enough just getting safely across the street.