The 4th Ave Station is a train wreck for CID

The 4th Ave Station is a train wreck for CID
The 4th Ave Station is a train wreck for CID

Norfolk Southern’s recent train wreck in Ohio happened literally overnight, devastating the small town of East Palestine with an environmental disaster no one saw coming.

In Seattle, Sound Transit is constructing its own train wreck – a new light rail station in the Chinatown International District called “4th The Ave option, which would create a construction nightmare for a decade or more, destroy small businesses, public transit and pedestrian safety.

But unlike the community in East Palestine, we can see this train wreck coming, and we know Sound Transit has a better option. Instead of building the station on 4th Ave, the agency can build two new stations north and south of the neighborhood, both faster and cheaper.

Not godzilla CID, Sound Transit Design by Aunt Bettie Luke, Binko Chiong Bisbee, sue kay

The CID is incalculably valuable to the Seattle region. It survives as one of them few remaining Chinatowns across the United States and Canada that is both culturally and economically active.

First and foremost, it is a vibrant neighborhood that is more than pretty buildings. Tens of thousands of immigrants, refugees, elders, youth and mom-and-pop businesses all rely on their unique cultural services each year. Unlike most Chinatowns in North America, it remains a first stop for many Asian immigrants.

CID is also a welcoming space for hundreds of thousands of sports fans and downtown workers, and it serves millions of riders as the region’s largest transit hub. Local Asian businesses offer visitors a much more interesting experience than the corporate chain hospitality that dominates redeveloped stadium areas in other cities.

Although not often cited, CID also adds a unique destination as the only remaining Chinatown in the Pacific Northwest for tens of millions of annual travelers to Seattle, including cruise ships and business travelers. This value may be difficult to calculate, but it is real and has a regional impact.

See also  Big ideas for the city from the head of the Downtown Seattle Association

It is not just 10 years of construction that will damage. Comprehensive scholarship shows that gentrification and displacement often accompany new light rail investments. CID is already surrounded by land that the city council approved to be built on 170-270 feet tall— asking for remodeling. Speculators are camping on much of that landwaiting for the right moment to build high-rise apartmentshotels and office space.

As high-income residents are attracted to the CID, the small businesses that serve the many Asian and Pacific Islander communities will be outbid for space by chain stores and restaurants. This can be accelerated if shops close during construction. This process is how most Chinatowns across the United States disappear.

A sketch of the north-south plan. Sound transport

Locating the light rail stations north and south creates a trade-off for travelers to and from CID, including requiring a transfer from one of the three lines and a slightly longer journey by five minutes. Groups like the Pioneer Square Alliance and Historic South Downtown would argue that not all three lines pass through a CID hub at 4th Ave will harm the mobility of future CID stakeholders. But Sound Transit has not studied future mobility for any proposed location — especially for low-income residents, seniors and workers, which mostly use subway buses– to make such a sweeping claim.

Many of the best transit systems in the world use hubs that still require transfers flagship destinations, such as central stations and tourist attractions. The key hub advocating to connect all three light rail lines would be the proposed northern CID station connecting to the existing Pioneer Square station.

See also  Dirt Monkey & Jantsen bring their Full Circle tour to Seattle and Portland in May
Some opportunity for equitable transit-oriented development north of the neighborhood. Sound transport

Unlike 4th Ave, the option CID nord also has land nearby that Sound Transit can acquire for construction setup and offer back to the community for affordable housing. And Sound Transit in partnership with Seattle could invest in street planning that would make the short trip between Yesler and Jackson safer for pedestrians. County Executive Dow Constantine just announced the potential closure and demolition of both the King County Jail and the County Administration Building – which will be right around the corner from the CID North Station.

The CID south station has similar advantages. It would be just one block south of Uwajimaya, and it could catalyze both new, inviting streetscapes and affordable housing on nearby land. Visitors to CID could get off here and walk just three blocks to experience all that CID has to offer. It will also offer another station for stadium-goers who want to relieve the pressure of match days.

More housing options here, plus street planning opportunities to activate the area. Sound transport

Also, the northern and southern CID stations appear to have less risk of delay. The proposed 4th Ave station would be placed in liquefaction exposed soil and below 4th Ave Viaduct, with potential for surprises that increase construction length – the Highway 99 deep bore tunnel was a grim example of costly delays. Ten years of station construction can easily turn into 15.

Ultimately, decisions to place massive infrastructure projects involve trade-offs. Typically, it is marginalized communities that bear the brunt of these trade-offs.

Is a missing CID an acceptable trade-off? Historic Asian immigrant built buildings with no Asian people in them, or just rich Asians, is not what our society needs. CID was founded by poor and working-class Asian people seeking a home and a sense of belonging in a city hostile to them. It is still home to many residents and workers who cannot afford to live anywhere else. The 4thth Ave option will erase this community of its citizens and the legacies that shaped it. Transit planners should not make us choose between the protection and sustainability of a vulnerable community over the convenience of a transit system, especially when there is an alternative available.

See also  Strauss promotes the Leary alternative for the Burke-Gilman Trail Missing Link

The damage of a 4th Ave station is simply too risky. Few places in the Seattle region are as simultaneously valuable and vulnerable as CID. A generation from now, many of us hope to bring our children and elders to CID to observe our celebrations, connect with our heritage and experience a taste of cultural belonging. With 4th Ave the alternative, this can no longer be a viable reality and we can only read about a living CID in the history books.

With the North and South option, our families and communities can enjoy a sense of belonging, knowing that preserving our histories was deliberate, and not just an afterthought. Our public officials must do everything in their power to ensure it does not disappear, and this includes Sound Transit building two stations just north and south of this invaluable neighborhood.

Christina Shimizu is CEO of Puget Sound Sage.

Sue Kay is an organizer with the CID coalition.

Mike Wu owner Itsumono.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *