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"Vital" Occidental Avenue Stretch Not Actually All That Vital

King 5 decided to test the idea that a stretch of Occidental Avenue is too vital to be closed for Chris Hansen's SoDo arena plans. Turns out...it's not.

Back in November, SDOT recommended that Seattle vacate a stretch of Occidental Avenue South between Massachusetts & Holgate avenues in order to accomodate plans for Chris Hansen's SoDo Arena. As we mentioned last week, the Seattle Times was not a big fan of this (or anything related to SoDo arena plans, for that matter).

Vacating the street is a point of no return. It’s when Murray and the council would show whether they have the courage to challenge a flawed project that would congest and jeopardize what’s left of the region’s waterfront industrial zone. Or would they rather hand over an irreplaceable street and subsidize what’s become a pipe dream for hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, who appears unlikely to secure an NBA team before his arena deal expires in 2017?

KING 5 decided to take a closer look at what would actually happen to area traffic and freight if the road was taken away. As Chris Daniels notes, the Port of Seattle argues that the road is vital and losing it would inhibit their growth. Hansen's side argues that the road is not vital but he would replace it with an access road, pedestrian bridge, and public park in its place.

Daniels took a look at traffic on the stretch of Occidental during three different days and times. Not only did he see minimal truck traffic, he watched as surrounding roads saw plenty more freight traffic. No only that, traffic in general was light the entire time. All told, they saw a total of three trucks during their three hours spent watching the road.

The next big discussion about the street vacations takes place March 15 at a public Seattle City Council meeting. They could end up making a final decision as soon as a month after that.
· Closing Occidental would have small impact on SoDo traffic [K5]
· The Seattle Times Really Does Not Like Chris Hansen's SoDo Arena Plan [CS]
· Seattle Dept. of Transportation recommends vacating part of street for NBA/NHL Sodo arena [ST]