Due to the simultaneous construction closures of roads, parking lots and pedestrian walkways at South Lake Union, the FarmBoat Floating Market will close early this year. Despite hopes to run the market up until Christmas, the City of Seattle has made it nearly impossible for visitors to easily get to the city’s newest multi-million dollar park. The closure of Terry and Western Avenue to pedestrian traffic cuts off most of South Lake Union from the waterfront park. With the expanded construction zones of various municipal projects in the area, the park has become a virtual desert.
Many commuters and residents alike are frustrated with the failure of the Seattle City Council and Mayors office to prioritize accessibility during a period of economic downturn. Efforts to create alternate transportation solutions around state and city funded construction projects have been dismal at best all over the region.
The “Mercer St. Mess” debacle has been no exception to the dysfunctional planning efforts of city officials. When all is completed, it is said that there will only be marginal improvements in traffic flow at South Lake Union with what some city employees already admitting to it simply being an “eventual aesthetic makeover with little functional advantage”. In the meantime, organizations along the shores of South Lake Union suffer. It would have been nice to see some consideration by city planners to minimize economic impact to this area–maybe even offering free admission to the expensive South Lake Union Trolly since it is now the only legal way for pedestrians to get to the shores of South Lake Union.
Major access restrictions to entire areas of the city have put pressures on small businesses from South Park and West Seattle, to Sodo and South Lake Union–in many cases, unnecessarily. It seems likely that the political idealism driving many of these big progressive ideas will be faltering soon as city management answers to stressed tax payers at the voting booths.
While Seattle will always struggle with land-based transportation challenges due to its geological predicament of being surrounded by water, FarmBoat is dedicated to encouraging public access to the natural aquatic highways of Puget Sound. We are working on a number of proposals to improve municipal waterfront access in Seattle that will encourage local inter-county trade and tourism by sea. Two of our current proposals can be see here:
There are currently very few places in Seattle where the public can access a floating market or any other non-government vessel (such as charter or local freight boats). The situation is in sharp contrast to the city’s history. Municipal docks were once the cornerstone of the region’s infrastructure before modern highways were built. Now that growth, congestion and poor planning have greatly reduced the functionally of the regions roadways, waterborne infrastructure may be needed again.
The FarmBoat Floating Market at South Lake Union Park is scheduled to re-open in May next year with the presumption that much of the construction zone impediments to pedestrian traffic will have ended.