Business owners helping monitor waterfront gridlock


by MEG COYLE / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @MegCoyleKING

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Sep 26 at 9:09 AM

Bob Donegen is pulling double duty these days: "It's summer, so we're smiling!"


The president of Ivar's Fish House spends part of his day running the business. And he also spends part of his day working the road that runs in front on his restaurant.

"I check to make sure no one is blocking the boxes and we don't have any incidents with traffic or congestion," he said.

Or confusion. It's not easy navigating the maze that makes room for tunnel construction. Traffic that once travelled Alaskan Way moved under the viaduct. And ferry traffic is headed south - in more ways than one.

"We knew that was going to be a challenge and it has been," said Mike Preedy with the Washington State Department of Transportation.

Even a Port of Seattle driver found himself in the ferry line instead of in the main line. It's one of the reasons why Donagen is documenting the drama.

WSDOT is aware of the challenges. 

"Ninety-five percent of the time each day it works extremely well," said Preedy, who says traffic patterns along the waterfront aren't set in stone. 

"But the unfortunate thing is that five percent is the rush hour; it's the commuter time when capacity matters," countered Donegen.

Which is why Donegen and his waterfront friends are taking matters into their own hands -- to be the eyes and ears of what can be a faceless project. 

"We're trying really hard as are they to be good partners in this," said Donegen. "We're going to be intimate on this project the next six or seven years, we've got to get it figured out."

Some of the changes since the detour took affect May 10: the city has cross-hatched intersections between Colman Dock and Pier 66 so the ferry line doesn't block crosswalks. There's also talk of amending ferry schedules so that two boats don't arrive and unload at the same time during rush hour, which is currently the case.