Commentary: Port of Seattle’s support of KeyArena is as disingenuous as their anti-SODO Arena stance

Exactly one month from tonight, renovation proposals for KeyArena are due. Two groups – AEG and Oak View – are expected to submit their plans for a privately funded revamp of the arena.

And at least one local group is expected to encourage the public’s full support of KeyArena over SODO: Our friends at The Port of Seattle.

I mean, we already showed you the Port is spending $185,000 on a consulting firm to help refine their Communications and Outreach Plan, whose stated goals are: Building public support for the KeyArena proposal and maintaining majority city council opposition to the vacation of Occidental Avenue.

In fact, they apparently had a meeting (December meetingDraft agenda 12-22-16) titled “Support for KeyArena Redevelopment,” according to this draft agenda. One of the items? Describing a potential coalition approach, including the catchphrase “Key Up Seattle.” Boy is that clever!

After all, the Port’s narrative has always been that they’re worried about traffic if a SODO Arena gets built – that it would devastate future business and risk jobs across the street at Terminal 46 (even though we showed how disingenuous that argument was a few weeks ago through the Port’s internal memos). They still argue that Occidental Avenue is an essential artery during gridlock.

Which, by the way, kudos to Chris Daniels, tweeting this picture of Occidental, completely empty the day I-5 and I-90 shut down for hours after a propane tank rolled over. You remember that day: Snow was coming down, a ferry was also cancelled, and traffic was devastating – everywhere, except apparently on the Port’s “essential artery.”

Back to the point: So, the Port supports KeyArena. Come hell or high water – that’s where they’re making a stand. Let’s use taxpayer dollars to strategize how we can support the KeyArena plan because traffic is so bad in SODO!

But wait a minute, what’s this? A letter from the Port of Seattle’s Regional Transportation Manager, citing major concerns about traffic congestion in the Lower Queen Anne area around KeyArena! DEIS Comments - Port of Seattle - Combined 2016-05 05A letter

You see, Expedia is moving their headquarters to Seattle in two years – smack dab next to Terminal 91. And when Expedia’s draft Environmental Impact Survey was released last May, the Port cited their concern about traffic along the Denny Way and Mercer Street corridors, which they say are extremely important for cruise patrons and provisioning trucks to reach that terminal. (Here)

Said the Port: “These corridors routinely experience long queuing and high intersection delays...the existing congestion suppresses the volumes that can move through each intersection... Using a traffic simulation model is the only way to accurately evaluate traffic impacts in congested areas like Lower Queen Anne.”

They even provided a Google Maps image of “typical traffic conditions” during a weekday rush hour. Look at all that orange! Said the Port: “We request that the traffic analysis be updated…to accurately depict traffic congestion along the Mercer and Denny Way corridors.”

Ok, I’m mind blown right now. The Port doesn’t want an arena in SODO because of traffic. It plans on publicly supporting a KeyArena renovation instead. But they’re citing traffic congestion right by KeyArena as a big concern in regards to Expedia moving in right down the street!

You CANNOT make this stuff up. How insincere can you be? How gullible have they made the City Council look?

Let’s compare Google Maps “typical rush hour traffic” – between the Lower Queen Anne map submitted by the Port in their response to Expedia’s Draft EIS – and this SODO map, taken at 6:05pm on a Wednesday night:
They’re pretty similar! And anyone else find it ironic that Occidental Avenue doesn’t even have a color? Because no one ever uses the thing! No traffic simulator necessary!

The point is this: The Port has zero credibility right now. A CEO fired amid scandal. Port commissioners approving bonuses of millions of dollars in public funds in violation of the state constitution. Talking out of two sides of their mouth when it comes to future plans in SODO. Hiring consulting firms to push what we see here as a dishonest public narrative in favor of KeyArena.

Oh, and one more: Five internal Port emails released through a Public Information Request (here, here, here, here, here and here), whose content is fully redacted, except for the Subject line: “KeyArena and the Port.”

We’ll let you use your imagination on those.