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Industry Officials Call Sodo Arena Study Misleading

Amy Radil

Port and maritime industry officials told the Seattle City Council Thursday that marine cargo is an economic success story in Seattle right now. And they say a proposed new sports arena in Sodo threatens their business. KUOW's Amy Radil reports.


Both the Seattle City Council and the King County Council are looking at the costs and benefits of a new basketball and hockey arena in the Sodo neighborhood. They're expected to vote on a memorandum of understanding this summer that would commit $200 million in public bonds to help build the arena. Investor Chris Hansen and his partners would commit another $290 million.

One of the biggest concerns from opponents of the arena has been the additional traffic, when combined with events at nearby stadiums and the Port of Seattle.

At a briefing Thursday, Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw said First Avenue is already jammed with cars on game days.

John Perlic is with the consulting firm Parametrix, which authored a traffic study for Hansen. Perlic says there's no question traffic can be bad there.

Perlic: "There is a surge, generally the hour before the event starts, and there will be traffic congestion in the immediate area. We think, for the most part, it's manageable."

His study finds that even with simultaneous events at Safeco and the new arena, the number of people downtown would be lower than at a single Seahawks game. It also finds that Link light rail and the Alaskan Way tunnel will create more transportation options.

But officials with the port and maritime industry called the traffic study inaccurate and misleading. They say it tries to ignore the existence of container trucks on First Avenue South.

Dave Gering heads the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle. Speaking before the City Council, he ridiculed the study's finding that "Port of Seattle operations are effectively separated from event traffic."

Gering: "If we're going to be honest about our discussion on this, I think we have to acknowledge what we're actually seeing on the ground, not come up with 'therefores' and theories that are based on incomplete statements."

Gering says Port of Seattle cargo traffic and related jobs have seen strong growth over the last 10 years. He worries that shipping companies could leave for other ports if traffic gets worse. The council is expected to hear from Chris Hansen, the investor who hopes to strike a deal to build the arena, in two weeks.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

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