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Traffic is ‘number one concern’ for KeyArena group

Traffic linked to events at KeyArena is inevitable. But will the new owners be able to fix it? (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

Investors say their No. 1 concern related to bringing a professional hockey team to a remodeled KeyArena is traffic.

25K season ticket deposits in 1st hour

Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke told Seattle’s Morning News five things will happen to mitigate traffic congestion in the area before and after the arena opens.

Traffic control

First, all lights along Mercer Street will be computerized, he says. That work is already happening, with the Seattle Department of Transportation installing reactive traffic signals along the corridor. SDOT says the adaptive system has decreased wait times during rush hour by about 17 minutes.

Leiweke says the group will pay to have traffic officers present at every major event. That currently doesn’t happen, he says. Traffic control officers don’t come cheap, however. Hourly wages for off-duty officers were recently found to be incredibly high — $90 an hour or more on Sundays.

The investment group is also banking on the idea that the streets currently closed for the Seattle tunnel project will reopen and lessen congestion.

Of course, the Seattle monorail hasn’t been forgotten. Leiweke says they will encourage people to park in downtown and take the monorail to Seattle Center.

Please save our monorail, a few people plead

Finally, Leiweke says “we will have light rail in ten years.”

Sound Transit plans to build a Seattle Center light rail station. It will be built on the same line as the one which will connect Ballard to the rest of the network. The Ballard link is scheduled to be complete by 2035.

Leiweke says he’s not saying traffic won’t be an issue. After all, when there are tens of thousands of people going to one place, guess what, “you’re going to have traffic.”

“We hear it. We know it. We understand it,” he said, adding, “We’re going to address it.”

Listen to the entire conversation here.

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