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Parking vs. buses? Convention Center expansion plans receive mixed reviews

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SEATTLE – The Washington State Convention Center’s expansion plans received mixed reviews from Comicon revelers Sunday.

Most agreed more space for events and parking would be a good thing. But most didn’t like the idea of replacing the Convention Place Station, and redirecting buses, to do so.

“It was magic to get a parking spot,” said Jordan Kearns Sunday.

Dressed as Miranda from the movie "Brave," Kearns said once she was inside Comicon everything was fine. But getting to Comicon was a chore.

“All of the lots around here and even the ones that are usually open were totally full,” she said. “Completely.”

Of all the days, Kearns said Friday was the worst for convention center attendees. “Convention and commuters are fighting against each other for parking spaces. It’s awful,” she said.

It’s a lack of parking for the estimated 90,000 people that attend Comicon and the dozens of other events at the convention center.

“There’s absolutely no parking here, so that’s the situation,” said Natalya Stansfield, owner of Clay’s Market outside the convention center.

She said it doesn’t matter what is in town, there is always a shortage of parking in the area.

“We have to pull over really quickly with emergency lights on,” Stansfield said about making deliveries.

Stansfield said she’s not sure the convention expansion plan will help the problem.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” she said.

Our partners at the Seattle Times estimate 15,000 people will be impacted on a typical Monday afternoon when the Convention Place Station shuts down. Six Metro Bus routes will get redirected to street level, in addition to the Sound Transit 550, Bellevue to Seattle line.

The construction is set to take place at the end of September, 2018.

“The buses also create traffic,” said Stansfield. “Because they redirect it going this way and we have a taxi lane, shuttle lane, delivery lane and then when the bus takes left, basically the intersection is blocked.”

The convention center will gain an extra 440,000 square feet of event space, more than doubling it’s current size. Place for 800 cars is said will be available underground.

“On the one hand more parking is great, on the other hand the idea of having to fight the buses themselves on the street is tricky,” said Kearns.