The Case for Lidding I-5 in Downtown Seattle

A conceptual pedestrian lane over I-5 between Pike and Pine Streets. (Graphic by the author)

A conceptual pedestrian lane over I-5 between Pike Street and Pine Street, tying into the Pike-Pine commercial corridor and proximity to the busy Convention Center. Click to enlarge and see a before-and-after view. (Graphic by the author)

Amid Seattle’s rapidly growing inner neighborhoods remains the urban scar of Interstate 5, a massive concrete and steel ribbon that is the lasting legacy of 20th century transportation engineers. It helps move thousands of people and tons of freight every day through the biggest city in the Pacific Northwest, but it gives little to those who don’t drive and to people who live and work around it. The problems are obvious: noise, traffic, and poor urban design that makes people on the street feel isolated and wastes valuable urban land. The solution is equally clear but admittedly ambitious: lidding the freeway to mitigate its sights and sounds while simultaneously transforming the public realm of Downtown Seattle.

Continue reading

Posted in Biking, Buses, Cars, Editorial, Land Use, Landscape, Megaprojects, Parks, Public Participation, Public Space, Roads, Transportation, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 19 Comments

The Benefits of Living Car-Free

I am often met with awestruck wonder when people learn I don’t have a car. After all, driving everywhere is the American way. There are too many explanations to keep a good party conversation going, so it boils down to cost and abundance of transportation options. But I don’t get too far before I’m assured I’ll buy a car eventually or I’m declared to be a quixotic car-hating lunatic.

Continue reading

Posted in Cars, Transportation | 1 Comment

Redesign the U District / Wallingford I-5 Scar on September 16

Have you been looking for a way to get directly involved with the Lid I-5 movement? Now is your chance!

Join us on Saturday, September 16, for a design charrette focused on the segment of Interstate 5 dividing Wallingford and the University District. At this free public event we’ll build a vision for reconnecting these two neighborhoods which have been divided by the Interstate 5 freeway for more than half a century.

Community ideas–that is, your ideas–are needed to help broaden the conversation and build public support for this important campaign. Pedestrian links and lids for parks and affordable housing are expected to be popular concepts in a rapidly growing area that recently underwent a major upzone and is expecting a new light rail station in 2021.

The event will include a brief presentation on the origins and goals of the Lid I-5 community effort, along with a summary of two previous charrettes focused in the downtown area. Participants will be divided into small teams to identify problems caused by the freeway and develop design solutions.

Here are the details:

Saturday, September 16
12:30 PM – 4:30
University Christian Church, 4731 15th Avenue NE
Facebook page to share (optional)

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CascadiaCast Episode 7: Laura Bernstein

On this episode of CascadiaCast I had a wonderful conversation with Laura Loe (Bernstein), a queer educator, musician, and gardener from Colombia, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago who has lived in Seattle since 2009. As an advocate for fair housing policies, she adapted the YIMBY (yes in my backyard) movement to Seattle and has more recently taken on the YIOBY (yes in our backyards) perspective.

Laura came to Seattle as a musician and a science teacher, and got involved in local politics during the 2015 City Council race as a campaign manager. She discovered significant barriers to getting engaged in government decisions on land use, and found herself jumping headfirst into housing advocacy citywide.

She attributes the Seattle YIMBY movement’s success to Washington’s Growth Management Act, which sets a framework for concentrated growth, and the region’s light rail expansion stimulating conversations about high density development. We also dive into why certain housing messages are effective (for instance, emotions win out over data) and the tension between free market and social justice urbanists.

In 2017 she was elected to Sierra Club’s Washington State Chapter Executive Committee and also serves on the Seattle Group Executive Committee.

She receives half of her income through the generous support of individual patrons. Women urbanists are welcome to join her Facebook group intersectional densinistas (#yimby #yioby #seattle) to discuss the future of growing cities. Follow her on Twitter @YIMBYsea. And catch her keynote speech at the YIMBYtown 2017 conference!

Posted in CascadiaCast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seattle Primary 2017: Vote Farrell for Mayor, Mosqueda for Council

With crowded races in two important Seattle city elections this year, The Northwest Urbanist is weighing in with endorsements for the first time. Ballots for the August 1st primary are in your mailbox this week, so make sure to research the candidates and vote!

Continue reading

Posted in Government | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Fast Ferry Run Impresses, Leaves Room for Improvement

On Monday Kitsap Transit’s new Fast Ferry officially started operations between Seattle and Bremerton, offering a faster transit option for commuters and visitors. Read our previous coverage of the launch for background information and scheduling details. First impressions on were favorable, but the service has a number of kinks to work out before it can be a positive force for change in the Puget Sound region.

Continue reading

Posted in Ferries, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kitsap Transit’s Fast Ferry Starts Monday

The Rich Passage I. (Photo by Kitsap Sun)

After 14 years, Seattle and Kitsap County will once again have a rapid transit route linking them: a passenger-only fast ferry run by Kitsap Transit. Free service begins with a single boat to and from Bremerton on Monday, July 10, and then fares start being collected in August. With a crossing time of 28 minutes, less than half that of the Washington State auto-ferry, the new service may spur economic development on the peninsula and open up more housing options for regional commuters.

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seattle Convention Center Hosting Public Benefit Event December 7

Rendering of the Convention Center Addition, at the corner of Pine Street and Boren Avenue next to Interstate 5. (LMN Architects, Washington State Convention Center)

Rendering of the Convention Center Addition, at the corner of Pine Street and Boren Avenue next to Interstate 5. (LMN Architects, Washington State Convention Center)

The next phase of the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) is being planned, and associated with it may be millions of dollars in discretionary public benefit funding. Occupying four city blocks, the WSCC Addition project will transform a long-neglected corner of Downtown Seattle and offer more meeting and event space for locals and visitors. And perched on the edge of Interstate 5, the new facility will further reconnect the urban office core with the nightlife and residential community on Capitol Hill.

Ideas for the public benefits offered by the project will be showcased at an open house next week. Event details follow, and below the jump is more history and information about the project.

Wednesday, December 7
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Room 2AB, Convention Center, 705 Pike Street
Facebook RSVP (unofficial)

There is also an online version of the open house available.

Continue reading

Posted in Land Use, Lid I-5, Megaprojects, Public Participation, Public Space, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment