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.

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Posted in Biking, Buses, Cars, Editorial, Land Use, Landscape, Megaprojects, Parks, Public Participation, Public Space, Roads, Transportation, Walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Vote No on Seattle Initiative 123

Overview Waterfront RenderIt’s time to vote down one of the most disastrous ballot measures to come before Seattle voters in years: Initiative 123, a rouge attempt to disrupt over a decade of planning and waste millions of dollars in design for Seattle’s new waterfront park. I-123 would undo the community’s vision for a shoreline reborn with the removal of the highway viaduct, the creation of a new seawall and waterfront promenade, and a new pedestrian connection to Pike Place Market. This irresponsible and unaccountable measure must be defeated at the ballot box on August 2nd.

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Posted in Biking, Public Space, Roads, Sustainability, Transportation, Walking, Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whose Sign Is It, Anyway?

20160711_171751_editAs a commuter moving up and down Olive Way every day, I always notice when something changes on the street. And on the morning of February 29th, what I saw was admittedly anticlimactic: a missing pedestrian sign and signal at the on-ramp to Interstate 5. I tweeted the problem to local government agencies, expecting a quick fix, but what followed was a blame-shedding game of hot potato and a disappointing look into the bureaucratic agencies that manage our safety on the streets. Urbanists expect better from our local transportation departments.

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How to Build Bike Lanes on 4th Avenue

20160517_164104(0)The City of Seattle has cut back significantly on its plans for street safety projects citywide, but especially in Downtown and the southern neighborhoods. This has left advocates confused and frustrated, as the City had extensive plans for protected bike lanes and greenways that would create a comprehensive network. And voters just overwhelmingly approved a $930 million levy to build these projects. While that is sorted out and the City adds on another layer of Seattle Process with a “Center City Mobility Plan”, there is one key opportunity that we could implement today at low cost: redesigning 4th Avenue through Downtown.

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Lid I-5 Charrette Draws Big Crowd and Big Ideas

20160507_105034Last Saturday a diverse mix of Seattle residents, designers, and community leaders converged on the 12th Avenue Arts building to imagine lidding Interstate 5. At least 75 people packed a conference room all morning and gathered around tables full of maps and trace paper to hash out ideas for how lids should be designed and integrated into the city’s existing urban fabric. Designs universally included park space, but there was also a strong showing of bike and pedestrian trails, housing, and even an elementary school. The charrette succeeded in kicking off a broader public conversation of lidding I-5 and building a grassroots movement to correct the mistakes of 20th century infrastructure.

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Lid I-5 Charrette Set for May 7

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The Lid I-5 campaign is kicking into high gear with its first major public event scheduled for May 7 at Capitol Hill Housing. The event is open to the public, and people are encouraged to reach out to friends and neighbors to form design teams beforehand. Teams will arrive at 8am for an introduction to the vision of lidding Interstate 5, be provided background information, and set off for several hours of brainstorming, drawing, and mapping. The details are listed below.

What: Lid I-5 Neighborhood Design Charrette
When: Saturday, May 7, 8am to 1pm
Where: Capitol Hill Housing (1620 12th Avenue, Suite 205, Seattle, WA)
Who: Open to all (RSVP here)

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Introducing The Bainbridge-Bellevue Freeway: Bridge to Somewhere

SR-520With the state government so gungho about new highway construction we might as well build more of them whether they make sense or not. Widening I-405? Fine. Extending SR-167? Amateur. I can draw lines on a map too. So, here’s an idea that would go further than the current SR-520 rebuild: extend that freeway to Bainbridge Island to connect with Bellevue. It might create jobs and decreate congestion. The opportunities are endless with enough concrete.

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Seattle Bus Restructure Takes Effect, And an Ode to the 70-Series

20160325_223418Last Saturday, one week after two new light rail stations opened in Seattle, King County Metro implemented its major service change intended to more efficiently connect people with the stations. The changes consist of new, revised, and deleted routes mostly north of the Ship Canal but there were also a few changes that effect riders in the Capitol Hill and Central District areas. With this post I’ll give a quick rundown of the changes and offer an ode to the 71/72/73, which have ended their reign as the workhorse routes between northeast Seattle and Downtown.

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Posted in Buses, Editorial, Rail, Transportation, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments