WSDOT has posted the latest 520 drawings presented at the Seattle Community Design Meeting on Monday at Saint Demetrios Church. The drawings include design updates for WSDOT’s preferred alternatives, including the Montlake and Roanoke Lids, and the West Approach and Portage Bay Bridges. So what’s new for Montlake?
East Montlake Lid: The preferred alternative (pictured above) includes the “Option B Lowered Transit/HOV” plan. This option reduces the visual impact of off-ramps by putting them in a trench through the eastern lid. The trade off is less usable park space (a non-starter?) but a raised viewpoint near the eastern edge seems to be a step in the right direction. More work is needed on the abrupt edge (~30 ft high wall) overlooking East Montlake (McCurdy) Park:
A multi-use trail connecting to the Arboretum along the eastern shoreline is included in the preferred alternative design — but there were no new design updates of its greatest liability: the trail passes underneath 14 lanes and 6 shoulders of freeway-width. More attention is needed here.
Only the mechanical engineer thought it a good idea to put the Operations & Maintenance Facility on top the lid. Overwhelming public feedback favored putting it next to the lid on the SE side. A no brainer.
East Montlake Park stormwater treatment area: This facility will treat the runoff from the 520 west highrise to the Montlake Lid. The design is a “constructed wetland” with parking (@1) and a boat launch (@3). Here is the preferred alternative:
Lake Washington Blvd: Feedback favored shifting LW Blvd north away from adjacent homes and keeping it a simple two-lane road with no median (per original Olmsted design). Here is the preferred alternative:
Montlake Blvd Pedestrian Access: Since the Arboretum access ramps are not being replaced in the new era of 520, even more vehicles will be funneled through Montlake Blvd. To account for the increase in traffic, Montlake Blvd will grow to be 9 lanes wide. This creates additional challenges for bikes and pedestrians commuting to and from UW/Station, fans going to Husky Stadium, cyclists riding to the Burke-Gilman Trail and school kids walking from Shelby-Hamlin to Montlake Elementary. WSDOT’s attempts so far to address these issues have been… well, judge for yourself:
The bike-ped tunnel under Montlake Blvd (northern edge of 520) connecting to the Bill Dawson Trail is a positive step forward, although the connections to it seem awkward and potentially dangerous with stairs next to bike traffic — at each ends of the tunnel. For north-south access, there isn’t much. Bikes and pedestrians are forced to do battle with increased surface traffic. Expect longer wait times at crosswalks, more concrete expanses to traverse and more bicyle-pedestrian conflicts on the restricted sidewalk space leading to the Montlake Bridge. Also note: the existing Lake Washington Bike Route using the 24th Ave overpass (near ex-MOHAI) — that is now a freeway access ramp.
Is this progress? Or is this lid just one big interchange?
To let WSDOT know what you think regarding these issues or the 520 Replacement in general, email: SR520CommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov. Learn more about the Montlake Lid here, other 520 Seattle projects here.
Originally published July 20, 2012