Put a lid on it: Seattle 520 Replacement public comment period ends Friday

Speak now or forever live with this lid. Click for high-res view. Image: WSDOT

The public comment period for the Seattle 520 Replacement Community Design Process wraps up Friday, October 5th. This is the last chance for the public to give input before WSDOT finalizes the basic design ahead of funding the project during the 2013 legislative session and beginning construction as early as 2014.

Public comments can be submitted via email to SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov. WSDOT also has an online survey for their preferred alternatives (takes 15-30 minutes to complete), including 520’s West Approach through the Arboretum and Union Bay, the Montlake Lid, the Portage Bay Bridge and the Roanoke Lid on Capitol Hill. All together, this is $2.2 billion worth of infrastructure affecting several Seattle neighborhoods.

WSDOT wants to make sure this transportation investment serves the neighborhood well. Does it? Can you imagine walking over the Montlake Lid between your home, UW or the Arboretum? Does the lid improve the pedestrian experience through Montlake? What ideas do you have to improve the project? Let WSDOT know before Friday, or live with this lid for the next 75+ years.

Here are a few links to help guide your survey input:

Here are the Montlaker Neighborhood Blog posts for emailing comments to WSDOT:

Feel free to copy, paste or edit any of the comments in the links above and send them WSDOT’s way. Seventy-five years of concrete is worth a few minutes today.

Public comment: Create wildlife habitat along the 520 corridor

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Submitted by Larry Hubbell, on behalf of the eagles, herons and other species living near 520 in Union Bay:

The current 520 plans contain a number of positive environmental improvements, for example:

  • Daylighting the lower portion of the Arboretum Creek.
  • Replacing wetlands destroyed on Foster Island with new wetlands west of the current Arboretum offramp.
  • Adding water collection and filtration systems so highway runoff stops polluting the lake.
  • We want to reinforce these goals and we do not wish to see any of them negotiated away to meet budget constraints. In addition, we would like to add a few common sense requests that require more thought than money. For instance:

  • Please schedule work on Foster Island and the nearby wetlands to occur in fall and winter so young birds will have a chance to leave their nests and mature.
  • Leave a couple of the current, tall 520 overpass support columns in place as nesting sites.
  • Engage environmentalists to design nesting sites on the surface of walls built around the bridge. The current 520 bridge supports nesting sites for Barn Swallows, Cliff Swallows and Rock Doves around Foster Island. We can do even better if we make an effort.
  • Route filtered 520 runoff into the Arboretum Creek as far upstream as possible. Every drop of clean water flowing through the creek increases our chances of getting salmon to spawn in the stream.
  • Plant trees around the stream and the water collection sites to help keep the water as cool as possible. Salmon need cool water to spawn.
  • Widen the day-lighted and regraded portions of Arboretum Creek to support increased water flow in the future. Once Arboretum Creek is reconnected to its original water sources it will support an abundance of spawning salmon, as it did originally.
  • Please ensure the stream bottom contains small, round pea gravel needed by spawning salmon.
  • If you have additional ideas for logical, common sense ways we could help ensure the 520 project is nature-friendly please add them in your email as well.

    Please take this opportunity to remind the folks at the Washington State Department of Transportation to keep nature in mind as they move forward. Please feel free to copy any of the following suggestions and email them to the WSDOT address given below.

    WSDOT’s public comment period for the Seattle 520 Community Design Process ends Friday, October 5th. Submit this or other comments to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov.

    Public comment: Seattle Neighborhood Greenways seek better walking and biking over 520

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    Representatives from three local Neighborhood Greenways groups have published their public comment for the Seattle 520 Replacement Community Design Process. Readers are encouraged to consider their comments and join their advocacy efforts by copying and pasting some or all of the text and submitting it via email to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov.

    “Having the ability to be physically active, to freely move through the corridor in pleasing natural surroundings and to reconnect neighborhoods will contribute to a healthy community.” WSDOT SR520 Health Impact Assessment, page 23.

    We are representatives of the grassroots neighborhood greenways groups that surround the SR520 project area. While there are many issues of pedestrian and bicycle safety in the new SR-520 project, this document discusses two major issues.

    Request A: Improve Montlake connectivity

    We urge WSDOT to redesign the North-South pedestrian and bicycle connections from the University of Washington and light rail station to Montlake and beyond. Of particular safety concern is the Montlake Bridge; the west side crossing of SR 520 over 7 lanes of traffic; and the lack of safe, direct, or comfortable connections to south of the project. As stated by the Seattle Design Commission, “we recommend WSDOT to re-examine choices to improve multimodal connectivity.”

    Importance of this request:

    “In both the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans, the Montlake Bridge [and by extension the crossing of SR 520] has been identified as a critical linkage in the non-motorized network with existing deficiencies” (Nelson/Nygaard 2012).

    1) The west side of Montlake Blvd. pedestrian/bike LOS is currently failing and getting worse.
    2) The east side of Montlake Blvd. pedestrian/bike LOS is poor and will get worse under current design due to the new Bus and Light Rail Stations.
    3) Safe and direct pedestrian and bicycle connections to schools, libraries, parks, the UW, regional trails, and hospitals, are non-existent in the current plans and must be re- designed.
    4) No safe and direct connection between North and South Montlake especially along the west side of Montlake Blvd.
    5) This project area is a critical east-west and north-south junction for citywide and regional bicycle connectivity (as shown in Seattle’s BMP and PSRC’s Regional Bicycle Network).

    Request B: Portage Bay Bridge multi-use lane

    We urge WSDOT to carry out Portage Bay Bridge design preference #8, which is to “study safe, direct and comfortable bicycle and pedestrian connections from Montlake to downtown Seattle and north Capitol Hill, including a bicycle and pedestrian facility on the Portage Bay Bridge.”

    Importance of this request:

    This corridor has been deemed very important at the regional, citywide and local levels. Supporting this preference would have positive implications for the safety, health, economy, and environment of our communities and the city as a whole.

    Thank you for your time and consideration,

    Lionel Job, Montlake Greenways, lnljob@gmail.com
    Gordon Padelford, Central Seattle Greenways, Gordon.Padelford@gmail.com Bob Edmiston, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, lenswork64@gmail.com

    WSDOT’s public comment period for the Seattle 520 Community Design Process ends Friday, October 5th. Submit this or other comments to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov.

    Dear WSDOT, Give pedestrians a traffic-separated route over 520

    Montlake Blvd pedestrian crossings. Image: WSDOT

    Dear WSDOT,

    To meet project goals for sustainability, the 520 Replacement must do more than use “green” materials — it must also encourage sustainable activities like walking and biking. Since Montlake Blvd is expected to carry more traffic due to the closure of the 520 Arboretum ramps, pedestrians walking between 520 and the Montlake Bridge will cross more intersections and access lanes than they do today. Providing simple crosswalks does not improve, and thus encourage, walking along Montlake Blvd. WSDOT should study alternatives that give pedestrians traffic-free passage to and from UW, Husky Stadium and the light rail station — and create a safe-route-to-school between Shelby/Hamlin and Montlake Elementary.

    Please use the considerable resources of the lid to make safe, direct and traffic-free routes for pedestrians along the Montlake Blvd corridor.

    WSDOT’s public comment period for the Seattle 520 Community Design Process ends Friday, October 5th. Submit comments to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov. Feel free to copy and paste the above text into an email with “Dear WSDOT, Give pedestrians a traffic-separated route over 520” in the subject line.

    Dear WSDOT, Reconsider dark and dangerous paths under the freeway

    East Montlake Shoreline Trail under 520. All images: WSDOT

    Dear WSDOT,

    Despite good intentions to provide pedestrian paths underneath the new freeway, these paths still cross under low, dark and loud spaces. These conditions will inevitably attract crime and graffiti just as they do under the existing 520. Simply making under-freeway spaces “nicer” will not solve the social problems that plague them. A different approach is needed to provide safe paths for pedestrians without also creating spaces for illegal activities.

    Please consider alternative ways for routing the Bill Dawson and East Montlake Shoreline Trails through safe and attractive areas.

    Bill Dawson Trail passing under 520.

    WSDOT’s public comment period for the Seattle 520 Community Design Process ends Friday, October 5th. Submit comments to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov. Feel free to copy and paste the above text into an email with “Dear WSDOT, Reconsider dark and dangerous paths under the freeway” in the subject line.

    Dear WSDOT, Please redesign the 40-foot wall towering over East Montlake Park

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    High wall facing East Montlake Park. All images: WSDOT

    Dear WSDOT,

    The preferred alternative for the Montlake Lid includes a 40-foot high concrete wall facing the stormwater facility at East Montlake Park. This long blank wall will cast dark shadows and loom over the landscape. It is grossly out of character with the neighborhood and natural surroundings. The lid’s abrupt northeast edge should be redesigned with greater sensitivity to the size and scale of the neighborhood.

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    WSDOT’s public comment period for the Seattle 520 Community Design Process ends Friday, October 5th. Submit comments to: SeattleCommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov. Feel free to copy and paste the above text into an email with “Dear WSDOT, Please redesign the 40-foot wall towering over East Montlake Park” in the subject line.