As expressed in a letter to the 520 planners from Central Seattle Greenways, a biking and walking path across Portage Bay is an essential part of the 520 Bridge replacement project. This multi-billion-dollar project already includes such a path across Lake Washington, but it inexplicably stops in Montlake before connecting to North Capitol Hill, Eastlake and beyond.
520 planners told citizen activists they needed to convince the city to support a complete 520 path. Now, the Montlaker reports that the Seattle Design Commission has come out in strong support of the complete path as “an inherent part” of the project.
The Portage Bay bike lane along the future 520 replacement got a strong endorsement from the Seattle Design Commission, getting unanimous support as “an inherent part of the 520 project vision” of reconnecting neighborhoods.
WSDOT”s design team referred to the multi-use trail as a “community requested” feature but has yet to make it an official part of the project, claiming feedback from Roanoke/Portage Bay homeowners who object to widening the bridge and thus blocking views. The design team has already taken unusual steps toward limiting the width of the Portage Bay bridge. Lanes have been reduced to 10′ wide (from 11′ standard) with 8′ shoulders (from 10′ standard), resulting in a 45mph speed limit through the corridor. Feedback received during the Community Design Process favored the added width of the bike lane over a median planting strip of greenery.
This trail has big implications for bike transportation in Seattle, and should light a fire under the city to make some much-needed changes in the Eastlake/North Capitol Hill area. Namely, it’s past due to fix the south side of the University Bridge, especially for people trying to make a left onto Harvard to head up the hill (note to Seattle officials: There’s no need to wait for the 520 Bridge to fix this!). Puget Sound Bike Share and the 520 project both put pressure on the city to create a safe bike facility on Eastlake Ave and the lake-adjacent section of Fairview Ave N between Eastlake and South Lake Union.
The city should also be looking at how to improve Lakeview Blvd from the Melrose Promenade to the I-5 Colonnade (maybe continue on Boylston all the way to Roanoke). This should be easy to accomplish, since Lakeview is wide, and the space is largely underused. There are very few cross streets, so it would be the perfect spot for a protected bikeway of some kind. Maybe a two-way facility on the west side of the street?
Eastlake Neighborhood Greenways, what do you think of a Franklin Ave E greenway?
Do you have any ideas for how the city can best utilize this regional trail connection?