A City Council committee will hear a briefing on the 520 Bridge Replacement Project design Monday morning, including discussion about the proposed second Montlake Bridge and the Portage Bay Bridge starting at
10:40 10:50 a.m. or so (it was originally scheduled for 10:30, but they are running behind schedule).
You can watch live online here. We will have more updates during the briefing. UPDATE: See updates from the meeting below.
There is a strong community-led initiative to make sure biking and walking access is a priority in the project. Unfortunately, the common sense inclusion of biking and walking access to the Portage Bay section of the project is currently missing from the state’s design. Central Seattle Greenways has taken a leadership role in pushing for this and other improvements, such as an improved I-5 crossing and better connections in Montlake and North Capitol Hill.
Cascade Bicycle Club has also formed a policy document that contains many of the community concerns brought by CSG and others:
We’ll update this post during the briefing. Stay tuned, and feel free to comment below if you are watching along.
Councilmember Richard Conlin says recommendations about Portage Bay, other design elements will be later this year.
Nancy Brainard, North Capitol Hill Neighborhood Association opposed the trail:
1. Would add 14 feet
2. Trail would have to be on the south side, cross would be awkward
3. There are already “regular land routes” in the plan.
My retorts to these points (also part of the “Sustainable 520″ letter of opposition to the trail):
1. It would actually add ten feet, since four feet can be reclaimed by removing the planted median. That ten feet is almost nothing compared to the total width of the bridge, which is 160+ feet (depending on the section), and benefits are immense.
2. We have yet to see a design for this, and I’m sure it’s a goal that can be achieved.
3. These routes are important for neighborhood access to the bridge, commercial areas and transit stops, and I’m in total support of them. But they are not an “alternative” to a direct route. They are steep and twice as long: For people on foot, this route would add as much as a half hour.
Second Montlake Bridge
A consultant recently determined a second Montlake Bridge would not be worth the $100 million. However, several speakers argued against the city abandoning the idea without looking any further into it. The benefits to biking, walking and transit could be huge, they say.
The report says that there may be more affordable ways to move transit and people biking and walking across the Ship Canal. Widening the sidewalks of the existing Montlake Bridge is an option.
Biking and walking across the Montlake Bridge gets a failing grade. “Nobody wants this situation to continue to deteriorate for the next 50 years,” said Bob Edminston.
Gordon Padelford of CSG: Puget Sound Regional Council considers the corridor a Priority 1 bicycle and walking corridor, Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board, S Pedestrian Advisory Board, Bicycle Master Plan, Seattle Design Commission plus hundreds of supporters who have signed a petition support the project. The Portage Bay trail has regional, city-wide and neighborhood support.
WSDOT design presentation
Councilmember Mike O’Brien supports studying a four-lane Portage Bay Bridge, considering recent tolling traffic numbers. This would address neighbors’ widening concerns and needs for biking and walking access. WSDOT says this is off-the-table, citing transit concerns. O’Brien pushed the issue, suggests transit can still move with a four-lane bridge and adjusting pricing. If WSDOT isn’t interested in pursuing this cost-saving idea, maybe the city should hire a consultant for a second opinion.