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CHS: Eastlake community looks to improve and expand I-5 Colonnade Park

From the Eastlake Community Council
From the Eastlake Community Council

I-5 Colonnade urban mountain bike park is one of the city’s most unique public spaces. It’s a powerful reclaiming of a space destroyed by construction of the elevated I-5 structure separating Eastlake from Capitol Hill.

Ten years later, the community wants to revist the park, improve walk/bike connections through the area and even expand the park further south.

Because I-5 destroyed a whole lot of space in the neighborhood, and it’s about time we did what we can to reconnect as many of the places as we can.

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Capitol Hill Seattle reported on the plans ahead of Thursday’s public meeting:

Opened in 2005, the Colonnade is now in need of some work and the Eastlake Community Council wants input on how the park should be improved and expanded. An introductory public meeting on the project will be held Thursday night at 6:30 PM at the Agora Conference Center.

Located under I-5 along Lakeview Blvd. E, the Colonnade includes an off-leash dog park, pedestrian walkways, and an award winning mountain bike park. The Eastlake Community Council, which was responsible for obtaining the initial funds to open the space in 2005, has already kicked around some ideas for improvements to the park:

  • Adding new paths and sidewalks to improve access through the park.
  • Adding a skate bowl and ramps
  • Improved trail surfacing and bike themed art
  • An agility course for dogs with “paw-friendly” surfacing and dog themed art

More details from the Eastlake Community Council:


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5 responses to “CHS: Eastlake community looks to improve and expand I-5 Colonnade Park”

  1. I use the Colonnade to practice skills every now and then, but… being right under I-5 it has to have some of the worst air quality in the city. Not the ideal location for “running and exercise”. For that matter the Colonnade is near some places that are actually nice for running: the Lake Union Loop, Volunteer Park, Interlaken Boulevard (which leads down to the Arboretum… where the main road is not much fun but everything else is cool). If you need to get across I-5 the Colonnade is as good a place as any but if you’re going to do stair repeats literally any place that’s not under a freeway has to be preferable!

  2. RTK

    Agreed that it is a very unique public space, hopefully more space could be devoted to trails requiring lower skill levels. I have gone there with my son but neither of us have the skills for the jumps or to carry speed into the ramped corners. Agree with Al, a great space to visit but wouldn’t want to spend a bunch of time there due to the air quality.

  3. JB

    Whether it’s viable as a park or not, it could certainly be a whole lot better as a bike/ped connection between Eastlake and North Capitol Hill. The crossings on Denny, Lakeview, Lakeview and Roanoke are all pretty abysmal environments for people walking or biking, especially biking, and they represent almost two miles of Fortress I-5 through a very dense part of Seattle that should have a lot more and better options for traversing the highway.

    As for the park idea, maybe with the right lighting and programming, it could be used for some midnight skate-park type events – when traffic and pollution are lighter?

    1. The existing Colonnade park hosts a few decent pedestrian connections up and down the hill. The hillside really is steep — you either switchback up or take the stairs. Pre-I-5 connections were similar, either taking a shallow angle up the hill, using stairs, or with very steep blocks (the Baist Map is a real-estate map, not a street map, so it doesn’t give a lot of details about street conditions; it seems to show street rights-of-way more than actual streets).

      There’s a little room to the south of the existing park where similar things are possible, but south of about Galer the east edge of the freeway is built into the hillside, not above it, so the only way across is a bridge. The steepness of the hillside, size of the freeway, and its height profile dictates the possibilities for bridges; the possibilities are limited and not cheap.

      There really isn’t an easy fix for this — that’s one of the things we gave up when we built I-5.

      1. JB

        > There really isn’t an easy fix for this — that’s one
        > of the things we gave up when we built I-5.

        But there is an easy fix in the Colonnade area is my point. To be honest, it’s been a while since I’ve been down there, but my recollection is that nothing in that area was designed with any thought to transportation biking (as opposed to mountain biking). Considering there are so few options for crossing I-5 that are actually pleasant and safe, especially along that stretch, it’s a real shame that the Colonnade isn’t more thoughtfully designed with some east-west bicycle routes.

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