In case you haven’t noticed, the state is building a new 520 Bridge. And as we noted back in February, the biking and walking elements of their Seattle-side plans have come a long way since the initial drafts. But there’s still a lot of work left to do.
Since February, the state legislature passed a transportation package that includes funding for the project. Now Seattle has completed a draft of its recommendations, and they have addressed many of the issues safe streets advocates and community groups have been pushing. But there are some key details that still aren’t good enough.
Just the Seattle part of the massive highway expansion project is expected to cost $1.64 billion. So we need to get these details right, and we should spell them out pretty carefully in the city’s resolution.
The good news is that you have a chance to tell the City Council exactly that during a public hearing 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the University Christian Church in the U District.
Seattle Neighborhood Greenways suggests these specific changes:
While there is a lot to like in the draft resolution, unfortunately the current SR520 Draft Resolution does not include the top three needed fixes outlined in a letter sent to the city seven months ago by a coalition of community and healthy transportation groups:
1. Single lane on-ramps and raised crosswalks at the Montlake interchange so that people can safely walk across.
2. Protected bike lanes on Montlake Blvd to allow people to safely bike through the interchange.
3. A neighborhood greenway along the Lake Washington Loop paid for by WSDOT, to provide a key link in the non-motorized system, and protect the neighborhood’s quality of life by mitigating cut-through traffic.
Another issue is that the state and NOAA have not yet agreed on using land needed to provide a high quality and entirely grade-separated trail connection from the floating bridge trail to the trail on the new Portage Bay Bridge. The city notes in the draft resolution that they expect a resolution that creates a quality biking and walking connection.
The big picture is that the design needs to be safe and comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to move around in the Montlake area on foot, bike, wheelchair or other mobility device. Biking and walking connections from the Montlake Bridge (and the city’s proposed walk/bike bridge) to transit connections on the lid to the Montlake business district to the new trail connections all need to be direct and easy.
Here’s an overview of the currently planned trail connections, starting at I-5: