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Lid I-5 campaign open house will look at a downtown housing and trail concept

One lid concept by Parsons Brinkerhoff and the Burrard Group, shared by the Lid I-5 event page.

I-5 is a giant barrier between downtown and our city’s densest neighborhoods, Capitol Hill and First Hill. Land is so immensely valuable in this area that building a top over I-5 (essentially a giant bridge that feels like city land) is an effective way to create new space for affordable housing, park space and other public uses.

This includes the possibility of continuous biking and walking connections on top of I-5.

The full Lid I-5 vision is likely going to require a long-term effort because this will be a massive project. But there are potential short-term wins within reach, including an effort to get a feasibility study funded at least in part by the Convention Center public benefits package. The City of Seattle has offered to take the lead on the effort, Lid I-5 says.

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You can get plugged in and check out some of the latest concepts for the lid at an open house 6–8 p.m. today (Tuesday) at the Cloud Room on Capitol Hill.

Details from the event page:

Join the movement to reconnect neighborhoods over Interstate 5 with parks, housing, complete streets, and more! Councilmember Sally Bagshaw will join us to offer brief remarks on why she supports this grassroots campaign.

The Lid I-5 Steering Committee has achieved major progress in recent months and is excited to share the latest updates with our coalition partners and neighbors. Partial funding has been identified for a crucial Feasibility Study and the City of Seattle has offered to take the lead, but work remains to be done and community input is critical.

We’ll also have presentations from the artists behind the Equity Line, “a linear series of housing developments and urban trail as a lid over parts of Interstate 5 in downtown and as new construction in parts of the Jungle”, and NERO Commons, a concept for an urban village lid at the future NE 130th Street light rail station.

Learn more about the lid concept, why the time to plan is now, and how you can help Seattle become a more connected, sustainable, and equitable city.

The event is an open house format with a presentation starting at 6:30 PM.

The Cloud Room offers a cash bar and light refreshments. Special accommodations are required for anyone under the age of 21 – if this applies to you please send us a private message.

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14 responses to “Lid I-5 campaign open house will look at a downtown housing and trail concept”

  1. William

    And who is going to pay for it?

    1. Joel S

      The same people who paid for I-5 to be built in the first place. And their descendants.

    2. Southeasterner

      This is Seattle who do you think will pay?

      The poor will pay through even more regressive property and sales taxes for an improvement that will primarily benefit future owners of $800,000+ luxury condos, who will benefit from having their view of I-5 replaced with a park (filled with homeless people who could no longer afford their rent after it was increased due to higher property taxes and their affordable apartments were replaced with luxury condos). The people of Mercer Island will receive $15 million for the inconvenience of losing their view of the Seattle skyline while traveling through downtown.

      1. David

        The poor will pay through even more regressive property and sales taxes

        Property taxes aren’t regressive.

      2. David

        And seriously–the idea that property taxes cause higher rents is complete nonsense. I bought my house (greenwood) around the same time another neighbor bought the duplex next door, in 2009. Her property taxes have gone up around the same amount as mine since then, about 20%. This very dramatic gap between rent increases She rents those units for almost twice what she did in 2009. Why? Because she can, because people are willing to pay it. If her property taxes had been flat, but the housing shortage just as acute, she’d be charging the same rents, only.

        Landlords often pretend otherwise, because they like to pretend they’re not making as much money as they could. Rents are high because people can and will pay them; people are willing to pay so much for the available housing because there isn’t enough available. This is why rent increases are so much greater than the increase in costs to landlords. Don’t be so naive.

      3. Southeasterner


        That was extremely lazy. The study pretty much confirms property taxes are regressive using existing empirical data that focused on urban areas. When they extend the analysis to regional findings it’s inconclusive.

        In the case of Seattle, an urban area, we are clearly seeing a disproportional impact on lower income households where rent and housing represents a larger portion of overall household expenditures. This is compounded by the lack and even decline in affordable housing, partially due to the increased costs for developers in renting units…due to high property taxes.

        The only claim you can make against this is housing subsidies and assistance (both federal and local) for lower income households but as the recent UW research pointed out on the minimum wage increase, lower income households are rapidly losing those benefits as they exceed minimum earnings requirements for eligibility.

      4. Southeasterner

        A bit of help with the basics –

        “A progressive tax is defined as a tax whose rate increases as the payer’s income increases. That is, individuals who earn high incomes have a greater proportion of their incomes taken to pay the tax.”

        “Income tax is the only tax in the U.S. whose rate is tied directly to income. It is a progressive tax, according to the definition above; individuals and families with high incomes are taxed at a higher rate than individuals and families with low incomes.”

      5. MA

        Property taxes do impact rents. It’s not the whole cause for rent increases, but it does impact them. When renters vote for property taxes they don’t think impact them, they are wrong.

    3. Meg

      The city should recoup a sizeable portion of the initial investment through sales/leases of the new land made available.

      1. William

        Looks from the concept drawing like the plan is to make the lid a park and not sell the real estate to the highest bidder.

  2. Gary

    Given that I-5 is a blight on the core of the city, this will help. Although the current Freeway park is less than ideal, it’s better than a gaping hole in the city.

  3. […] an I-5 lid is used for housing instead of empty space, count me […]

  4. Phil

    Love the idea; but I don’t see how the long-term liability cost of maintaining this proposed asset will be paid-for via increased tax revenue (much less the cost of building it in the first place). Completely agree that I-5 scars the cityscape and is a blight; but would need to see (positive effects from) the long-term finances prior to supporting implementation.

  5. Pedro

    At the risk of seeming anti-NIMBY, I’m against The Lid. On one hand, the Lid would be AMAZING for Cap hill, downtown and City Center. Conversely, it would cost a ton, and suck resources away from the rest of the city.

    According to a 2009 SDOT study, a one block section would cost about $100m (in 2009 dollars). http://lidi5.com/images/SDOT_I-5_Lid.pdf So an 8-12 block section would cost $1.5 or $2B maybe?

    If the Lid goes forward, it will drain resources from lots of city-wide budgets. Beyond the enormous construction cost, the Lid will require building new streets, parks, sidewalks and sewer pipes etc, plus extra maintenance on all that new infrastructure. (yes yes, new taxes, it pays for itself, whatever).

    Meanwhile, the slide is broken in my local park (5 months and counting) and the sidewalks along Lake Washington in S Seattle are too busted up to ride a bike on.

    The Lid wouldn’t DIRECTLY steal money from my local park, any more than yet another bike lane in Fremont or U Dist directly prevents a bike lane in Rainier Valley or SODO.

    But I can’t support a new mega-project in City Center while SDOT and the city continue to ignore or slow-roll projects in the hinterlands, north, south and west

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