New 520 biking and walking trail could connect to Capitol Hill

A new floating bridge across Lake Washington has the potential for solving another pressing transportation problem for the region — the steep, biker and pedestrian-intimidating slope up Capitol Hill.

As we reported last week, the state is moving ahead with design work on a new SR 520 floating bridge even though Olympia needs to come up with another $2.22 billion to pay for the $4.65 billion project. One big change with the new bridge (other than it being built so that it won’t fall down in an earthquake) is the addition of a trail for walking and biking across Lake Washington from Montlake to Medina.

However, the plans so far have not included an extension the trail through to northern Capitol Hill, where it could connect with popular bike routes to the University Bridge, Broadway, Interlaken Park and downtown. One of the poster boards for a late March open house described the section of 520 between Montlake and I-5 as a “parkway,” but the map does not include a walking and biking path.

Writing over at Seattle Bike Blog, I argued that building this connection would be a tremendous opportunity to not only actualize the new Lake Washington trail, but also to connect Montlake, Eastlake and north Capitol Hill. The hills from Montlake to Capitol Hill (and downtown) are among the steepest in the city, which is a significant barrier to people walking and biking between the neighborhoods. For the 520 Bridge to serve as an effective bicycle commuter facility from the Eastside to downtown Seattle — our region’s largest employment center — this connection is vital. For Capitol Hill, it would be a big neighborhood asset.

The state is holding a public meeting April 12, and biking and walking access is on the program for discussion. Details:

We’re continuing the SCDP process in April by hosting the first of four interactive public sessions to explore design refinements that support Puget Sound mobility and livable Seattle neighborhoods.

Join us for the first public session on April 12 when we will focus on:

  • Shelby/Hamlin neighborhood and the canal reserve area
  • East Montlake Park and the planned SR 520 stormwater facility
  • Montlake shoreline under the planned SR 520
  • East Lake Washington Boulevard
  • Bicycle/pedestrian connections to regional and local activity centers

Event details:

Time: Thursday, April 12, 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Short presentation at 5 and 6 p.m.

Place: Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)
2700 24th Ave. East
Seattle, WA 98112
Located just north of SR 520 in Montlake.

18 thoughts on “New 520 biking and walking trail could connect to Capitol Hill

  1. Will pedestrians and bicyclists pay tolls on the bridge? Nope. One more example of the free-rider, parasite mentality among these people. Hate cars, until it comes time to leech off of the fees their drivers pay.

  2. As someone who pays the toll daily, I am glad that I can contribute to providing the bike lanes for others without demanding that they pay.

  3. You are quite the hater aren’t you? It sounds like you’d be a better fit for a third world country, have you considered getting the F out of Seattle, Washington, USA?

  4. Tolling is expected, over 45 years, to bring in nearly $1.4 billion of the $4.65 billion project, Seattle Citizen. Or about 30% of the total. The rest is so far a mix of state & federal monies, and deferred sales tax, which comes from a far wider group than actual bridge-users. Possibly even cyclists.

  5. Cyclists getting across 520 is a net benefit for everyone, considering they reduce congestion for you, and the cost to maintain their access is a fraction of what it is for cars/trucks. That’s not even getting into the environmental issue, which is so rarely calculated in dollars. The 520 on the eastside already has a trail going up past Microsoft all the way to downtown Redmond and connecting with other trails there. Having a path to bike directly from the UW and Montlake (or the hill) to Redmond will be a huge benefit to everyone who crosses the lake and well deserving of a free ride. In the (far distant) future when we have bike traffic jams, bike accidents blocking lanes, and significant amounts of zero-emission vehicles then perhaps it will be time to rethink that free ride.

  6. > Hate cars, until it comes time to leech off of the fees their drivers pay.

    Just to be clear, I don’t hate your car. Rather, I despise you for your self-importance and ignorance to the social costs of your selfish lifestyle choices. Your car is just a tool you dangerously wield in said ignorance.

    And when you’ve paid your fees that offset a fraction of that cost, it really won’t reduce my contempt for you.

  7. Recent circumstances have had me coming back from 65th & Roosevelt at night by bike, via the University Bridge.

    The route through Interlaken Park is a very pleasant grade, is totally deserted at night, and is a truly lovely way to get up the hill.

    Bad news is that it really is DARK at night and you need a good light. Good news is that it is truly magic by the full moon.

  8. This is a something positive at least. Especially since the tolls are pricey, as well as gas – I’ll need the walk/bike option to go anywhere.
    (pssst, hey trolls – cars are a privilege, not a right, so yes, you pay for it)

  9. chill out. wanting to make biking & walking easier ≠ hating cars. and a more reasonable analogy for your free rider issue would be the bikers and pedestrians that will be USING the bridge after it’s built (assuming they never pay tolls if they drive). clearly the WSDOT thinks those benefits outweigh the costs because they’re building specific lanes for bikers and pedestrians.

  10. I have no problem with walkers/cyclists getting a “free ride” across the 520 bridge. But, even before that is available, congestion has been markedly reduced because of the tolling, so the argument that cyclists will reduce congestion is a moot one.

    Gerwitz: You criticize the “self-importance” of motorists, yet you seem guilty of the same thing. Do you really think that owning a car is a “selfish lifestyle choice” and that a vehicle is a “dangerous tool?”

  11. >You criticize the “self-importance” of motorists, yet you seem guilty of the same thing.

    Guilty. I judge harshly those who subscribe to popular but antisocial ideologies. Said adherents tend to avoid thinking about their choices while I pride myself in productively questioning those I’ve inherited from my culture. Yes, this means I think myself better than some (many, perhaps, but by no means all) other people.

    I do try not to go around trolling with this attitude. Granted, I’m clearly guilty of taking the bait at times.

    > Do you really think that owning a car is a “selfish lifestyle choice”…

    Owning a car is not wholly the lifestyle choice I rail against. I enjoy sport driving, for example, so if I ever get another little roadster (I’d love a Tesla) and store it in my garage for occasional recreational use, I’ll consider that fairly selfish, but not as damaging as a lifestyle choice.

    Setting up my life to depend on it, though, is a selfish lifestyle choice I used to make.

    We can probably agree that buying a big, inefficient vehicle you don’t really need qualifies as such. But so does choosing to “drive until you qualify” without regard to transportation options, resulting in daily drives across the bridge. And when one identifies as a “driver” to the point of complaining about “these people” in urban settings who think of themselves as pedestrians, one is displaying a pretty strong indicator of self-important ignorance.

    > …and that a vehicle is a “dangerous tool?”

    Yes. Absolutely. You don’t?

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    Regards, JOYCE SKIDMORE