Remove I-5

Tuesday night, the Lid I-5 volunteer group (lidi5.org) achieved an important milestone with an invitation to present in front of the Washington State Convention Center board of directors to “share their work on community engagement, their motivations and goals, and how the Convention Center can contribute to making the vision a reality.” CHS reported in September on the group’s progress as it pursues the inclusion of funding for a lid study in the public benefits the planned expansion of the convention center must deliver.

But when it comes to addressing the rift created by having a major freeway bisecting the city and keeping Capitol Hill neighbors from more freely mixing with their downtown brothers and sisters, maybe simply lidding I-5 isn’t enough. Maybe the massive freeway canyon should be filled and the city repaired:

For several hours a days, the freeway and extensive network of interchanges are gridlocked into a major obstacle rather than an asset. And to make the loss all the worse, the land adjacent to Downtown, South Lake Union, and Eastlake is extremely valuable. If you haven’t noticed, land in those neighborhood is worth a crazy amount of money. The Seattle Times got $62.5 million for two full blocks it sold to Onni Group in 2013. Removing I-5 between I-90 and SR-520 would free up more than 50 blocks by my rough calculation, which could mean more than a billion dollars worth of land. Stricken with budget shortages, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) might be forced to sell off Downtown Seattle land to finance its tireless efforts in suburbia.

What could Capitol Hill and our Central Seattle neighborhoods gain in the cauterization?

Eastlake and South Lake Union flow smoothy into Capitol Hill without I-5 in the way. First Hill suddenly becomes integrated with Downtown and Pioneer Square, providing much easier and more pleasant pedestrian access. The hole blasted in the International District disappears. Intersections that used to cause big problems for bus reliability like Denny Way and I-5 would move more steadily rather than getting backed up from on-ramp traffic. And in I-5’s absence, Sound Transit’s growing light rail network can pick up the slack to carry commuters Downtown.

Check out the whole thing here: What’s Better Than A Lid? Remove I-5 Entirely From Central Seattle.

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3 thoughts on “Remove I-5

  1. This is a really wacky idea. Not gonna happen.

    Where would all the vehicles go which are currently using the freeway? Answer…..on to surface streets, with the result being TOTAL gridlock.

    • Yes, this. And this is incredibly obvious – why is anyone even making this proposal seriously? Lidding I-5 makes a lot of sense, excising it not so much.

      And people using I-5 to speed up their transit through Settle aside, there are a lot of people who are just passing through, not beginning or ending their journey here.

  2. The section of I-5 form 520 to I-90 is in such disrepair that they might to to stop and divert traffic in order to make the necessary repairs. While preforming the repairs DOT could Lid I-5 at the same time.

    As for the first question were would the cars go, They would be diverted to I-405.

    As time lines go it would not start til the I-405 south expansion was complete the 167 extension to Tacoma was complete and the rest of the west 520 expansion was complete and the light rail is built out to accommodate for the loss so 25 years from now so no need to worry is still a long way off.