Older Puget Sound map before the Interstate pic.twitter.com/0qstxd7yaW
— Dongho Chang (@dongho_chang) November 2, 2016
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.