Interlaken Drive is apparently safe for cars again: SDOT paves, reopens closed Capitol Hill roadway

The road closed signs have been removed (Image: CHS)

Interlaken Drive has been repaired and reopened to motor vehicle traffic after the road was damaged during record-breaking rainfall and promptly closed in March.

Crews repaved the damaged patch late last week, and the road closed signs were removed Sunday, weeks earlier than previously expected.

As we reported in March, rainwater flowing under the roadway has washed out the foundational soil, causing the road to crack. Several large cracks formed nearly overnight as the road shifted as much as an inch in one day, prompting the city to close the road indefinitely pending a geotechnical study. We have asked SDOT for more information on the study and will update when we hear back.

Since the closure, the steep, windy road through Interlaken Park became something of an impromptu parkway. From this reporter’s observations, people strolling, running and walking pets would more freely walk in the middle of the roadway, and the number of downhill skateboarders increased (see video here).

It was jarring to encounter a car on the road Sunday after so many months without them. Riding a bike through the quiet forest feels like being transported miles away from the city. Once you’ve been spoiled with such a wonderful carfree road through a stunning park, it’s hard to go back. But for drivers in the area, the roadway is open again.

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15 thoughts on “Interlaken Drive is apparently safe for cars again: SDOT paves, reopens closed Capitol Hill roadway

  1. I’m glad to hear this road has re-opened. I don’t use it as an auto route, but still it’s a very beautiful, traditional (even historic) road and should be available for all users.

    I have been walking along there twice a week for several years, and usually traffic is very light or even nonexistant…admittedly, this is usually mid-morning on a weekday. As long as pedestrians/cyclists/skaters,etc are just reasonably careful, there should not be a problem. As far as I know, there have not been any car-related accidents there in the past.

  2. in a city trying this hard to be fit/active and pedestrian friendly, did we really need to open this up? i was just running on it a couple of weeks ago in preparation for the marathon, so i’m a little concerned now since there are no sidewalks. i guess i think it should be closed to cars since there are plenty of other ways to enjoy a road that don’t involve a 3 ton hunk of flying metal.

  3. Yes, cars really do need it. I go through Interlaken regularly – on foot and in a car. There are lots of lovely, well-maintained pedestrian trails through the park, so if you need to train, I recommend using them. I do, and it’s great – way more peaceful than being on a road (even a closed one) and no risk of being hit.

    And as a careful, slowpoke driver, I take exception to your thinly-veiled swipe at those of us who actually need to drive. I take the hairpin turns slowly giving bikes/joggers the right-of-way – hardly a menace in “a 3-ton hunk of flying metal.”

  4. I was surprised that the road closure all of these weeks this summer was to simply re-asphalt a tiny section of the road. I wish it would remain closed to cars to keep it pleasant and safe for bicyclists and walkers.

  5. Interlaken is a good through route from Roanoke to Stevens Elementary, Volunteer Park and St Joseph’s. And there is already a stretch that is completely closed to traffic, so don’t get greedy.

    There is plenty of room for all users.

  6. I run on the trails and the roads (both open and closed) all the time…it’s one of the best places in the city to do so.

    In my experience, 95% of the cars I’ve encountered while running have been very mindful of peds and bikes. And they are really pretty infrequent besides.

    I would recommend, however, if you run on the parts that are open to cars, it is a very good idea to cross over to the right-hand side when doing so makes you more visible to cars coming around from the left ahead (and also makes the cars more visible to you). There is no shoulder to speak of, and you never know when someone less considerate than the vast majority of drivers is going to come through. As a result, I criss-cross the boulevard probably a dozen times running from the trail out to Delmar.

    Bright clothes and turning the iPod down (or off) while running through there aren’t bad ideas, either.

    In other words, take responsibility for your own safety!

  7. I just drove north on Interlaken yesterday afternoon & noticed lots of walkers. However, it would be impractical to close it to cars since there are actual houses well up the road & people actually live there. I agree that it’s a beautiful drive/walk/bike ride/skateboard ride, that it’s got incredibly sharp hair-pin turns & that it’s quite narrow. I know I won’t go north after dark because of the drop-offs. It’s a treasure somewhat buried on northeast Capitol Hill. (The the only equivalent drive I’ve found is either the road from NW 85th & 32nd NW in Ballard or the drive to & from Carkeek Park at NW 110th & 3rd NW).

  8. well, since i don’t know you, a neighbor, i couldn’t possibly be taking a swipe at you. but i’ve lived in this neighborhood long enough to know not to assume every driver is going to care about my safety or be paying attention. in fact, i assume they won’t because you know what they say about assuming. i have a yellow reflective shirt from cycling – that’s a good idea. Interlaken is on the marathon route so it’s going to be on my route if i want to complete that. however my point was that with all the roads we have going hither and yon, what’s wrong with having a few more that are just for non-automobiles?

  9. The extended road closure was to allow time for SDOT geotechnical assessment of the roadway, to determine if it was safe to re-open. They actually completed this at least one month earlier than predicted.

  10. “Runner,

    It wouldn’t really be a road then. Maybe a path but not a road.”

    It would still be a road. The definition of “road” does not include automobiles as an essential factor — a road is an improved route between two places. Did you know that the Romans built roads thousands of years before the first automobile?

  11. I’ve been riding up and down this road on my commute to work for years now. I do wish the closed section was still closed, because it was so nice, but realistically it’s not an arterial, so most of the traffic is local traffic. So I don’t mind so much.

    But I can’t help but take jabs:

    “And there is already a stretch that is completely closed to traffic, so don’t get greedy.”

    Well, there are quite a few alternate routes available to automobiles — so don’t get greedy!

  12. Improved to allow horse, cart, or automobile. That covers the Romans and the definition. Depending on where you get your definitions. Some definitions include vehicles so closing it to cars rules it out from being a road too.

  13. Thanks for the update! As has been noted here (it took me a while to post this comment), there is a road just below the one for cars that is already dedicated to pedestrians and bikes and dogs and anyone looking for a good place to stroll. I walk through there several times a week. Being a long-term neighborhood resident, I am often puzzled as to why pedestrians continue to insist on using the car section, particularly as the Friends of Interlaken (is that their official name?) have done such a lovely job completing the paths. I would love to see an article about that (as opposed to what seem like heated comments and afterthoughts…)