Seattle makes its push for ‘Rest of the West’ 520 recommendations

The future Montlake lid "land bridge" -- already better thanks to the Seattle Design Commission

The future Montlake lid “land bridge” — already better thanks to the Seattle Design Commission

With the new 520 bridge already doing its floaty thing on Lake Washington, the Seattle Design Commission Monday will present its recommendations for the “rest of the west” portions of the expansion and reinvention of the state route connecting the Eastside and I-5 via Montlake. The full WSDOT menu of planned Seattle-side projects is here:

Presentation - WSDOT - Improving Safety and Mobility for the Region

A morning Seattle City Council briefing will focus on the recommendations with time for public comment before the afternoon full council session. While the Council won’t be voting on legislation or resolutions related to the “rest of the west” plan Monday, the discussion should help set the course for the city’s input on the Seattle-side, $1.64 billion component of the multi-year 520 replacement project.

Much of the Design Commission’s muscle is focused on the design of a planned Montlake lid and the body’s push for “smarter lid” design principles:

• Support innovation by SR 520 team that embraces urban design values for highway project
• Embrace and further expand ‘nature meets city’ concept
• Embed concept and urban design values into RFP
• Resolve long-term maintenance, operation and stewardship following transfer to City

The many elements the SDC is calling for in the lid design include transit features described as “programming opportunities benefit transit riders,” “access point and transfer for bicycles,” and “better connections needed to relocated transit south of lid.”

You can view the full recommendation briefing document below.

Montlake neighbors, meanwhile, are focusing on “transparency” at the Washington Department of Transportation and calling for the agency to be more “open” and to take community needs into consideration when making decisions like the proposed acquisition of the property now home to a popular neighborhood market.

A Montlake community group is also concerned about surface street traffic above 520 and through the neighborhood:

The intersection of SR 520, Montlake Blvd. and Montlake Place is the second busiest intersection in the city. Barbara & Lionel asked the Seattle Design Commission to consider this fact and how this constant traffic and the planned construction will impact the surrounding communities. They hoped the Commission would urge the City to take an active and transparent role in working with WSDOT to protect the integrity of the environment and surrounding neighborhoods.  Both the Council and the Mayor’s Office need to be actively involved in the project (design, implementation, and construction) to ensure we build a transportation project, they said.

Seattle’s The Urbanist group has also noted the future plans for Montlake Blvd — and they’re a little concerned:

Yes, that’s five lanes in the northbound direction. And the southbound direction has four lanes. So that’s an increase of three total lanes over the freeway. But that’s not even the worst part. WSDOT’s drawings that were released to the public do not include the widths on any of the lanes, but if you are thinking they look pretty big, then you’re correct on that as well. We were able to obtain an internal document that shows the widths of the lanes, and that’s the truly terrifying part. Note that this is a city street, not directly part of the freeway project.

Have something to say about “the rest of the west?” If you can’t make it to City Council Monday afternoon, send an email or nine.

Check out the Seattle Design Commission presentation below.

Presentation – Seattle Design Commission – SR 520 Montlake Lid Report

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3 thoughts on “Seattle makes its push for ‘Rest of the West’ 520 recommendations

  1. It is terrifying to see that in the 21st century planners are still adhering to the car-first approach, where people and their needs are treated as an afterthought, if at all. Just look at the new pedestrian/bike path along Husky stadium: too narrow and with utility poles in them, wedged between moving cars on one side and parked cars on the other. I am afraid the Montake lid will morph from a great idea to a car-and-concrete nightmare.