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Seattle City Council won’t back second Montlake Bridge

A 10-year-old rendering of what a second Montlake Bridge could look like — via Madison Park Blogger

The state has the funds to build it but the Seattle City Council won’t — yet — back a resolution supporting a second bascule bridge connecting through the transit chokepoint between Montlake and light rail at Husky Stadium.

Tuesday afternoon, the council’s planning and land use committee took up the resolution brought by interim City Council member Abel Pacheco representing the University District and District 4 but no vote was cast. Chair Mike O’Brien wouldn’t second the vote, saying he “adamantly” opposed the resolution and disagreed with Pacheco that adding the bridge would help address the city’s climate goals.

Pacheco’s resolution calls for the city to reverse a previous resolution against a second drawbridge as part of WSDOT’s 520 replacement project:

Proposed Resolution 31904 acknowledges that there have been some significant developments in the SR520 Corridor since the City last weighed in on the second Montlake bridge. These developments include the opening of the University of Washington light rail station in March 2016. The station averages over 10,000 weekday boardings, and it serves as a transfer hub for King County Metro and Sound Transit bus service. The proposed resolution also notes the opening of the SR 520 bicycle trail in December 2017, which connects the University of Washington to the regional bicycle network.

“Considering these changed conditions, the proposed resolution would replace the City’s previous policy recommending against WSDOT building the second Montlake bridge with a position supporting WSDOT’s development of a second Montlake bascule bridge,” the resolution reads. “The proposed resolution would make it City policy to support the second Montlake bascule bridge in order to increase capacity for transit and high-occupancy vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists across the Montlake Cut, while maintaining the existing number of general-purpose lanes.”

The Montlake Community Club opposes the project. “The second bridge will further congest Montlake Blvd. and ignores the historic nature of the Montlake area,” the group writes. The club also maintains the addition would alter the original bridge’s Olmsted design and “ignores how the (Montlake) bridge and the Montlake Cut together are a City of Seattle Designated Landmark.”

There is not yet a final public design for a second bridge. The rendering on this post is from a decade ago during early planning for the lengthy, multi-phase 520 project.

As part of the resolution, the council would call on WSDOT to “establish opportunities for community and stakeholder outreach and input” and “explore opportunities to advance the project’s schedule such that it coincides with other SR 520 construction phases and reduces the overall disruption in the corridor.”

With only a few months left with the current City Council, it’s not clear what might come next for any further City Hall push for the WSDOT-financed project.

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9 thoughts on “Seattle City Council won’t back second Montlake Bridge

  1. How did we ever get so far into 520 without any end to end design. No one knows what the portage bay stretch will look like, or even how wide it will be. The market suddenly vanishes as the footprint expands. Now the Montlake bridge needs to double in size but again no design, no plan, and probably no budget…

    • Did you read the article?

      The very beginning of the first sentence states, “The state has the funds to build it…”. Aside from that, why would a plan be put together for a bridge that likely won’t get built because of the stance of our city officials?

  2. My understanding is that the second Montlake bridge would serve buses and bike/pedestrian traffic. Seems that that *would* actually help with mobility through the area and would be necessary if we ever wanted to have RapidRide lines connect with the Link station, e.g. from the Eastside.

    • @Harrison
      Same, I am very confused by this development since a second bridge would benefit everyone, especially after they lid 520 and build a new park up there. The pedestrian, bicycle and transit options over the current bridge are so terrible.

      • Pedestrian and bicycle options over the current bridge are not “terrible”. I walk across almost daily and bike across occasionally. The sidewalk is a little narrower than ideal but foot and bike traffic moves comfortably. One easy improvement would be adding a fence on the street-side of the sidewalk. A more expensive improvement would be widening the sidewalks by extending the bridge width by a few feet, which wouldn’t be cheap but I think might be do-able with some modifications to the concrete approach walls.

      • I don’t think biking and walking over the bridge are terrible now, but double the foot and bike traffic and they might be.

        The buses are seriously slowed by the bridge choke point during rush hour now as are the frequent ambulances heading to the two emergency hospitals (UW and children’s).

    • The resolution left intact from 2015 has a long list of upgrades for bikes and pedestrians.

      Intuitively it seems like it would also help to add bus lanes across the canal, but it turns out in this particular location, that creates more problems than it solves, which is why the city concluded it wasn’t worth it in 2015. Here are details as to why:

  3. Not sure were the strong opposition comes from. A combination of Montlake Community Club NIMBY’s and I guess ideological purists who must be against any infrastructure that has a road on it?

    I totally get who building highways induces car use. And adding more lanes to 520 was arguably the wrong thing to do. But addressing an obvious choke point is a completely different issue. Especially when that choke point is one of only 3 surface corridors across the Cut, and the only one that directly accesses a Link station.

    Don’t we want pedestrians, bikers and buses to be able to quickly access the Link Station? Making Eastside buses sit in a 25 minute queue because they lack a bus lane across the bridge certainly does not promote public transit use. Maybe the Council opponent don’t r, I’d also preealize that many Eastside buses divert to UW station, and there is a goal to truncate them at the station… which is across the bridge.

    I admit that I’d prefer both a transit lane and an all purpose lane so that we get both better transit times and address the bottleneck at the bridge. I often feel trapped on one side of the cut during rush hour, and neither car or bus is an option with the current bottleneck. But if people want that traffic to deter car use then at least build dedicated bus lane on the new bridge. because making buses sit at a bottleneck is good for no one.

  4. Yes. Build a bus stop on 520 – the bus stop was removed in the latest design. This is backwards. The quickest route from south lake union to Montlake is now this: take bus to east side. Transfer in Bellevue. Take bus back to Montlake. I am not kidding- check out the bus times on metro trip planner. This was once a 20 min commute now is 45. Ridiculous.

    The lid design may allow some buses to go up on lid and stop in Their way thru to slu in 3 years. But even weirder the plan will not allow buses to stop at rush hour – to preserve flow of traffic across the cut. You have to drill down and ask a lot of questions to get at the truth here of the poor design we will be stuck with.