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What North Capitol Hill’s freeway lid will look like… in 2030

North Capitol Hill’s freeway lid will complement Montlake’s, but not until 2030

By Ryan Packer

With work well underway in Montlake adding a new freeway lid that will also sit under a newly reconstructed Montlake Boulevard, the Washington State Department of Transportation is still progressing forward with its plan to complete what it calls the “Rest of the West” projects. Earlier this year, WSDOT announced that the schedule for completion of the segment of 520 over Portage Bay and the accompanying freeway lid at East Roanoke Street would be delayed by a year, with the opening date pushed from 2029 to 2030.

(Image: CHS)

When North Capitol Hill’s freeway lid is complete at the end of this decade, it will completely remake the street grid around E Roanoke Street, providing bike and pedestrian connectivity that just doesn’t exist now and stitching the city back together a little. 10th Ave E and Delmar Drive E will be joined together by an open space lid almost as large as Roanoke Park to the north of it. Pathways on either side of the central green space will allow people walking or rolling to take shortcuts across the lid.

10th Ave E, Federal Ave E, and 11th Ave E will all have direct connections onto the lid from the direction of Capitol Hill for people walking and biking, and on the other side of Delmar Drive a multiuse trail will follow the new 520 bridge over Portage Bay east to Montlake. From there you’ll be able to connect to the existing Bill Dawson trail to Montlake Playfield or continue under Montlake Boulevard via a direct connection to 520 across the lake that is currently being created right now.

There will also be a new underpass under 10th Ave E connecting the lid and Harvard Ave E at E Miller Street south of 520.

An underpass under 10th Ave E will connect the Roanoke Lid to Harvard Ave E, perhaps giving new purpose to one of Capitol Hill’s most underutilized park spaces, and creating a new bike corridor to 520 via Lakeview Boulevard.

The freeway lid will feature a large central lawn area

Originally, WSDOT proposed to make major changes at the 10th Ave E/E Roanoke St intersection, where northbound traffic has to turn onto Roanoke and then again onto Harvard Ave E. That was planned to become a more direct connection with continuous traffic between Roanoke and 10th Ave, but the T-intersection is sticking around for the purposes of traffic calming and bike/pedestrian safety, according to the update to the environmental impact statement. Pedestrians will be able to cross at all legs of the intersection, which is not the case today.

Between the lid and Boyer Ave E, an existing obscure stairway will be removed as the northern edge of 520 shifts slightly northward. Underneath the highway on Boyer, the sidewalks will be redone with seating and a small place to look out on Portage Bay. The Bagley viewpoint, an overgrown overlook at the top of Delmar Drive, will be recreated.

The area underneath 520 around Boyer Ave E will be reconstructed and the existing stairway between Roanoke Street and Boyer removed

Since the idea of a lid over Interstate 5 where it meets 520 was discarded because it might have gotten in the way of future expansion of I-5, the consolation prize will be an expanded walking and biking path on the south side of Roanoke Street over I-5. By 2030, Eastlake Ave is planned to be remade with protected bike lanes as part of the RapidRide J bus project, but right now there’s not a plan to create a connection between there and the 520 trail across I-5 here.

Currently the plan is to start construction on the Portage Bay bridge and the Roanoke Lid in 2024, after work wraps up on the Montlake segment of the 520 project and work adding a new HOV lane between 520 and South Lake Union is complete as part the remaining $1.6 billion in SR 520 improvements from Lake Washington to I-5.

With a six year construction schedule, Seattle also might have additional freeway lids in motion by the time it’s finished.

 

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Michael Calkins
2 months ago

Please let this become a reality and continue to lid I5 to be replaced with parks! Seattle needs it! Where can I voice my support of this officially?

Calvin
Calvin
2 months ago

It’s already approved and funded. Looking forward to it becoming reality!

iluvcaphill
iluvcaphill
2 months ago

Funny how we can afford to cover the highway in a rich white neighborhood but we couldn’t afford to keep light rail off grade in the black neighborhoods, which has cost how many lives?

Eli
Eli
2 months ago
Reply to  iluvcaphill

Agreed! It’s a shame they didn’t just follow the original, grade-separated route (bypassing South Seattle) to the airport that would have given us faster and more direct service, too.

iluvcaphill
iluvcaphill
2 months ago
Reply to  Eli

I don’t think they needed to bypass South Seattle, they could have elevated it like they did in Northgate or they could have buried it like they did in rich, white Capitol Hill.

Glenn
Glenn
2 months ago
Reply to  iluvcaphill

Funny how that highway was built through a rich white neighborhood in the first place and has remained that way for sixty years. Why not just applaud a little progress rather than pointing out all your perceived shortcomings?

B T
B T
2 months ago
Reply to  iluvcaphill

At the time, that community expressed a strong preference for at-grade rail, thinking (mistakenly) that it would result in less long-term noise/disruption.

jeff heft
jeff heft
2 months ago

Just what the rich homeowners of North Capitol Hill need, a beautiful park right across the street from another beautiful park. This is an outrageous misuse of transportation funds.

Calvin
Calvin
2 months ago
Reply to  jeff heft

You guys are really special… it’s at the intersection of the super noisy and polluted I5 and I520, it’s not a white rich people heaven.

Can we just celebrate that we are making progress to address the impact of highways on a very special neighborhood? (Disclaimer: I don’t live there and will likely never use it.)

Paige
Paige
2 months ago
Reply to  Calvin

Agreed! Let’s celebrate a new green space in a neighborhood that was split in half by I 5!

jeff heft
jeff heft
2 months ago
Reply to  Calvin

Thanks for recognizing how special I am, I really appreciate it.

NOrht Capitol Hill is NOT a white, rich neighborhood?!?! Clearly, you don’t live there, Calvin…)
Now as to the lidding, lids do not magically eliminate air pollution, it still exists under the lid and has to go somewhere. More importantly, there are only about 8 “special” homes that would be affected by the noise abaitment of this lid.

I fully support lidding the freeway, just not THIS part. I think more noise will be eliminated for more people, and more people served by a lid park where no open space currently exists, if we lidded the space on I-5 between Pike and Pine.

Unfortunately, we need to prioritize these projects, and I just don’t think we made a smart, or fair, decision. (disclaimer: I live closer to the 520 site than the I-5 site, and feel the I-5 site would do more to achieve the vision of lidding highways, and serve more residents of Capitol Hill, so would be the better choice.)

Wes
Wes
2 months ago

Looks great and looking forward to crossing the 520 easier on foot. There also looks to be no art installations, which further enhances the ascetics amusingly.

Blob
Blob
2 months ago
Reply to  Wes

Not only by foot but also by bike. It’s a meandering mess right now to get from the Montlake side to Burke-Gilman.