City 520 bridge update: neighborhood relations crumbling as fast as bridge itself
The Viaduct is such a media whore. Three miles away, the 520 floating bridge is detoriorating under the weight of Eastside SUV-clogged traffic jams and stress of several earthquakes, neighborhood councils and the city are in disagreement over what massive, expensive construction should replace it (four lanes? six lanes? aerial interchange? tunnel? Does this sound familiar, Viaduct junkies?) and a major move in the replacement debate gets but a puny mention in the P.I.
Last week, we printed a rundown of the pros and cons of the four 520 replacement options, but last Thursday the City Council committee on the bridge narrowed the options to two: a six-lane base replacement and a six-lane replacement with the Pacific Street Interchange. The committee also decided to keep the four-lane option lingering on the sidelines like that unpopular kid in grade school kickball games — to be used only as a possible backup.
Neighborhood groups are incorporated into the 520 planning process via the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from nine neighborhood associations, the UW, the board of parks comissioners and the arboretum. In addition to the four-lane/six-lane options, the city also did a tunnel feasibilty study back in June that came up negative, but some groups think the study is biased and want a new, independent study.
Currently, the most controversial design is the Pacific Interchange, which moves the onramp/offramp part of the freeway from where it currently squats on Montlake to out over the water near the arboretum. Here’s a rendering:
That picture is looking toward Seattle, with the UW stadium on the right. The Interchange option is estimated to cost $3.1 billion. The other option still in the running, the 6 lane base, will cost $2.8 billion and not move the onramp/offramp part of the 520, though it will (like the Pacific Interchange) add bike lanes.
The Stakeholders met on August 8th, here’s how they lined up:
Eastlake: “Opposes the so-called Pacific Stret Interchange proposal”
Broadmoor: “Seattle did not grow up around the Freeway. The Freeway came right through our homes like a scar! Now WSDOT wants to build a COLOSAL VIADUCT the size of several KINGDOMES … isn’t our City, our Community, our Arboretum, our University… worth a $70,000 Engineering Tunnel Feasibilty Study?! … Broadmoor opposes any further action towards a Pacific Interchange, 6 Lane Option or 4 Lane Option until and Independent Engineering Study is completed.”
U-District: Opposes all designs, “could accept four lanes plus transit only lanes, but NOT HOV lanes.”
Portage Bay/Roanoke: Opposes all designs, though “could support a better designed alternative which has a smaller footprint and includes mass transit.” Also wants a tunnel study.
Ravenna-Bryant: Opposed to Pacific Interchange. Want the (now dismissed) 2nd Montlake Bridge option.
Madison Park: Opposed to Pacific Interchange. “We want to protect the arboretum.”
Board of Parks: Opposes the Pacific Interchange and support the four lane.
Arboretum: Opposes the Pacific Interchange.
UW: Opposes Pacific Interchange because of impacts on Arboretum and increased traffic along Montlake and neighoring streets, plus its “financial impacts” to the medical center and athletics during construction.
phew, that’s a lot of negativity for this early in the morning. Let’s hear some happy voices:
Montlake: “Controversy on SR 520 is not a new thing. What’s different this time is that there is one option, the Pacific Interchange, that a lot of people really like. It accomplishes a lot of our objectives.”
North Capitol Hill: “We overwhelmingly support the Pacific Interchange. It eliminates the Montlake bottleneck, narrows the freeway through Montlake and Capitol Hill, makes transit options and reconnects neighborhoods via lids.”