It’s time to reconnect our city. As the Seattle waterfront is reborn before our eyes, we’re turning attention to the central freeway that has marred vital urban neighborhoods for half a century. The opportunities are endless, and with your help we can turn Seattle’s next civic vision into reality. Join the campaign today.
Feasibility Study Completed
The Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD) released the I-5 lid feasibility study in late 2020. The Lid I-5 team is currently reading through the findings and will publish our reactions and next steps soon.
For more information or questions, please visit the project’s official City website.
About the Campaign
Lid I-5 is a grassroots effort run by working people who are volunteering our time. Why do we do it? We believe in building a stronger city for people and creating a more livable, equitable, and sustainable Seattle. While this is a citywide effort, we are currently focused on the challenges and opportunities in the Center City.
A Need for Public Land
According to OPCD data, Downtown, Capitol Hill, and First Hill are 3.5% of Seattle’s land area but are absorbing 29% of population growth, and at the same time are running out of land. Lidding I-5 is likely the only opportunity to catch up on much-needed affordable housing sites, public open space, civic facilities like schools and community centers, and other public and private infrastructure.
The I-5 freeway is a major environmental issue, with significant noise, air pollution, and visual impacts to thousands of people who live and work nearby and walk across it every day. Where topography allows lids to be built, they reduce these impacts. Lids will also enable more people to live, work, shop, and play in walkable urban neighborhoods and drive less, contributing to Seattle’s 2050 carbon neutrality goal.
We know freeway lids are possible – they’ve been done dozens of times before across the country (see our map here). Based on our review of these projects, it is likely more economical to lid the freeway than purchase land in Downtown. There may be a value capture opportunity that facilitates creative financing, private-public partnerships, or enables a new revenue source for local governments.
WSDOT is Thinking About I-5
The I-5 Systems Partnership is a high-level planning discussion among public agencies about the future of the corridor between Chehalis and Marysville. As the freeway ages past 50 years and remains seismically vulnerable, it is possible the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will decide to study major rehabilitation on the Seattle section. Seattle should be ready with a community plan before any major freeway work so public benefits can be coordinated and leveraged.
Learn more about the campaign by exploring the website, and check out our new video below.