MAJOR NEWS: Convention Center Agrees to Fund Lid I-5 Study, City Awards Grant


The Lid I-5 team is proud to announce a major campaign milestone: the Washington State Convention Center (WSCC) has agreed to fully fund the lid feasibility study! The WSCC will pay the City of Seattle $1.5 million, the full amount requested, as a public benefit associated with the Convention Center’s major expansion project in downtown.

Independently, Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods (DON) has just awarded Lid I-5 a $48,000 matching grant to expand our public outreach efforts and refine your ideas from last year’s neighborhood charrette. This is a major endorsement of Lid I-5’s community organizing power! The funding will support a yearlong design program that will be open to all. More information will be available in the coming weeks.

Interstate 5 is a concrete scar through the heart of Seattle. Let’s put a lid on it.

The feasibility study has been our goal because it will provide critical data on expanding Freeway Park and lidding more of I-5. The study will be City-managed and conducted by expert consultants, who will analyze construction methods, finance options, urban design opportunities, and recommend a phasing strategy. The consultant team will also study best practices from where lids are being built elsewhere, ranging from Dallas and Los Angeles to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. City staff will collaborate with WSDOT and other public agencies to ensure the key technical issues are covered.

Based on a review of feasibility studies from other cities, the Convention Center funding will be adequate to at least examine the Center City, which stretches from Chinatown-International District to Lake Union. This area includes the densest and most diverse areas the freeway slices through: Yesler Terrace, First Hill, Downtown, Capitol Hill, and South Lake Union. Amid an unprecedented population boom, people living and working in these communities are in desperate need of more affordable housing, public open space, multi-modal connections, and other public assets. Lidding I-5 provides new land for these benefits at a cost that is approximately half that of purchasing developable land in the same area.

Map of preliminarily identified study areas in Seattle.

The vision is citywide: we need to study opportunities for reconnecting communities, mitigating the impacts of the freeway, and creating developable public land in neighborhoods across the city. We are working with City staff to determine how far this funding can be applied, and as we build a citywide movement we will be pursuing additional funding opportunities.

Thank You to Our Coalition Partners

We couldn’t have reached this remarkable milestone without joining the Community Package Coalition, a grassroots alliance of neighborhood organizations and nonprofit advocates. Together, the Coalition successfully negotiated with the WSCC to increase the initial public benefits investment from $20 million to more than $80 million. The WSCC has now agreed to fund a strong mix of affordable housing payments, mobility investments for people walking and bicycling, and improvements for city parks.

The other Coalition members are Capitol Hill Housing, Cascade Bicycle Club, Central Seattle Greenways, First Hill Improvement Association, Freeway Park Association, Housing Development Consortium, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. Read the Coalition press release or see below for media coverage.

A Coalition project linked to Lid I-5’s efforts includes $10M in improvements to Freeway Park, Seattle’s first lid over I-5. Click here (PDF) to learn more about what’s in store for the park.

Through an open and persistent collaboration between the the WSCC and the Coalition, we negotiated an increase for the feasibility study funding by a factor of six, up from the original $250,000 offer. The Lid I-5 team, supported by people like you, has shown itself to be an extremely effective advocacy organization. Help us build the movement by inviting others to join the campaign and by making a tax-deductible donation today!

Stay Involved!

We need you to stay involved because the work doesn’t stop here. Lid I-5 will continue working with the WSCC and the City to refine the study’s scope of work and follow through on implementation. The study must still be approved as a public benefit by City Council, whose final vote is expected in spring of 2018. Lid I-5 will then adopt a stewardship role to ensure the funding is spent wisely and the results help launch the next step: designing the lids.

There are numerous opportunities for comments and public testimony each step of the way – see below for the upcoming Design Commission calendar. Stay tuned as we ensure the feasibility study comes to life and we move ever closer towards a more connected and sustainable Seattle.

The proposed Convention Center Addition in relation to Interstate 5, looking west on Pine Street.