We’ve got important news for you. Today’s newsletter has these updates:
- As ballots get mailed out this week, please pay close attention to Initiative 976. Vote NO to preserve transportation funding and support lidding I-5.
- The Imagine Greater Downtown final report endorses lidding I-5 and proposes next steps.
- Mark your calendar for a public event on dramatically improving Freeway Park, Seattle’s first freeway lid, happening at Town Hall on October 28 (Facebook RSVP).
- At the City’s next lid study meeting on November 1, important progress on costs and design will be shared. You can also take a project survey here.
Vote NO on Initiative 976
The civic Lid I-5 effort is making great progress. After years of hearing the idea is too “pie in the sky”, Seattle’s support has never been higher. People understand the need for a more connected, sustainable, and equitable city – and they can see how lidding the freeway will support our robust population and economic growth.
However, Lid I-5 faces a major threat from Initiative 976.
Promoted by anti-tax activist Tim Eyman, I-976 would cripple the Lid I-5 effort. The initiative intends to cut statewide transportation funding by $4 billion over the next six years, slashing funds for important construction and maintenance projects like lidding SR-520 in Montlake, completing Sound Transit’s light rail projects, and seismic retrofits for bridges. The measure would also hit freight mobility projects, funding for local bus service, and ferry system upgrades. The basic street and sidewalk budgets for communities across Washington will also be impacted. See the impacts specific to King County (PDF).
Is saving a few dollars on car tabs worth the devastating effects of I-976? We don’t think so, and urge you to vote NO on I-976 in the November election.
Don’t take it just from us. Multiple organizations and newspapers are on the same page. See why others oppose I-976: The Stranger; The Columbian; The Seattle Times; Tacoma News Tribune; Spokesman-Review; Walla Walla Union-Bulletin; and the Daily Chronicle.
Learn more and get involved at the No on 976 website.
Imagine Greater Downtown Endorses Lidding I-5
The Imagine Greater Downtown project has completed, and it builds momentum for lidding I-5 thanks to our advocacy efforts and the public’s support. It is a visionary planning initiative focused on improving the streets, public spaces, and sense of community in Seattle’s ten Center City neighborhoods.
The project started with big questions: “As we deconstruct the Alaskan Way Viaduct to foster a great new Waterfront for all, as new light rail lines, tunnels and stations expand our connectivity, and as a new convention center, hotels, offices, and thousands of new homes become a part of our urban fabric, the future begs the question: What’s next? How can we make Greater Downtown even better?”
One big answer was Stitch the I-5 Divide. Specific ideas included:
This is a major milestone for the Lid I-5 campaign. In addition to being enshrined in the Seattle Comprehensive Plan, part of WSDOT’s federal planning grant application, and endorsed by city and state officials, Lid I-5 will leverage Imagine Greater Downtown to launch important next steps. The plan includes at least two critical work items for the City:
- Develop a street network study: Optimize streets to support the mobility needs and public life of all people. This will examine how the downtown street grid interacts with the freeway. We will be advocating for this study to be included in the next transportation budget, and for it to model lids over I-5. The future of all the freeway ramps needs to be considered, along with the potential for new street connections at Terry, Yale, and Minor.
- Transform and activate I-5 overpasses and underpasses: Create and enhance spaces and connections over and under I-5. It will be years before lids are built. In the interim there are many fixes for existing streets to make the pedestrian experience more safe and enjoyable. Planning is already underway for redesigning Pike and Pine Streets, improving the Jackson and King Street underpasses, and exchanging parking for safe bicycling on the Yesler Way bridge (an idea long championed by previous iterations of Lid I-5 and advocate Dana Behar).
Check out the final report (PDF) for more details.
Freeway Park Improvements Event
Did you know? Lid I-5 was part of the coalition which secured $10 million for improving Freeway Park! Planning for capital improvements at Seattle’s first freeway lid is now underway, and your voice matters. Join Seattle Parks & Recreation and their consultant team at Town Hall at 6:30 PM on Monday, October 28. The event includes presentations from a number of renowned public space and landscape experts from across the nation.
Of the project funding, $750,000 is focused on activation within Freeway Park. The remainder is dedicated to capital improvements at the park. Get involved now on this fast-moving project. The project schedule anticipates design work through June 2020, and construction occurring Summer 2020 to December 2021.
The October 28 panelists are listed below. Learn more on the project website.
- Randy Gragg, Executive Director, Portland Parks Foundation
- Alison Hirsch Director of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism; USC School of Architecture
- Kenneth Helphand, FASLA, Professor Emeritus in Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
- Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, President + CEO, The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Lid Feasibility Study Meeting
The next meeting of the Lid Feasibility Study Committee is November 1 at City Hall (details below). Our membership will be there to hear important updates on the consultant team’s substantial progress since August.
After establishing technical feasibility, the study is analyzing development test cases with a range of densities and public or private ownership. These are important factors for cost, urban design, and considering guiding principles like public benefit, connectivity, and equity. Join us to hear the latest, or stay tuned for our post-meeting action report. You can also take a quick online survey to provide your thoughts on the project!
Learn more and see past presentations at the project website.
That’s it for this newsletter! As always, learn more about the Lid I-5 campaign at our website, www.lidi5.org, and social media channels.
Lid I-5 Steering Committee