Freeway Park Update and ULI Lid Webinar

In this newsletter:

  1. Online webinar about freeway lid projects across the country.
  2. The Freeway Park improvements project continues to advance.
  3. The Lid I-5 feasibility study has been delayed but is still moving forward.

September 16: Urban Land Institute to Discuss Freeway Lids

The Urban Land Institute (ULI) is hosting a free online webinar on freeway lid efforts around the country. The event is Wednesday, September 16, at 11:00 AM Pacific Time. Register online to acquire the Zoom meeting information.

Guest speakers represent projects in St. Paul, Atlanta, and Austin. Titled “Envisioning the Opportunity of Freeway Caps and Stitches”, the event will explore how these communities are using this infrastructure solution to reimagine their cities through a new process for community engagement (especially in the time of a global pandemic), integrated transportation planning, addressing racial equity, and creating new real estate and park development opportunities.

The event is free for all: Register today and the Lid I-5 team will see you online!

Image courtesy of ReConnect Rondo.

Freeway Park Designs Move Forward

The Freeway Park improvements effort has largely completed its public engagement phase, and the project team is moving forward with design development.

Katie Bang, Senior Capital Projects Coordinator at Seattle Parks and Recreation, said this summer’s online open house was a success, with over 500 responses. “It was surprising to see how many folks understood the functional needs of the park, placing irrigation and drainage as one of the top priorities…We also know lighting is needed and it wasn’t a surprise to see how much of a priority the public placed on this.”

Bang says the feedback from the public, parks staff, historic preservationists, the Seattle Design Commission, Freeway Park Association, and other stakeholders will help determine which elements advance into the design stage. There is approximately $23M in maintenance and upgrade needs, while the construction budget is $6M (provided by the Washington State Convention Center).

You can read more about the project at The Urbanist, the project website, and review the public presentation from October 2019 (PDF). We are championing this project because we believe Seattle must continue investing in accessible and quality parks for all. This is particularly important in our most dense and fastest-growing urban neighborhoods that lack adequate open space. The Lid I-5 project is building on the legacy of Freeway Park with a grassroots vision for more park space, mobility connections, and community development in our Center City.

Steering Committee member Scott Bonjukian participates on the Freeway Park Capitol Improvements Advisory Group.

Proposed improvements to Seneca Plaza include restoring safe access to the fountains, a new concierge building, and refreshed plantings.

Feasibility Study Continues

Lid I-5 supporters will remember the technical feasibility study was due to be completed in spring 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly altered the City of Seattle’s operations and how it collaborates with its consultant team. And critically, key staff at the Washington State Department of Transportation and other partner agencies are on furlough.

With these realities, the latest schedule update aims to have the study completed by the end of 2020. The good news is that at the last Feasibility Study Committee meeting in December 2019, the study team demonstrated substantial progress through the engineering and real estate analyses. Our understanding is the final work is underway on financial modeling and transportation planning. Another Feasibility Study Committee is anticipated in the fall.

This project is a major accomplishment of the Lid I-5 campaign. We started grassroots organizing only five years ago. We’re committed to seeing it through, and we’ll keep you updated as we learn more. You can find all public study materials on the Office of Planning and Community Development project page.

Draft and preliminary structural assessment from the August 2019 Feasibility Study Committee meeting.