Items in this newsletter:
- Lid I-5 Selected as Visionary Project in National Report
- Survey Results: What You Think About Lidding I-5
- Tacoma’s Fireman Park Gets a Refresh
Lid I-5 Selected as Visionary Project in National Report
Interstate 5 in Seattle is part of a new national report by the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) that urges the wholesale transformation of 15 of America’s worst city freeways to reknit communities disrupted by freeway construction decades ago and to generate new economic opportunities.
The freeways featured in the report have long served as a barrier between neighborhoods and have polluted nearby communities, disproportionally impacting Black and Brown Americans. Now, with these freeways reaching the end of their designed lifespans, it is time to repair the damage and restore community connections to meet today’s needs.
The biennial report—the seventh in the series since 2008—comes at a time when more American communities are considering or undertaking freeway removal and mitigation. The 2021 edition highlights the Lid I-5 campaign to lid more of Interstate 5 in central Seattle, along with similar campaigns nationwide, calling on cities and state departments of transportation to mitigate urban freeways with streets and amenities more suitable for an urban setting. These 15 campaigns offer a roadmap to better equity, opportunity, health, and connectivity in every neighborhood, while reversing decades of disinvestment.
According to the report, Seattle has a major opportunity in front of it, saying, “Early on, Seattle pioneered a new way of thinking about the relationship between city and freeway with the construction of Freeway Park over I-5 in downtown…The Lid I-5 movement seeks to build on Freeway Park’s legacy and spark a citywide conversation about what can be done with freeways that damage communities.” It goes on to say, “The freeway is overdue for safety upgrades, including earthquake retrofitting.”
Learn more about each project and read the report at the CNU website.
What You Think About Lidding I-5
Thanks for your feedback! We recently invited you to an unscientific poll to gauge your infrastructure priorities and capture feedback and questions pertaining to lidding I-5. The informal results certainly reflect an audience already enthusiastic about the lid concept, but it still offers our team helpful insight and guidance. Following is a high-level summary of key takeaways:
- 70 people participated April 29 – May 10
- 80 percent feel “very supportive” of lidding I-5, the most of five Seattle infrastructure projects we asked about
- 96 percent think parks and open green space is one of the best options for the lid “land”
General comments included:
- Wishes for urban gardens, outdoor concert space, solutions for environmental and noise pollution, green infrastructure (green roofs, solar power, carbon capture, biophilic design, etc.), and a general preference for more green space than buildings.
- Suggestions that any new housing should be mixed-income, and some resistance to intense commercial activity and buildings on the lid.
- Concerns about cost, how it will be paid for, timeline, communication, transparency, and the political process.
- Questions about what the project will take to be completed and where we are in the process. Several participants wanted to know about more about the status of support from elected officials, and how people can help more.
We appreciate each of you who took time to respond to this online survey and your offers to get involved. This feedback helps us with course corrections to make sure we’re responding to community interest and needs.
To answer a couple questions: Right now we’re still in the early ideas and community outreach stage of the project. A feasibility study has been completed (more on that next month). It will still take substantial public support to get lidding I-5 adopted as an official capital program – our role as volunteers is to pass on the project to a sponsor with more resources and capabilities. Government sponsorship would unlock the staffing and funding resources needed for an inclusive and equitable master planning process that will determine uses on the lid, more specific costs and funding sources, and construction timeline.
Want to help? We mostly need volunteers when we host in-person events again (hopefully soon!). Contact us to send us your interests and skills. Keep an eye out for call-to-action emails for opportunities to sign petitions or send letters to our elected leaders. And you can consider donating a few dollars a month to help sustain our volunteer operations costs, such as website hosting, event rentals and materials, and paying our part-time administrator.
Tacoma’s Fireman Park Gets a Refresh
Did you know that Tacoma has a lid park over Interstate 705? It opened the same year as Freeway Park, 1976, and its dramatic perch over a bluff offers incredible views of the Cascade Mountains, Puget Sound, and the Port of Tacoma’s industrial center. Over the past few years, the design of Fireman’s Park has contributed to community concerns about safety and security, including homeless encampments. Some of the park’s materials were also simply showing their age.
The City of Tacoma recently re-opened the park, with the major change being a removal of the landscaped buffer along A Street. They say other features may be added to the park over time. Check out the difference in views below, and see it the park here on Google Maps.