As part of Lid I-5’s mission to build the case and constituency for this transformative project, we regularly meet with elected officials and candidates running for election. Our goal is to educate and seek a diversity of perspectives and advice. This year we reached out to candidates running for Seattle Mayor, City Council, and King County Executive in the August 3, 2021 primary election. We offered them the chance to share their position on Lid I-5 with the public and asked how they would advance the project if elected.
Lid I-5 has 501(c)(3) non-profit status through our fiscal sponsor, the Seattle Parks Foundation, and we do not endorse any political candidates. Only candidates with contact information on file were contacted and all candidates were given an equal opportunity to respond.
Note: Some responses have misunderstandings about project facts and may contain misspellings. Responses are uncorrected and unedited.
Update October 12: Candidates are listed first by those who have advanced to the general election, followed by those who did not.
Candidates for King County Executive
General Election Candidates
I have always supported covering or burying I-5, not just in the immediate downtown core, but from south of the I.D. to the Lake Washington Ship Canal. As a lifelong Seattleite, an environmentalist, and an urban planner, I believe the freeway construction was the most damaging wound ever inflicted on my city. As a youth, I cheered the construction of Freeway Park. As an elected official I have advocated with several Secretaries of Transportation to consider tunneling the through lanes, filling the trench above where I-5 and its downtown ramps currently sit, and creating a surface boulevard for local ped, bike, auto and transit similar to Portland’s Park Blocks, with mixed income residential, commercial, retail, and the major downtown park Seattle sorely lacks. This would allow us to knit back together our street grid, neighborhoods, and bisected city. Lidding I-5 is a good option to achieve all these ends, and I support it if that is the path that gets us to the outcomes we need.
Overall Joe thinks it’s a great idea. Anything that increases walkability, livability, and beneficial environmental impact is a win worth considering. We should include this as a part of our discussions around transit planning in the area, and would need to be in partnership with other jurisdictions. The main concern is obviously where to pull funding from, especially given our struggle to expand basic transit accessibility to many of our communities. This project would have to be a part of the state or federal transportation budgets, and part of the broader plan of transit planning for the city.
Candidates for Seattle Mayor
General Election Candidates
M. Lorena González
I am generally supportive of the concept because it would lead to more housing, more public space, connect neighborhoods separated by I-5, and provide social and environmental enhancements for our city.
Bruce Harrell did not respond to repeated inquires. He said he supports the project during a candidate forum hosted by the MASS Coalition.
Other Candidates Who Did Not Advance
The Lid I-5 project has been led by community advocates seeking to stitch Seattle neighborhoods back together that were separated when I-5 was built. Early feasibility analysis shows great potential for much-needed public open space, potential for affordable housing, and neighborhood connectivity.
This is a long-range project that will require continued support of further design refinement and coordination between project advocates, neighborhoods and WSDOT. I will continue to seek ways to advance project efforts and deepen the project commitments to equity, including opportunities to create additional housing and support neighborhoods like the Chinatown- International District.
Matthew F. Ervin
My position and take on the proposed Lid5 Project is that if it provides housing for the low-income community, I am fine with it. But if it just makes space and room for new apartment building s for folks that work near the Big Tech Companies then I will not support that. This new project needs to provide something for everyone that currently lives around these areas.
I do support the project, it’s part of my plan to get Seattle back on track to meet our goal of net zero emissions by 2030.
Here’s what I’ve committed to as part of that plan in advancing this project once I’m in office: I will leverage state, regional, and city financing to maximize public use of the I-5 lid. In addition, I will commission feasibility studies to research lidding I–5 beyond the immediate downtown core and throughout the entire corridor. The most recent feasibility study showed lidding I–5 will cut back on carbon–emissions by reducing traffic downtown, creating 4,500 units of affordable housing, protecting against stormwater pollution, and increasing access to green space and tree coverage with 10 new area public parks. Furthermore, the project would create an additional 2 to 5 million square feet of commercial or office space, to support energy efficient buildings and new jobs.
Andrew Grant Houston
Andrew is in support, but only with funding from the federal government. He recognizes the work the Lid I-5 team have done and has read the report, so he knows this is feasible. It’s a matter of simply moving the work forward.
we need too lid i-5 for more community green space,parks and perminet safe socially owned affordable low income housing with perminet wrap around mental health services.part of my campaign is too finally deal with the mental health issuews and crisis head on once and for all. we cant have housing without mental health, we cant have mental health without housing,they have too be connected as one.
I do support the Lid I-5 project and concept because of the public benefits and opportunities to increase housing, park space and commercial space.
I do know that the land is owned by the State of Washington and the cost to replace the I-5 bridge is estimated to cost $12 billion. Why I strongly support the project, it is important for the Washington State Department of Transportation to upgrade the bridge. The action I will take is to push the Governor and the State Legislature to fund the cost of the improvements so that we can move forward with the test cases for the project.
Candidates for Seattle City Council Position #9
General Election Candidates
Sara Nelson did not respond to repeated inquires.
Nikkita Oliver did not respond to repeated inquires.
Other Candidates Who Did Not Advance
The Lid I-5 Project is an innovative idea and approach to address a number of challenges we currently are facing in Seattle. I support creative solutions and am committed to problem solving and advancing solutions so that new and existing residents will have equitable access to affordable housing, jobs, public transportation, public parks and green spaces, and healthcare and other social services.
Our city is growing fast, and without more long-term urban development planning, we will continue to limit access and opportunities in our city. The simple answer frequently suggested is to rezone the city to allow for more apartment, condo, and duplex type structures to be built. Unregulated, however, this creates opportunities for corporate developers to recreate the city at a huge profit, without necessarily addressing the real problem at hand. This also threatens the historical significance found in many of our neighborhoods, which should be preserved.
The Lid I-5 Project is a new idea that I would seek additional information about. As a change agent and someone who wants to get things done and move this city forward, I am open to creative and innovative solutions like the one offered by the Lid I-5 project and look forward to learning more.
Similar to the approach offered by the Lid I-5 Project, we must consider and factor in the concept of density planning and the direct access to public resources. Instead of broad rezoning, we should think about how we can better utilize the existing plan with mass transit. We should develop with intentionality around our transit lines as access points to jobs, schools, parks, and public resources. Instead of continuing to allow separate industries such as schools, healthcare, public safety, etc. continue to develop and grow based primarily on economic factors, we should be creating coalition planning and incentivizing growth and expansion as part of this density planning approach.
I do support the I-5 Lid project. In addition to creating well-paying union jobs, I see the Lid as an opportunity to both address the housing crisis of Seattle as well as the air pollution that accompanies downtown traffic. Furthermore, having a large natural space that is centrally located would significantly benefit the health of our community. As such, I would like to note that my preference is for the Lid to contain significantly more greenspace, and then utilize mixed-use housing that would accommodate businesses on the ground level. I want to urge caution when developing additional commerce and office space in the downtown area, as we risk directing more traffic onto I-5, which would negatively impact the health of our community. As an advocate of 15-minute neighborhoods, I would like to see more opportunities for commercial development in other areas of the city instead so people aren’t required to travel to the downtown area for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities.
I do support the project in concept. It is years in the making, and I believe it’s past time to build a strong coalition of local and state level officials who support the funding of it. I’m running for Seattle City Council because I want to build an even more beautiful, more resilient Seattle now and for 5, 10, 20 years in the future. People will continue to move here for the clean air, clean water, and quality lifestyle, and we’ve been burned by the state of I-5 for too long. We’ve seen other examples in our own city of how lidding can create beautiful and useful greenspaces. I’m a strong advocate for increased housing diversity and looking at other places to build outside of the neighborhoods that are already densest, and lidding I-5 would support this as well. Our highways have a racist history; the construction of I-5 decimated low-income housing and has severely contributed to gentrification in Seattle. We deserve the same investment that our neighboring Mercer Island received.
As we saw this legislative session, city council is only a part of the advancement of this project. I have decades of experience in building coalitions, working with elected officials, and legislating. I am well-prepared to work with our local and state government, as well as grassroots supporters like yourself, to finally get this funded and in the works.