Feasibility Study Confirms Lidding I-5 is Achievable!

In this newsletter:
  1. It’s finally here – read all about the feasibility study results!
  2. Walk the Freeway: July 28 Tour
  3. Learn more about the study results at our August 4 online forum
  4. See what candidates for public office think about the Lid I-5 project
  5. Sign our letter supporting federal funding for lidding I-5

Feasibility Study Finds that Lidding I-5 is Achievable

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The City of Seattle released the I-5 Lid Feasibility Study, a momentous occasion for this grassroots campaign. The study is a rigorous body of work that investigates the lid project from all angles, and comes away with a clear verdict: The project is both possible and opportune, and it should have resources dedicated to advance the planning work.

The report is highly detailed and includes several appendices, so we have summarized the key findings on our newest website page. Read all about the study’s approach, engineering findings, economic analysis, and urban design evaluation.

Major findings include:

  1. Lidding I-5 between Madison Street and Denny Way could create up to 17 acres of new public land and add new park space in Seattle’s most dense and park-deficient neighborhoods, support more affordable housing amid a historic housing crisis, add commercial space for local businesses and startups, and add new capacity for civic and cultural functions (like a Downtown school and community center) as the population increases.
  2. The project will advance equity for the 40,000 people who live within walking distance by reducing freeway noise, increasing park access, adding transportation choices, and possibly creating space for much needed housing and civic functions like community meeting places. These residents are as racially diverse as Seattle as a whole, are mostly renters, and have much lower incomes than the citywide median.
  3. The project could create thousands of construction jobs and permanent jobs, with potential economic impacts of over $3 billion annually.
  4. Ramps accessing the freeway present a significant challenge to maximizing the possible lid area and creating a quality urban design.
  5. Building lids over the current freeway is feasible, and could be staged with minimal traffic disruptions and would not require any long-term closures. However, the freeway’s obsolete design and aging structures would make this challenging. It would almost certainly be more efficient to integrate a lid project into a larger preservation or retrofit of the freeway which also changes ramp configurations.
  6. The cost of lidding I-5 in various scenarios is a wide range of $1 billion to $2.5 billion, comparable to other civic and transportation projects of this scale and importance. Cost will vary block-by-block due to the different size, shape, and loading capacity of each block. A lid section that supports buildings costs about 50 percent more than a lid section that supports a park. In some scenarios, the cost could be significantly less if off-site parking is not built.
  7. A dedicated entity such as public development authority or public facilities district could have the most flexibility to deliver this unique project.

Figure 8-8 & 8-7, Table 8-1_small

The study concludes with next steps to advance the project. These include securing a formal project sponsor (government agency), doing additional technical studies (e.g. Downtown street network study and an I-5 master plan), and expanded community outreach. Lid I-5 is taking the lead on advancing these efforts and more.

Want to learn more about the study or have questions? Join us at two upcoming live events. Details are below for our July 28 walking tour and August 4 online forum.

As the volunteer leaders that have been advancing this project for years, we couldn’t be more pleased with the feasibility study results. There are innumerable leaders and partners to thank for this milestone, among them:

  • The Washington State Convention Center, who funded the $1.5 million study, and their development team at Pine Street Group
  • Our partners with the Community Package Coalition, notably Alex Hudson, Gordon Padelford, Riisa Conklin, McCaela Daffern, Blake Trask, Brie Gyncild, and Marty Kooistra
  • The large expert consultant team headed by WSP’s Dhyana Quintanar Solares
  • Lyle Bicknell, Sam Assefa (now departed), and others at the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development
  • Our Lid I-5 Advisory Council and members of OPCD’s Feasibility Study Committee
  • Washington State Department of Transportation staff including Robin Mayhew and Rob Fellows

Walk the Freeway: July 28 Tour

With the sun shining down and the pandemic passing behind us, now is the time to get back together! We’re repeating one of our most popular events: a walking tour of the Lid I-5 study area. See the freeway up close and personal; hear about key results from the feasibility study; and learn about the work we’re doing to advance the project.

Wednesday, July 28
5:30 PM – 7:00
Meet at the corner of 7th Avenue and Marion Street
Register here

This walking tour is approximately 1.25 miles and involves staircases and moderate hillclimbs (an alternative accessible route is available if any participants have mobility challenges). We’ll take you through Freeway Park and see the construction progress of the Convention Center expansion. Capacity is limited to 30 people. Register online for other details ahead of the event.


Learn More: August 4 Online Forum

We’re hosting a special online event dedicated to your impressions of the feasibility study. Join us for a brief presentation on the study.  Then we’ll open to floor to you for questions and sharing ideas. This forum will be the first of many community conversations to come!

Wednesday, August 4
12:00 PM – 1:30
Zoom meeting online
Register here

Where the 2021 Candidates Stand

election+vote+voter+voting+icon-1320166092218302743_512We asked candidates for Seattle Mayor, City Council, and King County Executive to share their position on Lid I-5. Click here to read what the leading contenders had to say. The 2021 primary election is August 3 and ballots are now in the mail.

Support Federal Funding for Lidding I-5

governmentRestoring the damage caused by urban freeways is a national movement. Members of Congress are proposing $3 billion per year through 2026 for funding freeway mitigation projects. You can read our letter of support here. Then you can sign your name in support too, to help us demonstrate widespread public interest for this project.

The sign up form closes on Friday. If you have already signed this month, thanks again!