Dear Mayor Murray,
Thank you for your leadership building a transportation system that moves people efficiently throughout the region, and creates healthy places to live, work, and play. We are glad you share our vision of a modern transportation system that furthers Seattle’s economic, social justice, climate, livability, public health, and safety goals. We want to start by thanking you for the significant improvements that have been made to the SR-520 design over the past year. The collaboration between SDOT, WSDOT, and consultants has resulted in better solutions than previous iterations.
We understand WSDOT has unduly constrained this collaborative effort, and been unwilling to reconsider some of the underlying assumptions. By locking down the requirements for the number of access ramps and the Montlake interchange configuration, WSDOT has closed the door to innovations that would significantly improve the comfort and safety for people walking and biking (such as options X, Y, and Z on page 44 of the SR 520 Final Concept Design document). We recognize these constraints are unlikely to be reexamined before funding is secured this legislative session.
We recommend the following changes that would make this project safer and healthier for Seattle. This $1.5 billion project will be set in concrete for the next eighty years. It must work for kids walking to Montlake Elementary, elders walking from the Husky Light Rail Station to the Arboretum, or a physician in scrubs biking from the Central District to the UW Medical Center. We urge you to continue to lead us towards a better transportation future.
Top SR-520 Design Innovations and Remaining Opportunities
We support the following design innovations proposed by WSDOT
North-South: A Montlake Cut walking and biking bridge will alleviate the failing level of service on the existing bridge for people walking and biking. Alignment B would add the most value to Seattle’s transportation system by connecting to the proposed protected bike lanes on Montlake Boulevard and to the future UW Light Rail Station. This connection is part of the 2014 Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.
North-South: The “Land Bridge” will provide a useful and iconic connection over the SR-520 highway mainline.
East-West: An E Roanoke Greenway and short E-W protected bike lane along E Roanoke St will form the critical East-West connection in this system for people of all ages and abilities.
East-West: The Portage Bay Bridge Trail will be a critical piece of the healthy transportation infrastructure for the city and region. This facility is part of the 2014 Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.
We strongly recommend the following design improvements
North-South and East-West: Given that separated above grade options have been taken off the table for now, it is incumbent upon WSDOT to create the safest possible Montlake interchange pedestrian crossings along both sides of Montlake Blvd for people of all ages and abilities. To accomplish this, all on-ramp and off-ramp conflict points should be raised crosswalks, lane widths should be reduced to NACTO standards, turning radii should be consistent with NACTO standards, and the on-ramp storage lanes should be narrowed to a single lane at pedestrian crossings. These improvements are consistent with WSDOT approved NACTO and SDOT’s ROWIM.
North-South: A two-way protected bike lane on the east-side of Montlake Blvd from E Roanoke St, across a new walking and biking bridge, to the University Light Rail Station at Husky Stadium is important to creating a safe and convenient system for people biking through this area. This facility is part of the adopted 2014 Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.
North-South: Funding for neighborhood greenway improvements along the Lake Washington Loop from the SR-520 Lid south will simultaneously improve a key link in the non-motorized system and improve the livability of the neighborhood by mitigating cut-through traffic from the relocation of the eastbound SR-520 ramp. These improvements are part of the adopted 2014 Seattle Bicycle Master Plan.
Thank you for your continued commitment to improving the SR-520 project. Please see our full comments in the attached letter.
Barb Chamberlain, Washington Bikes
Bob Edmiston, Madison Park Greenways, Seattle Board of Park Commissioners
Cathy Tuttle, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Dennis Shaw, MD, Montlake Greenways
Elizabeth Kiker, Cascade Bicycle Club
Forrest Baum, University Greenways
Jerry Fulks, Arboretum Neighbors for Safer Streets
Lionel Job, Montlake Community Club Transportation Committee, Montlake Greenways
Lisa Quinn, Feet First
Mike Archambault, Capitol Hill Community Council, Central Seattle Greenways
Shefali Ranganathan, Transportation Choices Coalition