The state's proposal to thread nine freeway lanes through Portage Bay has provoked an uprising by Seattle neighborhoods — and by the...
The state’s proposal to thread nine freeway lanes through Portage Bay has provoked an uprising by Seattle neighborhoods — and by the City Council.
Seven of the nine council members, and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, showed up at a community meeting last night to support critics of the state plan.
“We’ve got to stay together on this, or we are going to get paved over,” Councilwoman Jean Godden warned the 250 audience members.
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Recent plans call for a new six-lane replacement bridge for Highway 520 across Lake Washington — two general lanes and one high-occupancy vehicle lane in each direction.
But for the one-mile stretch from Montlake Boulevard to Interstate 5, the highway would be nine lanes wide, neighborhood groups say. In addition to the six basic lanes, there could be up to three HOV or exit lanes.
And at the Montlake interchange, a Washington state Department of Transportation (DOT) diagram depicts what the groups call “24 lanes worth of pavement,” including ramps and shoulders, as wide as a football field. Speakers called it the “Montlake Monster” and “Concrete Haven.”
City officials didn’t say exactly what should be built, but Councilman Richard Conlin called the present design a “non-starter.” Council President Jan Drago said no bridge should open unless light rail or monorail is ready to operate there on opening day.
Councilman Peter Steinbrueck took the longest view: “Fossil fuel is probably going to run out in 20 or 30 years,” he said.
The public pressure appears to be having some effect.
The state now is studying whether to remove two HOV lanes, which the DOT had drawn up to feed a “Montlake Flyer” bus stop in the highway median. One alternative might be to have buses exit to the nearby University of Washington and return to 520, David Dye, DOT urban-corridors administrator, said before the meeting.
Another option would be to build just one safety shoulder in each direction, even though national and state standards call for a pair of shoulders in each direction, Dye said.
Some neighbors have suggested a pair of suspension bridges, one going directly from the lake to Husky Stadium, instead of a larger version of the current road.
Highway 520 was listed as one of the nation’s 10 worst “commuter hot spots” last month by the American Automobile Association.
A six-lane replacement of the highway segment between I-5 and Interstate 405 on the Eastside is estimated at $2.6 billion to $2.9 billion.
Mike Lindblom: 206-515-5631