Here comes SR 520: funding or no funding, let’s design it right.

Imagine: leaving your home on the Eastside of Lake Washington and heading to the University of Washington or downtown Seattle without ever having to leave a dedicated bicycle facility.

Imagine: a 6-mile commute across Lake Washington using the SR 520 non-motorized trail compared to what might be a 15-mile commute today.

As the SR 520 project continues to move forward, these opportunities are in the not-too-distant future. But don’t get too excited just yet; there’s still work to be done, and we need your help.

While funding to complete the SR 520 program is not fully secured, WSDOT is moving forward with design refinements and permitting for the I-5 to Medina project, including connections in the Montlake-area, the Portage Bay Bridge, and connections across the 10th and Delmar corridor. WSDOT is hosting a series of four SR 520 Seattle Community Design Process workshops to solicit public input on design alternatives for each of these areas, including regional and local non-motorized connections. The first workshop will be help on Thursday, April 12 at MOHAI from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Each meeting will focus on different elements of the I-5 to Medina project. Specifically, the April 12 meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how bicycle riders will access and make connections through the following areas, with short presentations provided at 5 and 6 pm:

  • The Shelby/Hamlin neighborhoods
  • East Montlake Park
  • Montlake shoreline
  • East Lake Washington Boulevard

As you may know, the Montlake-area is currently one of the most heavily trafficked bicycle and pedestrian corridors in the city. In late September of 2011, nearly 900 bicyclists and pedestrians were counted in just 2 hours crossing the Montlake Bridge. Fast forward to 2016, when both the University Link light rail station and the regional SR 520 trail are built and open for service, we anticipate a significant increase in the numbers of  bicyclists and pedestrians that will be using this area to make connections.

Cascade has been involved in the SR 520 Seattle Community Design Process helping to guide recommendations around non-motorized connections between the SR 520 regional trail and major destinations in Seattle – destinations that will become even more accessible given the new regional trail. You may have attended a public meeting in the past regarding SR 520, however as WSDOT’s designs are further refined, hearing from bicyclists and pedestrians is even more critical to ensure that the proposed facilities and connections are designed to support safe, efficient and attractive non-motorized travel throughout the project corridor.

If you are able to attend the April 12 meeting (or subsequent workshops), here are a few points we think WSDOT should consider, if not prioritize, moving forward:

  • Provide a multi-use trail along the Portage Bay Bridge, connecting from Montlake to Capitol Hill.
  • Create strong connections through the 10th and Delmar project area, including dedicated bicycle and pedestrian facilities along E Roanoke St connecting over I-5, improvements to the intersections of Harvard Ave E & E Roanoke St and 10th Ave E & E Roanoke St, and connections across the proposed LID at 10th and Delmar - reconnecting Federal Ave E to E Roanoke St.
  • Ensure 24th Ave E is designed to facilitate safe and efficient bicycle and pedestrian crossings and to reduce conflicts between users, particularly where the regional trail intersects with the Seattle street network. WSDOT is considering parking alternatives to serve East Montlake Park, one of which proposes a parking lot in East Montlake Park requiring an additional street and intersection at 24th Ave E. If parking is necessary, we would encourage you to advocate for parking to be placed underneath the SR 520 bridge.
  • Provide dedicated bicycle connections along Shelby/Hamlin. A bi-directional bicycle facility is being explored for E Shelby St, providing connections to Montlake and to 24th Ave E and the SR 520 trail. Let WSDOT know if this is something you would like to see, or if you would prefer bicycle facilities on both Shelby and Hamlin (which are one-way streets).
  • Create a safe and attractive Montlake Boulevard for all users, including bicyclists and pedestrians. With Montlake serving a significant number of pedestrian and bicycle trips, improvements are needed along Montlake providing safe crossings and dedicated facilities.

If you plan on attending, please RSVP here so we know how many bicycle supporters to expect. If you are unable to attend the April 12 meeting, please send your comments regarding non-motorized connections across the Westside SR 520 corridor to: SR520CommunityDesign@wsdot.wa.gov

Also, stay tuned for additional information regarding future SR 520 Community Design Meetings.