Community demands Seattle City Council tell WSDOT to get SR 520 right

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Community demands Seattle City Council tell WSDOT to get SR 520 right

Neighborhood leaders deliver “gift” of overwhelming community support to Seattle City Council for making it safe, comfortable and convenient for everyone to bike and walk in and through the Seattle side of the SR 520 corridor.

Contact: Craig M. Benjamin, Policy and Government Affairs Manager, Cascade Bicycle Club, (206) 713 6204, craig.benjamin@cascadebicycleclub.org

A common rush hour traffic jam on SR 520. Photo from WSDOT

SEATTLE, November 26, 2012 – Today, neighborhood leaders delivered a “gift” of overwhelming community support to the Seattle City Council for making it safe, comfortable and convenient for everyone to bike and walk in and through the Seattle side of the SR 520 corridor.  The “gift” included a packet of community letters showing overwhelming community support for improved pedestrian and bicycle connections as part of the SR 520 project and additional information on how WSDOT can make these connections happen. Full contents of the “gift” are available here.

The Seattle City Council has until the end of 2012 to provide direction to WSDOT on how to proceed with final designs for the Seattle side of the SR 520 corridor. But right now, plans for the project do not include critical biking and walking connections.

“If we’re going to spend billions of dollars on a new 520 bridge, one that will stand long past our lifetimes, we have a responsibility to get it right,” said Gordon Padelford of Central Seattle Greenways. “The Seattle City Council should listen to the community and tell WSDOT to include a shared-use trail on the Portage Bay Bridge, redesign the North-South pedestrian and bicycle connections from the University of Washington to south of Lake Washington Blvd to make them work for people of all ages and abilities, and to collaborate with City agencies and stakeholder groups to improve the project design before it is finalized.”

“The public reviewed WSDOT's plans for 520 and spoke loud and clear: better pedestrian and bicycle connections are needed as alternatives for getting through Montlake,” said Rainer Metzger of Montlake Greenways. “We have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get this right – to build landscaped lids that reconnect neighborhoods, encourage walking and biking – and put Seattle's natural beauty on display.”

“Now that we have a draft of a complete citywide bicycle and pedestrian network, Seattle is finally in a position to start integrating the proposed SR 520 in a way that connects not only the surrounding community, but also our region,” said Bob Edmiston of Madison Park Greenways. “Since this bicycle and pedestrian network vision did not exist even a year ago, a continuation of the design process is necessary in order to take full advantage of this unique multi-billion dollar opportunity.”

“The potential benefits are great. With improved walking and biking connections through Montlake, the new 520 project can work for everybody to reconnect our neighborhood, and leverage its unique location for the benefit of the entire city,” said Lionel Job of Montlake Greenways. “If done right, these improvements would capitalize on the ring of Olmsted Parks surrounding Montlake, the proximity of the UW, and greatly increase the safety of walking to schools and moving around our neighborhood.”

From September 14, 2012 to October 5, 2012, WSDOT invited public comments on its draft SR 520 west side design report. Highlights from public input on the project further demonstrate the overwhelming community support for making it safe, comfortable and convenient for everyone to bike and walk in and through the Seattle side of the SR 520 corridor and include:

  • 97 percent of respondents support a 14-foot shared-use path along Portage Bay Bridge. 1298 out of 1339 commenters in support of continuing the 520 Bridge regional trail from Montlake to Roanoke and I-5 via the Portage Bay Bridge).
  • Support for dedicated bicycle and pedestrian paths with direct, convenient and safe access to main intersections, neighborhoods and existing trails throughout the project area. 1028 out of 1102 commenters in support of pedestrian, bicycle and transit improvements along both sides of Montlake Blvd and 1146 out of 1245 commenters in favor of a 30-foot wide pedestrian and bicycle bridge over I-5.
  • General concern about bicycle and pedestrian connectivity and safety in and around the Montlake lid area and on Montlake Boulevard.

“Failing to make smart tweaks to the design before it is finalized writes another chapter in our city’s sad legacy of missed opportunities with highway projects that split our communities into isolated pieces,” said Craig M. Benjamin, Policy and Government Affairs Manager for Cascade Bicycle Club. “We can’t let the narrow interests of a few vocal opponents stand in the way of investments that would benefit so many. That’s just not how our democracy is supposed to work. Let’s seize this golden opportunity to connect our neighborhoods, provide choices, and to unify our region.”

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Click here to send your letter to the Seattle City Council and tell them to reconnect our neighborhoods and make critical biking and walking connections with the SR 520 replacement project.

 
About Seattle Neighborhood Greenways
Formed in August 2011, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways is rapidly growing volunteer coalition representing 19 neighborhoods across Seattle to identify, advocate for, and activate safe healthy streets. Find your neighborhood at www.SeattleGreenways.org
 
About Cascade Bicycle Club
Founded in 1970, Cascade Bicycle Club is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization based in Seattle, Washington, serving 14,000+ members and more than half a million cyclists in the Puget Sound community. Cascade is operated by a 12-member volunteer Board of Directors, 30 professional staff and thousands of volunteers. More information about Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy, commute, education and riding programs is available online at http://www.cascade.org/ or by calling (206) 522-3222.