Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Communication (or lack thereof) in the ‘hood

Here’s a little piece of information that close readers of this blog already know: the construction of a new SR 520 floating bridge will necessitate the closing of the on and off ramps from Lake Washington Boulevard for the duration of the project, which is scheduled to begin in 2012. This means that for a period of about two years, everyone who currently uses those ramps will be forced to find an alternative route, thereby changing the traffic patterns along the E. Madison Street corridor, in the Arboretum, and—most especially—at Montlake.

Now maybe this information is of interest to only a few people here in the Park, but I suspect it is something that if the uninformed knew about they would be saying “What? Why didn’t I know about this?” News about future traffic flow, I think, fits into that category of information that might be called interesting or useful, but probably not critical.

The category of critical information, however, might very well include the fact that the State is seriously considering a plan to build a three-story-high floating bridge across the Lake to replace the existing low-rise affair. Many otherwise well-informed neighbors of mine (and probably most of the people living in Madison Park) have little idea of what’s going on with 520 or what the potential impact might be on them personally or on our community. Their probable reaction when all decisions have been finalized and the bridge is being built: “What? Are you kidding me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?”

Critical information is the kind that if people had it they could act upon it—perhaps even change outcomes. Without information, the possibility of influencing events is forestalled. What you don’t know can hurt you. That’s true with regard to 520, and it’s also true for a lot of other issues that potentially impact the Park. For example, if a water taxi service were under consideration or a light-rail line extension planned for Madison Park, if parking meters were being proposed for our arterials, or if bus service were being re-routed through the neighborhood, would each of us who is potentially impacted become aware and be able to react?

Not hardly. You who are reading this are among the best informed in the ‘hood, but you’re a pretty select group. Those involved with the Madison Park Community Council (MPCC) are also well informed, but they are an even more select group. There are approximately 4,300 adults living within the confines of Madison Park—and perhaps a few hundred of them (I’m being generous here) are actually aware on a regular basis of what’s happening in the neighborhood. Many may not care to know—they lead busy lives, have a lot of responsibility, and are already dealing with too much information.

Many others, I suspect, would like to know what’s going on, but are just not up on how to get the information. Right now the Madison Park Times and Madison Park Hardware (that’s their message board pictured above) are among the best sources. But they both have their drawbacks. In the case of the paper, it’s not timely--and it attempts in its limited space to cover several more neighborhoods than just ours. The hardware store, meanwhile, has a limited audience--and you have to walk there to get the news.
So how do we widen the circle of people in the know? This blog is one attempt, and the MPCC has now come up with another. Residents interested in getting information by email about happenings in our community can sign up for the Madison Park Email Exchange, a new service designed to promote the sharing of news and ideas. About 70 people are already signed up, I am told.

Well, it’s a start.


  1. Thanks for covering this. I live across the Arboretum in Montlake, and this is just the latest of the series of awful, awful things about the A+ option to rebuild SR520.

    On our side, as I'm sure you've written about here, we lose the Montlake Flyer station, used by people up and down the corridor north and south--I'm not sure what replaces it. There will be no highway stop as far as I understand.

    A second bascule bridge is required in the current plan, which means several houses taken, neighborhood realignment--and no better traffic flow. The second bridge (requiring a second crew of bridge tenders, I'm sure) merely keeps traffic flowing at all.

    The lack of connection between the currently under construction University station (being built 6 years in advance?) and the new bridge and transit interchanges is horrible as well.

    I'm willing to accept that by living in Montlake, I knew that 520 would have to be rebuilt someday, and that it would affect the neighborhood, and so forth. I can accept the necessity of the project and the disruption.

    But everything about the option that was chosen is spectacularly bad for Seattle, including our neighbors in Madison Park, not just bad for our little interests in Montlake in peace and quiet.

  2. thanks for this resource! I consider myself an informed hoodster!


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