Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two chances to weigh in on 520

Opponents of the State’s plans for the new SR 520 floating bridge think they may have come up with a ‘smoking gun’ buried in an appendix to the supplemental draft environmental statement (EIS) that the Department of Transportation (WSDOT) recently filed. They claim that while the bridge is being publicly touted as a six-lane affair (two car lanes and one high-occupancy vehicle lane in each direction), WSDOT’s real plan is to build a bridge wide enough to eventually accommodate eight or even ten total lanes. They base their claim on this diagram for the “West Transition Spans” which WSDOT included in the EIS:

According to the Coalition for a Sustainable 520, the illustration shows that the bridge pontoons will be significantly wider than necessary just to accommodate the six lanes legally authorized. Opponents note that WSDOT worksheets show that the pontoons will be 240 feet wide at some points, roughly four times as wide as the current bridge.

Whether WSDOT has a stealth plan or not may become a subject of debate at the upcoming SR 520 Environmental Hearing and Public Open House, which will be hosted by WSDOT this Tuesday, February 23, at the Lake Union Naval Reserve Building (860 Terry Avenue N.) from 5 to 7pm. It’s an opportunity for the public to give input on the State’s 520 plans, including Option A+ for the Westside approaches.

Another way to provide input is to attend a town hall meeting this Saturday with the 43rd District’s three legislators: Senator Ed Murray, Representative (and House Speaker) Frank Chopp , and Representative Jamie Pedersen. The meeting will be held from 1:30 until 3 pm at the Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Avenue (at Seneca Street, up the hill from the Polyclinic).

Our entire delegation, by the way, is already on record as against both Option A+ and the plan for a high-and-wide floating bridge. This is more than can be said for the delegation from the 46th District (which includes Laurelhurst).

[For more background on 520 and for information on how to formalize your input on the State’s plans, click here for all the Madison Park Blogger postings on the subject. Note that the top graphic, courtesy of WSDOT, shows the west approach to 520 under Option A. Option A+ includes on and off ramps from Lake Washington Boulevard, as well as an HOV connection from Montlake Boulevard.]


  1. When your beavers see those 520 plans they'll be boring tunnels all the way Seward Park. Maybe we could use beaver-power to dig the tunnel that all the Madison Park and Montlake residents want.

  2. Finalizing transit designs through some sort of a combination of A+ and L is still necessary.

    Also, the transit only option proposed by McGinn is not so 'obstructionist' as many would have you believe.

    With a transit only third lane all traffic could exit at Montlake, removing the need for any further construction past that point, or residential property takings either. Though I haven't run the numbers this would make option K much more affordable.

    I'd personally ammend McGinn's suggestion to allow public safety vehicles **and** anyone wishing to invest in first generation ITS technology, to use the lane.

    BTW, I can take credit for the original concept of option K, in a 1988 letter to Councilmember Jim Street, when I was just fininshing off at the UW. Ikes!


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