The Governor’s revised configuration for SR-520, which was formally unveiled today, gives scant comfort to the opponents of the State’s initial plans for the new floating bridge and its western approaches. But it’s apparent, nonetheless, that Governor Gregoire and the State Department of Transportation (SDOT) have made limited concessions which would not have happened but for the opposition of groups such as the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 and elected officials such as Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Some people may even feel that the new plan is an actual improvement over the old Option A+.
Here’s what’s new about the Governor’s latest “preferred alternative” for 520:
· It will be able to accommodate light rail at some future date
· It eliminates the ramps to 520 from the Arboretum
· It adds ramps to the UW for transit and HOV
· It expands the lid over 520 at Montlake and adds one near the UW
· It lowers the new floating bridge to 20 feet high at mid-span
At a news conference today, somewhere near 520, the Governor reportedly said that when it comes to major transportation issues, you can’t expect to please all of the people. Mayor McGinn is apparently one of the displeased, not buying into the Governor’s assurance that the new 520 will be light-rail ready. Fran Conley, head of the Coalition for a Sustainable 520, meanwhile, was already on record as believing that the Governor’s latest iteration “doesn’t resolve any of our basic issues.” The Coalition’s principal concerns, she says, have not been addressed. “We will still have cars coming towards Seattle with no place to go once they get here, causing constant congestion in Montlake, the Arboretum area, North Capitol Hill, and I-5. We think that we need mass transit, on dedicated lanes, to accommodate the growth of the next 50-100 years and to minimize the impact on the area.“
Of course the Governor’s announcement today is not the end of the story. Opponents vow to fight the State in the courts if necessary. And then there’s that other stumbling block: funding. Revenue sources amounting to about $2.6 billion have so far been identified to fund the project. Unfortunately, that's still about $2 billion short of total cost, based on current estimates.
Not to worry. SDOT has produced some lovely new graphics, including that idealized aerial view of the proposed floating bridge shown above (Madison Park is on the right). The middle graphic details the Montlake interchange area (note that there are still two draw bridges in the plan). And this is the view from on high:[Graphics courtesy of SDOT. Click to enlarge. For previous postings on SR-520, click here; for the City's 520 Project Enhancement Draft Report, click here; and for SDOT's complete overview, click here.]