Friday, September 30, 2011
Bringing us up to date on 520
You might well think that there just is no stopping the State from doing what it wants to do to State Route 520. To be sure, the project has quite a bit of forward momentum. For example, the revisions to the Eastside portion of the highway, including the creation of two additional lanes, are well underway (that's the Bellevue Way overpass above 520 being demolished earlier this month in the photo above). Meanwhile, the State recently published its final environmental impact statement (FEIS) for the I-5 to Medina portion of SR-520; an apparently winning bid was received from a general contractor for the floating-bridge-replacement work; and the federal government weighed in with its approval of the project. This thing is marching forward.
But while there doesn't seem to have been much press coverage of the fact, the opponents of the State's plans have by no means rolled over. In fact, just this month the Coalition for a Sustainable 520 filed a federal lawsuit over the FEIS in which it asks the court to "declare that the defendants' actions as set forth in this Complaint are arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, not in accordance with law, not supported by substantial evidence, and without observance of procedures required by law, and therefore must be set aside." The defendants are both the federal and State governments, so this is pretty strong stuff.
The State still thinks the whole replace-the-bridge program is a fine idea, it still doesn't have anywhere close to the money needed to complete the project, and the opponents are still up in arms. Oh, and the tolling that was supposed to begin on the floating bridge during the spring? Maybe next year. That pretty much covers the 520 story since our last posting on the subject. Consider yourselves up to date.
Tomorrow, you will have your chance to weigh in on "the urban design of the new corridor." That's the currently unfunded portion of the new 520, everything between Foster Island and I-5, including the new Montlake "interchange" and freeway lid. From 9 AM until noon there will be a presentation of the "Seattle Community Design Process" and an opportunity to "meet" (and presumably talk to) the SR 520 design team. The session will be held in Mary Gates Hall at the University of Washington (south of Suzzallo Library, north of Drumheller Fountain, for those familiar with the campus layout).
[Photo courtesy of the Washington State Department of Transportation, whose website for the SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Program can be found here.]