Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arboretum rehab plan revealed

New path will replace freeway ramps

Though it's been known for almost two years that the new SR 520 project would ultimately mean the loss of the freeway's Arboretum ramps, it was only at a press conference today that  plans were revealed for what will replace them.  The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Arboretum & Botanical Garden Committee (ABGC) have reached an agreement under which $7.8 million will be spent to make Park improvements and to remove the infamous "ramps to nowhere" which were originally designed to connect with the never-built R. H. Thompson Expressway.

As a result of the agreement, a one-mile multi-use trail will be constructed in the area of the existing ramps, and several improvements will be made to Azalea Way Pond, parts of Arboretum Creek, and Foster Island.  Detailed planning for the new trail will begin this year, with construction slated for the summer of 2014---assuming that 520 construction proceeds according to schedule. The West Approach Bridge North will have to be funded and constructed before the on/off ramps to 520 can be removed and the area cleared for trail construction and the other planned Arboretum modifications.

This news should be particularly exciting for cyclists who currently transit the Arboretum using Lake Washington Boulevard.  According to the press release from today's announcement, "The multi-use trail is a major component of the Arboretum Master Plan, adopted in 2001. It will provide an important bicycle and pedestrian corridor connecting East Madison Street to the Montlake and University of Washington neighborhoods. Casual bicyclists will no longer have to face the hazards of car traffic on Lake Washington Boulevard to ride through the Arboretum. The new trail will also eventually link to Arboretum Drive East, forming a 2.0-mile interior bicycle-and-pedestrian “loop” in the Arboretum—a tremendous asset to Arboretum users and visitors."

Details of the new plan, which will be implemented by Seattle Parks & Recreation, are available here.

[Click on graphics to enlarge.]

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic, as a bike rider who has commuted to the UW for years, this is what I have been waiting for. Maybe more people will get out of their cars and bike now, it is a healthy (when safe), non-poluting way to commute.


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