MAKING IT WORK
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide information, inspire involvement, and make things work in this great city.
NEW OPTIONS FOR SR 520 REPLACEMENT PROJECT EMERGE
The replacement of the SR 520 Bridge continues to be a high priority project, as the need for safety improvements and transportation enhancements remains great. However, the options currently under consideration are limited in their creativity, focusing primarily on what planners call the "Goldilocks Set" - a 4-lane alternative that is 'too small', an 8-lane alternative that is 'too big', and a 6-lane alternative that is 'just right'. Although other ideas have been suggested in the past, such as a group of drivers calling for a dedicated SUV bridge and a so-called "Chartreuse Green Alternative" that appears to be focused on the color of the bridge, it is only in the last few weeks that some truly visionary ideas have been proposed, such as the following:
- The "Greener Than Thou" proposal. This would rebuild the bridge with only a pedestrian/bike path. There is a variation on this proposal, called the "Lemming Alternative", that would include vehicle lanes, but terminate them at the current 'Ramps to Nowhere' in the Arboretum.
- The "Zero Lake Option". This was inspired by the bold and visionary actions of our ancestors, who reshaped the landscape in major ways such as the Denny Regrade, the rerouting of the Cedar River into Lake Washington, and the lowering of Lake Washington by 9 feet. Proponents of this option ask the logical question: "If we can do 9 feet, why not the whole Lake?" The savings in concrete are enormous, as is the potential for development on the slopes and valley floor that would now be available. There are moderately significant impacts on fish resources.
- The "Dunkirk Strategy". This alternative was inspired by the heroic World War II experience when yachts and fishing boats were mobilized to evacuate the British Army from France when Hitler overran the continent in 1940. Since there are many yachts and pleasure boats in the Seattle area, most of which are only used a few hours a month, why not mobilize a 'Dunkirk Fleet' of hundreds of these small boats to carry people across the water instead of rebuilding the bridge?
- The "Sustainable Surface" alternative. This proposal is designed to counteract the impact of global warming on Lake Washington by submerging a system of pipes under the SR 520 corridor, and then continually pumping liquid nitrogen through them to create a frozen surface. The cooling effect would spread through the Lake and protect fish against excessively warm temperatures. Travel across the Lake could be by dogsled caravans, and there could be year-round winter sports adjacent to the travel corridor. Since the ice bridge could not be raised to allow boats to go through, there would be an icebreaker stationed in the corridor, which would simply break through the bridge at regular intervals, and allow it to refreeze to restore travel across the Lake.
It is important that all reasonable choices are considered as we move through the key stages of decision making on this critical transportation facility. These and other ideas will now move into the state's process for selecting a 'Draft Preliminary Preferred Alternative', which will take place at a meeting of the SR 520 Executive Committee in April. Following public hearings on the draft in May, a 'Revised Draft Preliminary Preferred Alternative' will be recommended by the Committee in June, followed by a public hearing in July. The Committee will then meet again in September to select a 'Consensus Draft Preliminary Preferred Alternative', which will have a public hearing in October. After that there will be a "Revised Consensus Draft Preliminary Preferred Alternative", which the Committee will consider in a Decision Agenda at a meeting to be determined at some point in the future. Once this meeting has taken place, there will be an opportunity for further public com ment prior to the Committee selecting a 'Final Preliminary Preferred Alternative', which will then move into the next stage of the decision-making procedure.
MAKING IT WORK April 1, 2007, Volume IX, Special Edition
Citizen participation and engagement are critical for maintaining democracy -- fostering it is a key task of elected officials. It's my hope that this newsletter will inform you about issues, inspire you to get involved, and that together we can make things work better in this great city. Please send me your feedback, so we can keep things lively, interesting, and useful. And please forward it along to friends who might be interested. You can get more information or send me feedback through the City Council website at http://www.seattle.gov/council/.
Your Seattle City Councilmember