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Council News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   
4/29/2010  2:55:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Megan Coppersmith, Council Communications
Office: (206) 615-0061, Cell: (206) 423-3220

Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Sally Bagshaw
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Sally J. Clark
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Bruce Harrell
Councilmember Nick Licata
Councilmember Mike O’Brien
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen

Seattle City Councilmembers applaud the new SR 520 design
New State design incorporates Council’s recommendations to protect neighborhoods and the Arboretum, improve pedestrian and bike access, and transit options

Seattle – Today Transportation Committee chair Tom Rasmussen joined state officials and community leaders to announce the preferred alternative for the replacement of SR 520 bridge.

The alternative selected by the state contains significant improvements to the Westside interchange, improves transit operations and connectivity, strengthens protection of residential neighborhoods and the Arboretum, and improves pedestrian and bicycle connections.

"The preferred alternative reflects the cumulative efforts of community members, representatives of local institutions and elected officials. The Council has worked hard to listen to, represent and balance the needs of our neighborhoods and the needs of the region. This has paid off and is evident in the new design," said Council President Richard Conlin. "This is an excellent step forward for our neighborhoods, the Arboretum and improved transit operations."

On April 15, the Council sent their SR 520 design and policy recommendations to Governor Gregoire and the Washington State Department of Transportation. The letter provided comments to help improve pedestrian and bicycle connections, protect the Arboretum and neighborhoods, improve transit operations, and change the Montlake Interchange design while maintaining the ability to meet future transit needs on the bridge.

Meeting many of the community and Council goals, the new SR 520 design:

  • Lowers the floating bridge to approximately 20 feet above water in the middle of the lake,
  • Removes the existing ramps in and out of the Arboretum and creates a traffic management plan for the neighborhoods south of the bridge;
  • Provides additional lids east of the Montlake interchange;
  • Improves pedestrian and bicycle access and safety by designing all-bicycle and pedestrian paths to meet Seattle standards;
  • Reduces traffic noise by creating a six-lane urban boulevard over Portage Bay that limits traffic speeds to 45 mph;
  • Creates transit/HOV direct-access priority ramps at key 520 intersections; and
  • Maintains flexibility for light rail by creating a gap between the east and west bound lanes across Foster Island, should the decision be made in the future.

"The changes in the plan resulted in a Montlake interchange design that will function and feel more like an urban boulevard than the freeway interchange that was previously proposed by the state,” said Rasmussen. “In addition to the improved transit operations, the design changes to the Montlake interchange will be a tremendous benefit for the neighborhood and for the many bicyclists and pedestrians who will be crossing the SR 520 corridor. While there are several plan refinements ahead for us to further strengthen protection of our neighborhoods and the Arboretum, I am pleased that the state listened and responded to our recommendations."

"Defining the final design for the west side interchange has been an incredible regional collaboration and industrious decision process," stated Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. "Given the very real safety concerns in combination with a great bidding environment, this is an important step to providing an efficient and effective system across SR 520 as soon as possible."

From here, a number of State-mandated workgroups will be formed to refine design aspects of the project, including the Montlake Triangle area and the surrounding transit connections. Work will also begin on a traffic management plan for the neighborhoods in proximity to the Arboretum and Montlake Boulevard.

Seattle City Council meetings are cablecast and Webcast live on Seattle Channel 21 and on the City Council’s website. Copies of legislation, Council meeting calendar, and archives of news releases can be found on the City Council website. Follow the Council on Twitter and on Facebook.

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