reminder - 2/9/05 general meeting - 7:30 Tudor Building
- I am extremely pleased to invite the community to attend the February 9th
general meeting (7:30 p.m. in the Tudor Building at the community center)
for the first public presentation of an ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FOR THE SR 520
SPAN OVER PORTAGE BAY AND MONTLAKE! Hopefully, all of you are aware that
WSDOT plans on replacing the SR 520 floating bridge with a new floating
bridge that will have either four or six lanes (more likely six!). The SR
520 Project Team gave Power Point presentations at the November 2004 and
January 2005 MCC general meetings, and for those of you who weren't able to
make it, the news for Montlake residents and the region isn't so good. The
span through Montlake will be nearly twice as wide as the current foot
print, including 19 contiguous east-west lanes of highway and street traffic
and seven contiguous lanes of north-south street traffic. There will be
"sound walls" from eight to fourteen feet tall along the entire Montlake
corridor. Notably, for our neighbors to the north in the University
District and Laurelhurst, the Montlake bridge bottleneck will remain.
Additionally, the Montlake corridor will be under construction for four
years forcing commuters to use alternative routes, including
already-at-capacity surface streets and I-90. Finally, assuming SR 520 is
built as currently planned, there would be no connection to the light rail
station at Husky Stadium. In short, the current plan is a disaster for
Montlake and the region.
Rather than just bemoan WSDOT's plans for Montlake, Rob Wilkinson, a
Montlake resident and MCC board member, envisioned a different way for
traffic to cross Portage Bay and Montlake. I believe that when you attend
the February 9th community meeting and see his drawings for yourself, you
will come to the conclusion I reached: Rob's vision is not just different,
it's better - far better. Rob teamed up with Jonathan Dubman, Montlake's
own traffic expert and the vice-president (and past president) of the MCC,
to design a six-lane SUSPENSION BRIDGE that goes a long way in solving the
transportation problems that the present SR 520 plans do not even address.
Imagine a beautiful soaring signature bridge spanning from the I-5 exit high
above Portage Bay and Montlake, traversing Foster Island and slowly
descending to join the floating span east of Madison Park. Rob and Jonathan
realized that the Montlake Bridge bottleneck and the connection to light
rail could be solved in one design feature - a four-lane east and west bound
exit and entrance at the southern portion of the Husky Stadium parking lot
that connects over Foster Island to SR 520 via a second soaring bridge.
They also have planned for an east bound entrance from and west bound exit
to the arboretum (as presently exists).
The benefits of a suspension or cable bridge for Montlake are obvious.
Imagine reconnecting Shelby and Hamlin to the rest of Montlake! Imagine a
greenbelt from the Montlake Playfields to Foster Island! Imagine a serene
and scenic boulevard along the restored waterway that existed before the
days of SR 520! Imagine how much more quiet Montlake would be when the
highway is 100 to 120 feet overhead instead of at street level (at the
January meeting, SR 520 project team members confirmed that even a 50-60
foot road height of the planned span over Foster Island would dramatically
What makes Rob and Jonathan's plans even more likely to come to fruition is
the benefits realized by others outside of Montlake. Our neighbors in North
Capitol Hill and Portage Bay will have a beautiful bridge to look at (most
will have an unobstructed view under it) rather than the current plans for a
9 lane viaduct with 8 feet high sound walls! Think of the San Francisco
residents who vie for a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and then think of the
last time someone wanted to look at SR 520. A suspension bridge would also
allow for the construction of an eastbound entrance at 10th Avenue by the
proposed Roanoke Park lid, which could not be part of the present SR 520
plans due to the grade of the Portage Bay viaduct. Our neighbors in the
University District, Sand Point and Laurelhurst would no longer have to
cross the Montlake Bridge (or wait for it to go back down) in order to get
to SR 520. Instead, they would have a grade separated turn lane (i.e.,
underground) with uninterrupted access to east and west bound SR 520!
Finally, WSDOT could build the suspension bridge while SR 520 stays open!
By now, hopefully you can see why I and everyone else who have heard about
or seen the alternative proposal is so excited about this possibility. This
is one community meeting that you will not want to miss! In fact,
Councilmember Richard Conlin plans on attending to present his own thoughts
about SR 520. I truly hope to see you there. Come early, we expect
standing room only.
P.S. Elections for the MCC board are in April with nominations due in March
so if you're interested or know someone who is or should be, please contact
me or any MCC board member to find out more!