Laurelhurst Community Club                                                     

Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood


SR 520 Expansion

Community Meeting, March 1, 2005

Museum of History and Industry



Hello, my name is Joe Herrin and I am a trustee of the Laurelhurst Community Club.  Of the major issues surrounding the proposed 520 expansion, my neighborhood is most concerned with worsening congestion on Montlake Boulevard and increasing noise-pollution in our neighborhood.


As others have (or will) mention, according to WSDOT the interchanges near the Montlake Bridge already rate D’s and F’s and traffic models for the proposed expansion of 520 show that the project will significantly worsen this condition—yet WSDOT proposes to do nothing about this.  Additionally, and not necessarily considered in these studies, are future added pressures on the corridor.  Currently under construction at Children’s Hospital is a 200,000sf high-volume outpatient facility.  Plans for Magnusun Park include 11 soccer fields as well as other amenities, which will transform the park from a neighborhood to a regional destination.  U-village, Children’s Hospital and the UW all have plans for continued growth for the foreseeable future.


All of this development transforms directly into more and more cars pouring onto unchanged Montlake Boulevard.  The city and state appear to have their collective heads in the sand regarding traffic in our neighborhoods- DPD keeps approving the endless expansion of U-Village, the City Council drops the UW lease lid, the state proposes a detrimental freeway expansion… All of this without any consideration for the only connecting street we have with our neighbors to the South.  This ‘head in the sand’ approach extends to mass-transit as well as there is currently no intermodal connection proposed between 520’s proposed Metro flier stop and Sound Transit’s proposed UW stop- even though the light-rail tunnel passes almost directly below the flier-stop!


There appears to be no cohesive overall vision for a transportation future that addresses the myriad of macro and micro transportation challenges affecting our city and region- we seem to prefer the myopic “one problem at a time” approach.  We are better than this. 


The Laurelhurst Community Club opposes the current proposal for the expansion of 520 and will oppose any further proposal that does not affectively address the big picture for both our neighborhood and our region. 


Additionally, regarding the noise issue: the proposed bridge inexplicably includes sound-walls only on the Madison Park side of the structure, even though the new bridge will be 200ft closer to our shores.  As we all know sound travels quite well over water and we feel our neighborhood deserves the same consideration as our neighbors to the south.


Finally, I have a personal comment to make: as a seattle native and as an architect:


The current proposal for 520 expansion feels like something out of the 50’s.  It is unattractive to look at and paves a tremendous amount of Montlake.   When we expanded I-90 I would argue we actually improved the quality of life for folks living on Mercer Island and created a freeway corridor pleasing for drivers to boot.  The current plan for 520 isn’t going to improve anyone’s quality of life- save perhaps for an arguably quicker commute.  How can we be seriously considering 9 lanes of concrete across Union Bay?  How can we be seriously considering a swath of pavement 300ft wide through Montlake?  How can we be seriously considering doubling the swath of pavement over one of the last remaining urban wetlands in the US?  How can we be considering burying the Viaduct for $3B to better the built-environment, then turning 180 degrees and spending another $3B doing the exact opposite to lake Washington… to Montlake… to Roanoake… to Laurelhurst… to Madison Park?


If we are eventually going to spend BILLIONS of dollars on this project, we ought to build something that we can be proud of- something that demonstrates who we are: we are progressive, we are innovators, we our proud of our communities and we care deeply about our environment.


The proposed 520 expansion does none of this and as such I find the proposal completely unacceptable.


Thank you for listening.



                                                Joseph Herrin AIA, LCC Transportation Committee

                                    5040 47th Avenue NE

                                                Seattle, Washington  98105