In case you’ve missed it, there’s been some controversy over the plans to replace the 520 bridge and connecting infrastructure. The debate spans all possibilities, including some of the most viable of all, as detailed in Richard Conlin’s recent proposal.
Of these, my personal favorites include the “Cloud Suspension Bridge” and the “Sustainable Surface” alternative. The first of which would employ nanotechnology to suspend a bridge by trillions of nanowires, while the Sustainable Surface option would pump liquid nitrogen into pipes submerged in Lake Washington, creating a frozen surface to support east-west transportation via dog-sled. Though the most desirable option from a cyclist standpoint is the “Greener Than Thou” proposal…which would rebuild the bridge with only a pedestrian/bike path.
Unfortunately, Conlin’s proposals were released on April 1…
All jokes aside, the debate is now at a critical point. In April, once the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is closed (Deadline April 15), the state will begin the process for selecting a ‘Draft Preliminary Preferred Alternative,’ with a public hearing to follow in July. Comment here!
Meanwhile, the Seattle City Council, concerned by the alternatives on the table, hired consulting firm Nelson Nygaard to conduct a thorough review of the project to determine if key transit, bike and pedestrian connections could be improved and how to lessen neighborhood impacts. The executive summary of those recommendations can be reviewed here. The Seattle City Council will be meeting on the following dates/times to review these recommendations (public comment opportunity on Thursday):
MONDAY, April 5, 2010
9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Council briefing and discussion on City Council SR 520 report
THURSDAY, April 8, 2010
5:30 p.m. – public comment meeting
Prior to the April 15 comment deadline, we’ll post Cascade’s comments on the SR 520 alternatives. In general, however, our recommendations support Nelson Nygaard’s, with emphasis on improving the transit and nonmotorized connections, and reducing the built footprint of the project as a whole – with key attention to the urban interchanges. The context of this project, in our minds, does not warrant a ‘bigger, better, more obtrusive’ design, but rather a design that is of the human-scale and supports movements by foot, bike and transit through the corridor.