Dear Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT),

Central Seattle Greenways is a grassroots neighborhood-based community group that advocates for family-friendly bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. We write to you today to submit the following recommendations for further study in the ongoing SR-520 Bridge Replacement project.

<strong>Portage Bay Bridge Trail</strong>
We strongly urge WSDOT build a multi-use trail along the Portage Bay Bridge from Montlake to Roanoke. This trail would serve as a critical link locally and regionally. Regionally, this trail would allow commuters from the eastside of Lake Washington to travel seamlessly to employment centers in South Lake Union and Downtown Seattle. Locally it would serve to interconnect the neighborhoods of Montlake, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, the University District, Madison Park, and South Lake Union.

Recognizing that this inter-neighborhood connection is important, WSDOT has previously suggested minor improvements to Interlaken to provide this link. While Interlaken is used by many in the surrounding neighborhoods, it is inferior to a multi-use trail along the Portage Bay Bridge in several respects. Interlaken is wooded and dark at night creating a safety issue, and making it less inviting to more vulnerable users. In contrast, a Portage Bay Bridge Trail would have improved lighting, and its visibility would create a safer environment. The Interlaken route is not intuitive, and not easily navigated by new users without a map. Depending on the route, at least six intersections must be navigated including two that cross arterial streets. A Portage Bay Bridge Trail would be highly visible and intuitive, inviting increased usage and providing the shortest link between North Capitol Hill/Roanoke and Montlake/University District. Finally, the Interlaken route from the intersection of SR-520 and Montlake Blvd to Roanoke Park is more than twice as long as the direct route, which would deter some potential users and shift their modal choices away from active transportation and towards motorized transportation.

In summary, a trail on the Portage Bay Bridge would be half as long, better lit, more visible, safer at night, easier to navigate, cross fewer intersections, and integrate better into the regional bicycle network than Interlaken Blvd is able to do. This is a natural and forward looking extension that leverages the investment already being made in the form of a multi-use trail across Lake Washington, with significant benefits to the surrounding communities.

<strong>Roanoke Lid Area and North Capitol Hill Connections</strong>
Connections over I-5 to Franklin Ave E
The Portage Bay Bridge Trail should be continued through the Montlake lid and over I-5 with clear sightlines, route finding, and integration into surrounding streets. The trail over I-5, whether it is built next to a new car overpass or built as a separate bridge, must be built to multi-use trail standards and connect to Franklin Ave E and the Tops K-8 School in anticipation of future neighborhood greenway designation. Central Seattle Greenways lends its general support to WSDOT’s Option A (Baseline) Shared Use Path and Landscape Bridge design concept although we would like to see pedestrian and bicycle conflicts reduced by widening the proposed path. We strongly support the inclusion of plantings to provide a buffer between this path and E Roanoke Street which are currently included in the concept.

Federal Ave E
Central Seattle Greenways supports connecting the new trail to Federal Ave E. Federal Ave E has been identified as a potential future neighborhood greenway that would connect the Portage Bay Bridge Trail to Volunteer Park, churches, schools, and the Capitol Hill Link Light Rail Station.

Harvard Ave E
Central Seattle Greenways supports a robust connection to Harvard Ave E in order to connect to Lakeview Blvd E and onto the proposed Melrose Promenade. This connection would facilitate travel between the UW area, Montlake, and neighborhoods north of Montlake to the Pike/Pine Area, First Hill, South Lake Union, and Downtown.

Montlake Area Connections
Central Seattle Greenways supports Montlake Greenways in requesting facilities on the west side of Montlake Blvd to keep this neighborhood, the NW Fisheries Center, and the UW Medical Center connected to regional bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

We lend our support to the inclusion of a ADA compliant ramp and stair connection between Delmar Dr E and Boyer Ave E that would greatly enhance the connectivity of North Capitol Hill and Montlake. This connection would create new opportunities for children to bike and walk to schools in neighboring communities.

We also support Montlake Greenways in asking for a family-friendly street crossing at Boyer Clinic that connects to E Interlaken Blvd. A family-friendly street crossing at the Boyer Clinic offers the most sheltered and direct access to 23rd Ave E and the UW from North Capitol Hill. It complements perfectly the connections to Harvard Ave E and Federal Ave E to offer an eastern alternative to the residents of North Capitol Hill accessing the bridge and the UW, as well as recreational walkers and riders reaching the network of Olmsted Parks surrounding Montlake and the South of the UW.

These improvements will create a safer, more enjoyable, and more sustainable transportation network where kids can safely walk to school, commuters can efficiently bike to work, families can bike between Olmstead Parks, and neighborhoods are reconnected.

Sincerely,

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    Thank you!

    Please join us on July 31st at Central Cinemas at 7:30pm for our next general meeting/second kick-off party! We will be reviewing what has been done city wide for Greenways, refining our routes with your input to make them more competitive, and discussing solutions to some of the specific challenges and goals that we have in Central Seattle. Please join us on the 31st!