The construction of Interstate 5 split Seattle in half more than a generation ago. Today, new groups are exploring a vision of a lidded I-5 and reunited downtown. In November, DSA’s Board endorsed a plan to explore covering the freeway and re-linking downtown with the rest of the city.
We believe capping I-5 will increase Seattle’s livability and health while adding land for new housing, green spaces, commercial development and pedestrian connections. Cities including Bellevue, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Dallas and Philadelphia have demonstrated the feasibility of covering freeways, and while it will take time to realize such an ambitious project, a lid is the right thing to do.
“We need to think big to accommodate our growing, changing downtown,” said Jon Scholes, DSA President & CEO. “A cap sustains our ability to move hundreds of thousands of people through downtown each day and alleviates one of Seattle’s most unfortunate planning decisions.”
Seattle policies limiting development contribute to the high cost of living and working in the city. The city – downtown especially – can welcome more people by making smart land-use decisions. Covering I-5 between Denny Way and Madison Street adds 12.2 acres of much-needed capacity downtown.
As part of the $83 million public benefits package funded by the Washington State Convention Center Addition, the Seattle Office of Planning and Community Development is funding a $1.5 million study on the details of engineering a freeway cap.
Planners are seeking input from a wide spectrum of stakeholders as the study moves forward. An inclusive process ensures all voices are heard on a project that will impact the entire city. We look forward to study’s results and anticipate a robust discussion on this exciting initiative.