Seattle grants $48K to further Lid I-5 campaign

SEATTLE — The effort to cover I-5 through Seattle just got a financial boost from the city.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods has given a $48,000 grant to the Lid I-5 campaign. According to a letter from the campaign’s steering committee posted on The Urbanist, the money will be used to create designs for placing a lid over the freeway, and to continue outreach efforts to gain public favor over the coming year. Lid I-5 supporters say it is a “major endorsement” from the city department.

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The Lid I-5 group has campaigned for about two years with the aim of turning portions of I-5 into a tunnel. The surface will then be converted into space for parks and possibly housing. The group is considering parts of I-5 through downtown, and a portion of the University District and Wallingford.

The project that the campaign wants to use the grant money for is called the “Central Hills Triangle Collaborative.” This portion of I-5 runs through downtown Seattle. The current plan is to place parks, affordable housing, and bike lanes over the freeway. There are three areas under consideration:

  • Between Madison Street and Pike Street with parks and open space.
  • Between Pike Street and Olive Way with a focus on urban design, but not for residential uses.
  • Between Olive Way and Thomas Street, focusing on affordable and market-rate housing.

Moving forward with the I-5 Lid campaign

The $48,000 grant from the city is not the only money the group has received recently. The Washington State Convention Center has joined in on the effort. The convention center will fund a $1.5 million feasibility study for the lid project. This money will be paid to the city, which will be in charge of the feasibility study. Both Seattle mayoral candidates Jenny Durkan and Cary Moon have publicly said they favor the study.

The campaign recently began floating a “public benefits package” related to the lid in front of the city’s design commission. If the commission makes a recommendation for the lid at it’s Nov. 16 meeting, the city council will consider the idea in 2018 as the campaign further develops its plans.

To do that, I-5 Lid supporters plan to hold a series of community meetings starting in January; the $48,000 city grant will help fund those meetings. After designs have been developed from these meetings, the group plans to present them to city leaders.

Freeway lids are nothing new. Cities such as Dallas, St. Louis, and Chicago are considering similar projects. In Seattle, the convention center’s park acts as a lid over I-5. A portion of I-90 over Mercer Island also has a lid on it, with a park on the surface.