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City of Seattle

April 6, 12:29 PM click here to comment > 8

Light rail on 520 can be a reality if planned for now

Today Mayor Mike McGinn released the Nelson\Nygaard draft executive summary and full report detailing opportunities for light rail on the SR 520 replacement bridge over Lake Washington.  A presentation on the findings was also given for the press.

The report finds that light rail connections to the east and west shorelines are feasible and outlines potential options for a future Westside alignment. It also states that because of important environmental and financial considerations, careful planning is necessary to ensure that SR 520 will be built from the outset to reasonably accommodate light rail. A discussion of these challenges and barriers to light rail in the state’s “Option A+” is included in the report.

“We only have one chance to get this right,” said McGinn. “If we continue on with the state’s current plan, then we will miss that chance. And that would be too bad—because this report shows that it is possible. We can design 520 from the outset to include light rail. The question is whether or not the leadership exists to make that vision a reality.”

Light rail could be a reality in the 520 corridor if the region moves forward to formally consider plans for light rail on SR 520. However, if current plans for SR 520 remain unaltered, there are significant, perhaps insurmountable obstacles, to building light rail in the corridor, even if formal planning efforts identify light rail as the preferred option.

The following is an excerpt from the Nelson\Nygaard executive summary on their draft report exploring opportunities for light rail over the replacement SR 520 bridge:

“Both final design and construction should be done with a full understanding of future transit alignments, capacity, and mode split in the SR 520 corridor. The corridor between Foster Island and I-5 is sufficiently sensitive, environmentally and politically, that there will be but one opportunity to ‘get it right’ in terms of construction for the next 75 to 100 years.

Option A+, the preferred alternative of the state legislative work group, presents significant obstacles to converting the corridor to include light rail. While technically feasible, the costs involved with a subsequent retrofit (based on the design assumptions stated in the SDEIS) render the likelihood of conversion finally impractical, environmentally challenging, and/or require widening of the facility to eight lanes, which is unacceptable to the city of Seattle. The primary considerations for the current design process must include the following:

  • There must be sufficient space (i.e. a “gap”) between the eastbound and westbound lanes of the SR 520 mainline between Foster Island and Montlake Boulevard to allow an LRT alignment and/or transit/HOV lanes to diverge from SR 520.
  • Adequate width on the west approach and bridge deck must be maintained to ensure that light rail can be added without significant structural modification. This will require added width of up to 10 feet for the bridge and west approach from the western high rise to Foster Island and added transition width for the divergence of the LRT alignment from the mainline
  • The pontoons must include sufficient flotation and stability to meet the loading imparted by light rail and avoid future in-water construction necessitated by adding pontoons at a later date.”

Give your feedback on the study.

Besides an event the evening of April 6th in the Bertha Knight Landes room at City Hall, there are other important dates pertaining to this project:

  • April 8: Seattle City Council public comment meeting at 5:30pm.
  • April 15: Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) public comment deadline.
  • April 26: Deadline for feedback on the draft report.
  • May 1: Nelson\Nygaard final report due.

Posted by: Aaron Pickus, Spokesperson


Comment from Erin O’Connor
Time April 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm

That two Nelson\Nygaard reports, one for the Council on the 520 project in general and one for the mayor devoted to Light Rail on 520, exist isn’t apparent to most people.

When can we access the full Light Rail report? Only the Executive Summary seems to be available on the Mayor’s site right now.

Will both reports be the subject of the Mayor’s event tonight in the Berthe Knight Landes Room at City Hall at 6:00?

Comment from Melody
Time April 6, 2010 at 5:06 pm

I am so glad to hear that someone is finally thinking about those of us who always wanted rail to cover all of our busy routes. I can’t imagine why it is that when the public wants more and better transit options those in charge make sure it is not going to happen. Since we are a progressive city why can’t we have adequate and progressive travel?

Comment from seag
Time April 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm

I would love to comment on the study, but it doesn’t appear to be posted anywhere! Sorry, but the 5 page summary is not enough to go on here.

Comment from Aaron Pickus
Time April 7, 2010 at 5:05 pm

The full draft report has now been linked to in the first paragraph of this post. Thanks for your interest in this issue and we encourage you to share your input on the study.

Comment from mike buelterman
Time April 7, 2010 at 9:56 am

520 NEEDS light-rail. I support this 100%

Comment from Peter Bricel
Time April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

With reference to the future construction of the SR 520 bridge I would like to bring to your attention the recently completed Golden Ears Bridge in British Columbia. This is a beautiful bridge, slightly longer (2410 m) than the 520 (2285 m) and it was built for C$ 808 Million while the estimated cost for the SR 520 bridge is at least 2 Billion more. This money could be used for the to construction of the light rail,
which we have to have sooner or later.

Life span of an elevated bridge would also be much more favorable, and no problems with winter storms or marine traffic passing bellow.

The bridge is only about 2 hours drive from Seattle and it would be a worthwhile visit if you have not already done so. It is also well described on the Web.

“We only have one chance to get this right,”

Comment from vendre maison
Time June 24, 2010 at 1:05 am

i like it! thanks you very much

Comment from agence de publicité
Time August 5, 2010 at 4:48 am

Thanks for this! very good!