Let’s Bury I-5: Redux

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Earlier this year I proposed capping Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle. The original idea was radical, and it received a flood of positive and negative feedback. This entry looks at the project more critically, dials it back to a reasonable scope, and includes additional details. I’m tackling this again because I plan to pursue it as a thesis for my master’s degree over the coming year. I chose not to update the original post in order to preserve it as a record, but to accommodate new readers I have repeated (and edited) some of the original content here.

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Paving the Way for Bike Safety on Roosevelt Way

Roosevelt Way, looking south from 45th Street. During most of the day traffic is relatively light.

Roosevelt Way, looking south from 45th Street. During most of the day traffic is relatively light.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) expects to repave arterial streets every ten to twelve years, and each cycle presents an opportunity to comply with the city’s complete streets ordinance and improve mobility for all users. One such project is due to be completed next summer in northeast Seattle. The repaving of Roosevelt Way between 65th Street and 40th Street will include the replacement of a parking lane with a protected bike lane in the area south of 45th Street. In an unprecedented move, a temporary version of the protected bike lane will be constructed within the next two months before the full repaving next year. This may hint at the growing influence of active residents and a change in the City’s responsiveness to safety concerns.

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Climate Change in the Pacific Northwest

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The Pacific Northwest is already being impacted by climate change, according to the latest National Climate Assessment (NCA). The consequences for the region’s economy and natural resources are significant. Washington, Oregon, and Idaho can expect reduced snowpack for water supplies, coastal inundation and ocean acidification, loss of forestland to fire and disease, and changes to the agricultural landscape. Even so, changes here will be less severe than elsewhere, and the region could expect to see environmental refugees as storms, floods, and fires ravage the rest of the country.

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Seattle Area 2014 Election Results


The votes are still being counted, but the early results of the 2014 election indicate good news for urbanists and transit advocates in the Puget Sound area. Here is a brief rundown on the key measures and races as of Tuesday evening. The Seattle Times is providing comprehensive coverage of all elections statewide. Analysis below the jump.

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Legacy and Prophecy: The 2014 APA Washington State Conference

The annual two-day Washington state planning conference wrapped on Friday in Spokane, and I came away with a refreshed sense of the many issues planners face both now and in the coming years. The sessions covered a wide variety of topics, ranging from farmland preservation and family housing to economic development and comprehensive plan updates. The two keynote speakers reiterated the need for smart growth strategies and keys to success of retail districts. I only attended a few of the many sessions, and what is offered here is a brief review of them and ongoing planning in Spokane, the state’s second largest city.

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Event Recap: U-District Open Space Forum

Some 100 University District residents and employees attended a new community forum on Tuesday night that seeks to revitalize the neighborhood’s vision for its existing and future public spaces. Seattle’s standards for open space are 1 acre/1,000 households and 1 acre/10,000 jobs, and currently the neighborhood has a 3 acre deficit. With 1,500 residential units now under construction or planned, and an additional 4,000 units expected by 2035, the neighborhood’s open space deficit will surely grow. Amidst other planning processes, including an upzoning centered around the 45th Street light rail station, the goal of the forum is to publish an updated public space plan for the U-District that will guide future planning and development.

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U-District to Discuss Neighborhood Open Space

The U-District Partnership will host a community forum on Tuesday, October 7th at 7pm at Alder Hall (1310 NE 40th Street) with the Seattle planning and parks departments to discuss public open space in the the University District, one of Seattle’s most populous neighborhoods. Despite being adjacent to a major university campus, according to the U-District Parks Plan the area has less than half of the recommended park and open space it needs. An under-construction light rail station and impending upzone have prompted debate about how to ensure future residents and employees have enough breathing room.

The U-District Partnership is an organization of business and university leaders focused on creating a vibrant neighborhood. U-District Square is a separate group of citizens who are specifically advocating for constructing a plaza on top of the light rail station, which is scheduled to open in 2021, and who are also leading the effort to construct an adjacent parklet on 43rd Street (Kickstarter campaign). The City of Seattle is also considering the feasibility of converting 43rd and 42nd Streets, which are east-west streets connecting with the university campus, into “green streets” with landscaping and pedestrian improvements. Brooklyn Avenue near the station is being studied for traffic calming and bicycle improvements, and may even be designated as a festival street for farmer’s markets and other frequent events.

Major existing open spaces in the neighborhood only include Cowen Park and a parking lot at the University Heights Community Center, and there are at least two P-Patches for community gardening. The large median within Campus Parkway, which is pedestrian accessible, is being eyed for major improvements.

The forum will continue with two additional events on October 30th and December 3rd.

A Planner’s Visit to Vancouver

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The Vancouver skyline.

After growing up and living the Pacific Northwest for many years I finally had an opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Columbia last weekend. Along with Seattle and Portland, it is an important hub of the Cascadia region and I was intrigued by what I’ve heard about it. And, quite frankly, I had a stunning experience. Though I was only in the city for about 30 hours, I could see that Vancouver is much more progressive in its city planning and design, resulting in an urban environment that is highly sustainable and delightfully livable.

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