What an I-5 lid might look like through downtown Seattle

Nov 12, 2018, 2:42 PM | Updated: 3:12 pm

I-5 Lid...

A proposed lid over I-5. (Lid I-5 courtesy photo)

(Lid I-5 courtesy photo)

The Lid I-5 campaign has been steadily gaining momentum of late, and recently scored the endorsement of Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who joins fellow Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Teresa Mosqueda, and Rob Johnson in hoping the project becomes a reality.

The effort to cover over I-5 through downtown Seattle has been underway for a few years, and the city previously expressed support for the idea by funding a design process for the monumental project. While only provisional, the most recent development is a series of sketches depicting what such a lid could eventually look like.


(Photo: Lid I-5) (Photo: Lid I-5) (Photo: Lid I-5) (Photo: Lid I-5) (Photo: Lid I-5)

The goal is to cover a portion of the I-5 that stretches between Denny Way and Madison Street in downtown Seattle, all in an effort to create land for public space and affordable housing, reports The Urbanist. It’s an issue of space. With limited land and accelerated growth, the I-5 group is seeking new and creative ways to make more efficient use of space, while potentially reducing noise and air pollution.

Proponents imagine a space with parks, housing, community centers, and streets, though one wonders if that street might get it’s own lid one day.

In addition to creating space and housing, the designers are attempting to recreate what the city felt like before being divided by the freeway, wherein the neighborhoods on either side were more connected. Part of the inspiration also came from several similar projects across the country, including the $110 million dollars lidding project in Dallas where part of the highway is covered with park space, a restaurant, and numerous amenities.

But don’t get the idea that Seattle is lidless already. We do have Freeway Park, the Convention Center, and Sam Smith Park, and more recently the lid parks built over State Route 520 and Interstate 90. They aren’t likely to be joined by the I-5 lid anytime soon, since this particular one is decades away.

The next step will be a feasibility study conducted next year. It’s funded by a $1.5 million public benefit payment from the Washington State Convention Center, and will take a closer look at lid design, planning, permitting, and capital funding.

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What an I-5 lid might look like through downtown Seattle