Supporters optimistic for ‘pie-in-the-sky’ idea to lid I-5 in Seattle
A project that would lid I-5 between Madison and Denny Streets is still very much in its infancy, but its proponents remain hopeful early on that it could provide a host of benefits to Seattle.
“Seattle’s known for these kinds of pie-in-the-sky ideas, and that we have the civic energy around to steward them forward and make them reality,” Freeway Park Association Director Riisa Conklin told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross on Seattle’s Morning News.
The goal is to cover a portion of the I-5 that stretches between Denny Way and Madison Street in downtown Seattle. It would create land for public space and affordable housing.
Proponents like Conklin imagine a space with parks, housing, community centers, and streets.
“There’s a lot of evidence pointing towards the need for more public spaces downtown, and we simply just do not have any terra firma to invest in, in downtown Seattle,” she said. “If we want to grow more as a city, if we want to provide more public spaces for our residents, and more affordable housing, we have to explore other options.”
For now, a $1.5 million feasibility study is being conducted to determine whether an I-5 lid is even possible. If it is, the hope is that similar projects could work throughout the city.
“We’re really just focusing on the downtown core for the feasibility study, but the vision is to extend this lid throughout the entire city where it’s possible,” Conklin said. “The idea is that eventually we can start working with other neighborhoods and start visions for other parts of the city where it would be feasible as well.
The idea of a lid isn’t anything new to Seattle either. A five-acre lid already exists between Union and Seneca Street, the first of its kind in the United States. This project would look to extend that lid from Madison to Denny.
And if all goes well, Conklin envisions a plan that could start to become a reality sometime in the next decade.
“It will probably be built in phases, so optimistically we could start construction in about 10 years,” she estimated.
Working on the I-5 lid feasibility project is WSP, “a global engineering firm with extensive local experience,” selected by the city of Seattle in late-February.