Several Montlake residents attended the Seattle Design Commission (SDC) meeting on Thursday, July 7th to listen and comment on WSDOT’s plans for construction of the SR 520 Rest of the West Project. Those attending were Jon Decker, Kathy Laughman, John O’Neil, Lionel Job and Barbara Wright.
The meeting agenda called for WSDOT to discuss its Request for Proposals (RFP) process and the role that the Commission will have in that process.
The commissioners asked for clarification on several points made by WSDOT. Among them were:
- How does WSDOT plan to have transparency in the design process and finality of design decisions if it plans to utilize a design-build method in this phase of the construction?
- What process does WSDOT have for mitigating environmental and quality of live concerns the residents in the surrounding area will have during the duration of construction, especially since the construction will take 11 – 12 years to complete?
Barbara Wright and Lionel Job, chosen earlier to speak for the group, expressed their concerns about WSDOT not being open and not honestly taking the community needs into consideration. Lionel mentioned the example of discovering on the day of the June 28th WSDOT Open House that there was a plan to demolish the Montlake Blvd Market and the 76 Station to make way for a construction staging area.
The intersection of SR 520, Montlake Blvd. and Montlake Place is the second busiest intersection in the city. Barbara & Lionel asked the Seattle Design Commission to consider this fact and how this constant traffic and the planned construction will impact the surrounding communities. They hoped the Commission would urge the City to take an active and transparent role in working with WSDOT to protect the integrity of the environment and surrounding neighborhoods. Both the Council and the Mayor’s Office need to be actively involved in the project (design, implementation, and construction) to ensure we build a transportation project, they said.
John O’Neil, Montlake Community Club board trustee for transportation, also spoke in regard to the safety and environmental concerns that the long construction period will have on the students at Seattle Prep High School.
The Seattle Design Commission will be presenting recommendations to the City Council at its 9:30 a.m. briefing meeting on July 18th. The public may attend this meeting but is not traditionally permitted to make comments. Therefore the group which attended the recent SDC meeting has sent a list of written concerns that will be used to brief the Council in advance of this meeting. The City Council will then be up to update on the concerns that the surrounding neighborhoods want to address regarding the SR 520 Rest of the West Project’s impact on their communities.
A follow-up article will be posted to the Montlake Flyer with the details after the July 18th meeting.