Wednesday, September 16, 2015

City Council Holding Public Meeting Tonight On Design For West End Of SR520

Here is information on the meeting tonight at 5:30pm regarding City Council holding a Public Hearing on SR 520 West-End Design: 

Seattle City Council’s Transportation Committee is hosting a Public Hearing tonight at 5:30pm at the University Christian Church (4731 15th Ave NE) to hear public feedback regarding Seattle’s goals for the proposed design of the west-end of the SR 520 bridge replacement project. 
Each member of the public will have up to 2 minutes to address the committee, and public comment signs will start at 5:15 p.m.
In July 2015, the Washington State Legislature approved funding for remainder of the 520 project.  Council is preparing to adopt a resolution which outlines the City of Seattle’s priorities and principles as the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) moves forward to finish design and begin construction on the West Side of the SR 520 bridge replacement project. 
The resolution under consideration concurs with the 2015 Final Design Concept Report, which calls for a box girder style bridge including a bike and pedestrian path over Portage Bay, redesigned highway lids with a new land bridge, and multimodal connectivity improvements.  
The City is also asking WSDOT to consider an additional bike and pedestrian bridge across the Montlake Cut, transit priority enhancements, intelligent transportation system improvements (ITS), improved pedestrian safety at the Montlake interchange, and neighborhood traffic enhancements.

For more information go here.


Several months ago the Laurelhurst Blog reported that Connie Sidles, local birder, asked the community to sign the Audubon Society Petition for SDOT to change the SR520 Plans that will result in "catastropic" decline of shorebird migration at Laurelhurst's Union Bay Natural Area, also known as the Montlake Fill, writing: 
Washington Dept. of Transportation (WSDOT) is planning to give the University of Washington $2 million to mitigate for the floating bridge they are widening across the Lake Washington (Union Bay is part of Lake Washington).
Tragically, though, the mitigation plan they’ve come up with calls for *more* woody vegetation at the Fill. Not only that, the plan calls for so-called “buffer plants” to be planted around all the ponds, making it impossible for students and community members to access them to view any birds at all. These plans will effectively end shorebird migration here. A migration pattern that has existed since the end of the last Ice Age will be no more, at least as far as we will be able to observe in Seattle.

Seattle Audubon and I have been trying to persuade WSDOT and the US Army Corps of Engineers (who have jurisdiction here) to alter their plans and *remove* woody vegetation from around the two biggest ponds of the Fill. The conservation scientists at Seattle Audubon believe this will restore a significant population of migrating shorebirds to the Fill.

WSDOT and the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) refuse to listen. Instead they insist on following a generic mitigation plan that does not take into account the fact that the Fill is a teaching site, where usable shorebird habitat can be accessed by both birds and people.

Their plan doesn’t even take into account the fact that our wetlands in the NW differ in nature from those of the eastern US, where these plans were concocted. Indeed, we will end up with woody deciduous wetlands that, according to Professor Dennis Paulson of the Slater Museum (a world expert), will provide habitat for very few birds at all.

We are asking everyone who cares about shorebirds and the Fill to sign Seattle Audubon’s petition asking WSDOT and the USACE to revise their plans for the Fill and remove woody vegetation from two ponds. This is a simple, easy, low-cost way to restore an important ecological niche to the Fill and to Seattle as a whole.

We also ask that people send emails or letters to WSDOT, USACE and the UW, letting them know this is an important issue for us. Here is a link to Seattle Audubon’s web page to give you contact information.

Finally, we are asking people to spread the word about the petition and our efforts to help shorebirds. Please forward this message to your Facebook friends, your families, and to organizations you belong to.

Numbers do count in an effort like this. Will you help? Will you ask everyone you know to join with us? I know your voice(s) would make a difference!

For more information go here.

Photos: Left: UBNA Central Pond in 1961, looking southwest. Photo by Dennis Paulson; Center: UBNA Central Pond in early 1980s, looking north. Photo by Constance Sidles; Right: UBNA Central Pond in 2014, looking north. Photo by Doug Parrott. 

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