A coalition comprising Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle City Council, state lawmakers representing Seattle, and neighborhood leaders will buck the state's plans for the 520 bridge, releasing their own plan in the next week, according to sources who spoke confidentially to The Stranger. The state approved a design that would replace the aging four-lane span across Lake Washington with a six-lane bridge and build a second drawbridge across the nearby Montlake cut to handle all the extra traffic. The state calls this option "A+." (Past reporting on the problems with this arrangement is here.)

But city officials took umbrage with the state's proposal in a letter sent to Governor Christine Gregoire today. The council, according to a statement that appears after the jump, calls on the state to "work with the Mayor and council to identify acceptable design elements and modifications that address city council concerns."

Sources tell us that city leaders will soon release plans for a set of specific requests. Among them, the sources say, the city wants: only four lanes dedicated to traffic and the other two lanes dedicated to transit only, light rail tracks laid on the bridge for future use, no ramp leading to the Arboretum, and a smaller footprint through the Montlake neighborhood. This layout could include a transit-lane connection from 520 to the north side of the ship canal.

As we've written before, the problem with juggling the layout and accommodating transit is the price tag. The state legislature—which controls improvements to state highways—established a price limit of $4.56 billion for a new 520 bridge. The A+ option, the one approved by a work group of legislators, is the only one that clocks in under that figure. Estimates for other layouts range from $5 billion to $6.5 billion.

I have a call in to the mayor's office and will update this post when I hear back.

Seattle City Councilmembers respond to SR 520 report
Council works to resolve western approach alternatives to 520

Seattle —The Seattle City Council today released their response to the SR 520 Legislative Workgroup recommendations in a letter to Gov. Gregoire, Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Rep. Judy Clibborn, co-chairs of the transportation committee.

The response delineates key objectives for state officials to take under review, particularly on the Westside approach to SR 520. Eight councilmembers signed the letter to state officials, including Conlin, Bagshaw, Burgess, Clark, Godden, Harrell, O’Brien, and Rasmussen.

“We must ensure that key concerns on the Westside, including neighborhoods and the Arboretum impacts are addressed to assure the project will succeed,” stated Council President Richard Conlin. “The council supports moving this critical safety and transportation project forward on schedule, including east side construction and bridge development.”

The council lists the following key elements in the project:

· Ensuring design will maximize the opportunity for dedicated transit lanes.
· Narrow where possible lane width and general footprint of the corridor without compromising public safety and emergency access.
· Identifying ways to mitigate project impacts during and after construction.
· Using noise mitigation technologies as an integral part of design.
· Optimizing transit connectivity across the entire SR 520 corridor.
· Reducing height of the crosslake bridge structure from the thirty feet in the current plans.

While not endorsing a final option for the western approach, the council is committed to resolving the design concerns over the next several months. The council is calling on Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle Department of Transportation to work with the Mayor and council to identify acceptable design elements and modifications that address city council concerns.

The council also asked that any action by the legislature this session not interfere with the opportunity to address the Westside configuration and believes that the public process has been thorough and that valuable and significant information on public preferences exists.

“We look forward to building upon our relationship with the governor, state legislative leadership and local officials to ensure the best version possible for the SR 520 corridor,” stated Tom Rasmussen, Councilmember and Transportation Committee Chair. “This is where leadership and implementation meet. We all want what is best for Seattle and mobility for the region.”