Months into the mediation process that was supposed to result in a long-sought-after agreement on the western portion of a new SR 520 bridge, negotiators— including house Speaker Frank Chopp, Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, Governor Christine Gregoire, and representatives from neighborhoods surrounding the Seattle side of 520—are closing in on a new preferred alternative.

On Tuesday, February 19, the neighborhood groups formally introduced their proposal to the mediation team. The new proposal, which the governor's office and Ceis say they support in principle, will have a leg up over the two other options heading into the environmenal review process. Mediation team member (and city council president) Richard Conlin calls the new proposal "a halfway house" between the previous alternatives.

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The parkway proposal would replace previously considered alternatives, including the "Montlake Interchange" to the west and the once-popular "Pacific Interchange," which would have included a bulky bridge from Foster Island over Union Bay to Husky Stadium, where a new light-rail station is planned. Arboretum supporters opposed the plan because it would have destroyed a portion of the Arboretum. The new proposal could get around this problem by digging a tunnel underneath the Arboretum. It could also include a tunnel under the ship canal, a smaller bridge across Portage Bay, lids on either side of Montlake Boulevard, and/or an "East Montlake Interchange" where the Museum of History & Industry is now located. recommended

barnett@thestranger.com