The Washington Park Arboretum will receive $7.8 million as the result of a collaborative effort between the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee (ABGC).
This agreement ensures that key projects in the arboretum’s Master Plan are implemented as required mitigation for the effects of the upcoming replacement of the state Route 520 bridge.
Improvements include the removal of the “infamous ‘ramps to nowhere’” in the wetlands and the construction of a new multi-use trail through the arboretum and improvements to Arboretum Creek, said ABGC chair Jack Collins.
In addition to the SR 520 Eastside improvements and the floating bridge, WSDOT currently has funding to construct the West Approach Bridge North, connecting the westbound lanes from the new floating bridge to Montlake in Seattle. Construction of the West Approach Bridge North will begin in summer 2014.
The current SR 520 bridge structure in the arboretum will stay in place to connect the eastbound lanes between Montlake and the floating bridge until funding is secured for the West Approach Bridge South.
Together, the north and south halves of the West Approach Bridge will provide three westbound and three eastbound lanes connecting the floating bridge and Montlake.
Under the terms of the new agreement, WSDOT will pay Seattle Parks and Recreation $7.8 million by the end of February to cover the costs of a first phase of mitigation projects in the arboretum, tied to the recent funding secured to build the West Approach Bridge North. These projects include the design and construction of a 1-mile multi-use trail, as well as improvements to Azalea Way Pond, parts of Arboretum Creek and Foster Island.
The design of the trail will begin this year. Construction will start as early as summer 2014, pending WSDOT’s execution of the construction contract for West Approach Bridge North.
The multi-use trail is a major component of the Arboretum Master Plan, adopted in 2001. It will provide a bicycle and pedestrian corridor connecting East Madison Street to the Montlake and University of Washington neighborhoods.
The new trail will also eventually link to Arboretum Drive East, forming a 2-mile interior bicycle-and-pedestrian “loop” in the arboretum.
In addition to the mitigation projects covered by the $7.8 million, the agreement between WSDOT and ABGC creates a framework for a final phase of mitigation that will take place in the arboretum once funding is secured for the construction of West Approach Bridge South. These projects include the transfer of the WSDOT Peninsula to the arboretum, shoreline restoration, the creation of a new north entry to the arboretum, a new roundabout at Foster Island Road and Lake Washington Boulevard and daylighting and restoration of sections of Arboretum Creek.