Would tolls keep SR 520 traffic out of the Arboretum
and how it effect Bellevue Limo service?
People looking for a shortcut to neighborhoods south of the new State Route 520 Bridge could someday be in for a surprise: Tolls on the scenic drive through Washington Park Arboretum.
Making people pay to use the Arboretum as a side route from the bridge is among several options that a 520 workgroup is recommending to be studied as part of a broader traffic management plan. Other options include limits on traffic during certain times of day and restricting turns or modifying signal timing at key intersections.
With final planning on the $4.6 billion bridge underway, officials are brainstorming how best to reduce traffic that cuts through the Arboretum from the highway.
About 18,000 vehicle trips are made every day on Lake Washington Boulevard East, a narrow, two-lane road. A majority of that traffic is headed for access ramps from the boulevard to the 520 Bridge. That’s much more traffic and noise than Arboretum stewards would like to see along the historic Olmstead boulevard, which was designed as a pleasurable drive connecting Seattle’s scenic parks.
“We want to discourage as much traffic as we can,” said Paige Miller, executive director of the Arboretum Foundation.
The state’s preferred design alternative for the new bridge would remove the on- and off-ramps between the Arboretum and the bridge. While most traffic would enter and exit from a new Montlake interchange, a new exit-only ramp would be connected to a new extension of 24th Avenue East on a lid over the highway. Traffic from there would be funneled to a new signalized intersection at East Lake Washington Boulevard, giving drivers a choice to turn right toward Montlake Boulevard and 24th Avenue, or to turn left toward the Arboretum.
Miller said she is pleased the state agreed to remove the existing highway ramps in the Arboretum. But population growth is expected to add another 2,000 vehicle trips per day through the area by 2030, which runs strongly counter to Miller’s desire to see traffic reduced from 18,000 to 4,000 vehicles per day.