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Covering Highways, Connecting Communities: Lid I-5 North Seattle

In recent years, Seattle and cities across the US have created new open space and land for housing and connected their urban neighborhoods by building lids over their highways. 

Now, a coalition of community members from the U District, Wallingford, Ravenna, and Roosevelt is launching an initiative to reconnect our communities by creating a lid over Interstate 5 between NE 45th and NE 50th Streets.

What’s a Highway Lid?

A highway lid, often referred to as a “lid,” is a transformative urban infrastructure project that covers a section of a highway with green space, parks, and community amenities. It not only reconnects neighborhoods previously divided by the freeway, but also creates new opportunities for sustainable development, safer streets, and improved quality of life.

Highway lids already exist in the Puget Sound region, including downtown Seattle’s Freeway Park and Convention Center, a new lid over 520 in the Montlake neighborhood, and on Mercer Island over Interstate 90.

What are the Benefits?

Reduce pollution and noise 

Traffic-related air pollution is significantly higher within 500 feet of highways. A lid over 1-5 could act as a noise and pollution barrier around the lid area 

Increase land for affordable housing 

A significant amount of WSDOT-owned right of way borders 1-5. That unused land could provide opportunities to build mixed-use and affordable housing. 

Increase green open space 

North Seattle communities have a dearth of open space. A lid over 1-5 would create several acres of new open space between Wallingford and the U District, addressing a long-identified issue for the area. 

Establish safe bike and pedestrian crossing 

Between NE 40th and NE 65th, there exists no safe way to cross 1-5 by bicycle. The crossings at NE 45th and 50th St. are sub-optimal at best, and too far apart. A lid over 1-5 could create safe, protected bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure at NE 45th, NE 47th and NE 50th Streets.

Ready to Get Involved?

Lid I-5 North Seattle is just getting underway. Join us in shaping the future of North Seattle!

Learn more about the 2023 Community Visioning Workshop

In November 2023, the Lid I-5 North Steering Committee hosted a community visioning workshop. The workshop gathered over 100 community members to learn about highway lids and share their vision for a future lid in North Seattle. Read the report out from the workshop.

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Volunteer on the Steering Committee

Lid I5 North Seattle is actively looking for new members to get involved in outreach and planning for our initiative. Interested in learning more? Contact Katy Ricchiuto at katy@udistrictpartnership.