Freeway Revolt!

You may have noticed this small but significant freeway remnant – a simple structural arch, or “Bent,” recently preserved and integrated into the Washington Park Arboretum landscape. It is a physical and temporal marker, symbolizing the citywide movement that stopped the freeway expansion and destruction of homes, neighborhoods, and parks by a diverse coalition of activists. It stands as an enduring reminder of what could have been and celebrates the power of grassroots civic activism.

Known as the RH Thompson “Ramps to Nowhere” the off-ramp infrastructure was literally stopped in its tracks.  A citizens’ revolt made up of UW students and professors, activists from the city’s north and south neighborhoods, and members of the Black Panthers joined forces to stop this and two other major freeway projects.  The ramps remained unfinished and fell into decay.

SDOT’s 2014 SR250 expansion and the Washington Park Arboretum’s plan to create a North Entry raised awareness for preserving the Ramps to Nowhere.  Berger collaborated with Seattle ARCH, WSDOT, the Arboretum and Botanical Garden Committee, and Seattle Parks to create four approaches to integrating the Bent into the fabric of the Arboretum and North Entry Project.  The subsequent planning report “Bent 2 at Washington Park Arboretum” formed the first steps in turning the Ramps to Nowhere into a monument to the power wielded when diverse community members work together for change.


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