R.H. Thomson Expressway

This is definitely the longest I’ve ever sat on writing any of my blog posts. I got interested in the topic of the R.H. Thomson Expressway about 18 months ago, when I first heard the story. Then I went “onsite” almost exactly one year ago to take some photos for a blog post. I filed them away in a folder and then never got around to writing the blog post until just now. At the time I first heard about this freeway, I couldn’t find a lot of details on it. In the interim year, however, it’s been brought up in reference TONS of times due to the Pacific Interchange option in the SR520 rebuild, and even more often in connection with the recent SR99 viaduct vote. So now there are lots of reference links out there to find!

The R.H. Thomson Expressway doesn’t exist. It’s a ghost freeway. HistoryLink has some of the details. This expressway was going to be built starting in the early 60s to mirror the function of the viaduct — ie, be a huge, ugly freeway along the Seattle waterfront. Except this time, the waterfront we’re talking about was the west-side of Lake Washington rather than the east-side of Puget Sound. It was to connect from SR520 in the Arboretum down to a high-volume run on Empire Way (ie – MLK). (It also was to go north and connect to other highways, but I find that part far less onerous and far less interesting). 

Wow. What a terrible idea that would have been (spoken as someone who prefers the current Arboretum to a high-volume highway addition).

But the good news is, this was never built in-full. They got the interchanges to/from SR520 built, and then the project was scrapped after a bit of “Freeway Revolt” in the late 60s / early 70s.

These photos show the bits of the “ghost highway” that are still around from this era, at least until SR520 itself is rebuilt eventually…

  Ghost highway off-ramp
Vandalism is evidently ok though
End of the road…
… starting to get the picture? This place is wicked “naturely” except for the big concrete highway interchange…
  … a place of quiet serenity and nature, not a place for cars!

1 Comment

  1. sandrar said,

    September 10, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.