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New ramp opens at UW-Bothell, Cascadia
“This is a great day for the University of Washington, Bothell,” said State Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell.
With the opening of the new Interstate 405/State Route 522 ramp to the campus, McAuliffe and others said not only is UW-Bothell, but also the adjacent Cascadia Community College, open for business to students from across the area, especially points north.
McAuliffe was one of a dozen or so state, local and school officials who were in Bothell Sept. 18 for a ribbon cutting for the new $52.3 million ramp.
Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Northwest Regional Director Lorena Eng noted the project was completed eight months ahead of schedule.
Led by a truck bearing mascots for both UW-Bothell and Cascadia, a caravan carrying officials to the ribbon cutting become the first non-construction vehicles to drive the ramp.
UW-Bothell Chancellor Kenyon Chan described the ramp is really an education, not a transportation, project. The ramp provides a second entrance to the campus for the first time. Previously, students and staffers were forced to use Beardslee Boulevard on the outskirts of downtown Bothell.
“This (ramp) will allow students to attend college,” Chan said, adding it literally is a road to education.
As various speakers pointed out, the ramp was called for in an agreement with the city. The route had to be in place before the UW-Bothell student population could rise above 3,000. Chan and others said with the ramp in place, the school has the opportunity to encompass a student base of 10,000. He further noted interest in the campus is on the rise, with the university receiving 1,300 applications for 300 freshmen positions.
Cascadia President Bill Christopher noted his school is growing, as well, with enrollment up some 30 percent. He added some 600 students living in Snohomish County now will have much easier access to the campus.
“This is a place that is getting noticed,” said Bothell Mayor Mark Lamb.
He said both UW-Bothell and Cascadia provide world-class education and research facilities combined with a wonderful, naturalistic setting and small class sizes.
In the past, he and other city officials also have talked about how the new ramp and southern entrance should cut down significantly on traffic cutting through downtown Bothell and using city side streets to reach the UW-Bothell and Cascadia campus.
Washington Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond played on some of the same themes as the two school leaders during her comments. She said rarely does a transportation project have such an immediate and readily apparent effect.
“The new entrance will improve access and shorten commutes for students and local drivers,” Hammond said. “We’re pleased to deliver it ahead of schedule and just in time for the start of the school year.”
The various speakers made their comments off to the side of the ramp with what was described as one of the largest retaining walls in the state towering up behind them. Eng said the wall, a key component of the overall project, measures 90 feet tall and roughly 600 feet long. To create space for the new entrance, she also noted crews moved some 360,000 cubic feet of dirt.
“They did all that without having an environmental violation,” Eng added.
Tabbed by the state, Mowat Construction was the general contractor on the project and began work last April.
PHOTOS BY TOM CORRIGAN/BOTHELL-KENMORE REPORTER