Greening Capitol Way

Enhancing Downtown
with Green InfrastructureEPA Greening Capitol Design Team

Olympia is one of four capital cities to be selected for the EPA’s Greening America's Capitols program. With technical design assistance from EPA, we are re-envisioning Capitol Way, from the Farmer's Market to the State Capitol campus, as a greener and more vibrant streetscape.

Incorporating 'green' methods for treating stormwater runoff and designing a more engaging and intersting streetscape can:

  • Establish a stronger sense of place and connection between the Capitol Campus and downtown;
  • Slow down and filter untreated stormwater runoff that currently drains directly to Budd Inlet using green infrastructure methods;
  • Provide visual images and illustrations to attract new businesses or visitors to downtown;
  • Improve all modes of transportation, including buses, biking, and walking; and
  • Connect to or catalyze other exciting projects happening downtown.

What is Green Infrastructure?

Green infrastructure uses vegetation, soils and natural processes to create healthier, more sustainable cities.

Raingardens, bioswales, permeable paving and street trees are all examples of green infrastructure. Green infrastructure can:

  • Filter and manage stormwater
  • Improve air quality
  • Reduce capital costs
  • Reduce energy use
  • Provide public recreation space
  • Beautify cities
  • Increase property values

To learn more, please visit the EPA's Green Infrastructure website.


Creating a Collaborative Design

Greening America's Capitals LogoThe EPA provided a professional urban design team to assist the City in learning more about the challenges on Capitol Way and how to address those through better streetscape design. At the end of September, City staff and the design team hosted a three-day intensive visioning and design process known as a ‘charrette.’

Day one consisted of an interactive public workshop/open house designed to give community members and business owners the opportunity to contribute to the project and collaborate on preliminary design ideas. A series of more targeted focus group meetings were held the following day.

After taking in the comments, concerns, and ideas they recieved, the design team developed one set of final design concepts. On day three, they hosted a wrap-up open house to share the concepts and hear the community’s response. Feedback that evening confirmed that the final designs reflected what community members envisioned for the future of Capitol Way.

The design team and EPA will deliver a Final Report outlining the recommended design concepts to the City of Olympia in February 2015.


Next Steps

The City is exploring possibilities for implementing the design concepts. Some of the concepts may be tried in the short-term on a pilot basis, and some may require additional study, modeling, or community input to determine if they will work as envisioned.

City staff and the design team gave a presentation on the project at the Washington State Chapter of the American Planning Association (WA APA) Conference October 17. The presentation outlined some valuable takeaways from the designs and the process, as well as potential next steps for making the vision become reality.


Stay Informed

To be added to the Greening Capitol Way mailing list email sray@ci.olympia.wa.us.