More Freeway Lid -- Pursue Courthouse Idea

SEATTLE'S visionary, Jim Ellis, strikes again.

Over the years Ellis' fertile mind has propagated many creative ideas for the city and region. Now he's come up with a tantalizing concept for a new federal courthouse downtown. Put it over the freeway as an extension of the Convention Center-Freeway Park lid.

Ellis suggested spreading the existing lid southward, lengthening Freeway Park to cover northbound lanes of Interstate 5 between Seneca and Spring Streets, and providing the base for two federal buildings, for courts and offices, on both sides of Madison Street.

It's a logical phase of an Ellis dream - to cover as much as possible of the noise and ugliness of the freeway gash through the city and to reconnect the downtown area to First Hill. Ellis championed the original Freeway Park and Convention Center. He speaks now as a member of a federal siting committee.

Can it be done? Many questions have to be answered and problems solved, especially federal participation in the plan and its cost.

But it's a far more creative approach than the feds' unpleasant alternative - bulging the existing courthouse a half-block westward on Fifth Avenue and erasing an attractive lawn, or condemning the downtown library.

The courthouse-on-a-lid is an idea worth pursuing.