For Wallingford, the real Move Transportation Levy story involves 2 possible pedestrian / bike bridges over I-5.
One bridge connects the Northgate Light Rail Station with North Seattle College. The community college has 6,000 students and is surrounded by a low density neighborhood. The bridge requires a multi-story elevation climb and SDOT estimates the bridge must be about 2,000 feet long to climb that height and then cover the wide stretch of I-5 there, resulting in a 25 million dollar preliminary price tag. While it is needed for pedestrians, an alternative bike path already exists for accessing the community college from the light rail station (go south and cross at 92nd street, a path with about the same amount of elevation change as the new bridge will require).
The other proposed pedestrian / bike bridge is in the bicycle master plan and crosses I-5 at 47th, connecting Wallingford and the U-District. UW has 45,000 students and is in a densely zoned neighborhood, while 45th street is being redeveloped into 40 foot condos, many with only bike parking. A pedestrian and bike bridge at 47th would not require any elevation change and would be only 600 feet long, or less than 1/3rd the length of the Northgate bridge. Unlike Northgate, there are no alternate bike crossing locations over I-5 until you go all the way down the hill to the Burke Gilman or up to Ravenna, forcing anyone from the Wallingford Urban Village that wants to access the U-District to use gridlocked traffic lanes on 45th and 50th.
Comparing these two options on a cost / benefit basis, it seems like the bridge at 47th should be prioritized ahead of the Northgate bridge. It connects more people and it’s far easier to build and use. Instead the levy funds the Northgate bridge and just ignores the bridge at 47th. I asked SDOT why one was chosen and not the other, but instead of answering that question they chose to just talk about the benefits of the Northgate bridge:
The Northgate pedestrian and bicycle bridge is a part of the proposed transportation levy because of the benefits it provides neighborhoods, businesses and schools by:
–Increasing ridership at the Transit Center and future Light Rail Station by doubling the area from which people can walk or bike to the station
–Creating an easier connection for students to and from North Seattle College by shortening the walk distance from the Transit Center by almost a mile
–Providing important access for bicyclists and pedestrians to other improvements coming to the Northgate area
That said, we really want your readers to let us know if the priorities outlined in the levy proposal don’t match their priorities. They can do so by completing the online survey and joining us for upcoming in-person events to learn more and share their feedback with SDOT staff. Thanks for helping us get the word out!
In other words, there is no cost / benefit analysis comparing the bridges. The Northgate bridge is happening because there was a planning process for light rail and people demanded it during that planning process. Since Wallingford has no light rail station and also no neighborhood planning process, our community is just being ignored. We get all the density but none of the infrastructure.
Will it help to fill out their survey? I’d be very surprised if it did. The train has already left the station with respect to the big ticket items in the levy. Switching the bridges would result in a big kerfuffle the city doesn’t want, and adding the bridge at 47th would likely require making the levy more expensive. I filled out the survey as a civic duty thing, just like I’ll vote “no” on the levy if this issue isn’t fixed, but I expect to lose on both counts.
Addendum: In a later post I’ll try to bring myself to cover the tiny, boring levy scraps they’re offering Wallingford. It’s basically a few new crosswalks and some repaving. Ugh.