A report from The Urbanist of the imminent demise of the pedestrian and cyclist crossing at NE 45th over I-5 is overstated. Ever since 2015, we’ve been working to improve the crossing for cyclists and pedestrians, including getting the project funded as part of the Levy to Move Seattle. We’ve also gotten the project voted to the top ranks through “your voice, your choice”, and as the top priority for district 4 of Seattle Greenways. Through all these community actions, SDOT has complained that working with WSDOT is too hard, so they have chosen to fritter money away on their pet projects like bike lanes on NE 40th (that were cancelled after being design complete) and the “stay healthy streets” nonsense that blocked Green Lake Way (that was also cancelled due to community push back).
The basic issue is that there is no way to safely cross between Wallingford and the U-District by bike or on foot except by using NE 45th. The crossing is dangerous, with 25 injuries to pedestrians and cyclists reported to Seattle Police along it over the last decade, and with two of the 10 most dangerous intersections in the entire city as assessed by the Seattle Times. The problem is now being made all the worse by the opening of the light rail station just on the other side of the bridge. While there are glorious visions in people’s heads of new bridges and lidding the freeway, all those changes are many 10’s of millions of dollars and decades away. Here is what we can get done now:
Thankfully, the project got back on track last year thanks to Alex Pedersen’s support, our council representative and chair of the city council transportation committee. SDOT did some preliminary designs working with WSDOT, but they recently reached a stumbling block and stopped work. As budget season is approaching, here is our most recent ask to get the work restarted, which basically means tweaking the plans to remove design obstacles. There are three key components to the project:
- Add protective fencing to the outside of the NE 45th street bridge, like you see on overpasses in Portland
- Adding a protected bike lane across the bridge and on up to Thackeray in Wallingford for cyclists and to protect pedestrians on the North side of the bridge
- Add connections for cyclists so they can access greenways that run parallel to NE 45th on either end of the bridge, exiting 45th at 8th in the U-District and at Latona / Thackeray in Wallingford
It’s not tough. There is no opposition, as no parking or throughput is removed. So long as we’re spending a billion dollars per mile to build out light rail, we can spend a half million to help people walk or bike over I-5. So long as SDOT could find 40 million for a bike bridge at Northgate that connects to a community college, they can find 2% of that number to connect Wallingford to light rail and the UW.