Here’s an update on a Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) project that the Urbanist and Wallyhood described last October.
The project, shown in greater detail below, would improve pedestrian safety and bicycle access along NE 45th between Wallingford and the newish light rail station in the U District. When we last reported on this in the fall, SDOT had dropped the project from its plans for transit improvement along the corridor, citing concerns about traffic and transit impacts, as well as cost. This prompted a letter to the Seattle City Council (SCC) from the Urbanist, the Transit Riders Union, Cascade Bicycle Club, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways lamenting the development (or lack thereof).
It turns out the SCC reaffirmed its support for the NE 45th traffic improvements back on November 16, when Council Member Alex Pedersen sponsored a motion to fund them to the tune of $350,000. Originally, the SCC had provided $400,000 in the 2021 budget for bicycle and pedestrian improvements along NE 45th Street between Wallingford and the University District Light Rail Station. SDOT expended $50,000 of these funds in 2021, and the department has $350,000 remaining unexpended for this purpose. The November SCC action specifies that the $350,000 be appropriated solely for non-motorized safety improvements for the NE 45th Street crossing of Interstate 5 and may be spent for no other purpose.
It’s not clear how the apparent conflict between the SCC appropriation and directive, and the SDOT’s opposition to implementing it, can or will be resolved. But it should prove to be interesting to watch the process play out. Perhaps the only certainty is that nothing related to this will happen quickly.
Maybe now that former SDOT DIrector Sam Zimmerman-Bergman has departed, courtesy of Mayor Harrell, the new director will take action in support of this project.
Maybe SDOT can at least find a few dollars to finish the work they started last September, which has kept the sidewalk at 45th and I-5 obstructed for pedestrians.