Note: This cross-post is available in its entirety at The Urbanist.
Missing sidewalks in Seattle
There may be solutions soon for one of Seattle’s longest-lasting infrastructure problems. Since the middle of last century when the city annexed land in what is now north Seattle
, little progress has been made in building hundreds of miles of missing sidewalks in North Seattle and across the city. North Seattle residents who voted for annexation claim that the city promised sidewalks and failed to deliver. A multi-billion dollar price tag to build all missing sidewalks has been too intimidating for anyone to find real solutions.
However, after decades of minimal progress, wholesale solutions to bring sidewalks to Seattle may be closer than ever. While most conversations about this problem have been around building traditional concrete sidewalks, the Seattle Department of Transportation is now evaluating more affordable alternatives. And, to overcome the funding gulf that remains, city council candidate Sandy Brown has a potential answer.
Read the rest at The Urbanist
Seatteites walk for safe streets
After a collision took the lives of an elderly couple and put their granddaughter and daughter-in-law in critical condition one week ago, hundreds marched in their memory and for safer streets in North Seattle.
The group assembled at Top Pot Doughnuts on 35th Ave NE, which provided free doughnuts and coffee to participants. From there, people followed the path similar to the one that Dennis and Judy Schulte followed before being hit.
The crowd included numerous families walking with their bicycles and strollers, local government representatives like Mayor McGinn and SDOT Director Peter Hahn, as well as walking advocates.
Memorial to victims at NE 75th St and 33rd Ave NE
Some people brought flowers and laid them at the memorial site at NE 75th St and 33rd Ave NE. The crowd stood on the wide roadway of 75th to pay their respects before heading back to the starting point.
It was a somber occasion and an important reminder of the need for safe streets advocacy as well as a reminder of the fragility and preciousness of human life.
We’re a few days late to report this, but the mayor has authorized SDOT to move forward with the road diet on 125th St.
The project was originally proposed by SDOT last August, and faced some initial opposition. As a result, SDOT spent additional time reviewing public input and doing further analysis, resulting in a reaffirmation of SDOT’s proposal to change the roadway. SDOT’s recommendation to the mayor re-energized opposition, however the mayor has approved SDOT’s proposal, and the road diet will happen.
The mayor sent a lengthy response to people who had contacted him on the issue, explaining his rationale on the decision. Seattle Bike Blog has reproduced the mayor’s letter in its entirety.
The Linden Avenue Complete Streets project is moving forward with an open house coming up this Wednesday, April 6. The project will implement 17 blocks of sidewalks, curbs, bike lanes, and trees on Linden Ave N from 128th St to 145th St. This design open house at the Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Avenue North will allow the community to review and comment on the current design plans and is scheduled from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.
An old park & ride near Northgate Mall is being converted into a park. This new park, Hubbard Homestead Park, will be opening soon and features “3.7 acres of landscaped open space” according to SDOT’s blog. There will also be a nice new 12-foot-wide sidewalk along the western perimeter of the park that should open very shortly. Visit SDOT’s post about this for more details.
How do you think Hubbard Homestead Park will stack up against Seattle’s many other parks?
Last month we posted about a new asphalt sidewalk on 15th Ave between 94th St and 97th St. This type of walkway isn’t as good as a standard concrete sidewalk, but it was an improvement that the community requested. According to SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan:
Seattle has approximately 12,000 street block faces that lack sidewalks. The number of blocks lacking sidewalks far exceeds the resources available to build them and SDOT only has funding to build approximately 10 to 20 block face equivalents per year.
SDOT looks for ways to maximize the impact of our funds by using less expensive construction materials like asphalt. It is not only less costly, but also can be placed faster than concrete, helping stretch our dollars further.
On 15th Ave NE between NE 94th and NE 97th streets, SDOT addressed the neighborhood’s desire to improve pedestrian accessibility and upgrade drainage infrastructure. We did so with a modest budget by utilizing asphalt for the walkway, and replacing and covering an old drainage culvert. SDOT also separated the roadway from the sidewalk with a landscaping strip, which will deter parking and improve the pedestrian walking environment.
Despite the best intentions, though, you still see problems like this:
Vehicle parked on asphalt sidewalk
SDOT has not provided figures for the cost of an asphalt sidewalk, but construction costs for a standard concrete sidewalk can range from $40,000 to $300,000 per block. It’s likely that the asphalt sidewalk here cost less than half of what a concrete sidewalk would cost.
With so many sidewalks yet to be paved, lower cost installations mean more sidewalks get built faster. But would it be better not to spend anything than to spend on an asphalt sidewalk / parking strip? Is the new sidewalk better than what was there before, or is it a waste of funds?
What do you think?
My Ballard has a good write-up on Mayor Mike McGinn’s walking tour of Crown Hill a couple weeks ago. On the tour, he heard about concerns from residents related to crime, drainage, and walkability:
The mayor also heard about the lack of sidewalks on many Crown Hill streets. Earlier this year, community members applied for a Bridging the Gap grant for sidewalks in the area that spans NW 85th to NW 90th between 15th Ave NW and 20th Ave NW. But due to a lack of funding, the proposed project was slimmed down considerably. “Tell the council to approve my proposed tax increases for pedestrian improvements,” the mayor said.
SDOT’s newsletter, The Walk Bike Rider, reports on a new sidewalk on Aurora at 115th, near the cemeteries. This sidewalk makes it easier to access the 358 bus stop in the area.
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Maple Leaf Life reports on some big changes to Ravenna Ave (hat tip to reader Nick):
A big announcement last night is setting up about $1 million worth of changes on Ravenna Ave between NE 85th and Lake City Way. That area is one of the projects selected to be paid for with the Large Neighborhood Street Fund. Many neighbors have complained about the lack of a sidewalk. This project will widen the roadway on the west side of the street to allow for a bike lane as well as a curb, planting strip and sidewalk. You can read more here.
View Ravenna Ave sidewalk construction in a larger map
This section of Ravenna Ave currently has no sidewalks and there had been some sidewalk construction in the area that was forcing pedestrians into the roadway. It sounds like there are quite a few problems with that stretch of roadway:
This is the only section of the major Montlake/25th Ave NE/Ravenna Ave NE north/south arterial that does not have a sidewalk. This affects the area socio-economically, cutting it off from safe access to the many public facilities available just south of 85th. There is no safe access to the 8 bus stops located on this stretch of road. Disabled access is completely unavailable. The nearby elementary schools cannot be accessed by foot and it is a bussing nightmare for the school transportation dispatch due to the high traffic and lack of safe pick-up/drop-offs for elementary aged children. At 83rd on this arterial is Dahl Field, Beth Ann Temple, University Prep, Wedgewood Pool and assess to Wedgwood Elementary school. Walking down to 85th where the sidewalk begins is simply unsafe. Because of the geographic area, this sidewalk will involve innovative drainage solutions. A plan is our major step towards linking this section of the community back in with others.
This Saturday, join Feet First for a nature walk at Thornton Creek at 10 am:
This two hour walk is guided by Ruth Williams, Thornton Creek Alliance and Chas Redmond, Boardmember of Feet First. The walk begins at Meadowbrook Ponds and ends at Mathews Beach. Enjoy two parks, the creek, and the learn about the many creatures that call the watershed home.
There is a $5-10 suggested donation and the walk begins and ends at Meadowbrook Community Center, 10517 35th Ave NE:
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