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SDOT Drops Protected Bike Lane from NE 45th Street Bridge Plans, Citing Traffic Impacts

SDOT Drops Protected Bike Lane from NE 45th Street Bridge Plans, Citing Traffic Impacts

Thursday, October 14, 2021 mobility

By Natalie Bicknell Argerious, The Urbanist

View original post on The Urbanist

This article was updated on 10/26/2021 to reflect that it was the U District Community Council, not the U District Partnership, that submitted a letter to the City of Seattle.

The segment of NE 45th Street near Interstate 5 in Seattle does not provide a safe or comfortable connection for pedestrians and cyclists accessing the new U District light rail station from Wallingford and other neighborhoods to the west. Providing a safe connection has been a priority for years. However, a protected bike lane (PBL) being studied on NE 45th Street bridge over I-5 has been dropped by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) from plans for its Route 44 Transit-Plus Multimodal Corridor project. The agency points to concerns about impacts to vehicle and transit traffic, as well as cost. 

Safe street advocates, including The Urbanist and a coalition of partner organizations, aren’t giving up yet, and are calling on SDOT to make good on promises to improve the corridor for pedestrians and cyclists, a priority laid out in the 2015 Move Seattle levy. Last fall, the Seattle City Council added $400,000 in funding, as requested by the Move All Seattle Sustainably (MASS) Coalition, in hopes of adding the protected bike lane and a jersey barrier for people walking and rolling on the bridge.

The Route 44 Multimodal Corridor project is anticipated to go out to bid sometime in October. As it stands, planned safety improvements near the I-5 crossing are limited to pedestrian improvements at the intersection of NE 45th Street and 8th Avenue NE, located one block east of the I-5 overpass. These planned changes fall short of safety improvements that had been under consideration for the corridor, including a westbound PBL over the I-5 bridge, which the agency declared feasible in 2020 report, although the question of funding for the PBL remained up in the air. 

In a letter submitted to the Seattle City Council, The Urbanist, Transit Riders Union, Cascade Bicycle Club, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways have put forth three primary demands: a PBL connecting over the I-5 bridge, an interchange and wayfinding for cyclists at NE 8th Avenue, and added protection for pedestrians on the I-5 bridge. 

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