57 Replies to “Weekend open thread: North Seattle’s new pedestrian bridge”

  1. I’m surprised that they are making it on the 2nd. I went by there the other day and holy cow is there a lot of work yet to complete. I suspect they will triage a lot of the work statement into pick-ups to be completed after the 2nd.

    I will use this bridge occasionally, but I’m actually more excited about the new ped bridge at 148th. That will be a nice looking bridge.

    1. I pray the bridge will not open until it is safe. It can wait for a little while after the station opens.

      Regardless of the engineering, I’m increasingly claustophobic during the pandemic, so not looking forward to having to walk by lots of unmasked people with no way to keep 6 feet of distance. I hope the City will have thought to require masking on the bridge given how it is a long somewhat-enclosed space. The engineering may be safe, but lots of people could get sick using that bridge. Mask up if you are going to use it.

      1. Oh come on. The half second you walk by someone is not a high-risk situation for catching Covid. It’s not even a medium risk. Read the science.

        No, there doesn’t need to be masking on the bridge. Just like there doesn’t need to be masking walking down the street.

        If you’re that afraid, wear your own mask. Or stay home.

      2. The final design flyer says that the bridge is 16 feet wide. It should be very easy to stay 6 feet away from others. There aren’t many sidewalks as wide as that. Trails can be designed at 14 foot standards. Surely a 20 foot bridge would be better for distancing, but the construction contracts were set pre-Covid.

      3. Most of the science on outdoors being safe was from before Delta’s virulence was recognized. It’s still pretty safe because of the open air circulation, and bridges are especially windy places. But the risk is higher than it was a few months ago, and the state or county is now requiring masks at 500+ person outdoor events. That could include the Link opening ceremony, since even just politicians and reporters will add up to a couple hundred people. I’m not concerned about masking on the bridge because 99% of the time there will be even fewer people than in that picture, and even in that picture you can walk in the spaces between the clusters. I don’t wear a mask outdoors, although when I wanted to talk to a stranger last week I put it on out of politeness if nothing else. But we may have to start putting it on in more outdoor situations if the delta numbers don’t get lower. The King County total has been flat or wavering but is still near its former peaks, while Seattle shows a nice decline. But those keep changing every few days so who knows what it will be in the future.

      4. The risk of getting COVID outdoors has always been very low. The risk of a vaccinated person getting COVID outdoors is outright negligible, even with Delta, especially with a quick brush by someone. I never wear a mask outdoors, anywhere, unless required.

  2. Does anyone know what’s happened to the/a webpage for the ped bridge over NE 8th in Bellevue? King County is the lead agency. Bellevue of course is involved in the permitting process and used to have some info and links. King County had a page but now it redirects to Eastrail where I can’t find anything about anything. ST and Metro you’d think would have something since it’s a big part of transit integration and critical for transfers to RR-B. I also can’t find much about the Wilburton Trestle. WSDOT is currently working on the bridge over the Wilburton Gap but again nothing about design or schedule.

      1. The B Line will intersect Link at the Redmond Technology, Wilburton, and BTC stations. The transfer walk is fairly long between BTC bay 3 and the station as it is east of 110th Avenue NE. In 2024, the B Line will serve the downtown Redmond station.

      2. Bernie H said the Wilburton ped bridge is critical to riders transferring from East Link to the B Line. No westbound East Link rider will ever get off at Wilburton to transfer to a westbound B Line. So will eastbound East Link riders wanting to transfer to the eastbound B Line skip Bellevue Station and transfer at Wilburton? Seems like the same transfer walking distance. I don’t see the advantage.

      3. Transferring at BTC will require crossing a wide intersection at NE 6th and 110th Ave NE after waiting for a crosswalk signal that will need to allow for enough time to get pedestrians across both streets at different phases. Plus, RapidRide B is bogged down making turns in Downtown Bellevue at intersections with long cycles. I could see most transferring riders using Wilburton rather than the BTC rather than miss a connection and spend several extra minutes on a bus rather than less than a minute on a train.

      4. I’m guessing Wilburton will be more popular than Bellevue TC for transferring between the B and Link. The distance between the stations may be shorter. And if you’re coming from 8th Street going to Seattle, Link between Wilburton and Bellevue Downtown will be faster than the B, so why not transfer early?

      5. Pedestrians don’t mind wide intersections and crosswalk signals. Advocate-types hate them, but most pedestrians don’t. Aurora and 130th has a pedestrian bridge. Nobody uses it. They prefer the crosswalk underneath, as dangerous as it is. I think eastbound East Link riders will transfer at Bellevue Station for the eastbound B Line. It has a few things going for it. It’s the first station where you can make the transfer. It’s the terminal. It’s a TC (more route options). Better protection from the elements. Will have an ORCA vending machine, bathrooms, etc.

        BTW, a few other ped bridges no one uses. The one in Eastgate, and the one that crosses 405 at 60th street in Kirkland. Build it and they will come may apply to some things, but not pedestrian bridges. And with Northgate, subtract college kids, and no one will use that one, either. All the people in those apts on Meridian certainly won’t be walking to it. It’s too far.

      6. A major reason to transfer at the starting point is to get a seat, Sam. That probably won’t happen with most RapidRide B trips.

        It’s a strong incentive to change your transit path if you stand at an intersection and watch your bus or train arrive and leave while you wait for the signal to change. After one je two missed buses at BTC, a rider will start to figure out that if they just rode to Wilburton, they could have caught the bus they just missed.

        I disagree with you Sam — and think that Link + RapidRide B trips will gradually mostly move to transferring at Wilburton.

        That’s not to say that BTC isn’t important for transferring. Stride and other Metro buses go there. It’s just that this particular combination will see the transfers mostly move to Wilburton.

      7. Al, you may be right. Sort of like how northbound A Line riders don’t transfer at the first Link station they can, they wait until Seatac or TIBS.

      8. If you’re starting on the train you want the last possible transfer point, not the first. Then your total trip is faster. People who don’t know the area will transfer at Bellevue Downtown because it’s the main transfer point and may not realize Wilburton is another, but regular passengers like myself might prefer Wilburton. Wilburton Station will unoubtedly have a roof for shelter from the rain as the existing stations do.

      9. The link is all to preliminary planning done back in 2019. It appears the project is dead in the water. There were some renderings, I think on COB of what it would look like and an opening date. That’s all gone.

        There’s the transfer to and from Link. RR-B is as far as the Bellevue portion goes a route to serve Crossroads. From NE 8th & 156th people trying to transfer to Link will almost certainly transfer at Wilburton. You get off on the correct side and have a 100′ or so to the station entrance. Going the other direction without a ped bridge they would use BTC or ride all the way to RTC since you’d have to cross at 116th which is a bit of a walk and a long light cycle and offers no protection from the weather or the traffic on NE 8th. With the ped bridge you get off the train level with the bridge and have the same stairs down as you would at the station. Total walking distance would be less taking the bridge.

        Also, I expect a good number of the people will be support staff at Overlake and Kaiser. The most certainly will use Wilburton (aka Hospital Station). As will people transferring to other medical facilities on 116th. For getting to Kirkland I’m not sure but suspect most people would go to BTC and take a 250. If you’re trying to get to UW then a bus on 116th to S Kirkland P&R might be the best option. Unless you want to stay on the train and take the scenic route. You also have, what is it now the 270 but that’s not going to have the frequency of the 255 and meanders.

        Transit is an important reason for the bridge but it’s primary purpose is to allow the hundreds of people per hour on a nice summer day that will be using Eastrail a grade separated crossing.

      10. @Sam: “And with Northgate, subtract college kids, and no one will use that one, either. All the people in those apts on Meridian certainly won’t be walking to it. It’s too far.”

        This is such a bad take. It is indeed a very long bridge to cross on foot. BUT it is still a much shorter and safer pedestrian path from an apartment on the east of I-5 to the station, compared to making a U (north-east-south) where you’d have to cross multiple intersections in roads heavy with car+bus traffic and impatient drivers.

        On a bike, using the new bridge is a no brainer where the bike parking or storage is right at the station, compared to taking a car, slogging through clogged intersections in rush hour, and having to find a parking spot away from the station.

        “It’s too far” – except the alternatives are much worse by distance, safety, and convenience.

      11. As for taking the bus to the station, that will take 13 minutes based on google maps, not including the wait for a bus. The wait+bus ride will be close to the time it’ll take to walking to the new bridge from and apartment and crossing it on foot.


      12. I worked in one of the office buildings on Meridian in 1990. I had to go around to Northgate Way or 92nd to get to Northgate Mall where one of my buses alternatives home was or to shop in the stores. I would have liked to have had a ped bridge between the two streets. At the time I wished there was a subway to Northgate too, but everybody told me there was no way it would ever pass a vote because most people weren’t interested in transit, especially expensive subways. And now both of these are happening.

      13. I used to live in one of the apartments of Meridian. I would absolutely walk over the bridge to catch the train. Yes, the bus may seem equal or faster if you assume both a slow walking speed and a bus that shows up at exactly the right time. In reality, your walking speed is something you have control over – you can even run if necessary – while when the bus shows up is completely out of your control.

    1. The Wilburton Trestle trail segment is expected to open in 2024 ($), connecting to Wilburton Link station.

      “The overall trail system, called Eastrail, is slated to eventually run 42 miles between Snohomish and Renton, largely on a former BNSF rail line, and connect to four planned light-rail stations on the Eastside…. Much of the King County portion of the trail is scheduled to be paved and open for use by 2026. The timeline for opening the roughly 12 miles of planned trail in Snohomish County is less certain”.

      There’s also a “Redmond Connector Trail” on the map, which goes from downtown Redmond northwest to I guess east of Totem Lake, joining the main trail. Is that Willows Road? What’s on Willows Road now, is it still just office parks? How long would it take to walk from where it joins the main trail to the Totem Lake village?

      1. I talked to an engineer that worked on the evaluation of the Trestle. Basically the structure is sound. It was built to carry steam locomotives so it’s way over kill for a bike/pedestrian bridge. And BNSF maintained it for freight traffic to Boeing Renton until not that long ago. It’s not that hard to convert. It’s been done on several of the rail trestles on the iron horse trail. This will need a little more work to prevent rocks from accidentally or on purpose going over the edge and from people on purpose jumping off. I can see the work being done by 2026 because of funding delay. IIRC it was supposed to open in 2023 as was NE 8th. NE 8th will have some utility as soon as Link opens but the Trestle won’t until the connections north and south are done. I’d been told NE 8th needed to be done before the Link OCS was energized. I don’t see that happening. Maybe there’s still time to move it east of the Link ROW? I’d expect the WSDOT Wilburton Gap to be completed by 2023.

        It’s strange and worrisome that none of these projects have an active web page for planning and construction information.

    2. I drove under the Link crossing of NE 8th today. As far as I can tell there has been zero work done on the pedestrian bridge. If so, I doubt it will be ready for Link opening. I fear it’s full funding doesn’t exist.. Nothing has been done to the trail where it crosses NE 4th, not even rail & tie removal. Kirkland got their entire segment open in about a year except for the 124th & 124th bridge which is under construction and should open next year. Bellevue, it appears isn’t willing to spend a dime on the trail. They did put in a traffic signal at NE 4th which will provide at grade crossing with beg lights but that was only done to appease the retail business in the area.

  3. ST3 set aside $100M for more projects like this. I hope that ST can come up with some tools to better estimate benefits of doing this elsewhere. And I think it’s important to note that not only freeways are “asphalt rivers” that need crossing but so are some busy arterial streets (like 320th just south of Federal Way Station).

    1. They can start that analysis with why the pedestrian bridges close to Mt. Baker Station have only served to make it more dangerous for pedestrians to get across the bridged arterials.

      I’m afraid there will be a similar effect trying to get across Highway 99 between Highline Station and Highline College. If crossing the street at-grade is the shorter path, people will choose that rather than the bridge. But the traffic engineers will have already been told to declare that no crossing lights are needed there, and traffic will not have to slow down, because bridge.

      1. Yes, designing to avoid steep grade changes are important! Another issue is that bridges appear to offer more safety visibility than tunnels do because of crimes are easier to commit in tunnels.

        The Northgate bridge feeds the station mezzanine — not the surface. The crossing involves slopes rather than stairs. These are good features!

        Applying these exact design principles at Mt Baker would help immensely. For starters, make S Forest St one-way or close it completely to autos. Eliminating the left-turn pocket would provide room for a short northbound curb bus lane, for example. The signal cycle for left-turns could go away and the southbound crossing signal could be timed to match the MLK southbound phase at Rainier. The street could then be narrowed and a wider and more prominent crosswalk could be installed.

        Then study if it’s possible to change vertical street elevations to end up with a level walkway crossing that is grade-separated from Rainier Ave S. A clever designer could test and cost out several ways to do this — a walkway across the tracks as part of a new sky bridge trail that runs from Beacon Hill to east of MLK; adding a mezzanine and reconfiguring the stairs from the platform to achieve a sloped crossing where the current bridge is; regrading Rainier Ave downward to get room to build a gently sloped crossing. Oddly and ironically, the “Accessible Mt Baker” proposal is expensive but doesn’t seem to improve pedestrian crossings at all.

      2. How does the ped bridge at Mt Baker make it more dangerous for pedestrians? In any case the bridge was built over forty years ago when standards were different, and there’s been talk that the bridge will be removed so it won’t be there anyway. Do you know what the crosswalks were like before the bridge? I don’t because the first time I went to Mt Baker Value Village around 1984, the bridge was already there.

      3. The ped bridge at Mt. Baker is a huge improvement over not having it. It avoids not just one long stoplights, but two. The only time waiting for the crosswalk signals is actually superior is if your destination is either the Starbucks or the transit center. That’s it. To get to the actual neighborhood, the quickest way is over the bridge.

        SDOT’s accessible Mt. Baker project gets this all backwards. That project removes the bridge and all the greenwashing in the world doesn’t avoid the fact that to get between the station and the neighborhood, you’re now stuck waiting for two lights again.

        If the lights are timed for car throughput on Rainier, rather than pedestrian convenience (which, of course, they will be), the wait times to cross the street are going to be very long – possibly as much as two minutes per light. And, it gets worse. If the two lights are synchronized to allow a car to get through both of them in one cycle, this means anyone on foot who is unable to run a 100 meter dash at 20 mph (this excludes just about everybody except Olympic sprinters) will be just a bit too slow and just miss the second light if they start moving when the first light turns green. The end result is that the so-called “accessible Mt. Baker project” replaces a 1-minute walk over a foot bridge with 5 minutes of combined waiting at multiple stoplights. This is completely a step in the wrong direction.

      4. I got a brief glimpse of the ped bridge at Mt Baker today. There was a jogger using it. Keep in mind the weather was crap and there was virtually nobody on Link (5PM on a Sunday). If the perceived crosswalks are an improvement, still, why would you remove the existing bridge? There’s a lot of new development coming on line around the station. Just on a quick drive by it seems it’s mostly geared to people who’s primary transportation outside of perhaps commuting will be by car.

      5. I think the design reconfigures the road in such a way that the bridge’s support columns would get in the way. SDOT doesn’t have the money to rebuild the bridge with shallower slopes that meet ada guidelines, so they propose to simply remove it.

        I think it’s a dumb decision. They need to go back to the drawing board and find a way to make things better while preserving the bridge.

  4. Yesterday I took the ferry/bus combination from Friday Harbor through Oak Harbor, Clinton, Lynnwood Transit Center and King Street Station.

    They sure have made it difficult to get to bus stops in Mukilteo. You either have to take a long, bizarre roundabout path through the ferry traffic, or you have to go uphill several blocks, across an intersection that requires you walk in the traffic lane to get to the sidewalk on the other side. By foot, Neither stop is close to anything in the cluster of businesses around the hotel.

    1. It sounds like that bus stop in Mukilteo has now met the requirements to be formally called a “Transit Center”.

      1. Oh absolutely.

        They built a really nice pedestrian bridge over the BNSF so that people don’t have to cross the tracks to get to a train that comes three times per day per direction. However, there is no such bridge connecting the upper level of the new ferry building (half hourly departures) across the ferry traffic with the Sounder station or the 7 or so bus routes that terminate at the ferry.

        Definitely a transit center.

      2. In the ferry building the artwork is sorta neat, as it’s entirely indigenous nations work.

        As for the transit part, I don’t know about the artwork there as I couldn’t figure out how to get there from the ferry building. I wound up going on a half mile or so trek to the one up the hill.

        I’m guessing you’re supposed to hit the beg button by the ferry toll booth, but I couldn’t see a way to continue once on the other side of the ferry exit lanes.

        According to Google Maps you’re supposed to walk west all the way over to Ivar’s, cross there and walk all the way back.

    2. Interesting that Google doesn’t have you use the stop at the bottom of the stairs after you turn left out of the ferry passenger waiting area.

      1. Is there a way to do that? It looked to me as though there was a fence in the way so that you can’t get through the ferry traffic.

        Then it gave me this:

        I guess I’ve been given incorrect directions from Google enough times I should know to be skeptical.

  5. The bridge’s north-south segment bothers me. How much more walking time will it add, how frustrated will users be again and again because of it. And if you’re coming from the southeast, there appears to be no ramp or stair directly to the east-west bridge, instead you have to detour north and then south.

    I’m glad to have the name John Lewis on a major ped bridge though.

    1. That was my initial thought as well, but the more I think about it, the more I think it is about as good as it can be.

      I can’t really tell how everything is supposed to line up. If someone has some detailed documents they can share, maybe they can correct (or at least clarify) my assessment. From the train platform riders will take stairs (or escalators) to the middle of the mezzanine, where they will access the bridge. From what I can tell, they could have lined up the bridge at 103rd, and simply gone straight across. That would be towards the north of the station, and maybe that would have screwed up the stairs and escalators. It also would have put people farther away from the college.

      They could have run the bridge straight across from the middle of the platform, but that would have dumped riders in the middle of the field. Based on this editorial (https://www.seattletimes.com/opinion/northgate-pedestrian-bridge-city-bureaucracy-run-amok/) that was the initial plan. But the college didn’t want it, and eventually SDOT decided to jog to 100th.

      I think the ramp connecting up to the mezzanine level of the station is mostly for bikers. It is also for pedestrians who are accessing the bridge after Link is closed. Otherwise, like the pedestrians coming from the north, they will simply go into the station, and take escalators to the mezzanine level.

  6. The area around the Wilburton P&R used to be the Hewitt-Lea Lumber Company about a 110 years ago. Before Lake Washington was lowered in 1916, the Mercer Slough was much higher, and came up to the sawmill, and they could float logs between it and the lake. The lowering of the lake was the nail in the coffin for the mill.

  7. Beacon Hill Station has whimsical maps of the new stations and trip pairs. The UDistrict-SeaTac diagram is superimposed on some kind of bird. The bird is facing right and is shaped like an abstract of the airport and its Link station, and its tail has a runway.

  8. Amtrak Empire Builder had a serious derailment in Montana today, with three fatalities and many injured:


    Given the weather wasn’t a problem and the track was straight, it makes me wonder whether it was a BNSF track failure, or equipment failure on the part of Amtrak (those Superliner cars are getting pretty old, and we’ve been on trains that have caught fire and where wheels have fallen apart). We actually were on Empire Builder only a month ago going to WI, so this definitely strikes pretty close.

    1. The major networks have picked up the story. In the first picture from the article on ABC it appears the tracks are badly damaged. That could have been from the derailment but also possible this was sabotage.

      1. Yeah, I was wondering that too, given that there were cases of sabotage targeting oil trains in WA a few months ago. Either way, it’s definitely a tragedy. Hopefully the injured can make a full recovery…

  9. It will be interesting to see how many people “round the horn” after this. Right now, a fair number of people take the 26, 40 or 345/346 from Northgate to the college. I can think of several types of riders:

    1) Transfers from the 41. Link replaces the 41, and they would have to walk right by the bridge to access the buses. My guess is most of these people just walk the bridge.

    2) Riders staying on the 347/348. I would bet these riders just stay on the bus.

    3) Riders from other buses. Hard to say. It will take some effort to get up to the mezzanine level and walk, but people hate waiting for a bus.

    4) People walking from the neighborhood. Same as number three, except they also might have to pay a fare. Some of these people might get a bike, given that biking that trip will be much, much nicer (and the fastest option).

  10. I drove south on Rainer today to just south of where it crosses MLK. There is a lot of new development that bodes well for Judkins Station ridership. I wound my way up the hill since I realized I needed to be on MLK and then drove back north on MLK following the 8 all the way to Galen. A fair amount of new housing around Columbia City but I was surprised it was 2-3 story or duplexes. There’s almost no street retail. A lot more development happening around Mt Baker with mixed use at street level and ~5 stories above. A pair of construction cranes just starting a new development that I’m guessing will be ~1k units. Lots of space for new retail but most of it empty; probably because of Covid. It also looks to be cut up into small spaces that aren’t going to house a Bartells or a grocery store. A sea of nail salons and insurance brokers maybe. The streetscape doesn’t look very inviting either. I now totally understand the Jackson jog the 8 makes. Seattle on paper may have a grid but in reality there are very few east/west streets that a bus can use. I love trees and have complained that Seattle is a concrete jungle. There’s lots of trees on 24th. Unfortunately the streetlights are in the branches so when the trees have leaves “it was a dark and stormy night”.

    1. Oh, and the Mts to Sound Greenway connects MLK directly to Judkins Park Station on a level well lit pathway. It is still a bit of a hike but easy for an able bodied person. Could also be done in a wheel chair as I don’t think any grade comes close to the max under ADA requirements. In short, lots of options exist for Judkins Park Station. It serves the neighborhood(s) well and I’m sure will get surprisingly good ridership.

    2. Thanks for your observations, Bernie. Two points:

      1. The area just south of Judkins Park station is indeed emerging to be much denser than what was understood. For those that haven’t been there this summer, they are unaware of this. I’ve had a few people here deny that this is consequential — but I think it is. It’s also helped by both a friendlier Rainier entrance and a new 23rd entrance to the station. Plans to add many hundreds of more apartments there are also in development.

      2. Seattle needs to revisit how streetlights work on densely-treed streets. No streetlight should shine into a tree. It’s a waste of money, it doesn’t cast hardly any light onto the street or sidewalk and it’s terrible for the tree’s ecology. Plus, new LED streetlights emit a different diffusion of light. Seattle needs lower streetlights closer together on blocks like that. I really like what Renton did with streetlighting on Logan Ave near the airport, as an example.

  11. Without any doubts, it is such a grandiose and incredible project which will bring a huge benefit to people and will become the perfect way to comfortable movements. A lot of people get a great promise to construct bridges and open it but these promises are like air locks which often collapse. You have come such a long way and I’m so glad that you were able to implement this project into a reality because I truly waited for it. What amazes me the most is that this bridge will be applicable for such a varied kind of people and that they all can feel so spacious and convenient, truly enjoying the mobility and favourable conditions. I hope that this bright will meet my expectations and will become truly safe.

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