Sound Transit is holding a meeting tonight (Wednesday, sorry for the late notice) from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Neptune Theater to discuss the 60 percent design for Brooklyn Station. The plans include two station entrances (good news!), no additional car parking (yay!) and no painful fights over zoning height upgrades (yay!), says Seattle Transit Blog.
Conversation at the meeting will touch on construction mitigation routing and station access by people on foot and bike. This could be a big deal, since Brooklyn is currently a popular street for people on bikes (really, every street in the U District is a popular biking street since there are few clear bike routes, yet tons of people biking).
So if you can, definitely swing by and give your thoughts on how to preserve the bikeability of the neighborhood during construction.
But lets take a step back and look at the whole neighborhood. The U District has some massive barriers that need to be addressed, and the ever-increasing number of people biking in the neighborhood shows that we need to address them long before Brooklyn Station even opens.
Here’s a look at existing facilities, via Seattle’s new print bike map:
By far, the biggest issue facing the University District (and Wallingford) is I-5, particularly in the heavily-trafficked NE 45th – NE 50th St corridor. Both of those two existing bridges are currently car centric and dangerous. The benefits of bold action to create a family-friendly connection between these bike-loving neighborhoods would be enormous.
There are a few ideas for how to solve this issue. One (actually mentioned in the city’s 2007 Bicycle Master Plan) is a biking and walking bridge across I-5 at NE 47th St. Clearly, this is the coolest option. And while it would be a good use of money, it would be extremely expensive (I’d rather see that kind of capital go to the Ballard Bridge before 47th, if we must choose).
Another option could be a compromise in which underused road space on the 45th St bridge is used for a separated cycle facility. 45th St is three lanes wide through Wallingford starting just a few blocks west of the I-5 bridge. But on the bridge, it is a staggering six lanes, two of which are heavily-used turn lanes onto I-5. The northern most westbound travel lane on the bridge is unnecessary. It ends just a couple blocks later, and all traffic is funneled into one general traffic lane anyway. The extra lane simply encourages speeding and dangerous right-side passing.
It’s time we pressured the city (and maybe the state, since the project could involve changes to the Interstate access) to make a bold move and connect these neighborhoods once and for all. The economic and livability benefits of making it easier for residents of these two very dense neighborhoods to move across I-5 would be huge, and we might even be able to get some road safety and bus speed enhancements out of the deal while we’re at it.
Additionally, we need a long-term plan for family-friendly cycling in the U District. Neighborhood greenway on 12th Ave NE? Cycle track on Brooklyn (which just got a few more blocks of bike lane)? Combo of the two treatments on NE 47th St?
If you want to work more on issues in the U District, be sure to connect with University Greenways.
What other issues face the neighborhood? What is your favorite solution to the I-5 problem?