The Fremont Bridge is one of the busiest bike routes in the city with about 5,000 bike trips recorded on summer weekdays. But using the bridge can be uncomfortable for people walking and biking because the bridge’s sidewalks are too narrow to handle the volume of people trying to get across.
And starting September 2, the problem is going to get so much worse.
We reported weeks ago that the city is repainting the historic draw bridge, a complicated process needed to prevent corrosion and keep it in good working order for a long time to come. In order to do the work, a traffic lane and sidewalk will need to be closed weekdays from 7 a.m to 3 p.m.
One sidewalk will remain open at all times, but be ready to be patient and go slowly because it’s gonna be packed well beyond capacity, especially if they close it promptly at 7. Even pushing it back to 8:30 or 9 would help avoid the morning rush. Bike counter data shows that the 8 o’clock hour is the busiest weekday hour.
The city also says there will be full overnight (midnight – 7 a.m.) closures September 6, 7, 13 and 14. Workers will offer two five-minute openings just for people walking and biking (at 1:20 a.m. and 2:20 a.m.), but this could create some serious problems for people who don’t know of another way to bike across the ship canal.
Bike counter data shows that more than 100 people bike across the bridge early weekend mornings between midnight and 7 a.m., the hours workers plan to close the bridge. July 12 actually recorded 226 trips during those hours. It’s not clear how many people walk across the bridge during these hours, but it might be about as many. That’s a lot of people to strand without a clear and safe way across the ship canal.
The city might want to at least add a couple more crossing chances throughout the night and be prepared to help people get across the canal.
The most direct alternative route is to take the sidewalk over the Aurora Bridge. This isn’t so bad if you can find it, but it’s not obvious to many people how to get onto the sidewalk from the Fremont Bridge.
My suggestion (here’s a map) is to bike all the way to the top of the hill on Dexter, then make a right on 6th Ave N. Follow that under Aurora, then make a sharp left turn and get on the sidewalk at Raye St. That sidewalk will lead you onto the west sidewalk across Aurora. Be careful crossing N 38th/Fremont Way once you get across. It can be hard to see cars, and they sometimes come flying around the turns.
More details of the upcoming closures from SDOT:
Beginning September 2nd, just after Labor Day, the northbound curbside lane will be closed to traffic between 7 AM and 3 PM, Monday through Friday. The walkway on the east side of the bridge will also be closed at these times, so all pedestrian and bicycle traffic will need to share the walkway on the west side. Please, please be considerate of your fellow travelers, particularly on the narrow center section of the walkway.
There will also be full closures of the bridge to all traffic between 12AM (midnight) to 7AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings on September 6, 7, 13 and 14. During these closures, two five-minute bridge crossing opportunities will be offered to pedestrians and bicycle riders (but not for vehicles, who will have a signed detour instead) at 1:20 AM and 2:20 AM.