Construction Updates: U Village Burke work underway + Dexter bus stop, 9th Ave N bus lane, South Park trail

Below is a look at some of the work going on around town folks on bikes should be aware of.

City starts work on Burke-Gilman improvements near U Village

We already told you about the city’s planned crossing and access improvements to the Burke-Gilman Trail near the U Village. Well, the city has already broken ground on the new sidewalk connections on 30th Ave NE:

The biggest improvements trail users will notice are a new raised crosswalk at 30th Ave NE and a bike-and-walk-only signal phase at 25th Ave NE. There will also be a new cool bike leaning rail at 25th.

The city will begin major work on the trail in early January. So be prepared for delays in the area.

Bus lane coming to 9th Ave N, but no bike lane

The city will install a new peak-only bus lane on 9th Ave N to help Metro’s route 40 get through congestion on the way into South Lake Union, Seattle Transit Blog reports.

Unfortunately, plans do not currently include a bike lane to help people coming from the Westlake parking lot and heading into downtown. This bike lane is noted in the Bike Master Plan, but City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang said they are planning “thoughtful connections” as part of the ongoing design for the Westlake bikeway.

Here’s what that recently-reconstructed area looks like today. Building this unfriendly car-choked street just years ago was a big missed opportunity to make this street work better for everybody.

City will extend bus pad at Dexter/Nickerson

Be prepared for work this week to close the curb lane on Dexter as you approach Nickerson from the south. The city is extending the existing bus pad (essentially paving part of the planting strip) so that it serves both the front and back doors of buses. Today, only front door users get a dry spot to step off the bus. What it looks like today:

Unfortunately, it is not a bus island like other bus stops on Dexter. When work is completed, the bus and bike interactions will be the same as they were previously (except that bus riders will have slightly less-muddy shoes).

South Park trail work progressing

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 11.19.49 AMThis street may not look like it is in very good shape, but this stretch of S Portland Street may never have looked so good. Before work began on a project to repave the street and add a bike/walk trail, this stretch of Portland St was probably the worst-paved street in the entire city.

Once complete, there will be a trail connection to the Duwamish Trail along S Portland, connecting into the heart of the South Park neighborhood. The project should be substantially complete in mid-January. Here’s a map of the trail connection:

WDTrailMap_Updated

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15 Responses to Construction Updates: U Village Burke work underway + Dexter bus stop, 9th Ave N bus lane, South Park trail

  1. LWC says:

    Awesome to see these projects happening! Regarding the Duwamish trail: does anyone know if there are plans on the horizon to extend it northward to complete the missing connection to the West Seattle Bridge trail? Currently, the trail dumps you onto the main arterial a few blocks shy of the bridge.

    • Bob Anderton says:

      LWC- That part of the trail is hard to find, but it was added a few years back. Cross West Marginal Way at the crosswalk at the end of the trail and ride the sidewalk(!) on the west side and follow the signs. You’ll snake around and come up to the back side of the bridge.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I’d call that a Band-Aid, not a trail :-)

        But yeah, it works OK if there’s nobody on the sidewalk. But, of course, that does not make for a complete solution.

  2. Kirk says:

    Construction Update: Ballard Bridge – Still nothing. Not one thing. Nothing planned.

    Same poor conditions as it has had forever: potholed sidewalks, hazardous approaches, dangerous pilasters. Despite being identified by SDOT’s own poll as the worst place to bicycle in Seattle and the crossing the citizens of Seattle would most like to have improved, SDOT continues to ignore the massive safety hazards on this vital connection and do nothing. Not one thing. Nothing planned in the BMP implementation for the next five years. SDOT’s number one priority is safety? Oh, ok.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      Maybe there needs to be a (new) organized effort to push the city on the bridge. Question is: What do you ask for? Should the city fund a study of a separate parallel or cantilevered bike/walk bridge? Or should there be a push for one of these solutions? http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2014/09/29/study-widening-ballard-bridge-sidewalks-possible-but-it-wont-be-cheap-is-there-an-easier-way/

      Or is there a concrete list of short-term, lower cost projects to get now while studies continue (like fixing the south end cut-out)?

      I agree that something needs to happen. But since there’s no single clear path forward, I wouldn’t recommend waiting for the city to do it on their own.

    • Kirk says:

      What to ask for? I ask for improved safety.
      While wider sidewalks in the future would be nice, the current width of the sidewalks isn’t all that much of a safety issue right now. Pedestrians and bicycles travelling in opposite directions isn’t unsafe; we now all just come to mostly a stop and pass safely.
      What I think is most unsafe are the pilasters sticking out from the railings. Catch a handlebar on one and you will be over the curb and into traffic. I’ve seen it happen twice. Luckily the bicycle drivers weren’t injured, but it could have easily gone the way it did for Terry McMacken, who died as a result of falling over the curb into traffic on the Ballard Bridge.

      What could SDOT do now for very little money to make big safety improvements?
      The southwest sidewalk is heaved and potholed beyond belief right before the double black diamond merge of death at Emerson St. The southeast sidewalk on the approach is potholed beyond belief. Both of these sections are relatively short, but very rough and very dangerous. SDOT should fix those as soon as possible.
      There is not a good connection to the bridge from the Ship Canal Trail. But there is plenty of room on W Nickerson St. to install a bike lane up to and down from the bridge.
      Every single day as I ride up the bridge approach on the west side southbound, a car blows through the stop sign at NW Ballard Way and nearly hits me. This intersection could easily be redesigned with the redundant contiuation of 15th down to 46th turned into bicycle access to the bridge.
      In 2009, SDOT estimated that an underpass of Emerson St. to bypass the merge of death would cost $900,000. This is now up to, what, $18mil? Seriously? The underpass already exists. There just needs to be a drop down path from the sidewalk to access it. SDOT really overcomplicates it, with perfect being the enemy of good. With perfect being the enemy of safe.

      And then for the long term, what’s the plan to make a solid all ages and all modes connection? Seems as if the approaches have passed their service life. The bascule can stay, it would be a pinch point but acceptable, and replace the approaches. Redesign them to accomodate non-motorized transportation.

      But in the meantime SDOT needs to do something to improve the safety of the Ballard Bridge. Or another tragedy like the death of Terry McMacken is going to occur. It is just a matter of time. And with the rapidly increasing number of people I see crossing the bridge on a bicycle, that time will come soon. SDOT can’t keep doing nothing, like they did with the Second Avenue bike lane for years. Look what happened there…

      • Kirk says:

        And another thing. At the merge of death, there should be a stop line in the curb lane and a “curb lane stop for bicycles entering the roadway” sign. the current signage is horrible, confusing and largely ignored by automobile drivers.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        This is exactly where a group advocating for changes would be super effective! Or maybe Ballard Greenways would be a good launching organization.

        A good document (or guest post here!) outlining the locations of these easy fixes would be helpful. I, like many others, have only used this bridge a couple times because I will do just about anything to avoid it. Lucky me, I don’t live or work where using it is the only reasonable option.

        While I am certainly interesting in doing a story about this, it might be even more effective coming from a group of neighbors and workers.

        Unfortunately, it’s not exactly easy or cheap to shave off the pillars, at least according to the SDOT study. They estimate at least $21.8 million somehow (Alternative 1).

        But for the other easy changes you suggest, I think if folks put together a clear proposal (or at least clear outline of the problems) and get enough people behind it, you could convince city leaders.

        People have been clear that they want the Ballard Bridge fixed, but I bet a more specific list of possible improvements might go further, especially since the real solution would require a large capitol improvement project, and there are a lot of major needs competing for that money.

      • Kirk says:

        Tom, I think that the SDOT Alternative One regarding the pillars and expanding the sidewalk is overwrought and overly expensive. I am not advocating for shaving off the pilasters entirely, merely shaving back the portion that juts out into the sidewalk. Leave the rest of the pilaster as is. This process would not impact the structure as cutting them off entirely would, and would not be that expensive. SDOT dismissed investigating Alternative One because “It was determined that this nominal increase in width was relatively ineffective.” You see, they just don’t get it. It’s not about the width per se. The extreme hazard here is the portion of the pilaster that juts out into the sidewalk that catches handlebars. Shaving off the pilasters to be flush would be extremely effective in increasing safety on the bridge.

  3. Kirk says:

    I should have mentioned that the fix for the pilasters is to shave them. Cut them flush so that they don’t stick out. The rest can stay as is for now.

  4. Al Dimond says:

    As for the “thoughtful connections” south from the future Westlake bikeway, they’d better not think so long they build out everything except the bike connection, then can’t build it without making an enemy out of whoever was using it before. There aren’t exactly a lot of options to connect to the major bike routes south of Mercer.

  5. Matthew Snyder says:

    Just to drift slightly further off-topic:

    Has anyone heard anything about a potential intersection treatment where the westbound Missing Link bike lane dead-ends at 46th / Shilshole? Just after you round the S-curve of death, underneath the Ballard Bridge. Cyclists continuing westbound have to cross generally heavy arterial traffic coming from both directions, that (in my experience) is routinely 5-10mph over the speed limit. There have been rumors — perhaps unsubstantiated — that SDOT was considering a three-way stop, or perhaps a beg-button-activated light, at this intersection to improve the conditions for cyclists. So far, nothing.

    • Kirk says:

      SDOT had announced improvements to the Missing Link segment two years ago. Since then they have added four way stops on Ballard Ave. at 17th and 48th. They have never, to my knowledge, announced a stop where it is really needed, at 46th and Shilshole. I thought they had announced a four way stop at 46th and 14th, but it’s not part of this announcement.

      They also had announced two years ago that they would do the following. To date these have not been done.
      Shoulder maintenance and replacement along degraded sections of the shoulder along Shilshole Avenue NW.
      Installation of a curb ramp to allow bicycles access to the sidewalk to queue for the existing bike lane headed north on 24th Avenue NW at the intersection of Shilshole Avenue NW / 24th Avenue NW and NW Market Street. Current conditions provide very limited queuing space for bicycles.

      http://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2012/12/27/today-city-will-announce-missing-link-safety-improvements/

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