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Work on W Thomas St overpass to start in March

After years of work (and fears the project had stalled for good), SDOT has announced that it has the funding to move forward with a bicycle and pedestrian overpass connecting Lower Queen Anne and Myrtle Edwards Park. The bridge will be built in the middle of a 1.2 mile stretch where the park and the neighborhood currently have no crossings. The project will make the park and the Elliott Bay Trail much more usable for both recreation and transportation.

From the SDOT blog:

When the bike/ped overpass project kicked off the fall of 2003 construction was scheduled for mid 2005, but further analysis of the area determined that Elliott Ave W was also a major barrier to park access.  Discussion centered around whether or not the structure should cross Elliott Avenue West, as well as the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks. The safety of pedestrians and cyclists along the access routes was at the heart of the debate. A study ensued as construction plans bumped to 2006.

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Public debates continued as did environmental research, agency reviews and an extensive permitting process (for access to build in the area).  Ultimately the scope was expanded to address this safety issue.

Needless to say, costs for materials rose sharply during that time and the project already in need of extra funds had to cease for lack of enough dedicated dollars.  That said the project IS now fully funded: the W. Thomas St Pedestrian Overpass Project was selected and included on a list of other competitive projects to receive supplemental funds administered by the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Construction is expected to start this March.  The community requested the overpass, which is included in both the Queen Anne and Belltown neighborhood plans, and worked hard to ensure that additional funding was provided through Parks Levies and the city budget process.

As you can see in the map, there are no access points to the park anywhere near the site of the planned overpass.

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7 responses to “Work on W Thomas St overpass to start in March”

  1. biliruben

    While that’s not completely true – there is access at the grain silos a couple blocks north and at the sculpture park a a couple blocks south, I wholeheartedly agree this is will improve access to the part for lower Queen Anne and Seattle Center. This will give a safe route to the area from Myrtle Edwards that didn’t exist before. The tracks weren’t the real problem in my mind, it was the road that was a more significant barrier.

    1. Elle Pawluk

      Well, technically it’s a little more than just a couple of blocks to the silos (between .5-.7 miles), and the sculpture park entrance is not a straight shot having to go in a zig zag and up/down/over the tracks. As someone who works right in between those two entrances, this is a welcome addition, and I won’t have to waste half my lunch hour just trekking over to the park and back to enjoy it.

  2. They could have made the pedestrian overpass at Prospect into a bike-friendly crossing as well. How much was wasted on that?

    This whole mess is in large part thanks to that monstrosity called an “art” park. Talk about a reason if their ever is one to sue SAM for misrepresentation. That waste of space takes up the former spot where everyone used to cross, albeit illegally.

    Despite that, at least there was a place until we had to cater to some rich folks with a penchant for art. I hope this West Thomas gig works out, but I’m not hopeful. As many have seen before, Seattle can discombobulate a transportation project into a incoherent mess in short order.

    1. eric.br

      i kinda like the sculpture park. nice end to the ride out from magnolia….

      (but do agree on the “discombobulation” point of SDOT’s inability to follow through on transportation and access projects.)

    2. SpringheeledJack

      “That waste of space takes up the former spot where everyone used to cross, albeit illegally.”

      You can still cross here, but now it is legal and can do so even when the train blocks the street crossing. Technically the park closes at, I think, dusk… but if you’re looking to cross illegally anyway, oh well. Plus, the street crossing isn’t that far away. Given that the location of the sculpture park really isn’t that far from the street entrance anyway, if you’re going to blame anyone/anything for limited access to Myrtle Edwards, blame the train tracks and the businesses that create a huge gap that would still be between the entrances if you removed the art park.

      “Despite that, at least there was a place until we had to cater to some rich folks with a penchant for art.”

      The park is *free* to visit – if anything, it caters to those of us interested in art but do not have the funds to attend high profile museums.

  3. Srider

    Isn’t that a bit narrow for biking on? I mean maybe it’s just the rendering, but if it was that size and there were people walking on it, it’d be quite difficult to ride.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      It’s about 11 feet, which is wider than the Burke-Gilman in many places. It does look skinny in the image, though.

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