Work progressing on NW 58th Street neighborhood greenway in Ballard

Image courtesy of Bob Hall

Under construction at NW 58th and 15th Ave NW. Image courtesy of Bob Hall

After many delays to projects across the city, Seattle is set to get its first real miles of neighborhood greenways this year.

Delayed last year, the city is now constructing a modified version of the NW 58th Street neighborhood greenway in Ballard, which will connect all the way from the Burke-Gilman Trail on the western edge of the neighborhood to 4th ave NW at the base of the climb to Phinney Ridge.

The biggest elements of the project include crossing improvements at 24th, 15th and 8th Avenues, a bunch of ADA improvements and 460 sidewalk improvements.

While we here on Seattle Bike Blog focus mostly on the biking elements of neighborhood greenways, community groups discussing the projects are finding a big demand for improvements to the walking environment, especially for people with mobility issues. Neighborhood greenways should be places for all people, as well as safe and convenient transportation corridors.

The project should be completed this summer. Map of the route:

031913BallardGWMapStay tuned for a look at the awesome 39th Ave NE neighborhood greenway, which was finally completed this month.

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22 Responses to Work progressing on NW 58th Street neighborhood greenway in Ballard

  1. Eli says:

    After 7 years living in Seattle, this is the first bike project within a few miles of my home I could ever see myself riding on. Very exciting.

    Now we just need 20 miles a year of these for 5-10 years and we’ll have a viable bike network for us non-adrenaline junkies. ;-)

  2. Matthew says:

    I already ride this greenway route pretty routinely, even without its “official” status. The road improvements are sorely needed, as NW 58th and some of the surrounding streets are in absolutely terrible condition.

    I only recently heard about the sidewalk improvements SDOT is making, as part of the Greenway designation. I assume at least some of these 460 spot improvements will be essentially free gifts to homeowners who are normally supposed to be making these repairs at their own expense. I wonder if SDOT is thinking about using free sidewalk repairs as a carrot for the small number of NIMBY types who oppose greenways on “their” streets.

    • Leif Espelund says:

      Is it the responsibility of the homeowner to make repairs to sidewalks in front of their property? I wouldn’t expect that to be the case. If it is, would that mean it is my responsibility to build a sidewalk in front of my house since I live in Greenwood where none exist?

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        It is the homeowner’s responsibility to repair the sidewalk in front of their house, oddly enough. What an excellent illustration of how the city subsidizes driving while ignoring people on foot: They will repave that block of cement where you park your car, but not the sidewalk next to it where your elderly neighbor has trouble getting her wheelchair over that huge, broken gap.

        One bit of my conversation with Kate Martin that did not make it into the post was her suggestion that the city help neighbors organize sidewalk-building efforts. Basically, you get everyone (or some kind of majority) on the block to agree to pitch in via property taxes to build the sidewalk. Then the city handles the necessary intersection improvements.

        While I don’t think the city should leave sidewalk installs entirely up to homeowners, I think having a homeowner-funded option would be a great way to accelerate sidewalk building. It would basically be a way for people to jump the line to get their sidewalk faster. Or maybe the city could charge neighbors based on average income, subsidizing lower income blocks but leaving wealthier blocks with all or most of their bill…

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        Here’s a recent press release about it from SDOT:

        As part of its latest greenway work, the Seattle Department of Transportation has hired Precision Concrete Cutting to make 460 temporary sidewalk repairs along two miles of Northwest 58th Street. The improvements are part of the Ballard Neighborhood Greenway Project to make it safer and more comfortable for people all ages and abilities to walk and bike. While permanent sidewalk repairs are the responsibility of adjacent properties, Northwest 58th Street has been prioritized for pedestrian movement and SDOT is moving forward with temporary repairs. The sidewalk will be beveled at 460 locations where there are uneven spots so that it is smooth. The concrete removed will be recycled.

      • Leif Espelund says:

        Well that is just crazy. Seriously, sidewalks need to be considered an integral part of the transportation system and SDOT should be responsible for their construction and upkeep. I would support a LID in my neighborhood to add sidewalks, at least on the major streets.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I wonder if the rules are different for busy/commercial streets. Probably not…

      • Brian says:

        I can’t cite a source for this opinion, but I believe that the policy of making sidewalk repairs the responsibility of the neighboring owner originates in protecting the city from liability. That is, when someone trips and falls on a broken bit of sidewalk and looks for someone to sue, the city can say, “Sue the adjacent owner; that’s not my responsibility to repair.” The same is true of street trees in the planting strip — you can’t put one in without the city’s permission and the city can prune or remove them whenever they want. But if a branch hits a pedestrian or falls on a car? Suddenly, the city claims no responsibility for it.
        Good policy from the perspective of protection from liability; but not from the perspective of creating good complete infrastructure.

      • Kirk from Ballard says:

        Apparently, SDOT does make sidewalk repairs in residential neighborhoods:
        http://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2012/10/04/madrona-sidewalk-safety-project-2/

  3. Jake says:

    Given that sidewalks we’ve had funded through BTG applications cost on order $100,000 or more per block, I have a hard time seeing neighbors want to take on the cost of building sidewalks on their streets. In the more sprawling outer neighborhoods there are, what, 10 houses per block? I don’t think many people will sign up for a $10,000+ tax hit, no matter how much they want a sidewalk.

    • Leif Espelund says:

      Well, a local improvement district setup would make it so it was spread out across an entire neighborhood(s), not just the immediately affected property. Also, like any major project, this could be accomplished through bonding. If the cost was spread out over 30 years it would be a lot easier to handle.

      • Mike H says:

        My knowledge of LID’s is limited but part of my understanding is that the proposed improvement needs to increase the property’s value. That was one of the reasons why LID’s fell out of favor during the real estate boom. Real estate was increasing in value regardless of sidewalk or not, so why put out more money.

      • Leif Espelund says:

        I’m not sure that it needs to necessarily increase the property value, though from a little bit of research it sounds like in order for a property owner to be assessed their property must directly benefit. So Jake’s initial assumption sounds correct. Still, the bonding makes these projects much easier to swallow. Here is a bunch of info on LIDs: http://www.apwa-wa.org/forums/II%20-%20LID%20Overview-DiJulio.pdf

      • Mike H says:

        Told you I was a little shaky on the details. :-) Thanks for the info!

      • Gary says:

        A state bank loan would be even better than bonding…. assuming we had a state bank which could loan a local improvement district the funds. At least that way the interest would enrich the state vs some investment bank.

  4. Peri Hartman says:

    This is exciting! Not in my area, but I’ll have to go check it out. I think the begging question will be how safe crossing minor streets will be, such as 20th or 22nd ave. Will the sightlines be adequate? Will motorists run the stop signs or not stop till after crossing the sidewalk? Will bicyclists use caution or assume they’re completely safe?

  5. no traffic lights says:

    I bought a house two years ago and although the prices were right, I chose not to buy in Greenwood mainly because everybody parks their cars in the front yard. Sidewalks are an integral part of a proper urban neighborhood.

    • Leif Espelund says:

      Unfortunately, Greenwood was about as close to the city as I could afford to buy. The streets are generally pretty calm, so not having sidewalks isn’t terrible on streets like mine. The problems come on major roads like 3rd Avenue. That street should have sidewalks.

      • Tom Fucoloro says:

        I am very interested in non-sidewalk solutions for the vast numbers of north and south seattle neighborhoods without sidewalks. For example, perhaps the city could figure out a more affordable traffic calming regimen for streets that don’t have sidewalks. Something like: If a block does not have a sidewalk, then it is more important to make sure traffic diverters are used to prevent cut-through traffic. Speed humps could also be installed liberally, and signage should make it clear that people biking and walking have the right of way at all times. Basically, turn them into woonerfs and make sure that the only people driving on them are people who live or are visiting a home within a block or two away.

        If it is determined that a street is too important for neighborhood access and traffic movement (traffic counters could help identify these), then that street could get prioritized for sidewalks.

  6. industrialbiker says:

    Building sidewalks often involves on-street parking removal or street narrowing. Are you willing to pay $10,000 to have car parking inventory reduced on your street?

    • Leif Espelund says:

      Yes.

    • Matthew says:

      Well when you phrase the question like that…

      But seriously, of course we should trade less parking for more sidewalks (although honestly I am not sure that that’s a real trade-off — why does having a sidewalk remove parking?). All streets should be designed first and foremost for the lowest common denominator of use — i.e., walking and wheelchair access. Parking should always be the lowest priority for any public right of way.

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