The U District’s first neighborhood greenway takes shape

U-District-MapTo complement big changes coming from the University of Washington and Sound Transit, the city is close to completing design for the U District’s first ever neighborhood greenway.

Located on 12th Ave NE, the neighborhood greenway will connect from the Burke-Gilman Trail to Ravenna Boulevard and includes a desperately-needed traffic signal at NE 50th St that should also help reduce collisions there.

At a November open house, SDOT staff said that half of all collisions on this stretch of 12th Ave NE occur at NE 50th St. Workers at nearby businesses told the open house attendees they had witnessed more than a dozen of crashes at the intersection of the years, and several people on foot have been struck by cars.

At the south end of the project, the neighborhood greenway will take advantage of construction that will finally open up bike/walk access from 12th Ave to the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The UW demolished the former Terry Hall/1101 Cafe building that blocked access throughout recent memory. UW’s new Maple and Terry Halls are nearing completion, and the new design will create a pathway south of Campus Parkway. The project should be complete this summer.

SDOT held an open house to discuss the project in November

SDOT held an open house to discuss the project in November

At the north end of the neighborhood greenway, the connection to westbound Ravenna Boulevard will still require a bit of a detour or some off-roading since the park-like center median does not yet have a pathway across it at 12th Ave NE. SDOT notes that this connection could be a good candidate for a future investment. In the meantime, there is a connection to the Brooklyn crossing via NE 58th St that, while a little wonky, could provide an interim connection for westbound riders (Note: This connection is missing from the incomplete map at the top of this post, so don’t get confused):

Image from Google Maps

Image from Google Maps

The 12th Ave route is due in large part to the hard work of University Greenways, which has been promoting the concept for years. That group is always looking for new members, so if you like the 12th Ave idea or want to expand and improve the number of safe streets in the neighborhood, get in touch.

More details on the project, from SDOT:

Last November, SDOT started exploring the idea of a neighborhood greenway in the U District. We hosted a meeting in November and quickly learned that there is a lot of great stuff happening there! The University of Washington is building Maple and Terry Halls. This means new open space and a pedestrian link to the Burke-Gilman Trail, as well as crosswalks on the east and west sides of 12th Avenue NE and ADA-accessible curb ramps on Campus Parkway. Sound Transit’s started constructing the University Station for the Northgate Link Light Rail project. And ‘Only in Seattle’ is funding a community-led partnership to work on public safety, business development, urban design, marketing and neighborhood leadership. So cool! But now back to SDOT.

A neighborhood greenway is a great way to link the people in the community to the new assets being built. Based on public feedback, agency coordination and our evaluation we are recommending a greenway on 12th Avenue NE. The map below shows the traffic improvements that would be implemented.

About Tom Fucoloro

Founder and Editor of Seattle Bike Blog.
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16 Responses to The U District’s first neighborhood greenway takes shape

  1. Gordon says:

    The best way to get connected to University Greenways is via their Facebook page and Google Group!forum/university-greenways


  2. Jake says:

    Is there any word on what will be done to keep drivers from taking advantage of all these new stop signs, and using the greenway as an alternative to parallel routes? Speed bumps won’t cut it… but with the well-connected street grid in this area, I think a couple partial traffic barriers (which let bicycles and peds through, of course) would be a great addition.

    • Ben Morris says:

      Seems to me, that the best way to discourage cars from the greenway is… lots and lots of bikes traveling it.
      I frequently ride the ‘Fremont Ave N green-ish-way’, and still see cars ignoring the ‘cars turn-only’ intersections at 80th and 85th, and continuing straight. There’s just not enough bikes traveling that route – especially this time of year – to dissuade drivers from using it as an alternative to Aurora & Greenwood Ave’s. Would love to see more cyclists riding that route to establish Fremont Ave N as ‘our own’! :)

    • RTK says:

      I’d like to see some Portland style complete blockage for motorized vehicles. The shallow speed bumps are not working. And once you put stop signs on the cross streets vehicles will be diverting to 12th. It happened in Ballard.

      • Al Dimond says:

        It Happened in Ballard should be the name of a hyperlocal horror flick…

        I’ve seen a car go through the barrier at 15th/58th. It was a fairly narrow car, either a Mini Cooper or a SMART dohickey, and it just barely fit.

  3. asdf2 says:

    There’s enough parallel thru-streets that are faster for cars – 15th, 11th, Brooklyn, etc. that I don’t see drivers who know what they’re doing using 12th for anything other than local access.

  4. Al Dimond says:

    Getting to 58th westbound from Ravenna looks like it would be weird if someone was waiting at the stop sign at Ravenna eastbound. I’d probably take Brooklyn down to the next cross street…

    One reason to be particularly worried about cut-through traffic on 12th is that you can’t turn left from eastbound 45th to northbound 11th, so drivers that want to do this instead turn left on 12th then jog over on 47th. The more attractive 12th is for through traffic, the longer they’ll stay on. And there are also all the bus movements and layovers on 12th, and parking lot entrances… pretty much all the problems are concentrated in one block north of 45th.

  5. Steve A says:

    What’s the story where it runs across 45th?

  6. Alicia Halberg says:

    I don’t think the Terry and Maple residence halls are near completion, they just started demolishing Terry a few weeks ago! It’s not even down yet… soon though!

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      you’re right. I got a little ahead of myself. In redevelopment terms, so much time is spent pre-demolition that once machines are on site, I think of them as “almost complete.” :-)

      • Hmm says:

        This connection won’t be bikeable. It may have a ramp that is accessible for people willing to walk their bikes, but it is not clear. It will however be a great pedestrian connection!

      • RTK says:

        I’m not sure which dorm is which, but the eastern dorm opened at the beginning of January.

        The western one is currently being torn down.

        The new path between them has stairs on it and a sign to walk bikes. I am assuming that the article refers to an additional path that will be put through when the second dorm goes in.

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