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No TIGER grant for the Northgate bike/walk bridge

One design option for the bridge
One design option for the bridge

An attempt to quickly fill the funding gap for the Northgate bike/walk bridge has failed. Seattle and Sound Transit did not win the TIGER grant they hoped would bring in the $15 million needed to make the bridge happen, Publicola reports.

TIGER is a very competitive Federal transportation grant program, and projects rarely win the grants on the first try. Though the Northgate bridge application was pretty awesome, winning on the first try was perhaps a bit of a long shot. In our original reporting on the grant application, we noted this and suggested the city and Sound Transit develop a backup plan to find the funding for this vital element of the Northgate Station light rail project.

Sound Transit and Seattle have each pledged $5 million toward the $25 million bridge, but the agreement stipulates that full funding must be found by July 2015 or Sound Transit will put its $5 million to other biking and walking projects in the area.


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If completed, the bike/walk bridge would cut an uncomfortable 1.2-mile walk or bike ride from North Seattle College into a 0.25-mile trip on what could be an iconic structure for the neighborhood. It would also dramatically increase the number of homes and jobs within an easy walk or bike ride from the new station.

Final_OPEN HOUSE PRESENTATION-designmeasureCurrent Northgate Transit Center user data show that many people drive to the station even though they live within what should be an easy walk or bike ride. Take one look at the awful existing options to cross I-5, and it becomes pretty clear why people choose to drive.

The $25 million price tag is so high because I-5 is such a massive trench through this part of North Seattle. But that’s a challenge we need to face if our city is going to provide people with truly attractive and practical options for getting around without driving. This project is smart, and it supports walking, biking and transit all at the same time. The city and Sound Transit should be ready to develop a plan B to make sure the project happens.


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12 responses to “No TIGER grant for the Northgate bike/walk bridge”

  1. Chuck

    I hope they find the funding. This would create a much-needed safe connection to Northgate Mall from west of I-5.

  2. Leif Espelund

    This is such a vital part of the project that I am continually dumbfounded by the fact that it wasn’t part of Sound Transits original plan. It would be similar to having planned the UW station without the bridge over Montlake. But such is life. How can we all work towards making this a reality (ideally before the station even opens). I think the city and Sound Transit both need to step up with more funding, but there are other entities that should recognize the benefit of this. Seattle Central is an obvious one, but they probably don’t have a ton of excess money to go towards it. What about all the medical clinics by SC? Or even the mall, since this would increase the amount of people who could walk to their shops (a good idea considering how malls are on the decline in America).

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      The most obvious source also might be the hardest to get money from: Washington State. They (with the Feds) caused this problem by building I-5 to be such a massive barrier for the neighborhood. This is really just mitigation for their mistake. But I’m not gonna hold my breath that the state is going to come running to help fund it (though that would be the right thing to do).

      The mall and its major tenants definitely should be willing to help, since this would clearly be great for them. I think they are more concerned about parking loss, but if they were thinking more comprehensively about their long-term business health they would be on board. A walkable/bikeable Northgate would be a boon to the mall. A car-only mall is a doomed business model, and you don’t need to look hard at similar malls across the nation to see that.

      1. On the occasions I take the bus up to Northgate I tend to see lots of people riding between the mall (and the shops across Northgate Way) and various apartment buildings west of the freeway near NSCC. That’s a short distance as the crow flies but a bit of a long way around, and walking through the Northgate Way interchange is not very pleasant.

        The bridge would certainly connect the mall area better to this cluster of homes. That might not mean a lot to many mall tenants that are occasional destinations for people from all over northern Seattle and Shoreline. It would make the mall area a better location for frequent local destinations, which is a great opportunity for the property owner.

  3. Mike B

    Dare I say it, it’d be nice if we could aim for a cheaper structure rather than going for a signature span. Looking at the 3 alternatives from the previous SBB post, they’re all rather expensive compared with a more basic structure. Cable stay, tiered arch, and a tubular truss aren’t cheap or easy to construct. Something similar to the Mountlake Terrace Freeway Station ped bridge, a box truss on I-girders, could be significantly cheaper. Precast I-girders are capable of 100-180′ spans, which is more than enough to span the long distances required to get over I-5 in this area. But they’re not an architects dream.

    1. Leif Espelund

      I kind of doubt it would be any cheaper. That project had a total cost of $40 million. Though I can’t find a breakdown for how much of that was the bridge, it is a considerably shorter bridge, is fully enclosed, and I don’t think is as wide as what would be built over I-5 at Northgate (which needs to allow for lots of bike traffic as well as peds). I’d love a fully enclosed option though, just so we know how much that would cost.

      1. Mountlake Terrace included a decent sized parking garage and totally new bus platforms in the freeway median.

        There are several apparently simpler bridges across freeways in the region that could serve as comparisons given cost info. There are fairly narrow bridges over 405 at 60th and 80th in Kirkland and a wider one at 100th (capable of carrying emergency vehicles). One over I-5 at 195th in Shoreline and over 99 at Henderson.

        I don’t think any of these are as long as the Northgate bridge would have to be, plus the elevation difference at Northgate is greater.

  4. […] Seattle state of mind: Seattlish wonderfully takes down the micro-housing concern trolls on their parking fallacy. A new 10th Ave and Union St apartment is ready to open to tenants, but there is a small problem for the developer. North Seattle may have found its candidate for next year’s council district elections, say hello to Halei Watkins. Mayor Ed Murray plans a healthy increase in the number of officers on the beat for 2015. The Supreme Court rules that the Washington State Legislature is in contempt of court over education–good work Republicans! A brief history of the Denny Regrade and what the intersection of Westlake Ave and Olive Way looked like. Seattle is planning 14 new small parks! And, the Northgate ped/bike bridge loses out on TIGER funding this year. […]

  5. Doug Bostrom

    There needs to be an overarching (!) “reconnect Seattle” movement to pave the way (!) for projects such as this, by fostering via better overall public awareness of the utter disaster I-5 represents for in-town living.

    I-5 is so embedded in our lives as a s___ty aspect of life in Seattle that I think many of us don’t even think about it, or imagine how much easier it would be to live here without a concrete glacier running through town.

    We’ll never rid ourselves of I-5 but it can at least be tamed, for $25 million per crack of the whip.

  6. […] we don’t have a good cost estimate for a new bridge option. The Northgate bike/walk bridge crossing I-5 is estimated to cost $25 million, but that bridge does not cross water and does not […]

  7. […] bridge remains underfunded after a failing to win a Federal TIGER grant. SDOT and Sound Transit have each pledged $5 million to the project, but early design cost […]

  8. […] July 2015 funding deadline for the Northgate bike/walk bridge, Publicola reports. After the project failed to win a competitive TIGER grant from the Federal government, it appeared doubtful that full funding for the project would be […]

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