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.
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.
Current 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.