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Work on north-south Ballard neighborhood greenway gets underway

BallardGreenwayMailer-mapThe city is starting construction on a long north-south neighborhood greenway in Ballard connecting Whitman Middle School to the Ballard business district.

As we reported earlier this year, this will be the first time two neighborhood greenways intersect. So in a way, it’s the beginning of an actual network of people-focused streets. One neighborhood greenway without connections is great. But each new connection multiplies the usefulness of every route.

Unfortunately, the route will initially stop just a couple blocks short of connecting to the Burke-Gilman Trail. The city plans to study that connection in the next year (if the Missing Link were completed, this wouldn’t be a problem).

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Construction will be ongoing during Summer Parkways September 19, but shouldn’t interfere with the event, according to the project website. In fact, it could be a great way to give the route a try.

More details on the construction and schedule going forward this month:

Construction on the Ballard Greenway begins on September 1.

Have fun and check out the neighborhood greenway route during Ballard Summer Parkways on September 19 from 11 AM to 3 PM. Parks along the route will be full of family activities. Greenway construction will not interfere with this event.

NW 90th Street construction begins on September 1: Construction will begin on NW 90th Street adjacent to the walkway that connects to 17th Avenue NW. Crews will install new curb ramps at this location during the week of September 1 and return later this fall to install a crosswalk. Construction of curb ramps will last approximately 5 working days and through traffic will be maintained. Pedestrians will be detoured around the work areas.

17th Avenue NW and NW Dock Place to take place on September 1: The intersection of 17th Avenue NW at NW Dock Place is being reconfigured to clarify the right of way and reduce conflicts between people walking, biking and driving. Crews will paint the pavement and install flexible bollards at the boundary of this new open space to formalize the intersection. The changes preserve all vehicle movements, including emergency vehicles and access to the adjacent alleyway. As a result a new public space is being created and we are working with community members to leverage the opportunity. Additional upgrades will continue after the Ballard Greenway project is complete. The contractor will install delineator posts and complete striping on September 1.

17th Avenue NW and NW 85th Street construction begins on September 3
On Thursday, September 3, we’ll begin building pedestrian safety improvements at the intersection of NW 85th Street and 17th Avenue NW. SDOT’s contractor will work on one side (north or south) of the intersection at a time in order to maintain traffic flow. During this time, 17th Avenue NW will be closed to through traffic. Those needing to access 17thAvenue NW will need to use NW 83rd Street or NW 87th Street.  Temporary pedestrian paths in the area will be clearly marked and temporary Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps will be installed. Traffic lanes on NW 85th Street will be shifted to accommodate work zones and two-way traffic will be maintained. Work at this intersection will last approximately 28 working days (approximately 6 weeks).

As construction progresses throughout the corridor, you can expect the following:

  • Temporary on-street parking restrictions
  • Short-term single lane closures, where needed
  • Pedestrian and bicyclist detours
  • Noise, dust, and vibration typical of construction
  • Weekday work hours from 7 AM to 5 PM
  • Maintained driveway access to residences

This work is weather dependent and will be rescheduled if necessary.

Click here to view pre-construction mailer sent to properties along the greenway corridor.

Want to be added to the project email distribution list? Click here to sign up!


Contact the project team at [email protected]  or call 206-684-4747.

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11 responses to “Work on north-south Ballard neighborhood greenway gets underway”

  1. Damon

    This is going to be a great route. Every part of it makes so much sense… except the southern tip, as noted. I wish they had just terminated it at Leary. That would have made it painfully obvious to everyone that there’s no real connection, there.

    As it is, they’re building a mockery of a connection to Shilshole. Who would bike down 17th, turn right onto Dock, make a difficult Leary crossing, and then make the left onto no-bike-lane Shilshole, only to bike right past 17th again? No one’s going to do that — there’s absolutely no reason to, without a signal at Dock and Shilshole. Anyone going from 17th toward the Burke will do what they do now: straight down 17th, tough Leary crossing, horrendous left onto Shilhole.

    1. 1. The Leary crossing at Dock is going to be improved with the greenway. That’s the point of going this way — Leary/17th is fundamentally harder to improve than Leary/Dock.

      2. Until the real BGT is built, you can take Ballard Ave back to 17th and have just one block on Shilshole to the interim trail. This is not great (the intersections are fairly bad) but it’s at least temporary.

      2. When the real BGT is built along the south edge of Shilshole you’ll be able to get to it either by Ballard Ave and 17th, or by continuing to Dock and Shilshole. Which is better will depend on which intersection ends up designed better. Either way, you’ll be able to cross straight over Shilshole to the trail without traveling along it at all.

      1. Damon

        I’m very interested in what Leary/Dock looks like after this work. It would be great to have an effective crossing there.

        I’m worried that casual people-on-bikes will look at a map, see “greenway”, figure the connection to Shilshole must not be bad (otherwise, why build the greenway to Shilshole?), and get in over their heads.

        Making the signed route (Dock) different from the most direct route (17th), is a poor choice that will leave people-in-cars confused about where to look for people-on-bikes. I understand that it will make more sense later; I just think they should have left it dangling until it makes sense, rather than make the maps misleading.

      2. Southeasterner

        If the Leary/Dock “improvements” are anything like the crosswalk at Vernon or the one between Vernon and Market it will be very interesting to see if any cars yield to cyclists.

        My experience biking on Leary (daily) is that cars in the right most lanes on Leary will typically stop at those intersections for peds and almost on a daily basis I’ll see them get honked at by a driver who speeds past them in the left lane and almost takes out the ped who is crossing (maybe they think the car in the right lane is parking?). Even stopping for peds on my bike I have been honked at by cars behind me.

        Leary needs a minimum of two fully signaled intersections between Market and 15th and one of those signaled intersections is where the greenway should connect…and Dock isn’t it. I’m guessing 17th and 20th are where any future signaled intersections will be located so why not just keep the greenway on 17th all the way to Shilshole?

      3. Project documents appear to show a real traffic signal at Leary/Dock. They also appear to show push-buttons facing the road for bikes, so they might not be installing detector loops. Even so, that’s a real, substantial improvement. It will be easily the best crossing of Leary between Market and 15th.

      4. Josh

        State law requires signals to detect bikes.

        Buttons for bikes are a nice supplement, but they don’t meet the requirements of RCW 47.36.025.


      5. Bob Hall

        So glad this is happening!

        The discussion on where the route ought to go is over. There were two open houses for public comment, which were advertised on this blog.

        The pedestrian half signal at Dock & Leary is a big deal. From Market St to 15th Ave, there is no acceptable place to cross Leary. This will put a big ol’ red light in a good spot. The intersection of 17th & Leary was considered, but there are several problems with that intersection. First, it’s more complicated — lots of craziness on the South side with 48th St. Second, the sight lines on Leary are really bad there. The chance of a west-bound car blowing through a red light is high. Go check out that corner.

        I agree it’s super lame it doesn’t connect with the interim BGT. As usual, the scope of this project was limited by how much funding was available.

        There are many big wins though — especially up near Whitman Middle School. Crossing 85th is a nightmare. This will be a huge improvement for folks getting to school on foot or bike.

      6. @Josh: The law, as far as I can be bothered to parse it, applies to vehicle-activated signals. I don’t think this one will be vehicle-activated or have faces for vehicles traveling on Dock Street, like Rainier/Weller or 45th/Sunnyside.

        The push-buttons are sort of annoying and probably break the uniformity of the riding experience more than most ticky-tack non-compliance. Maybe they save the city some money… but how much, when they’re going to have to re-pave so much to install curb ramps? For all I know they might avoid detector loops to avoid detecting cars and thus turning the greenway into an attractive cut-through route. But overall I wouldn’t rely too much on my understanding of the motivations of officials, my ability to read construction plans, or my patience for poring over legal text. I could have my facts all wrong.

      7. RossB

        The crosswalks on Leary are most unusual. In general, the city hates crosswalks without signals on four lane roads (because they are extremely dangerous). So much so that they have removed many of them. But you are right — both the crossing on Vernon and the mid-block one to the northwest don’t have a signal. My guess is that the city is considering a road diet for Leary, which would solve that problem (make it three lanes with an island in the middle). But before that happens, there will be a crossing at Dock with a signal.

  2. The connection between the greenway and the interim route would have to involve improvements to Shilshole/46th and Shilshole/17th. Considering the extra challenge of truck access to businesses right next to the intersection, it could be complicated and contentious, and is unlikely to really provide much protection from necessary truck maneuvers. If studied “in the next year” work on the ground might begin in late 2016.

    Meanwhile proper BGT EIS work should be underway (?) and work on the ground might begin in a similar time frame. The interim route along the north edge of Shilshole will be replaced with a permanent path along the south edge, which completely changes the prospect for these intersections: the path is now out of the way of Shilshole/46th and can connect to Shilshole/17th from the south, eliminating the most troublesome block along the interim route. It also will have an obvious connection toward the greenway at Shilshole/Dock, which is a relatively simple intersection. Anyway, at some point in the real BGT work the interim trail will have to be removed — possibly quite early. Depending on how exactly when this work starts, how long it takes, and how it’s staged, a connection between the greenway and the interim trail could have an extremely short shelf life.

  3. Law Abider

    So they stuck with the cop out crossing of Leary at Dock street, which NOBODY WILL USE BECAUSE IT INVOLVES BACKTRACKING IN 99% OF USE CASES! Instead, people will keep crossing Leary at 17th. Eventually, a cyclist will get hit and the city will have to answer to why they didn’t do the right thing despite all evidence.

    I keep hearing the half-assed lame excuse of “a signal at 17th would be too close to the signal at 15th.” Go check out Market Street, where there is a light at 15th and also at 17th, and guess what, it works!

    I’m also curious how long the blocking island at 57th will stay there. A car is going to get hit trying to take a left turn from 15th to any street between 58th and 63rd, because they can’t continue up 17th, due to an island that has no logical need to be there.

    The 58th Greenway was a success. The 17th Greenway screams of a bunch of researchers in a dark basement of some university dreaming up solutions that don’t have problems.

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