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Work to connect the Duwamish Trail to the Spokane Street Bridge will start in early April

Project map showing the new trail connection on West Marginal Way.The Duwamish Trail will finally connect to the Spokane Street Bridge in May, SDOT told area stakeholders. Work will begin in early April and, weather permitting, should be be completed in just a couple weeks.

The permanent trail connection will replace the temporary barrel-lined trail constructed during the emergency Spokane Street Bridge closure in January. Though the department removed the 1st Ave S bike lanes after the bridge reopened, they kept the Duwamish Trail connection on West Marginal Way between the bridge and the Duwamish Longhouse.

The new trail will use highway-style concrete barriers similar to the barrier used along Aurora to create the Green Lake Outer Loop bike route. It’s not the prettiest style of barrier, but it is effective, can be installed quickly and is appropriate in this industrial context.

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Photo of the Green Lake bike lane on Aurora with a cement barrier about three feet high designed for highway traffic.
Green Lake Outer Loop on Aurora.

This is great news, and both Mayor Bruce Harrell and SDOT leadership deserve credit for standing behind their Vision Zero goals despite resistance from the Freight Advisory Board. SDOT analysis combined with observation from the temporary trail show only positive impacts to general traffic. Travel times were a couple seconds higher, but that’s only because the amount of speeding decreased. This is a fact that cannot be repeated enough: Bike lanes make streets safer for all users, including people inside cars and trucks. Calming traffic is itself a valuable investment, and it’s even better when transportation departments create and improve bicycle network connections at the same time.

Industry does not need streets to be dangerous in order to operate effectively, and it’s great to see SDOT and Mayor Harrell taking action here where Seattle’s previous mayor failed. I look forward to the opening celebration, which should fall within Bike Month.

SDOT’s email to stakeholders:

We have an opportunity to align with our Vision Zero goals, keep goods moving, and promote sustainable travel options by building Phase 1 of the West Marginal Way SW Safety Corridor Improvements Project.  Construction includes a permanent 0.4 mile of separated protected bike lane and safety measures for the driveway crossings along the Duwamish Trail.  The project improves safety and predictability for everyone, maintains freight priority on a major truck street, and continues the completion of the regional walking and biking network.

In 2020, Reconnect West Seattle survey respondents prioritized a West Marginal Way Protected Bike Lane (PBL) to encourage a multimodal option to travel to and from West Seattle during the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.  After initial outreach, the project was paused until the bridge reopened to reduce potential travel impacts along the detour route.

Over the last three years, we conducted thorough outreach and engagement to the community, businesses, freight, bike, and other interested stakeholders and collected data before and after the bridge reopened.  Findings show the project would have negligible impacts on the overall operations of West Marginal Way SW.  See SDOT’s blog for more information about the data and analysis.  Stakeholder feedback has been incorporated into the design and has resulted in enhanced safety measures for all travelers of West Marginal Way SW.

A temporary bike lane along West Marginal Way SW is currently in place, as it was being used as a detour route when the Spokane St Swing Bridge was closed in January for emergency repairs.  The protected bike lane will now be installed permanently along with driveway crossing treatments along the Duwamish Trail.  Construction is anticipated to begin in early April and will last approximately a month.  Please see the attached construction notice for more details.

Protected bike lane construction is expected to be completed during the first two weekends of April (weather permitting).  If you have any business operations on the weekends we should be aware of, please get in touch with us at [email protected] to coordinate.

After installation, we will evaluate and monitor the project and adjust the design if necessary.  Phase 2 of this project takes place in 2024 and includes segments of new sidewalk and additional traffic calming features.

We appreciate your participation in this process.  Your feedback has made the project safer for everyone involved.

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3 responses to “Work to connect the Duwamish Trail to the Spokane Street Bridge will start in early April”

  1. asdf2

    This is often underappreciated, but as a pedestrian, even a bike lane that nobody ever bikes in is still a useful amenity, as it adds a few precious feet of separation between myself and the speeding cars, making the sidewalk a much more comfortable place to be. For instance, Roosevelt Way has become a much more pleasant street to walk on after the protected bike lane was put in, even though the bike line was ostensibly about bikes, rather than walking.

    Whatever bike use the bike lane gets is simply an added bonus on top of this, and helps justify the increases separation for pedestrians taking the form of a bike lane rather than a patch of grass.

  2. Don Brubeck

    Great point by asdf2, very applicable to this project. This one also protects car and truck drivers from crashes by eliminating a short stretch with two southbound general purpose traffic lanes in between segments with one southbound lane. Impatient, aggressive drivers will no longer be able to pass on the right in the blind spot of other drivers. The project also makes the crosswalk at the Duwamish Longhouse safer by eliminating that lane on a curve with poor sightlines. For biking, it is a great improvement for a regional bike route connecting Tukwila, South Park, Georgetown, West Seattle, SODO, Beacon Hill, Pioneer Square, Downtown and beyond using the West Seattle Bridge Trail, Alki Trail, Duwamish Trail, Green River Trail, Interurban South Trail and the bridges over the Duwamish River. Great pro-active work by SDOT’S Vision Zero team using real data and test installations with input from all stakeholders.

  3. Alkistu

    Now that about 1/3 of the southbound lanes of West Marginal are reduced to one lane is this an opportunity to utilize the rest of the right lane for bicycles. It is a great success to bring the bike traffic heading south from the WS Bridge out of the back alley and off the sidewalks. This certainly works to establish bicycles as “out in the open” forms of transportation and not pushed to the margins in order to preserve space for cars. This is how it feels for some that ride the winding and secluded Kellog Island segment of the Duwamish trail. Female commuters have told me that they do not feel safe in this secluded and dark section of the trail. Besides adding the scenic tour to the distance of the commute, the railroad crossings, poles in the middle of the trail, the variable width and the industrial entrances and exits along the path would qualify the definition of a halfhearted bike lane. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dSfMfIiWUAY. It is also confusing to the car drivers to go from one lane to two lanes, back to one lane at the Duwamish Tribe Cultural Center and then back to two. This might make many wonder why there are one lane restrictions to begin with. When it comes to creating a safe and direct crossing at Highland Park Way to utilize what will be a much needed East to West route coming soon, bringing bicycles in on the right side of the road would make a lot more sense. If we wish to become a place where the future is more bicycle use, we must grasp opportunities to bring bicycle use off the scenic routes and into the main stream.

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