Call To Action: Save The Northgate Pedestrian Bridge

Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge Option 1.
Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge Option 1.

The Northgate Pedestrian Bridge, a pedestrian and bicycle oriented crossing of I-5 for the Northgate Link Station, is at risk of losing its funding in the summer. The Sound Transit Board placed an artificial time limit for the City of Seattle and Sound Transit to come up with a funding solution. A Tiger grant application wasn’t successful in 2014, and now the project could simply disappear if action isn’t taken. In light of this, some of our local politicians are fighting to save it, and there are things you can do to help.

As we reported last year, this bridge would reconnect North Seattle neighborhoods like Licton Springs and Maple Leaf, which are now almost entirely separated by the wall that is I-5. Licton Springs, an established mixed density neighborhood, lies on the west side of this divide. In recent years, new growth has been occurring at a rapid pace and transforming this area. Licton Springs also hosts North Seattle Community College, a number of office buildings, a hotel and some small retail. On the east side of this bridge lies the neighborhood of Maple Leaf, which also hosts mixed density, major retail outlets, library, and a community center. There is a significant draw between these two communities, and there ought to be a strong natural path for pedestrians and bicyclists to travel between them.

Unfortunately, the existing street connections at both NE 92nd Street and NE Northgate Way are heavily auto-oriented and at the fringe of activity centers on either side of I-5. Neither street is particularly well suited to pedestrians and bicyclists trying to access the core of Northgate or the surrounding neighborhoods. Both crossings present challenges for these users due to the lack of sufficient infrastructure and dangerous crossings from freeway on-ramps that discourage foot-powered use. A new bridge would solve these problems while also helping to bring about more accessibility to hard-to-reach services like local grocery stores, libraries, and medical care–all by walking and biking.

If you care about creating a more walkable, bikeable, and transit-supported North Seattle, contact the Sound Transit Board and tell them to remove the bridge funding deadline. It’s imperative that they do so that Sound Transit and the City of Seattle can come up with a viable funding solution. Don’t forget to tell your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors to do the same.

If you would like to keep informed on the status of this project forward as it moves forward, or are interested in getting involved, please contact Feet First to let them know about your interest.

UPDATE: The correct e-mail address is

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Charles is an avid cyclist that uses his bike as his primary mode of transportation. He grew up in the Puget Sound, but is currently overseas living in Japan. He covers a range of topics like cycling, transit, and land use. His time in Tokyo really opened his eyes to what urbanism offers people and has a strong desire to see growth happen in Seattle.

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Our taxes should be spent on building tracks buying trains and building stations and paying the people to run the trains. Anything else is an extra that should be paid for with the transportation levy dollars or funds from city governments (example – plazas at some stations outside Seattle).


How many miles of sidewalk would the $25 million buy? Are sidewalks too…pedestrian?

Stephen Fesler

About 20 linear miles of 5′ sidewalks. But the value here is specifically that it would allow pedestrians access to services and high capacity transit that they otherwise *wouldn’t* be able to at a very low cost. For a pittance of money, it would generate at least 5,000 more riders and increase non-car oriented trips throughout the area considerably above that area.

If you want to have a beef with how funding is spent, let the Sound Transit Board know that $90m+ for 800 cars and *maybe* 1,000 new transit riders is a total waste of money. That money would certainly be better spent on just creating more walkable communities rather than trying to provide traffic relief and pretty up the numbers on Sounder.

And more to the point, the new Bridging the Gap levy will have a HUGE component for sidewalks. The priorities since the last BTG have changed with pedestrians, cyclists, and transit getting an equitable share.

Stephen Fesler

Also, it may only cost $15m for the bridge. The $25m is the glamourous version, which I would argue we don’t need.

Andrew Karmy

Just gonna throw this out there…

What about spending some of the savings from U-Link on station access improvements. Not parking garages, but actually patching up the neighborhood connections around the existing and planned lines. Indeed if I may wonder aloud, HOW did Northgate station get proposed without this bridge! It links NSCC, the UW/Northwest Clinic and a large glut of car oriented apartments with downtown. Wouldn’t taking these cars off the highway interest anyone higher up the food chain? Like at what point does the state need to step up with funding, since adding lanes to I-5 is obviously not a possibility, these kinds of projects provide a better experience to tease people out of their cars.

Stephen Fesler

What you suggest for funding may be a strong possibility. Let the Board know that’s how they should spend the windfall savings! It’s odd that $90m will be spent on getting maybe ~1,000 people to ride Sounder while this bridge ($15m to $20m) will get ~5,000 more riders… Unbalanced?


This should come out of the windfall ST just got with their Fed loan package.

Stephen Fesler

See above. 🙂