The Northgate pedestrian and bicycle bridge is now a go. Last week, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announced the design of the bridge had been completed. Environmental review was completed last year. Now all that remains is to wrap up the permitting process and select a contractor to build the structure. The bridge is slated to open in 2021, just in time for opening of the Northgate Link light rail extension.

The project has been highly fraught for years with issues. How wide should it be? Would North Seattle College welcome the bridge on their property? How should it traverse critical areas? How could unnecessary bridge distance for people be minimized? And how could it best connect communities?

There were a lot of changes from the original design, like trimming down the bridge length and width. An earlier tube/truss structure was pitched and simplified to a relatively open structure with safety meshing.

Comparison of the original design and finalized design. (City of Seattle)
Comparison of the original design and finalized design. (City of Seattle)

SDOT has come up with a fairly elegant solution, as seen in the following renderings:

Rendering of the bridge across I-5. (City of Seattle)
Rendering of the bridge across I-5. (City of Seattle)
Rendering of the bridge looking eastward. (City of Seattle)
Rendering of the bridge looking eastward. (City of Seattle)

People using the bridge will have sublime views of Barton Woods, the growing metropolis, and soon-to-open Northgate Station.

The bridge will provide direct access to the mezzanine level of the new light rail station, making connections easy for people walking and biking to and from trains. People walking and biking can also descend from the mezzanine to ground level to arrive at the mall or bus bays. The bridge will also connect directly to the west side of 1st Ave NE with a gradual, winding ramp.

The bridge will carry people over the Bartonwood wetland and I-5. (SDOT)

On the west side of I-5, the bride will fly over the highway and stream and wetland network to reach the northern edge of the North Seattle College campus. The bridge will tie into a future multi-use path along N 100th St. This will provide a safe connection to other pedestrian pathways and in-street protected bike lanes along College Way N. SDOT also has promised to deliver protected bike lanes on NE 100th St and 1st Ave NE as well as a new multi-use path on 1st Ave NE in 2021.

Street design plans for 1st Ave NE between NE 92nd St and NE Northgate Way. (City of Seattle)
Street design plans for 1st Ave NE between NE 92nd St and NE Northgate Way. (City of Seattle)
Legend for the street design improvements planned for 1st Ave NE. (City of Seattle)
Legend for the street design improvements planned for 1st Ave NE. (City of Seattle)

The project represents a significant step forward to literally and figuratively bridge communities near Northgate, a designated Urban Center. I-5 has long been an impediment to people walking and biking, with the best nearby option being the N 92nd St bridge. It is a mediocre option, but better than N Northgate Way, a frightening experience for anyone on foot or bike.

SDOT says that the project should break ground in the middle of the year. The bridge should open in early 2021. Later that year in September, the Northgate Link light rail extension is scheduled to open to riders.

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