Chipping Away At It

Most Seattle sidewalks are not photogenic.  But to some of us, they are exciting nonetheless.  The sidewalk in the photo above didn’t exist a few months ago.  Back then, if you wanted to walk on Pine Street between one of the city’s most densely populated  neighborhoods and downtown, you could  only cross I-5 on the south side of the overpass.

Call it sidewalk creep.  SDOT is quietly making it happen all over the city, your tax dollars at work via the 2006 Bridging the Gap levy.   As we chip away incrementally, some year we’ll wake up to a walkable city.  And that’s some damn fine sustainable urbanism mojo.

Here’s another beauty completed a couple years ago on Union Street, one leg of a fairly pedestrian unfriendly six-way intersection between Union, Madison, and 12th on Capitol Hill.   That puppy is 16 feet wide (each scored square is 2 x 2 feet).  A curb bulb was also installed on the other side of Union, creating a comfortably narrow pedestrian crossing.

Now that the City Council has approved the Pedestrian Master Plan, we should expect to see even more hot sidewalk action in the future.  Well, probably.  Sidewalks ain’t cheap—typical cost is about $2 million per mile, or about $100,000 per city block face.   So far the city has committed to spending $15 million per year on the Ped Master Plan. 

The total cost of impementing everything in the Ped Master plan is in the range of $900 million.  Did somebody say “priorities?”

7 Responses to “Chipping Away At It”

  1. wes kirkman

    You appear to be doing a feature on my route to work. I like both those too. However, I am having trouble seeing how this relates to McGinn. Can you spell it out directly please?

  2. dave

    Ahem, that’d be a Nickels thing (Bridging the Gap). Too bad he won’t be around to get stuff like this done anymore.

  3. Ross

    I wonder if state highway money could be used for pedestrian projects, if they are over a highway. This may be a stretch (see section 40 of the state constitution http://tinyurl.com/ye3qebr) but it may be considered the “betterment” of the highway (see section 40-b). I can think of a couple of projects that would be great:

    1) Expand freeway park to the north. Imagine the area between Pike and Pine as a park (instead of a freeway). It would expand the little “Boren Pike Pine Park” (thanks google maps, I didn’t know what that was called). Lots of people walk along Pike there to get to Capital Hill or Downtown.

    2) Add a lid to Aurora north of the battery street tunnel (this part of the road will continue to exist regardless of what is done to the viaduct area).

    Both of these projects accomplish what the tunnel does, for a lot less money (and, to be fair, accomplish a lot less of it). The tunnel (if built) will not increase capacity or access (in fact, it will greatly diminish both). It will, however, improve the pedestrian experience. To a certain extend, our hands our tied with regards to the highway (gas tax) spending. Unless someone wants to challenge the courts again, we can’t, for example, spend the money on transit. We can, however, I believe, use it to improve the highways by covering them as much as possible and desirable.

  4. dan cortland

    However, I am having trouble seeing how this relates to McGinn. Can you spell it out directly please?

    The new sidewalk can accommodate the McGirth.

  5. Bill

    The curb bulb and landscaping on the south side of Union at Madison and 12th (also a curb bulb on 13th at Union) were part of a Department of Neighborhoods matching grant project by 12th Avenue and Pike/Pine stewardship committees. A significant match was contributed by Seattle Academy. Not saying that this is the best way for pedestrian improvements to happen, but if residents have ideas for pedestrian improvements there is a way for them to get City funding to make it happen through matching grants —one of the things that participating in community groups can do. There are still ways that three-street intersection could be made more “friendly” to pedestrians. The next meeting of the 12th Avenue stewardship committee is October 6 aat 5:30 P.M. at 824 12tn Ave.

  6. Bill

    Correction: The next 12th Avenue stewardship committee meeting is October 13, NOT Oct. 6.

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