The Northgate light rail station, scheduled to open in 2021, will provide access to North Seattle Community College, Northgate Mall, Northgate Transit Center, North Seattle DSHS Community Services Office, medical centers, park-and-ride facilities, and nearby homes and businesses. Since 2012, Feet First has been working to improve walking access to this important regional transportation hub.
A key victory has been securing funding for the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge. This bridge will span I-5, providing a safe connection between the light rail station and North Seattle College, DSHS Community Services Office, and homes – west of the freeway. This bridge will carry thousands walkers and bicyclists every day, tying together the two halves of the emerging urban village currently divided by the freeway.
Feet First formed a coalition consisting of local community groups, non-profit organizations, North Seattle College, and grassroots activists to advocate for funding. In 2012, this coalition convinced Sound Transit and the City of Seattle to set aside $20 million for walking and biking improvements around Northgate Station. Half of this money was dedicated for the bridge, with the other $10 million set aside for additional pedestrian and bicycle improvements within a fifteen minute walk of the station, such as a protected bike lane along 1st Avenue NE and a new sidewalk along NE 103rd Street. Additional funding for the bridge came from Move Seattle’s transportation levy and Washington State Legislature’s transportation budget, both approved in 2015.
With full funding for the bridge now assured, Feet First and the Northgate Coalition continue to monitor the Pedestrian/Bike Bridge project to ensure that the bridge project stays on time and on budget. We anticipate the bridge to be open at about the same time as the Northgate light rail station in 2021.
- Keep the bridge within its current budget. A total of $35 million has been secured for the bridge, which should be enough to build an outstanding community asset. We are monitoring the design process with an eye towards avoiding cost overruns.
- Make tax dollars go further to serve more people. Any secured funding left out of the current project budget should be spent on non-motorized access improvements in the area. For example, new Greenways and sidewalks to get people to the bridge as well as other local destinations.
- Avoid delays. Feet First believes the bridge should open as scheduled by 2021. We know that the demand for a safe crossing of I-5 to access the light rail station will be significant.
- Design for the future. We welcome a bridge designed to allow for additional capacity expansions later, depending on demand and funding.
- Provide seamless, safe, inviting, and universal access. We are excited for the opportunity to link college students to a station that already is home to an active senior population. This is another step in supporting all ages and abilities.