Connect Ballard releases proposed near-term solution for Ballard Bridge

Cascade's Connect Ballard has proposed a solution for near-term improvements to the Ballard Bridge to make it safer for people walking and biking.

In February, Haley Woods, owner of Peddler Brewing Company and a leader of the Connect Ballard team, created a video highlighting the safety problems with the current bridge.  After much research, Haley Woods has created a new video to shows a proposed near-term solution.  This near-term solution is described in a report from the team, titled "Missed Connection: Ballard Bridge Safety Recommendations."  Connect Ballard is asking the Seattle City Council to prioritize funding in the Move Seattle Levy.

(video created by Haley Woods; 3-D renderings created by Sean Cryan)

The solution includes four basic elements, which can be accomplished relatively inexpensively, in the near-term and within the existing street right-of-way:

  1. Widen the sidewalk.
  2. Reduce risk of injury to people walking and biking.
  3. Improve the north-end intersection with Ballard Way.
  4. Improve the south-end intersection with Emerson and Nickerson Streets.

Mayor Ed Murray has proposed a $930 million transportation levy to replace the city's current levy that expires this year. The "Move Seattle Levy" currently includes funding for a seismic retrofit and maintenance of the Ballard Bridge, as well as a study for a full replacement of the Ballard Bridge. Believing that a full replacement of the bridge, estimated to cost more than $400 million, is unlikely even in the long-term, the Connect Ballard team is asking the Seattle City Council to prioritize the Ballard Bridge funding towards their proposed solution.

Details of Proposal

In addition to the report, the Connect Ballard team and Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board have ccreated a solutions report. Here's a summary of the proposal.

1. Widen the sidewalk

  • Expand the sidewalk from 3.5 feet to 6 feet by:
    • Expanding the sidewalk on each side by one foot to the inside, reducing the outside vehicle lane width to 10 feet. This is the same lane width as across the bascule (middle) portion of the bridge.
    • Expanding the sidewalk on each side by 1.5 feet to the outside by removing the existing railing and attaching a new railing to the outside of the bridge structure.
  • Removing the cages on the bascule portion of the bridge and making access to the stairwells via a hatch door.

2. Reduce risk of injury

  • Reducing the speed limit to 25 mph.
  • Adding flashing speed signs to caution drivers who exceed the speed limit.
  • Making the people bike in one direction on either side of the bridge.
  • Improve the pavement conditions of sidewalk.
  • Installing a higher railing to the inside of the sidewalks. The railing should be designed to reduce conflicts with handlebars and prevent people from falling off their bikes into the roadway.

 

3. Improve the north-end intersection

  • Reducing the current 18-foot wide entrance and exit ramps to 12-feet, and widening the sidewalk.
  • Improve the crossings from the bridge sidewalk at NW Ballard Way by extending the sidewalk and adding green crossbike and white crosswalk paint.

4. Improve the south-end intersection

  • Add a traffic control light and square-up the interchange of 15th Avenue, Nickerson Street and Emerson Street. This would significantly improve the safety of people biking to exit and enter the bridge. In addition, people would be able to use a crosswalk to cross 15th Avenue, greatly improving access to the RapidRide bus stops.
  • Add protected bike lanes on 15th Avenue from the interchange south to Dravus Street, providing a safe and orderly way for people to bike to and from the bridge.
  • Connect the Ship Canal Trail to the Ballard Bridge along the Nickerson Street Underpass. This would save the city as much as $18 million in not having to build a more expensive connection.
  • Remove the Emerson Street Overpass, which has been struck in the past by trucks carrying oversized loads and recently required a $5 million fix.
  • Sell surplus property, which could help finance the proposed improvement.

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Read Connect Ballard's full proposal: "Missed Connection: Ballard Bridge Safety Recommendations."