• Wider sidewalks considered to make Ballard Bridge safer

    By: David Ham


    SEATTLE - The Seattle Department of Transportation just released a study that says options to make the Ballard Bridge safer for bicyclists and pedestrians could include wider sidewalks.

    "It's absolutely long overdue I think there are many cyclists pushing for it, many pedestrians," said Haley Woods, who said she's had a few close calls on the bridge over the years.

    "I fell over this foot-tall barrier into the lane of traffic. The first thing I could think of was, get off the road. get out of here," said Woods.

    For decades, pedestrians and bicyclists have shared sidewalks on each side of the bridge about 3.5 feet wide.

    "It's really impossible for two bikes to pass across each other going opposite directions," said Woods.

    SDOT's study lays out several options.

    The first two, propose expanding the sidewalk anywhere from 4 to 10 feet. The platforms would be expanded outside of the bridge, changing some of the structure.

    "Widening the sidewalk I don’t know if it's really the best idea," said Daniel Norris, who lives in Ballard.

    Those options could cost up to $47.8 million.

    Another option proposed is to create a higher barrier between traffic and the sidewalk. That option is estimated to cost about $3.2 million.

    Instead of altering the bridge, SDOT may also consider creating an underpass trail that could cost $17.9 million.

    Norris doesn't believe the city should alter the structure of the bridge.

    His concern is that vehicle traffic will be impacted.

    "I do not bike on it. I do drive my Mini Cooper which is already a small car. And when I drive next to trucks I try to stay away from them. Due to the fact how narrow the bridge is," said Norris.

    The study says that widening the sidewalks could create up to a year of traffic detours around the bridge.

    "It's just something we have to deal with as citizens wanting to develop a safer and better city," said Woods.

    "Way more commuters relying on that bridge, In and out on a daily basis than bicyclists," said Derek Brown, who lives in Ballard.

    An SDOT spokeswoman said that if the sidewalks are widened, the roadway will not be narrowed.


    "We will assess the options and costs for a new crossing later this year and early next year. Those findings, along with the ones in this study will be shared with the mayor, council and stakeholders, who can then determine how an improved or new crossing should be prioritized against other priorities for future funding," said Marybeth Turner, SDOT spokeswoman.

    SDOT posted a link to the study here. http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/BallardWideningFinalSubmittal.pdf

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