Every year the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) takes on the necessary task of keeping our busy streets in good repair by repaving and restriping them. In 2013, for example, SDOT completed a technically excellent job of repaving and updating two miles of N/NW 85th St. from Greenwood to I-5 through a dense residential and commercial corridor at a cost of about $12 million. N/NW 85th St. now moves car and bus traffic more efficiently and we’ve protected the roadway of a heavily used corridor by doing needed maintenance.
The newly formed Licton Springs/Haller Lake Greenways group, that recently received a prestigious National Parks Service Rivers Trails & Conservation Assistance Award, takes issue with how tax dollars were spent on N/NW 85th, which remains a fast-moving, vehicle-centric corridor that is difficult for people walking and biking to navigate.
With a large new school opening soon [Wilson Pacific] and North Seattle College, what we need is to create safer crossings, including at least one additional signaled crossing (with turning movements restricted) in conjunction with a new greenway that extends from the schools, across 85th and to the south.
SDOT didn’t do just a paving overlay, in most places they removed the old paving down to the base course and in many places took it down much further and put in a new base course, sometimes clear to subgrade. They did utility drainage, sewer & water system work, put in new curbs, replaced asphalt with new concrete panels in many high-weight bus areas and the road was closed in sections for many months. Incidentally, the project was not just an SDOT project, and significant costs also appear in Seattle Public Utilities & City Light budgets in addition to the SDOT budget.
There’s absolutely no excuse for such major work not to be planned and constructed with ALL the public needs evaluated and to plan for as many of those needs as possible, including for the needs of people walking and biking. To do otherwise is horribly short-sighted and will result in SDOT chasing its tail ad infinitum. It’s a lot less expensive to do the work at one time rather than building it then coming back to tear it up to rebuild it.” Lee Bruch, Licton Springs/Haller Lake Greenways leader
Which brings us back to the Roosevelt Way NE Arterial Repaving Project slated for 2015. Thanks to the focused advocacy work and petition from University Greenways, what would have been simply another generic repaving project now includes safety improvements for people who walk and bike.
The great news is that a new temporary protected bike lane will be installed in December or January “to make the area safer and more predictable for all road users” between NE 45th and NE 40th streets.
The bad news is that these safety improvements are not funded to continue past NE 45th. While Roosevelt is currently a highly used street for walking and biking (even with bike lanes in the door zone), walking and biking and crossing the street will grow exponentially in this corridor with the current boom in residential construction and the Light Rail Stations opening on 45th and 65th in 2021.
Rather than retrofitting Roosevelt Way NE for this additional walking and biking traffic, let’s use this repaving project to complete the street now.