Accessible Mt. Baker Pedestrian Improvements
Since 2015, community organizations in Mt. Baker have worked with the Department of Transportation to improve traffic for everyone.
December 22, 2019
Hub Alliance Board
At our Annual Meeting, SDOT staff and consultants came to show the Hub Board and community members the options for pedestrian improvements. These improvements will be built with funds set aside for Accessible Mt. Baker in the Move Seattle Levy. Accessible Mt. Baker is an ambitious plan to reshape the Martin Luther King Jr Way and Rainier Ave S intersection, one of the most dangerous intersections in the city. It would separate these two major arterials, creating a bow-tie instead. This ten-year levy ends in 2024, so all projects funded through it will be finished by then. Having a guaranteed timeline is a big step forward for Accessible Mt. Baker, which has been languishing for years without funding. While these pedestrian and bicycle improvements do not reach the scope of the full Accessible Mt. Baker Plan, we believe that some improvements are better than no improvements! Throughout the process this year, the Hub Alliance board has reestablished our commitment to the full AMB plan, and we will continue to fight for it.
SDOT has reengaged with this project since June, and this fall conducted a survey to find out which pedestrian improvements the community wants to see by 2024.
With these near-term pedestrian improvement options, the Hub Alliance is especially excited about opportunities to improve safe connections to the Link Light Rail Station for our Franklin High School students. We know that these students are often the most at risk at this intersection, as they tend to walk in large groups on narrow sidewalks, cross at unsafe times, and many do not utilize the pedestrian bridge. Option 2 would remove the right-hand turn lane from Rainier Ave headed north, allowing for the sidewalk in front of Franklin High School’s field to be widened and improving safety for pedestrians at that crossing. This could be integrated with a new protected bike lane on MLK Jr. Way, which will run north from Rainier to I-90, by connecting it to Mt. Baker Blvd. Option 4 also proposes converting part of Mt. Baker Blvd into a bike and pedestrian street. Finally, we are strongly advocating for Option 7, which would add a crosswalk on the south side of the intersection, under the pedestrian bridge. This would require new stop lights before the bridge, allowing for increased visibility and less traffic pressure on pedestrians. All of these options are big steps toward the full Accessible Mt. Baker plan.
In addition, we are excited about Option 6, which would create new public art on the pedestrian bridge. However, we believe that this is a project that the Hub Alliance could do with a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant and the support of the community. The example shown, Vicky Scuri’s “Bright Dawn,” is located in Aurora and was funded through a Matching Fun Grant. We have expressed our commitment to seeing these artistic improvements happen to SDOT, and intend to apply for that grant in 2020, to be completed in 2021. Overall, we are thrilled by the renewed focus that SDOT has given to our projects and are hopeful to see these improvements sooner rather than later!