RBCA continues to advocate for sidewalks on NE 50th Street

In April 2002, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) released a University Area Transportation Study that included:

The recently redeveloped University Village shopping center generates a significant amount of vehicular traffic in close proximity to the Burke-Gilman Trail . . . University Village is surrounded by single-family residential neighborhoods, whose residents are concerned with through traffic and pedestrian safety. Providing safer facilities for each of these transportation modes requires a combination of improvements to the following problem areas:

  • Crossing conflicts between bicyclists/pedestrians and vehicles on the Burke-Gilman Trail at 25th Avenue NE and 30th Avenue NE.
  • Inadequate sidewalks and pedestrian facilities north and east of University Village on . . . NE 50th Street from 30th to 35th Avenues NE.

Why is this relevant today, 15 years later? Because despite mitigation funds from University Village that they requested be used for sidewalks on NE 50th Street, despite two Neighborhood Street Fund applications submitted by RBCA for the project, despite studies conducted by SDOT, and despite ongoing advocacy by RBCA members, the neighborhood is still waiting for sidewalks.

In 2016, SDOT conducted a traffic study and among the findings were that almost 2,000 vehicles use the road per day, which is considered high for a non-arterial street, and that about 50% of drivers on the road exceed the speed limit. This did not come as a surprise to neighbors considering NE 50th Street links the University Village area with the Bryant neighborhood and 35th Avenue NE. Many Bryant community members use the street when walking to businesses and to access the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Most recently, it came to RBCA’s attention that the sidewalk funds from University Village were to be diverted to another SDOT project. Upon learning this, RBCA representatives promptly requested a meeting with SDOT and, in follow-up to that meeting, RBCA sent the following letter.

May 8, 2017                                                               

Ms. Sara Zora

Seattle Department of Transportation

700 Fifth Avenue, Suite 3900

Seattle, WA  98124-4996

 RE: UATAS Project #31 (Sidewalks on NE 50th Street) and Omission in Pedestrian Master Plan

 Dear Ms. Zora,

 Thank you for meeting with our representatives from the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association (RBCA) on May 2. As was discussed, the non-arterial NE 50th Street between 30th Avenue NE and 33rd Avenue NE, just east of University Village (U-Village), does not have a sidewalk and suffers from excessive speed and high vehicular traffic. Over the years, RBCA has been promoting the need for a sidewalk and traffic calming measures on NE 50th Street (project) and has pursued neighborhood grants as well as mitigation funds from University Village and Children’s Hospital for improvements.

 The RBCA has created a partnership with University Village and successfully negotiated mitigation funds from their Master Use Permits (MUPs) to be assigned to NE 50th Street. However, RBCA recently learned that mitigation funds previously identified for this project were going to be reallocated to another project. In addition, RBCA was disappointed to see that the April 2017 Pedestrian Master Plan omits the need for a sidewalk on NE 50th Street.

 The RBCA has long been an advocate for what we are referring to as the NE 50th Street Community Sidewalk Project. This work was originally identified in the 2002 University Area Transportation Study and as Action Strategy Project #31 in the 2008 University Area Transportation Action Strategy Report.

 Attached to this letter is a summary of the timeline of events since 2002. This timeline includes previous SDOT studies, plans, action reports, previous drafts of the pedestrian master plan, and vehicular speed and volume counts. All of these previous documents indicate the need for a sidewalk and traffic calming measures on NE 50th Street. As these documents note, nearby University Village is a growing urban village and NE 50th Street is impacted by this growth. The street is used for school bus stops, a direct pedestrian corridor between Children’s Hospital on the east and University Village to the west, and University of Washington family housing to the east.

 The RBCA strongly recommends that SDOT:

·       Divert back previous mitigation funds to NE 50th Street

·       Make corrections to the Pedestrian Master Plan prior to City Council adoption

·       Allocate additional University Village mitigation funds to this project

 At RBCA, we have been successful in partnering with University Village to secure a great deal of private funding for this project. We are pleased to report that with this partnership we have secured a letter from University Village reaffirming their preference to restore previous mitigation funds and for future mitigation funds to be allocated to this project.

 We appreciate your time in this matter and welcome the opportunity to meet with you or with representatives of SDOT to see to that this project is fully funded, advanced, and corrections made to the Pedestrian Master Plan.

Sincerely,

 Inga Manskopf, President

Ravenna-Bryant Community Association

cc: Councilmember Rob Johnson

From SDOT 2016 Neighborhood Street Fund report on the NE 50th Street Sidewalk project.

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