Bring back the sidewalk on west side of Harvard Ave. E. that I-5 swallowed up

For many decades there was a sidewalk on the west side of Harvard Avenue E., north from where it intersects with Lakeview Blvd. and E. Howe St. But when Interstate was constructed in 1962, the state and city governments did not put the sidewalk back. So now, the only sidewalk on Harvard Avenue E. is on its east side. Unfortunately, for the southernmost 300 feet of Harvard Avenue E. (just north of the Lakeview intersection), the sidewalk is steeply elevated above the street (hence not within reach for those in the street); and it ends to the south with stairs that are impassable for wheelchairs, strollers, and anyone with mobility challenges. See the photos below.

harvard-ave-e-missing-sidewalk-facing-north-from-lakeview-blvd-and-e-howe-st.jpg

In the photo above, facing north up Harvard Avenue East, note the steps at the south end of the “sidewalk” on the street’s right (east) side, and the missing sidewalk on its left (west) side

harvard-avenue-e-looking-south-with-missing-sidewalk-on-west.jpg
In the photo above, facing south down Harvard Avenue East, note the absence of a sidewalk on the right (west) side, and the inability of pedestrians in the street to reach the sidewalk on the left (east) side.

There’s plenty of room to bring back the sidewalk on the west side of Harvard Avenue E., and its return is badly needed. Not to do so is terribly unsafe and unfair. Anyone with a wheelchair, a stroller, or just with mobility challenges cannot use the stairs at the sidewalk’s south end steps and hence must walk in the street. And others who would like to get to the sidewalk from Harvard Avenue E. just can’t because its southernmost 300 feet are steeply elevated above the street.

Before I-5 was built, the sidewalk that was on the west side of Harvard Avenue E. (unlike the one that remains on the east side) was level with the street (not elevated) and it had no stairs to block wheelchairs or strollers. But this west sidewalk isn’t there any more—and it’s time to bring it back!

This project is now (spring 2019) being considered for funding in the City of Seattle’s “Your Voice, Your Choice Parks and Streets” participatory budget process. As there is a $90,000 limit on the cost of each project, the initial stretch of sidewalk (perhaps 50 to 100 feet) would be at the far south end of Harvard Avenue East where it intersects with Lakeview Blvd. This segment of sidewalk is most urgently needed because at this point the pedestrian route on the other (east) side of Harvard Avenue E. is not a sidewalk but rather a set of stairs that are impassable to wheelchairs, strollers, and to anyone with mobility difficulties. Without the proposed sidewalk, the only alternative is to walk in the roadway directly in the path of oncoming motor vehicles in both directions.

As the next highest priority, It is hoped that additional sources of funding will continue the new Harvard Avenue E. sidewalk north about 300 feet from the Lakeview Blvd. intersection to a point where pedestrians can, if they wish, cross back to the east side of Harvard Ave. E. where the sidewalk is again at street level. As a final priority, the sidewalk on the west side of Harvard Avenue E. should be put back for the full five blocks it used to run north to E. Miller St.—now a spectacular viewing area over I-5 out to Lake Union, Elliott Bay, the Olympic Mountains, and unmatchable sunsets. For events like the July 4 fireworks, hundreds of people come from all over the region to enjoy this viewpoint, but currently must stand in the street because there is no sidewalk.

Please help! Get your friends and neighbors to sign the petition (click here for a copy), and please write to the Mayor, City Council, and Seattle Department of Transportation. Please also cc the Eastlake Community Council at info@eastlakeseattle.org. For a one-page flier with much of the above information about the project proposal, click here).

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