Lakeview Blvd.’s missing sidewalk — a hazard and barrier to pedestrians

The E. Blaine and E. Howe Street public staircases, just one block apart, are among the longest and most heavily used in Seattle. Unfortunately, at their lower end (on the east side of Lakeview Blvd.) there is no sidewalk to connect these staircases. (See photo below.) Its absence is a risk and barrier for the many pedestrians from throughout Seattle who use this area for commuting, exercise, sight-seeing, or to reach homes, businesses, or parks.

Lakeview Blvd. is a principal arterial and a major walking and bicycling route to downtown via Melrose Avenue or the Lakeview overpass and to the University District via either Eastlake Ave. or Harvard and 10th Aves. It offers access to points north, south, east, and west. Yet for this key block, the sidewalk is missing.

The sidewalk is especially needed by the thousands each week who use the E. Blaine and E. Howe Street public staircases that extend east from Lakeview Blvd. up Capitol Hill to 10th Avenue East, and west to Lake Union via the Park Department’s Howe St. public staircase through the I-5 Colonnade Open Space. Many enjoy these stairs as an exercise circuit.

To traverse the east side of this block of Lakeview Blvd., pedestrians must either walk alongside moving traffic in the roadway’s east side, or make two crossings of Lakeview to use the sidewalk on its west side. Either way, they encounter fast-moving arterial traffic, including from the I-5 northbound off-ramp. It’s one of the City’s worse sidewalk gaps, and a tragedy waiting to happen.

SDOT has studied installing 340 feet of 6-foot sidewalk, concrete curb and gutter (planting strips would be omitted in order to minimize costs). With or without the proposed sidewalk, a retaining wall is likely needed, as the hillside has already slumped across the curb into the roadway, forcing pedestrians further into the street. A sidewalk without a retaining wall is unlikely to be sustainable either for landslide safety, for pedestrian safety, or for preserving on-street parking near the steps and Colonnade. And as sliding threatens Lakeview traffic, not just pedestrians, the cost of the needed retaining wall should largely come from SDOT’s main budget.

SDOT’s Neighborhood Street Fund (application deadline: April 2019] is the best source to fund Lakeview’s missing sidewalk. For information on the fund, click here. It is urgent to build support. Please volunteer to help with this effort. Among of the needs: collect signatures and e-mails from users of the Blaine and Howe Street staircases; create a Facebook page on the issue; organize press events. For questions or to get involved in this effort, contact the Eastlake Community Council at info@eastlakeseattle.org (206-322-5463). ECC is a neighborhood association founded in 1971.

site-of-proposed-retaining-wall-and-sidewalk.jpg
In the photo above, we are looking north on Lakeview Blvd. The Blaine Street stairs are at right with the block of missing sidewalk also at right. The Howe Street stairs come down to Lakeview Blvd. at the next utility pole to the north.

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