Residents prefer shortest bridge option

By Sara Bruestle | Jan 30, 2013

Of the possible locations identified for a footbridge from Old Town to the waterfront, public comments show that most prefer if it were next to the existing SR-525 bridge.

The city is studying building a footbridge to improve pedestrian safety and access to the waterfront. It is looking at three crossing alternatives: SR-525, Park Avenue and Loveland Avenue.

About 35 residents and business owners discussed at an open house on Jan. 12 the pros and cons of each option. Two of the attendees were non-residents.

Nearly all of the comments as of Monday show a preference for the SR-525 option because it allows for the shortest bridge, is the least expensive, has the best connection to the core of the waterfront, and doesn’t impact views as much as the other locations.

Their concerns with the Park Avenue and Loveland Avenue options included obstructed views and unauthorized commuter parking on nearby streets.

Many residents wondered if it would be better to expand the path on the existing bridge than to built another one parallel to it.

Staff agrees expanding the bridge would be ideal, but said the city could be playing a long waiting game before it happens: While the state recognizes that the bridge needs to be upgraded, there are no set plans to replace it nor rehabilitate it.

Although pedestrians use the SR-525 bridge every day to get to the waterfront, access isn’t particularly safe, said Heather McCartney, the city’s community development director.

BNSF doesn’t allow anyone to cross the tracks, making pedestrians and bicyclists alike go across a walkway on the existing bridge that is less than 3 feet wide. Many step off the narrow path into traffic to let others pass. McCartney said a footbridge will help alleviate those issues.

The bridge could cost up to $2.5 million, depending on location and design, McCartney said. She said it could be built as soon as 2014, if the city gets several grants to help pay for it.

Staff shared public comments with the council on Jan. 28.

Many on the Mukilteo City Council have expressed concerns of their own, including whether building an expensive bridge to the waterfront would be justified. What they fear is that it would create more issues than it solves.

“If we are going to spend money, I would like to spend it in places that are going to address the problems,” Council President Randy Lord said. “If all we’re going to do is put a bride next to 525, we have to have unmet needs not served by the bridge 5 feet to the left of it.”

All of the alternatives connect the downtown business district with the Sounder Station, ferry terminal and a future parking garage either at grade or via an elevated structure.

The pedestrian overpass would consist of a 10-foot-wide shared-use path that crosses the BNSF railroad tracks and Mukilteo Lane.

“One of my concerns has been access to the waterfront,” said Councilmember Richard Emery said. “If this bridge would facilitate that, then I think it has some value, but some of these options presented really didn’t facilitate that.

“We have a really great park, people like to come to it,” he said. “It would be great if we can find a way to get to it without having to drive.”

A bridge at SR-525 would cross the BSNF tracks just east of the existing bridge and continue over or adjacent to a future turn-around that is part of ferry terminal relocation plans. The total length of the overpass would be about 280 feet.

With the Park Avenue option, the bridge would start between Second Street and Third Street, continue across the BNSF tracks and then turn east toward the future Sound Transit Station. The length of the overpass would be about 1,150 feet, just under a quarter mile.

At the Loveland Avenue location, the bridge would start near Second Street and continue north across the BNSF tracks. It would then turn east and connect to the second level of the future Sound Transit Station. The length of the overpass would be about 620 feet.

Resident Vickie Roberts, who lives at the corner of Second and Loveland, said she has a lot of concerns with putting a pedestrian bridge in her neighborhood, including parking, safety, lighting and maintenance.

“This is a lot of money to support that,” Roberts said. “I think money could be used in a different way to enhance access.”

The city hired ABKJ Consulting Civil and Structural Engineers of Seattle for $35,000 to study the three crossing alternatives.

The feasibility study is scheduled to be completed by April or May before a state grant for $1 million will be made available in July, McCartney said. The bridge is No. 4 on the Legislature’s priority list, she said.

A second open house is scheduled for Feb. 21. The council is scheduled to select a preferred alternative in a meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m. Monday, March 4.

Get involved with the feasibility study: Learn more about this project or comment on the alternatives online by going to http://www.ci.mukilteo.wa.us.

Or go to City Hall at 11930 Cyrus Way in Mukilteo or contact Patricia Love at 425-263-8041 or plove@ci.mukilteo.wa.us for more information. Comment cards are available.

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