As work got underway this month to make it safer for pedestrians to cross Broadway into the new light rail station when it opens in 2016, a crucial part of the street got more dangerous for bicyclists.
On January 13 Sound Transit contractors began tunneling under Broadway at Denny to build a pedestrian concourse connecting a light rail entrance on the west side of the street to the Capitol Hill Station. In order to do the work, contractors had to shut down one southbound lane of Broadway, now walled off by large concrete barriers, and scrub out the bikeway between Denny and Howell.
Seattle Department of Transportation’s Ethan Melone told CHS that despite the headaches, this has been part of the plan all along “We knew Sound Transit was coming,” he said. “If we waited to open it, [the bikeway] would be completed, but not accessible, which would be frustrating.”If you’re turning south onto Broadway from Denny, the detour takes you onto the sidewalk along the “big red wall” until you can meet back up with the Broadway bikeway near Bonney-Watson Funeral Home. Should you take the left turn into the partially scrubbed out cycle track, you’ll find yourself playing chicken with oncoming traffic.
Worse, if you turn right, you’ll encounter the extremely dangerous streetcar tracks the bikeway was intended to help riders avoid.
And for riders coming north up the Broadway bikeway, they must merge into quickly narrowing traffic.
After only a couple minutes of observation, we witnessed one cyclist make a treacherous right turn from Denny directly on to Broadway. By not crossing the street, this turn now means taking the lane or somehow threading an impossibly narrow space between car and concrete barrier.
The mess at Broadway and Denny is scheduled to last throughout 2014. The first phase of construction will require the west side of Broadway to remain closed through July. The east side of Broadway will close during the second half of the year. Part of Denny Way will also be closed through July.
The construction will also impact early ridership numbers that SDOT is tracking. Melone told CHS the first set of data will be released sometime next month.
As cyclists roll with the headaches, it’s worth remembering why: an unprecedented public transportation project in Capitol Hill and a mile-long stretch of protected bike path coming in the not too distant future. It’s also worth remembering there’s an excellent restaurant that’s having to bear a big burden during this transformative year.