Transit and Neighborhood Street Funds discussed at Ballard District Council meeting

Last night’s Ballard District Council meeting covered several topics, including transit, land use, and applications for the next round of the Neighborhood Street Fund. City Councilmember and Chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability Commiteee Richard Conlin took the stage first, discussing how Ballard has been affected by the recent transit change and introduction of RapidRide. “I’ve been hearing some concerns about the way RapidRide is working,” Conlin said, which brought some chuckles from the audience. “We had a lot of hope for RapidRide, we thought it was going to do some major things, and we need to solve those problems, because it needs to be something that works.”

Alyssa Smith with Friends of Kirke Park, presenting their application for a Neighborhood Street Fund grant

Conlin spoke about how Ballard’s increasing growth means it will be looked at as a high priority neighborhood when it comes to transit changes in the future. Along those lines, he mentioned Sound Transit’s plans to look at connecting Ballard to the light rail downtown.

“Land use and transportation need to be integrated. You can’t deal with them separately. We need to have a transportation system that works and provides people with options and choices.” Conlin said Sound Transit 3, which includes the Ballard to downtown corridor, could be accelerated to 2016, which means it could be up for a vote in the, “not too distant future.” One big challenge Conlin mentioned was how the high-capacity transit system, whatever it may be, would cross the ship canal.

The Neighborhood Street Fund proposals were next on the docket, and several different applications were presented. A group of about three families brought forward their application for sidewalks to be installed in Crown Hill, saying their neighborhood is full of open culverts where sidewalks should be. Another application is for a pedestrian signal across Holman Road at 13th Ave NW near the new Crown Hill Park, under the overpass.

Friends of Kirke Park presented their application for developing a one-lane yield street in front of the park to slow down traffic, and develop a rain garden to manage storm water. The next application was for improving the five-way intersection on 3rd Ave NW and NW 56th St. near West Woodland Elementary School.

The Shilshole Gateway was the next project proposal, which includes connecting Sunset Hill to Shilshole along NW 38th St, 61st Ave NW and NW 36th St. They hope to better develop crosswalks to make the gateway more accessible, and to install better sidewalks to connect the area with the Burke-Gilman Trail.

The last application presented was for a crosswalk at 14th Ave NW and NW 62nd St. The East Ballard Community Association has gathered 70 signatures for the project, and say the gap is important to help nearby students to get to St. Alphonsus and Ballard High School. They hope to install curb bulbs and striping, to make the crossing look more like the one at NW 58th St.

The Neighborhood Street Fund applications will be voted on at the next Ballard District Council meeting on January 9.

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