With the recent media coverage of the Ballard Bridge, in particular the safety concerns about the pedestrian walkways, we thought it was time to take a look back at more photos of the bridge during its early days.
The photo below, taken in April 1917, shows the north view from the underside of the first wooden Ballard bridge during construction.
The photo below shows the Ballard Bridge opening for a boat in March 1918.
The photo below, date taken unknown, shows a panoramic view of Ballard as seen from Queen Anne Hill, showing the first wooden Ballard Bridge.
The photo below features Maud Reid Adams standing on the Ballard Bridge in 1920.
The photo below shows the “new” Ballard Bridge during the opening day ceremonies in June 1940. The first Ballard Bridge opened in 1917, however, by 1940 the old wooden bridge was considered unsafe to cope with the increased traffic and was replaced by a newer, higher span.
Haley Woods, who is a co-owner of Peddler Brewing in Ballard, has sent a “video letter” to city leaders about the dangers faced by bikers and pedestrians on the Ballard Bridge.
Woods’ video comprises of information and visual demonstrations of the dangers faced by locals who choose to utilize the bridge as pedestrians. She documents a number of safety issues including:
The narrow sidewalk (39 inches wide) and the small cement barrier with traffic (10.5 inches high).
The dangers of walking with a child next to the small barrier.
The difficulty of passing others while walking, on bikes and with a stroller.
The limited space for wheelchairs.
The lack of safety for bikers trying to merge into southbound traffic after travelling over the bridge.
During the video, Woods speaks about her own fears about biking across the bridge. After strong winds bumped her bike bag into a concrete post on the sidewall of the bridge, she was pushed over the small barrier and into the traffic lane.
“Luckily no cars were coming and I was able to get myself out of the lane before being hit,” says Woods in the video.
Woods presents multiple pieces of evidence in her video pointing to SDOT guidelines which mandate that sidewalks must be at least 5 feet wide. Check out some excerpts from SDOT’s website below:
Sidewalk width: Sidewalks shall be a minimum of 6 feet of unobstructed, linear sidewalk space that is free of street furniture, street trees, planters, and other vertical elements such as poles, fire hydrants and street furniture. Point obstructions such as poles and fire hydrants may encroach into the sidewalk area, but the sidewalk must have 5 feet clear width remaining.
Setback: A three foot distance between vertical objects on the sidewalk and travel lanes in the roadway is required to minimize conflicts with vehicle activity. Relocation of existing utilities may be required to meet clearance requirements.
Woods also questions the safety of the hundreds of new residents set to move to Ballard over the next few years, some of whom will utilize the Ballard Bridge sidewalk. “What happens when all of those new residents in your urban plan move to Ballard?” asks Woods in the video.
Check out the complete video below:
“Now it’s your turn to get involved! Share you Ballard Bridge story and why you think the sidewalk should be improved,” says Woods.
Click here to access contact details for Mayor Murray and other city officials. (Once the link takes you to YouTube click on the “show more” tab under the video to access the contact details.)
The light poles and lights on the north and south ends of the Ballard Bridge will soon be upgraded, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle City Light (SCL). SDOT, who owns the bridge, plans to take down the existing poles and install new pole foundations in preparation for the new poles and lights to be installed.
The work was started during the recent bridge painting project, but more work is needed to finish. So, starting next Monday, June 25, and the following week of July 2, SDOT will close the southbound right curb lane from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day while they install the new light poles. Then, SCL crews will install and turn on the new light fixtures.
The week of July 9, SDOT expects to move to the east side of the bridge and close the right lane northbound from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, in order to remove the old lighting and install new pole bases and poles in preparation for SCL to install the new lighting.
Sidewalks will remain open during the work, and the project should be finished by August.
For the last two weekends, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has closed the Ballard Bridge at night, working to paint the areas of the bridge not accessible when the spans are in the down position. They took advantage of good weather last weekend and finished that part of the project ahead of schedule. Crews plan to finish the west side (southbound lane) today, ending the lane and sidewalk closures on that side. However, they plan to resume work on the northbound lane.
SDOT says they plan to again close the northbound lane in order to finish the east side painting. Beginning April 30, they will start closing one northbound lane, but will leave it open between 3 and 8 p.m. for the afternoon/evening commute. SDOT notes that the timing of the sidewalk closures is not tied to the lane closures, and the contractor can close the sidewalks at any time except during the evening commute mentioned before. They add that sidewalks will be open throughout the weekend unless the contractor chooses to work over the weekend.
The painting project is expected to be complete by the end of May.
Update: SDOT has revised the bridge closure details with the following information: “The full bridge closures will be from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturdays, April 14, 21 and 28 and from midnight on the same Saturdays through 6 a.m. Sunday morning, April 15, 22, and 29.”
Earlier: Starting this weekend, the Ballard Bridge will be closed overnight so crews can paint areas of the bridge not accessible when the spans are in the down position. The bridge will be closed the next three weekends at night, from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturdays, April 14, 21 and 28. It will be closed from midnight each Sunday, April 15, 22, and 29, through 6 a.m. the following Monday mornings. The work is weather dependent, and will be rescheduled in the event of rain, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
SDOT says the bridge painting should be done by the end of May. The west side should be completed by the end of April, which will end the southbound lane and west sidewalk closures. They say there will be additional northbound lane and east sidewalk closures in May, but not during the afternoon commute between 3 and 8 p.m. Again, SDOT reminds that the timing of sidewalk closures is not tied to lane closures and the contractor may close the sidewalks at any time except during the peak commutes for that side of the bridge.