John Lewis Memorial Bridge

Updated October 8, 2021

 

What’s happening now?

The John Lewis Memorial Bridge is now open!

The John Lewis Memorial Bridge opened on Saturday, October 2! Thank you to everyone that joined us at the grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting event. After years of engagement, planning, and design, and a year and a half of construction, it was great to see the community using the bridge to access transit and make connections across I-5!

At the grand opening event, the community, neighbors, and partners heard comments from Sam Zimbabwe, Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation; Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan; Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff; City of Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez; Sharon Williams, poet and artist; Dr. Chemene Crawford, President of North Seattle College; Former King County Councilmember Larry Gossett; Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-46, North Seattle; Roger Millar, Secretary of Transportation, WSDOT; and Lee Lambert, Executive Director at Cascade Bicycle Club.   


Bridge safety elements

We appreciate your engagement and patience throughout the project, and we hope you enjoy this new connection!

Questions? Contact the project team at NorthgateBridge@seattle.gov

If you need this information translated, please call (206) 905-3620

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Project overview

The Northgate neighborhood is a major residential and employment destination that continues to grow. With Sound Transit's Link light rail station now open, the neighborhood is poised to become one of the region's most active transit hubs.

The John Lewis Memorial Bridge brings together historically divided North Seattle neighborhoods and provides new connections for people walking, rolling, biking, and taking transit. With Link light rail now operating at the Northgate, Roosevelt, and U-District Stations, people walking, biking, and rolling have expanded safe, affordable, and accessible way to options to travel across the region. 

People on bridge

people using bridge

Click here for more photos from the ribbon-cutting event.

Connecting communities on the east and west sides of I-5 in Northgate

We've completed construction on this new, accessible, all ages and abilities pedestrian and bike bridge over Interstate 5 (I-5) in Northgate. The John Lewis Memorial Bridge improves access to communities, services, and opportunities on the east and west sides of I-5 in Northgate and Licton Springs, helping knit together a historically divided area. It also reduces travel time for people walking and biking between the east and west sides of I-5. The bridge helps connect the neighborhood's thriving job and retail centers with the rest of the city and region.

The bridge stretches about 1,900 feet over I-5, landing at North Seattle College on the west side and at 1st Ave NE and NE 100th St, near the Northgate Station, serving Sound Transit's Link light rail station, on the east side.

The project consists of 4 main parts:

  • Bridge spans over I-5
  • Western approach between North Seattle College and wetland area, connecting to College Way N and N 100th St
  • Eastern approach between I-5 and 1st Ave NE at NE 100th St, near the King County Transit Center
  • Multi-use path along 1st Ave NE

The project benefits the area by providing:

  • A new connection over I-5, decreasing travel times for people walking and biking between the 2 sides of the highway
  • Safety improvements and access for people walking and biking throughout the Northgate area
  • Better access to regional transit at the King County Transit Center and Link light rail station, resulting in increased use of transit facilities
  • Improved connections between the Northgate retail center for its employees and customers and for residents and visitors to other nearby amenities, such as parks and medical and social services

Project location

project map

1st Ave NE improvements and features

We installed a new 2-way protected bike lane (PBL) along the west side of 1st Ave NE between NE 92nd St and NE 103rd St (see image below). 

At NE 103rd St, people biking can use the crosswalk to access the east side of the street, where a multi-use path will continue north toward Northgate Way.

1st Ave NE has one vehicle travel lane in each direction with a left turn pocket at NE 100th St. The existing transit center bus stops have been relocated to the east side of 1st Ave NE, between NE 100th and NE 103rd streets. 

North Seattle's growing bike network

The PBL connects with the John Lewis Memorial Bridge at NE 100th St, the existing bike lanes on NE 92nd St, and other community connections in the area. These improvements provide easy access to regional transit and to the citywide network of walking and biking routes.

Protected bike lanes combine the elements of a multi-use path with a conventional bike lane. They provide space for bikes that is separated from vehicles, parking lanes, and sidewalks.


1st ave ne protected bike lane and multi-use path

Cost-saving changes

We formed a new design team in 2016 to help reduce project costs and meet project goals. The team developed a bridge design that includes the following cost-saving changes and design improvements:

Original design (prior to 2017)Revised design (2017 to present)
20-foot-wide walkway on bridge 16-foot-wide walkway on bridge
2,100-foot-long bridge length Shortened bridge length to 1,900 feet
East approach conflicted with WSDOT Park-and-Ride at 1st Ave NE East approach modified as it touches down near 1st Ave NE, simplifying the connection and preserving the WSDOT Park-and-Ride lot
West approach included stairs at the North Seattle College, with limited sight distance West approach modified to improve sight distances and make a more direct connection
Complicated construction approach Standard construction approach to reduce project duration
Tube/truss design (enclosed) More open structure and more graceful bridge transition

Finally, an added benefit of the revised design is enhanced user experience with features such as a wetland wildlife overlook and a view of arriving light rail trains at NE 100th St.

How we incorporated public feedback into the design

Based on community input throughout the project, we addressed some of the following items:

  • Minimized environmental impacts of the bridge by making sure, for example, that the project didn't disturb wildlife during construction and ensured the bridge’s drainage system (for stormwater) is designed to enhance wetlands on the west end
  • Ensured safety and security of all bridge travelers
  • Incorporated wayfinding and traffic control into design
  • Considered the experience of people biking and using other wheeled devices (e.g., scooters, wheelchairs, strollers, rollerblades, suitcases, etc.)
  • Connected the bridge to other infrastructure, including neighborhood bike routes
  • Separated modes of traffic on the bridge

Other topics of interest included the project’s cost, the bridge’s durability, and maintaining vegetation.

We value the community input provided throughout this project. 

Tree mitigation plan

Trees are fundamental to the character of Seattle and to our quality of life. In our rapidly changing climate, Seattle's urban forest is an increasingly important asset, playing a critical role in mitigating climate change impacts, including heat island effects, as well as supporting Seattle's public health, providing habitat for wildlife, creating spaces for exploration and enjoyment, cleaning our air and water, and reducing the quantity of stormwater runoff, further helping water quality. 

As part of the project's tree mitigation plan, we planted 464 trees to replace the 93 trees we removed. The newly planted trees are more suitable for the wetland environment around the bridge. Many of the removed trees have remained on site as part of the project, either in the watercourse to be used as wildlife habitat, or as mulch for the new plantings.

The map below shows the full details. You can click on the map to download a PDF of the plan


Tree Mitigation Plan

Designing for a safer bridge

During each phase (planning, design, and pre-construction) of public outreach, we heard that bridge safety is a priority for all bridge users. The sections below outline how safety is incorporated into all aspects of the bridge's design.

Design and accessibility

Throughout the design process, we used an approach called Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED). This approach is based on the idea that people's behavior within an urban environment is influenced by the design of that environment.

CPTED strategies include things like providing ample lighting to avoid blind spots, maximizing sight distance and visibility (sometimes called "passive surveillance"), and using materials that promote easy maintenance. This strategy also aims to create spaces that give a sense of ownership of public space and a sense of shared responsibility for personal security.

There are several safety elements on the bridge, including:

  • Minimal surface area for vandalism
  • Overhead pedestrian lighting
  • Emergency call boxes 
  • Pedestrian guardrails
  • Lighting on handrails 
  • Throw fences

The City of Seattle strives to make city programs, services, and activities equally accessible to all. Our bridge design complies with 2010 ADA Standards and includes the following features:

  • A bridge slope of 4.3%, except between the Sound Transit mezzanine and the NE 100th St level, which is 8.1%. This section has ADA-compliant handrail grips and 1.8%-slope landings every 30 feet to provide resting places.
  • Elevator access via the Northgate Station Garage, including where the bridge connects to the Northgate Link light rail station, during normal hours of operation.
  • Curb ramps along 1st Ave NE and NE 100th St, where the bridge spur lands.
  • Accessible pedestrian signals at the intersection of 1st Ave NE and NE 100th St, which will offer push-button activation, audible signals, and vibrations to indicate when it's safe to cross the street. 


Bridge safety elements

Materials

All bridge materials and connections went through intensive testing during construction, including the I-5 spans, which underwent rigorous quality assurance testing during fabrication, assembly, and installation. The trusses of our bridge are made of steel, a proven and reliable material for hundreds of thousands of bridges across the nation.


Life expectancy

Our bridge meets the 75-year design life expectancy criteria consistent with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) design codes. Not only does our design meet this standard, but it's also expected to exceed a lifespan of more than 100 years with routine maintenance during its service life. 


Environmental 

We selected vegetation and greenery around the bridge with safety in mind. Creating park-like qualities on the trails and spaces near the bridge provide a comfortable and enjoyable atmosphere and a "sense of place" for all users. Examples of this can be seen on the west side with a wildlife overlook, and on the east side where a "gallery forest," or screen of tall and narrow trees, is installed between the bridge and the freeway. It provides relief from views of the freeway and filters air quality.

Additional environmental features include:

  • Planting low-growing shrubs and bushes around the bridge
  • Trimming, thinning, or removing existing trees and undergrowth created open sight lines
  • Carefully designed plantings on the west side of the bridge so that pedestrians on the landing have a clearer view of North Seattle College (NSC), and those on the NSC playing field and in the parking lot can see bridge users approaching  

 

Funding

Funding was secured from various sources, including SDOT, Sound Transit, Washington state, and additional local funds. This project was supported by the 9-year Levy to Move Seattle, which was approved by voters in 2015.

Outreach events

DateEvents
October 2, 2021 Grand opening ribbon-cutting celebration
February 5, 2020 Groundbreaking
January 9, 2020 Construction drop-in session at Olympic View Elementary
January 8, 2020 Construction drop-in session at Aljoya Thornton Place
January 7, 2020 Construction drop-in session at North Seattle College
September 28, 2019 Live in D5
September 25, 2019 North Seattle College Fall Fest
September 3, 2019 Olympic View Ice Cream Social
July 17, 2019 Maple Leaf Summer Social
July 13, 2019 Live in D5
April 24, 2019 North Seattle College Fair
October 24, 2018 Maple Leaf Community Council
July 19, 2018 Thornton Creek Alliance
July 18, 2018 Maple Leaf Summer Social
June 30, 2018 Live in D5!
May 11, 2018 North Seattle College Board of Trustees meeting
April 18, 2018 North Seattle College Earth Fair
April 18, 2018 North Seattle College Earth Fair
March 21, 2018 Drop-in session at Neighborcare Health at Meridian
March 20, 2018 Drop-in session at Aljoya Thornton Place
March 19, 2018 Drop-in session at North Seattle College
February 8, 2018 Sierra Club
November 28, 2017 North Seattle College campus meeting
November 2, 2017 Haller Lake Community Club
August 13, 2017 Idriss Mosque BBQ
August 9, 2017 Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board Walking Tour
August 3, 2017 Public open house
July 26, 2017 Maple Leaf Summer Social
July 22, 2017 Live in D5!
June 30, 2017 Department of Neighborhoods Community Conversation Meridian Manor
June 14, 2017 Maple Leaf Community Council
June 14, 2017 Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board
June 7, 2017 Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board
May 18, 2017 Seattle Design Commission
May 6 King County Metro
Transit Oriented Development public meeting
April 29, 2017 Housing Affordability and Livability community open house (sponsored by Dept. of Neighborhoods)
June 22, 2016 North District Council
May 25, 2016 Feet First
May 18, 2016 Licton Springs Community Council
May 17, 2016 Victory Heights Community Council
May 16, 2016 North Seattle College (Campus meeting)
May 5, 2016 North Seattle College (students)
October 15, 2015 Public open house
September 17, 2015 Seattle Design Commission briefing
August 18, 2015 Seattle Design Commission subcommittee meeting
July 29, 2015 Maple Leaf Summer Social
July 15, 2015 North Seattle Chamber of Commerce
June 17, 2015 Licton Springs Community Council
June 17, 2015 Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board
June 24, 2015 Pinehurst Community Council
May 27, 2015 Northwest District Council Briefing
May 26, 2015 Cascade Bicycle Club: Connect Northgate
May 22, 2015 Seattle Neighborhood Expo
May 12, 2015 Meadowbrook Community Council
May 2015 Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board
April 29, 2015 Maple Leaf Community Council
April 22, 2015 North Seattle College Earth Day Symposium
October 21, 2014 North Seattle College
September 10, 2014 Public briefing
June 3, 2014 Open house
March 2014 Sound Transit open house
February 2014 Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board
February 2014 Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board

Materials

January 2020

December 2019

Environmental Review

August 2018

April 2018

March 2018

February 2018 - Project information folio

December 2017 - Email update

November 2017

October 2017 - Email update

August 2017

July 2017Email update

June 2017

April 2017Project fact sheet

Previous Design Materials:

October 2015

September 2015Seattle Design Commission presentation

June 2015 – 2015 TIGER Grant application

July 2015 – Project factsheet

November 2014 - Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge: Alternative Development and Selection report

October 2014Presentation

September 2014Presentation

August 2014Presentation

June 2014

April 2014TIGER Grant application  (Not selected. TIGER Grant is a highly competitive federal funding source)

April 2014 - Project fact sheet

February 2014 - Presentation

Background Resources