Two years after Sound Transit construction closed a short walking and biking connection to the 1st Ave NE/N 117th Street bridge over I-5, the agency has opened its replacement.
The new trail connection is short, but it is a significant improvement for people trying to access the only somewhat bike-friendly crossing of I-5 in a 3-mile stretch between the John Lewis Memorial Bridge and NE 155th Street in Shoreline. I say “somewhat bike-friendly” because the 1st Ave NE bridge doesn’t have bike lanes, but it is lower-traffic than the closest alternatives: NE Northgate Way and NE 130th Street. I-5 crossings are so rare that every possible walking and biking option is precious. The Seattle Bicycle Master Plan does call for protected bike lanes on the bridge, but they are not yet funded.
The new trail is not a copy of the previous one. It connects to NE 115th Street, a block south of the old trail which is now buried beneath light rail tracks. From 115th, the connection travels south a block before passing under the new tracks and connecting to 1st Ave NE. It does not connect to any major citywide or regional bike routes, but it is a huge improvement for people who live or work nearby.