Bridge opening aligns with the start of Sound Transit's Link light rail service at Northgate Station
Seattle (October 2, 2021) – Today the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) opened the John Lewis Memorial Bridge (Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge) to people who walk, roll, bike and take transit. The bridge improves access to communities, services, and opportunities on the east and west sides of Interstate 5 (I-5) in Northgate and Licton Springs, helping knit together a historically divided community. The bridge:
· Decreases travel times for people walking, biking, and rolling between the two sides of I-5.
· Improves access to regional transit at the King County Transit Center and Sound Transit’s new Link light rail station.
· Includes safety improvements and accessibility improvements for people walking and biking throughout the Northgate area.
· Provides a direct connection between North Seattle College and the light rail station to make educational opportunities more accessible.
· Finalizes a part of our larger effort to build a network of Stay Healthy Streets and Neighborhood Greenways that give thousands of people safe, accessible, clearly-signed ways from Crown Hill, Greenwood, Phinney Ridge, Licton Springs, and Northgate to light rail.
The new bridge spans roughly 1,900 feet long over I-5, landing at North Seattle College on the west side and at 1st Ave NE and NE 100th St, near the new Northgate Link light rail station, on the east side (Link to b-roll folder of bridge construction). When constructing the bridge, SDOT kept safety, the environment and accessibility on top of mind with features and improvements such as:
· A design that complies with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Standards and nearby intersections with features such as curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals.
· Safety features like overhead pedestrian lighting, emergency call boxes, and lighting on handrails.
· A new 2-way protected bike lane connecting the new bridge at NE 100th St, the existing bike lanes on NE 92nd St, the Aurora-Licton Springs Stay Healthy Street and other community connections in the area.
· Planting over 450 new trees, five times as many as were removed to make room for bridge construction.
Councilmember Debora Juarez (District 5) led the efforts in naming the bridge after U.S. Representative John Lewis to increase Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) representation in North Seattle. Across Seattle, BIPOC community members and leaders are underrepresented in the names of significant city infrastructure such as streets, bridges, and community centers. (Check out our blog post to learn more about U.S. Representative John Lewis.)
Representative Lewis led civil rights activists in a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, when they were attacked by state troopers attempting to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The violent attacks were recorded and disseminated throughout the country, and the images proved too powerful to ignore. "Bloody Sunday," as the day was labeled, sped up the passage of the 1965's Voting Rights Act. Once elected, Representative Lewis was known as the “conscience of the congress.”
The opening of the John Lewis Memorial Bridge is timely as the U.S. Congress considers the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and in light of attacks across the nation to limit the ability for some groups of people to express their constitutional right to vote.
The John Lewis Memorial Bridge was made possible by the voter-approved Levy to Move Seattle, Sound Transit, Washington State Department of Transportation, and North Seattle College.
“The John Lewis Memorial Bridge is one part of a comprehensive plan to build a community network that meets the diverse needs of our growing communities. Through the bridge and the new Northgate Link light rail station, we are making it easier to access the thriving hub of educational opportunities at North Seattle College, new housing, medical and social services, and the newly opened Seattle Kraken Community Iceplex.” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan
“This bridge was built on a foundation with one goal in mind: bringing people together. This new infrastructure will transform much more than commutes- it will transform the lives of North Seattle College students heading to class, families visiting the Kraken Iceplex, and seniors who cannot drive but still want to move about the city. Today we welcome a new era of prosperity for the North End with a commitment to livability, equity, and vitality.
The John Lewis Memorial bridge is a celebration of his life. Representative Lewis spent three decades building bridges, working across the aisle with folks with whom he shared fundamentally different beliefs while never losing sight of his life's mission - civil rights for all. Lewis taught a nation where real courage comes from, leading with light, not darkness and division.
When we name something, we are showing the truth of our history. Lewis represented the greatest of our city's values, and with this bridge, we instill those values in the next generation of those walking, biking, and rolling across. Lewis taught a nation that when we fight for our democracy with joy, determination, and unity, we are limitless.” Seattle Councilmember Debora Juarez
“Classes started on Monday, just days before the bridge opening. We're excited for our students and employees to have an easier commute to campus this fall. We hope our location and the resources North Seattle College offers, like our bachelor's degrees, new Fire Science program, and certificate programs, will be more visible and accessible to the community.” Chemene Crawford, Ed.D. President, North Seattle College
“The John Lewis Memorial Bridge is part of our larger effort to help knit together a community historically divided by I-5. People can now safely walk, bike and roll across the John Lewis Memorial bridge to head to school, work and the new Northgate Station serving Link light rail. This is all thanks to our transportation funding and community partners, community leaders and the Seattle voters who saw the importance of this project in North Seattle.” Sam Zimbabwe, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation