Last week, we reported on SDOT‘s proposal to remove the Delridge/Oregon pedestrian bridge instead of strengthening it as has long been the plan. This week, SDOT continues to ask for your thoughts, with an ongoing online survey, and two in-person opportunities Friday and Sunday. Two questions lingered after that first report, and we have answers to both. First: What’s the cost comparison? The answer to this one is partial – SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB, “The seismic retrofit project which would be necessary to keep the bridge safe in earthquakes would cost roughly $4-5 million (based on preliminary estimates).” But, he says, they don’t have an estimate on how much the teardown would cost. The other question was about this sentence in the last paragraph of the SDOT announcement we published: “Removing the bridge will help support SDOT’s policies focused on people walking.” Several commenters observed that sentence didn’t seem to make sense. So we asked which “policies” that referred to. Bergerson’s response:
“We’re building a new pedestrian signal and marked crosswalk across Delridge Way SW at SW Oregon St, allowing people to cross the street safely without using the pedestrian bridge. Before this project, there was no crosswalk or pedestrian signal at this location. The new signal and crosswalk was a community request submitted to the Your Voice, Your Choice program a few years ago. Taking advantage of an opportunity to get this work done efficiently, we added the crossing improvement to the Delridge Way SW – RapidRide H Line project for construction.
“The new signal and crosswalk is safer and accessible to everyone, so we expect it to be more popular way to cross the street than the existing pedestrian bridge. People walking and rolling across Delridge Way SW can head straight across the street at ground level instead of climbing the steep spiral ramps to the bridge which are a longer distance to travel, get slippery in the rain, and present challenges to people with disabilities, small children, the elderly, and people biking. But, most importantly, the new signal and crosswalk is designed to be fully accessible for people with disabilities and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), including curb ramps onto the sidewalk and a push button which vibrates and makes a noise to let people with limited vision or hearing know when it is safe to cross the street. The pedestrian bridge is not ADA compliant because of the steepness of the ramps and other missing accessibility features. With the new signal and crosswalk offering an easier way to get across the street, we believe many community members will find the pedestrian bridge redundant and out of the way.”
And if the teardown were cheaper, he added, money not spent on the seismic retrofit might be spent on “other safety or pedestrian improvements.” But he insists there’s no decision yet – so if you haven’t already offered feedback, here again is the survey link; you can talk to SDOT reps in person outside the entrance to the Delridge Community Center (4501 Delridge Way SW), 2-4 pm Friday (August 27th) and 1-3 pm Sunday (August 29th).