New sidewalks and other creative improvements in South Park

Newly paved sidewalk with large trees on the parking strip side. Tree roots accommodated in sidewalk design.
The 8th Ave S sidewalk (west side of the street) was recently replaced | Photo by Shane Dewald

This summer, we’ve been building new sidewalks on 8th Ave S between S Sullivan St and S Southern St in South Park.

We just completed a new sidewalk on the east side of the street where a temporary in-street walkway was installed in 2016 and we also replaced the existing sidewalk on the west side.

The new sidewalk meets current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, making it easier and safer for people of all ages and abilities to walk to destinations like the South Park Community Center, South Park Library, and local businesses. Read more about the project here.

South Park Library | Photo by Seattle Public Library

Among other challenges, this project involved accommodating the area’s established big leaf maple trees.

Trees and sidewalks both play critical roles in the public right-of-way, helping to make Seattle green and livable while ensuring that pedestrians have a safe and accessible space to walk. These assets, however, often come into conflict, and 8th Ave S in South Park is a prime example of where that was occurring.

In 2016, we had to close the sidewalk on the east side of 8th Ave S between S Southern St and S Sullivan St after roots from the street’s beautiful big leaf maple trees caused significant uplifts in the sidewalk. At the time, designers came up with a creative solution that narrowed travel lanes, retained parking, and created space for a temporary in-street painted walkway.

Temporary work completed on the east side of 8th Ave S in 2016 enabled pedestrians to walk around the root uplift | Photo by Alisa Arment

In 2019, funding became available to construct a permanent solution on this street. Our Project Development and Urban Forestry teams engaged early to discuss how a permanent sidewalk could be built in this location while achieving the community’s desire to keep both parking and trees on the street.

The final solution involved our de-paving the old sidewalk behind the trees and building a new sidewalk over the in-street walkway (see our big leaf maple tweet @#bigleafmaples). As part of this project, we were also able to replace the existing sidewalk on the west side of the street.

The east side of 8th Ave S today, with sidewalk and parking restored | Photo by David Burgesser

Next up, we’ll be installing street art, including painting curb bulbs and creating a new decorative crosswalk.

The crosswalk design is inspired by a popular Mexican decorative art form, Papel Picado, which is used for almost every occasion imaginable including the birth of a child, holidays, birthdays, weddings, death, and more. Read more about the history and art of Papel Picado here.

Stay tuned for more information as this exciting project continues!