LEVY DOLLARS AT WORK | Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge trees and foliage offer dual benefit: environmental stewardship and improved safety

Join us this Saturday, October 2 for the grand opening of the Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge and ribbon cutting ceremony. Visit our website for event details. 

A visualization of the new Northgate Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge, looking east. Trees and vegetation are visible in the background, along with guardrail and pedestrian handrail on each side of the bridge. 

We have made intentional decisions related to preserving, removing, and replanting trees and adding new vegetation around the bridge. The results benefit the environment and help enhance the safety of people using the bridge. 

Throughout our pre-construction outreach, we heard from many people about our plans for trees. While we needed to remove 93 trees during construction for a variety of reasons, we were able to plant approximately 5 times as many new trees – 464 total trees – which are better suited to the wetland conditions near the bridge and will thrive in their new locations. 

Below is a map of our Tree Mitigation Plan, which describes where we removed, trimmed, and replaced trees where necessary to support with our vision and project’s construction needs. 

In addition to these many trees, we selected vegetation and greenery around the bridge with safety in mind. 

We discuss safety often in the context of safer streets, sidewalks, crosswalks, and more – particularly as it relates to our Vision Zero goals to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030. This time, we are also talking about the personal safety of people traveling across the bridge, many of whom may do so at night or – soon – in darker and colder fall and winter weather conditions.  

Being able to see one’s surroundings is an important part of personal safety. To that end, we have created more visibility around the bridge – something we also call “open sight lines” by planting low-growing shrubs and bushes around the bridge and trimming, thinning, or removing existing trees and undergrowth. We have also carefully designed foliage on the west side of the bridge so people on the bridge landing will have a clearer view of North Seattle College, and people at the nearby playing field and north parking lot will be able to see bridge users approaching. 

Further, we have created a park-like quality on the trails and spaces near the bridge, with a goal for providing a more comfortable, enjoyable atmosphere and a “sense of place” for all people using the bridge.  

This includes the wildlife overlook on the west side of the bridge and a “gallery forest,” which is a screen of tall and narrow trees between the bridge and I-5, helping to provide some visual relief from the nearby highway traffic. The gallery forest also helps to filter air quality.  

Lastly, we designed the bridge to include minimal surface area for vandalism, along with overhead pedestrian lighting, multiple emergency call boxes, pedestrian guardrails, and lighting on handrails. 

We invite you to take a walk or ride over the new bridge to see how some of these elements fit together to help create a pleasant, safe, and efficient trip across I-5, and the new connections the bridge creates between North Seattle College, the new Northgate Link light rail station, and many other local destinations in the Northgate and Licton Springs communities. 

We look forward to welcoming you over the bridge on October 2!