Last Friday I heard from SDOT that people would be able to walk across the West Thomas Street overpass by the end of the day. I haven’t had the experience of making that walk yet, but that doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm about the project’s completion. I’m so glad it’s open.
The West Thomas Street Overpass is a piece of the Lake-to-Bay Loop, a cherished long-term vision first articulated in neighborhood plans from the Uptown, Belltown, South Lake Union, and Denny Triangle neighborhoods. A pedestrian route between Lake Union and Elliott Bay, the Lake-to-Bay Loop connects some of Seattle’s civic treasures that have long felt much farther apart than they actually are, including the Olympic Sculpture Park, Myrtle Edwards Park, Seattle Center, Lake Union Park, the Center for Wooden Boats, and now, the Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI).
As the city moves to address the Mercer Mess; the state takes Highway 99 underground; more employees from places like Amazon, the Gates Foundation, and other organizations need to get in and out of South Lake Union; and more tourists visit the city on cruise ships, the Lake-to-Bay Loop becomes more and more important – and with the West Thomas Street Overpass, it is closer to becoming a reality.
I’ve written about my hopes for the Lake-to-Bay Loop before.
As for the bridge itself: Lifting off from 3rd Avenue between Thomas and Harrison, the overpass takes bikes and pedestrians over Elliott Street and the Burlington Northern/ Santa Fe railroad tracks straight into Myrtle Edwards Park, coming out at the head of a beautiful little pocket beach with a view of West Seattle and Bainbridge Island.
Tourists coming the other direction from cruise ships or Waterfront visits will find themselves walking toward the Space Needle, with glimpses of the Great Wheel, and at least for now, the P-I Globe.
The project was funded by Park Levy I and II, Puget Sound Regional Council Grant Funds, King County Grant Funds, federal grants, and private donations. It’s an example of how leveraging funds from multiple sources, in hard budget times as well as good ones, can pay off hugely for our communities.
An official opening and ribbon cutting will occur sometime next month, I think. I’ll post about it when I hear!