Renderings Show Seattle Waterfront's Two New Pedestrian Bridges

The Marion Street and Union Street bridges showcase two vastly different designs for improving pedestrian access.

September 15, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Ryan Packer reports on two pedestrian bridges that will improve pedestrian access to Seattle's waterfront. "The more significant of these new pedestrian bridges will be the new Marion Street bridge connecting to the new Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock. Currently there is a temporary pedestrian bridge over Alaskan Way at Columbia Street for ferry passengers, which connects to a remaining segment of the old pedestrian bridge at Marion and Western Avenue." The city plans to completely replace and widen the bridge, "but that path to doing that remains opaque. The Seattle Design Commission, reviewing the project in early 2019, expressed concern about constructing the project in two phases, raising the possibility that the second phase would drop in priority once the first phase was completed." The bridge "is expected to start construction near the start of 2022 and open in early-to-mid 2023."

The second pedestrian bridge, writes Packer, is less a bridge than a pathway, "replacing the old and awkward stairway that was the only way to get between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue at Union Street. That connection wasn’t accessible, but the new Union Street bridge will include a new elevator, perhaps its biggest benefit."

And then there’s The Bench. At the spot where the pedestrian bridge path at the top of the bridge meets Western Avenue, there is to be installed an unusual "lean wall." Part hostile architecture, part bollard (preventing wayward drivers from turning from Western onto the walkway), part pedestrian diverter (forcing people walking to go to the crosswalks on either side), the bench is ultimately sidewalk level sculpture representing all of those things. Ultimately, this geometric form subbing in for a real bench should not exist, but soon it will.

Packer's article includes details about each project as well as renderings and diagrams showing the improved access.

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