NE 43rd Street Improvements

Updated: October 17, 2019

What’s happening now?

With the help of community and stakeholder input, we are close to finalizing major design elements. To accommodate fire department needs, road layout designs have recently been updated. Road layout changes include:

  • Placement of natural drainage system adjacent to sidewalk on south-side of NE 43rd St
  • Placement of bike lane/buffer adjacent to travel lane
  • Addition of 3-foot furniture zone on south-side of NE 43rd St
  • Elimination of landscaping strip on north-side of NE 43rd St

Project Background

This project will implement streetscape and pedestrian improvements on NE 43rd Street between Brooklyn Ave NE and 15th Ave NE to improve access to the U District Link Light Rail station, which is scheduled to open in 2021. This project is in the University District, home to University of Washington’s main campus with over 56,800 students and 16,420 faculty and staff. The U District features some of the most complex and challenging multimodal network of transportation systems in the City. The complexity of its transportation systems will see dramatic changes when the U District light rail station opens in 2021, adjacent to the intersection of Brooklyn Avenue NE and NE 43rd Street. This extension of the light rail line will transform how people get around the surrounding neighborhood, is projected to serve between 22,000 and 26,000 riders daily by 2042.

In the immediate surrounding area there is the University Bookstore, US Postal Office, a large church, multiple retail shops and restaurants, and apartments. The U District Link Light Rail UW Station at Brooklyn Ave NE and NE 43rd St is currently under construction. The construction area is between Brooklyn Ave and University Way from NE 43rd to NE 45th St. NE 43rd is currently closed to vehicular travel from Brooklyn Ave to University Ave for the station construction. The project is on schedule to reach substantial completion by February/March 2020 and be fully operational in the 3rd quarter of 2021. The main issues that have arisen as a result of construction are noise and garbage pick-up. Sound Transit has been responsive and addressed these two issues.

The NE 43rd Street Improvement Project will create safe access to the new U District Light Rail station for all modes of travel, whether people are walking, biking, or taking transit to the station. It will also benefit the nearby businesses who will have more people passing by and patronizing their shops. The new streetscape design will also enhance the environment of this highly dense urban village.

Project Area

Project area map

To learn more about the U District station, located on Brooklyn Ave NE between NE 45th and NE 43rd streets please visit Sound Transit's Project Webpage for more information. 

Project Updates

Since last fall, we've been busy reaching out to the community and meeting regularly with businesses, residents and local groups.  We collected project feedback through door to door outreach, a public meeting, an online survey, and an ADA focus group. Thanks to all who gave us comments.

We heard the importance of making this street safe for people who walk, while also maintaining transit connections and loading zones for nearby businesses. After considering all of the input received, we selected a modified version of Alternative 2: One-way Westbound Transit Only to move forward with. This alternative was selected because it provided:

  • Increased space for people to walk
  • An efficient transit connection to light rail
  • Decreased vehicular traffic
  • Reduced vehicle conflicts with people
  • A flexible design

The corridor will focus on pedestrian and transit access, while still allowing vehicles on 43rd from 15th to University. The reason for this modified design from University to 15th is to maintain vehicle access to the local post office, the University Bookstore, and the University Temple United Methodist Church. At the same time, this new design will still prioritize pedestrians as sidewalks are widening from their current width. The design will also be able to accommodate the fire station's safety needs as the bike lane, buffer zone, and travel lanes altogether provide the 20 feet of road space needed by fire trucks to safely work on the road in the event of a fire. The design will move forward with a curbless design in order to focus on comfort and safety for those who walk and other vulnerable users. We envision the future of these two blocks to be built entirely for people who walk and take transit, but we need to recognize the current uses and continue to serve those needs. 

To accommodate fire department needs, road layout designs have recently been updated. Here is an overview of how it's been modified:

  • Placement of natural drainage system adjacent to sidewalk on south-side of NE 43rd St
  • Placement of bike lane/buffer adjacent to travel lane
  • Addition of 3-foot furniture zone on south-side of NE 43rd St
  • Elimination of landscaping strip on north-side of NE 43rd St

In addition to those who walk and take transit, we also know that many people bike through this corridor.  People traveling by bike in the westbound direction will share the travel lane with buses and a bike lane will be provided for those traveling eastbound by bike. In order to increase the safety for people who bike and take transit while also meeting the needs of local businesses, the loading zones on 43rd will be relocated to University.

Transit only one-way westbound curbless design for University Way NE to Brooklyn Ave NE looking west

Cross Section drawing showing University Way NE to Brooklyn Ave NE

All vehicles one-way westbound curbless design for 15th Ave NE to University Way NE looking west

Cross section showing 15th NE to University Way NE

New Load Zones

In addition to raodway changes, we are also installing 4 new load zones on the northeast and southwest corners of University and 43rd as soon as the week of October 14th.

Due to the fact that the new design for 43rd will not allow for adequate space on the roadway to include parking and load zones, we have identified the northeast and southwest corners of University and 43rd as viable locations for new load zones. As we have heard that there is a current need for load zones for nearby businesses, we are providing two new 3-minute passenger load zones and two 30-minute load zones for businesses and customers as soon as possible. These will be on a temporary basis and re-evaluated after a few months. Exact placement of these can be viewed in the map below. Until construction begins, currently existing load zones on NE 43rd St will also be maintained.

Map showing location of new load zones along University Way NE, on either side of 43rd.

Project Schedule

DateMilestone
Early 2019 Design work, community meetings, and community survey
February 2019 Public meeting to share 4 streetscape alternatives
March 2019 Preferred alternative will be selected
April 2019

30% plans complete
Continued outreach with stakeholders and businesses

August 2019 60% plans complete
Public meeting to share 60% design plans
September - December 2019 Continued outreach with stakeholders and businesses

December 2019

100% plans complete
February 2020 Project is advertised
June 2020 Construction begins
March 2021 Project complete

Project Funding

The NE 43rd Street Improvements project is funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, a 9-year $930 million levy approved by voters in 2015.