NE 43rd Street Improvements

Updated: August 8, 2019

What’s happening now?

The preferred alternative has been selected and we are finalizing the design. We used your feedback, data, and our citywide transportation plans for the updated street design, a modified version of Alternative 2: One-way Westbound Transit Only was selected. Click here or scroll below for updates!

Come to our drop-in meeting from 4:30 - 6:30 PM on Tuesday, August 13 in the University Bookstore at 4236 University Way NE, 2nd floor for more design details and opportunities for input. We look forward to seeing you there! 

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

Proposed Alternatives

Existing lane configuration at NE 43rd street

Alternative 1, describing a pedestrian-only design

Alternative 2, describing a west-bound one way transit only lane and a bike lane

Alternative 3; one way lane open to all vehicles

Alternative four; two way lanes open to all vehicles

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

We wanted to share an update on the NE 43rd Street Improvement Project. 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 on the four design alternatives (above).

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 have selected the design concept to move forward. It will be a modified version of Alternative 2: One-way Westbound Transit Only. Recently, we've also added in more landscape details as to how the project will look upon completion in 2021. Here is an overview of how it's been modified:

  • NE 43rd St between Brooklyn Ave NE and University Way NE - One-way Westbound Transit Only
  • NE 43rd St between University Way and 15th Ave NE - One-way Westbound, open to all vehicles
  • Protected bike land for eastbound bikes; shared lane with buses/vehicles for westbound bikes
  • Widened sidewalks and curbless design
  • Loading zones relocated to University Way NE
  • Natural drainage systems along multi-modal traffic lanes 
  • Trolley line routed along NE 43rd St

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. This new design still has a focus on pedestrians since the sidewalks are widening from 12 feet to 16 feet on the south side and from 12 feet to 24 feet on the north side. 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. 

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 protected bike lane will be provided for those traveling eastbound by bike. In order to increase the safety for people who bike and take transit, commercial load zones will be relocated from 43rd St to University.

Rendering of the project site upon completion, on NE 43rd St heading west

Rendering of the project site upon completion, on NE 43rd St heading west

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

X Section Brooklyn NE to Univ NE

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

UnivNE to 15th NE

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

As this project moves forward, we are committed to engaging with the community and understanding your needs. We are continuing outreach to residents, community groups, businesses, and institutions in the area for feedback.

Project Schedule

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
December 2019 100% plans complete
February 2020 Project is advertised
April 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.