NE 43rd Street Improvements

Updated: April 30, 2021

What’s happening now?

Construction began on August 17, 2020 and is expected to finish as soon as July 2021 to coincide with the opening of the new U District Station in the fall of 2021. 

We have completed the majority of our work on NE 43rd St which includes: new sidewalks, roadway panel, curb ramps, and installation of the natural drainage system (NDS), new street lights, and painted the final channelization. Check out this SDOT blog post for details about the new NDS. 

As of April 23, the project will go into suspension while we wait for supplies to arrive such as signal cabinets and poles. We anticipate the suspension lasting until June, at which time we will install the new cabinet, poles, and new street trees. During the suspension, heavy equipment will be removed from the area, the sidewalks will be open for use, and the roadway from 15th Ave to University Way will be open for vehicles and bikes to travel westbound. The roadway from University Way west to the new Light Rail Station will remain closed until the station opens in October, at which time this portion of the roadway will allow one-way westbound travel and will be restricted to Metro buses only.

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 2018, 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

No Left-Turn Restriction on 15th Ave NE onto NE 43rd St

Following a careful review of the intersection, we have decided to continue allowing northbound left turns on 15th Ave NE onto NE 43rd St intersection, with no restrictions. Once this project is completed, we will monitor the transit operations at this intersection to confirm that the general-purpose vehicle left turns do not adversely impact transit operations. We will make revisions to this decision if needed.

New Load Zones

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 installed two new 3-minute passenger load zones and two 30-minute load zones in October 2019 for businesses and customers. 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

February 2020

Continued outreach with stakeholders and businesses
March 2020 Final design
August 2020 Construction begins
Spring 2021 Project complete

Materials

Intersection Closure Notice

Construction Notice

July Mailer

Project Factsheet

Project Funding

The NE 43rd Street Improvements project is funded by the Transportation Fund - Parking Tax & King County Metro, and Mercer Mega-block funding.