15th Ave W/NW & Ballard Bridge Paving & Safety Project

Updated April 18, 2024

What's Happening Now? 

Construction contractor selected and scheduled to start construction

We have selected a contractor for the 15th Ave W/NW & Ballard Bridge Paving & Safety Project and we are scheduled to start construction as soon as June 2024! We advertised the project contract on January 3, 2024, and we are moving forward with Gary Merlino Construction. We’re working with Merlino to determine the construction schedule and will share more information soon.

The Ballard Bridge will be closed on select weekends this summer and early fall while we replace worn expansion joints to keep the bridge resilient and strong. Construction is scheduled to start as soon as June 2024 and will continue through 2025. Planned bridge closures will occur over several weekends this summer and fall while the 15th Ave W paving is ongoing.

Check out our blog post to learn more about what to expect during project construction, including several weekend closures of the Ballard Bridge to complete seismic retrofit work and improve earthquake safety. We also share some alternative travel modes to consider during construction.    

Please sign up for our project updates to stay informed!

Project Design

This project aims to keep people and goods moving and includes enhancements to make the RapidRide D bus line more reliable and to make travel safer for everyone. (Click map to enlarge.) 

Map of project elements, which are listed in the next section.

Project Elements

Below we have outlined the different aspects of this project. You can also review the full project designs here

Paving, Bridge Maintenance, & Seismic Retrofit

  • Pave 15th Ave W/NW from W Emerson St to NW 57th St including the fixed portions of the Ballard Bridge.

  • Improve earthquake safety by strengthening the north end of the Ballard Bridge (also called the Leary Way Bridge).This includes strengthening the bridge's cap beams, columns, footings, and abutments (parts of the bridge structure), installing ground anchors, repairing cracks and damaged concrete, and replacing worn out bridge expansion joints.

RapidRide D Bus Line Reliability 

  • Add red “bus only” lane markings to the existing northbound bus lane on 15th Ave NW between NW 51st St and NW Market St

  • Add a new southbound transit lane with red “bus only” markings on 15th Ave NW between NW 54th St and NW Market St.

  • Add a new southbound transit lane with red “bus only” markings on 15th Ave NW between Leary Way NW and NW Ballard Way.

Safety & Accessibility Enhancements 

  • Install a new bike and pedestrian signal and crosswalk at NW 51st St, making it easier to walk, roll, or bike around the neighborhood and connecting people to Ballard businesses, attractions, and transit.

  • Replace a southbound lane on 15th Ave NW with a new landscaped median between NW 50th St and NW 54th St to calm driver speeds and reduce the likelihood of serious crashes.

  • Upgrade curb ramps to meet current ADA standards along 15th Ave NW.

  • Build missing curb ramps at all east-west crossings along 15th Ave NW.

  • Update pedestrian crosswalk signs and refresh striping for better visibility. 

General Improvements 

  • Repair sidewalks, driveways, and stormwater drainage areas. 

  • Plant new trees and replace old trees in select areas.   

  • Install new or expand existing tree pits to keep trees healthy.

  • Improve and add new lighting under the bridge along Leary Way NW and on the pedestrian path near the intersection of 15th Ave NW and W Nickerson St.

Safety Enhancements North of the Ballard Bridge

This diagram illustrates the enhancements along 15th Ave NW from NW Market St to NW 50th St (click map to enlarge). For additional details, scroll down to see the project renderings. 

Diagram that illustrates the safety and transit enhancements on 15th Ave NW from NW Market St to NW 50th St. These include new red “bus only” lane markings in the existing northbound bus lane between NW Market St and NW 51st St, a new southbound bus lane between NW Market St and NW 54th St, a new bike and pedestrian signal and crosswalk at NW 51st St, a new landscaped median between NW 54th St and NW 50th St, plus new trees and upgraded curb ramps to meet ADA standards along the project corridor.

Project Renderings  

NW 51st St and 15th Ave NW: New crosswalks with protective median and signal, improving access to buses and connecting the neighborhood (click image to enlarge).  

Rendering illustrates new crosswalks and pedestrian signals at NW 51rd St and 15th Ave NW. It also shows a new landscaped median dividing northbound and southbound traffic with cut-throughs so that people can walk and bike across.

NW 53rd St and 15th Ave NW: Maintain signalized crossing and add landscaped median from NW 54 to NW 51st St (click image to enlarge).  

Rendering illustrates the existing crosswalks and pedestrian signals at NW 53rd St and 15th Ave NW. It also shows a new landscaped median dividing northbound and southbound traffic with cut-throughs so that people can walk and bike across.

15th Ave NW: New southbound bus-only lane between NW 54th St and NW Market St (click image to enlarge).  

Rendering that shows the intersection of NW Market St and 15th Ave NW. It includes a new southbound bus-only lane with red markings from NW Market St to NW 54th St. It also shows the start of the new landscaped median staring at NW 54th St and dividing northbound and southbound traffic.

Project Background  

15th Ave W/NW is a major roadway serving northwest Seattle. The corridor connects Ballard, Interbay, North Queen Anne, and Magnolia and is a major transit street, serving King County Metro routes 15,17, 18, 40, 44, and the D-line. This section of 15th Ave W/NW includes the Ballard Bridge and provides access to commercial businesses, grocery stores, and residences.

As part of the Levy to Move Seattle AAC (Arterial and Asphalt and Concrete) Paving Program, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is paving 15th Ave W/NW and the Ballard Bridge Deck between W Emerson St to NW 57th St. The project will restore the road condition of a critical piece of Seattle’s transportation network and contribute to SDOT’s Levy commitment to pave up to 180 lane-miles of arterial streets by 2024.

It will extend the useful life of one of Seattle's busiest streets and bridges and contribute to a safer and more comfortable travel experience for all road users. As part of Seattle’s freight route, this will also be a major investment in the freight network and serve large trucks, the maritime industrial business, port facilities, and key business needs on this side of town.

Aerial Diagram of the project area which covers NW 15th from NW 57th to W Emerson. Photo Credit: Google

Aerial Diagram of the project area which covers NW 15th from NW 57th to W Emerson. Photo Credit: Google

Community Outreach

There were multiple opportunities for community members to learn about and provide input on the project design. Our team gave presentations and answered questions at local community events, tabled at neighborhood grocery stores, sent emails, made phone calls, visited businesses and other key stakeholders in the project area, collected responses in a community survey, and sent general email updates to the project listserv.  
 
In total, we received 900+ responses to our community survey and additional feedback from 40 community members who emailed our project inbox. Most of the people (28) who emailed us requested safety improvements for community members who walk and bike. This input informed the final project design. 

Schedule

Timeline graphic that indicates three stages: Planning, which includes Master Plan(s) and Project Development, Design, which includes Early Design and Final Design, and Construction, which includes Pre-construction, During, and Wrap-Up, the graphic includes "we are here" text pointing to Final Design

Planning (Summer 2021 - Spring 2022): We collected traffic data, reviewed plans, and gathered community experiences to define options.  

Design (Summer 2022 - Summer 2023): We conducted community outreach, collected feedback, worked to secure regulatory approval (e.g., Environmental Assessment), and developed increasingly detailed designs that reflected what we heard and learned. 

Construction (Spring 2024 - 2025): We will construct the project and keep the community informed on the latest construction updates, schedule, and expected impacts. 

Please note that schedules are always subject to change due to supply availability and inclement weather.

What to expect during construction

We’re still determining the details of construction, including starting locations, work hours (including nights and weekends), the potential for detours, and street closure times. We will share more information about construction as it becomes available. Please continue to visit the project webpage and sign up for project emails for updates about construction and potential impacts.

In general, you can expect:

  • Temporary lane and street closures for people driving
  • Temporary sidewalk and crossing closures and detours for people walking and rolling
  • Temporary bus stop relocations
  • Disruptions to on-street parking
  • Noise, dust and vibrations during work hours (typically 7 AM - 4 PM) 
  • Construction staging and parking impacts near the work sites
  • Full Ballard Bridge closures over select weekends to replace expansion joints 
  • Changes in construction schedule due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e., weather, soil conditions, etc.) 

Nearby Projects

We will be coordinating with nearby capital projects in the neighborhood. To learn more about them, please visit their webpage:

Additional Planning Efforts in the area:

Funding

This project is part of SDOT's Arterial Asphalt and Concrete (AAC) Paving Program. Design and construction of our paving projects are funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, approved by the Seattle voters in November 2015. This project also received funding from the voter approved Seattle Transit Measure, a Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) grant, and a National Highway Freight Program (NHFP) grant.

Contact Us

If you would like to contact our project team or schedule a meeting for you or your organization please email us at 15thAveW_NWpaving@Seattle.gov or give us a call at: (206) 512-3950.

Q&A

Each year, we pave arterial streets in poor condition to make them safer, smoother, and to extend their useful life. We prioritize paving based on pavement condition, traffic volume, geographic equity, cost, and opportunities for grants or coordination with other projects in the area. Keeping our transportation system in a good state of repair helps lower the cost of future maintenance. Like many of our arterials, it’s important to maintain them since they are primary routes for moving people and goods through the city and connecting neighborhoods and business districts to one another and the regional transportation network.

15th Ave W/NW and the Ballard Bridge is one of the City’s most heavily used arterial streets. Repaving 15th Ave W/NW (between NW 57TH and W Emerson St) and the approach spans for the Ballard Bridge will restore the pavement condition of a critical piece of Seattle’s arterial network. This project also contributes to SDOT’s Levy commitment to pave up to 180 lane-miles of arterial streets by 2024.

We’re scheduled to start construction as early as spring 2024. 

Businesses in and around the surrounding project area will be able to remain open and entrances will still be accessible.  We encourage neighbors to continue shopping and using their services. We are committed to work with business owners and staff to address their concerns and potential construction impacts.

We’re still determining the details of construction, including starting locations, work hours (including nights and weekends), the potential for detours, and street closure times. We will share more information about construction as it becomes available. Please continue to visit the project webpage and sign up for project emails for updates about construction and potential impacts. 
 
In general, you can expect:  

  • Temporary lane and street closures for people driving
  • Temporary sidewalk and crossing closures and detours for people walking and rolling
  • Temporary bus stop relocations
  • Disruptions to on-street parking
  • Noise, dust and vibrations during work hours (typically weekdays from 7 AM - 4 PM)
  • Construction staging and parking impacts near the work sites
  • Full Ballard Bridge closures over select weekends to replace expansion joints 
  • Changes in construction schedule due to unforeseen circumstances (i.e., weather, soil conditions, etc.) 

There may be temporary bus stop relocations during construction. We will do our best to provide notice about any upcoming bus service changes, but we also recommend you sign up for King County Metro’s Rider Alerts to stay up to date on the latest information.

For the vast majority of construction, we will have at least one lane open in each direction on the bridge. However, there will be full bridge closures over select weekends when we replace worn out bridge expansion joints to improve earthquake safety. We are coordinating with other projects in the area to minimize bridge closure impacts and we will share proposed dates and preferred detour routes before we begin construction. 

If there are any emergency situations that arise in our project area, please call 911. Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times during our work. For all other inquiries that are non-emergency please contact 15thAveW_NWpaving@Seattle.gov or (206) 651-3950.

We will continue to communicate with neighbors throughout the 15th Ave W/NW & Ballard Bridge Paving and Safety Project area. Outreach activities include calling key stakeholders, delivering project information to nearby businesses and residents, and meeting with neighborhood groups to learn how we can best accommodate travel needs and minimize construction impacts. We also share regular project updates through our project webpage and email updates.  
 
Sign up for project email updates here and continue to visit our project webpage for the most updated information the project. Our outreach team is also available to address any questions or feedback from the community. You can contact the project team at 15thAveW_NWpaving@Seattle.gov or (206) 512-3950

There were multiple opportunities for community members to learn about and provide input on the project design. Our team gave presentations and answered questions at local community events, tabled at neighborhood grocery stores, sent emails, made phone calls, visited businesses and other key stakeholders in the project area, collected responses in a community survey, and sent general email updates to the project listserv.  

In total, we received 900+ responses to our community survey and additional feedback from 40 community members who emailed our project inbox. Most of the people (28) who emailed us requested safety improvements for community members who walk and bike. This includes a collective effort organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways. 

In response to the community feedback and to support our Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets, we have added the following safety enhancements to the project:

  • Install a new bike and pedestrian signal and crosswalk at NW 51st St, making it easier to walk, roll, or bike around the neighborhood and connecting people to Ballard businesses, attractions, and transit.
  • Replace a southbound lane on 15th Ave NW with a new landscaped median between NW 50th St and NW 54th St to calm driver speeds and reduce the likelihood of serious crashes.
  • Improve lighting for people traveling under the bridge along Leary Way
  • Install new lighting under the bridge on the pedestrian pathway near the intersection of 15th Ave NW and W Nickerson St

We are building safety improvements throughout Seattle in support of our Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets. The changes to our design are closely aligned with findings from our Vision Zero Top-to-Bottom Review, which showed that reducing lanes on multi-lane arterial roads slows people speeding and makes it safer for people walking and rolling.

The additional improvements also reflect what we heard from neighbors in the area during our project outreach, including requests for a crossing at NW 51st St. 15th Ave W/NW will continue to support freight movement and the changing traffic patterns resulting from waterfront activities.

While Seattle’s streets are some of the safest in the United States, we still see more than 10,000 crashes a year, resulting in an average of 28 people losing their lives and 180 people seriously injured. These deaths and injuries are avoidable with the right safety improvements.

Our Vision Zero Top-to-Bottom Review outlines some of the data that is informing the safety improvements we’re building in Ballard and throughout the city. For instance, 93% percent of pedestrian deaths occur on arterials, and 80% percent are on arterials with more than one lane in each direction – such as 15th Ave W/NW. The top contributing factors to pedestrian-involved crashes are high speeds and failure to yield to pedestrians.

Thus, we are making improvements in the project area to reduce driving speeds, increase pedestrian visibility, and make it safer for people to walk, roll, and bike across and along this busy street. Additionally, the Sound Transit Board announced the preferred alternative for the Ballard Light station is on 15th Ave NW and NW Market St with light rail service scheduled to begin in 2039. These additional improvements will help accommodate the increased number of people who will be walking, rolling, and biking to the new Ballard station. Sound Transit’s Environmental Impact Study estimates that they expect 17,300 daily ridership for the Ballard Station.

We have been in internal conversations on which improvements could be built in coordination with the 15th Ave W/NW and Ballard Bridge Paving and Safety Project and which could be built at a later time. The additional improvements do not change the project’s goal of repaving the road and installing infrastructure that aligns with Seattle’s Vision Zero commitment.

Leary Way NW is the next signaled crossing south of NW 53rd, which is a fair distance when you are on foot. This often leads to people attempting to cross without a signal or crosswalk, which is not as safe. Ninety-three percent of pedestrian deaths occur on arterials, and 80% percent are on arterials with more than one lane in each direction – such as 15th Ave W/NW. The top factors in pedestrian-involved crashes are high speeds and failure to yield to pedestrians.

Adding another east-west crossing on 15th Ave NW will increase pedestrian visibility and make it safer for people to walk, roll, and bike across this busy street and get to Ballard businesses and attractions. The crossing at NW 51st St also reflects what we heard from community members in the area.

During construction, people driving and moving freight will be affected. We will work to mitigate traffic impacts, such as working during specific times of the day and night, so it’s less impactful to commuters and surrounding neighbors. There will be lane closures for paving and lane restrictions around locations where we are making improvements, so crews have adequate space to complete the work safely.

Once the project is complete, we anticipate that the new pedestrian and bike improvements will have a minimal impact on people driving and moving freight.

The landscaped median will calm traffic by physically narrowing the street, which lowers overall speeds, cuts down on aggressive passing, and reduces the likelihood of drivers to crossing into oncoming traffic. It also creates a landing refuge in the middle of the multilane street for people walking and rolling and reduces the time they spend in traffic lanes.

During active construction, there may be increased traffic on side streets. We will work to find ways to mitigate this, such as scheduling construction during off-peak travel times when possible.

We do not anticipate the new pedestrian improvements to impact the original project timeline. We work to phase the project in a way that minimizes construction impacts. Please note that schedules are always subject to change due to supply availability and inclement weather.

To improve bike facilities, we would either need to widen the Ballard Bridge or remove driving lanes to widen the bike and walking path. Widening the bridge is a different project that is not a Citywide priority for our current Levy. Removing a travel lane would degrade Rapid Ride and other bus service as traffic backups would greatly increase.  
 
To learn more about our plans for long-term pedestrian and bicycle improvements on the Ballard Bridge, please visit the Ballard Bridge Planning Study and the 2020 Ballard-Interbay Regional Transportation System (BIRT).

This project will not replace the bridge. We will be repaving asphalt along 15th Ave W and NW (between NW 57th and W Emerson St) up to the metal grates (bascule) of the bridge. While we complete the repaving of the bridge, we will also include maintenance and repairs to the bridge deck. This will preserve the life of this critical piece of infrastructure and support the safety and mobility for the traveling public.

In March 2023, the Sound Transit Board announced the preferred alternative for the Ballard Light Rail station is on 15th Ave NW and NW Market St with light rail service scheduled to begin in 2039. Even when we’re attending Sound Transit led events, we are listening to our community, and we heard the need for better pedestrian crossings on 15th Ave NW.  
 
Sound Transit’s Environmental Impact Study estimates that there will 17,300 daily boardings at the Ballard Station. With the new enhancements included in the 15th Ave W/NW and Ballard Bridge Paving and Safety Project, we will help to accommodate the increased number of people who will be walking, rolling, and biking to the new Ballard station. 
 
In terms of construction, we don’t anticipate any conflicts with the Ballard Link Extension. Our project is expected to be completed in 2025. To learn more about light rail in Ballard, please visit the Ballard Link Extension website

Project Materials

To view a PDF of project-related materials, please click on the links provided below

Need a translation?

The City of Seattle is paving 15th Ave W/NW from W Emerson St to NW 57th St. To request translation of these materials, call (206) 512-3950.

Como parte del programa de pavimentación del impuesto Levy to Move Seattle, el Departamento de Transporte de Seattle (SDOT) está pavimentando 15th Ave W/NW entre W Emerson St y NW 57th St a partir del verano de 2023. Para solicitar la traducción de este material, llame al (206) 512-3950.

作為「移動西雅圖交通徵稅鋪路計畫」的一部分,西雅圖交通部 (SDOT) 最早將於 2023 年夏季鋪設 15th Ave W/NW 從 W Emerson St 到 NW 57th St 的路面。如 需这些资料的译文,或是在会议时需要口译服务,请致电 (206) 512-3950

Transportation

Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623
684-Road@seattle.gov

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.