Recently the Kirkland Reporter published a letter to the editor voicing concern about the planned Totem Lake Connector Bridge along the Cross Kirkland Corridor.
The author raised excellent questions about fiscal responsibility and whether the bridge would limit future transit options.
As background, about 54,000 cars travel through the 124th Avenue NE and NE 124th Street intersection every day, making it the highest traffic intersection along the CKC. Totem Lake is also Kirkland’s designated urban growth center, and is expected to accommodate a good portion of the city’s population and employment growth.
The city council heard loud and clear that the community wanted Totem Lake to be a vibrant, livable and walkable place with new shops, restaurants, entertainment and housing. The future growth in Totem Lake, and the region, will result in added numbers of pedestrians and cyclists using the CKC, while also putting additional traffic on our roadways.
In response to the growth and future vision for Totem Lake, both the CKC and Totem Lake Park Master Plans identified the need for a bridge at this crossing. The master plans were based on input and feedback we received from the public through numerous public meetings, workshops, surveys and written correspondence.
A bridge would not only provide quick and safe access across this busy intersection for thousands of cyclists and pedestrians each year, it would also serve as a gateway to the revitalized Village at Totem Lake.
The city has put significant thought into ensuring that the final crossing solution is something that we can all be proud of, and balances costs against factors such as ease of use, safety, the environment, and minimizing construction impacts. In addition, the location of the bridge has been offset to the western side of the 100-foot CKC right-of-way, thereby maintaining Sound Transit’s 30-foot easement on the eastern portion of the corridor.
The city did evaluate a tunnel, and continues to evaluate ways to reduce costs. The high water table in the area and the numerous utilities under the roadways, such as a 72-inch sewer main, would be costly to mitigate and complicate construction.
Relocation of the utilities and constructing the tunnel would shut down the roadways for extended periods of time. Also, due to the span of the intersection, the required length of the tunnel would be more than twice the length of the tunnels in Kenmore along the Burke-Gilman Trail, which would inhibit usage due to public safety concerns.
With construction funding sought from state and federal grants, the Totem Lake Connector Bridge will provide a unique opportunity for Kirkland to help realize the vision for both Totem Lake and the Cross Kirkland Corridor, and be an inspiring icon for our community.
Kirkland City Council, Chair of the Public Works, Parks and Human Services Committee
More information on the bridge can be found on the City website at www.kirklandwa.gov by searching “Totem Lake Connector Bridge.”