Kirkland city staff is currently reviewing community feedback on designs for the Totem Lake Connector Bridge, which aims to be a prominent landmark in the growing business district.
The bridge is currently in the final stages of its planning phase and city staff will present designs to City Council during their March 6 regular meeting. Council will review the designs and community feedback that staff gathered from four open houses and months of community outreach.
“The community has been interested in the general design process, the selection of a preferred alternative and the relative costs of the alternatives. These major themes will be discussed with council — as they have been in past briefings — with particular emphasis on the most recent open house and follow-up emails,” said Kathy Brown, director of Kirkland’s Public Works Department.
The bridge will connect two sections of the Cross Kirkland Corridor, which are currently separated by two heavily trafficked roads: Totem Lake Boulevard Northeast and Northeast 124th Street. The overall design aims to reflect a thrown skipping stone, with two support arches that dip below the walkway as they meet in the middle where the stone would skip along the water.
The walkway itself will be 14 feet wide and expand to 25 feet in the center area. The area will be a mixed-use section that provides benches, while also leaving enough room for bike and pedestrian traffic.
The bridge’s north end, where the metaphorical stone sinks into Totem Lake, will feature a spiraling ramp, while the south end will be a simple straight ramp that connects with the CKC.
The spiraling ramp will also feature a Totem Lake overlook, which was the main talking point at the fourth and final design open house on Feb. 7.
The open house gave an overview of what the final design will look like and asked for community feedback on multiple details, including the overlook.
The overlook concept was widely supported among the community, with only a few outliers. The overlook design, nicknamed the “plank,” will extend out from the bridge, similar to a pirate ship’s plank, and provide a unique view of Totem Lake from 20-30 feet in the air.
Some community members said they think the overlook is unnecessary and interrupts the flow of the ramp.
“A significant majority preferred the ‘plank’ concept and their support for it was strong,” said Brown. “Of the people who said they did not like it, most were only slightly opposed to the concept.”
One open house attendee suggested simply widening the northern ramp to provide a closer view of Totem Lake, but Schaun Valdovinos, a bridge design consultant warned that would increase the project cost.
Aaron McDonald, the city’s senior project engineer, said he’ll present all the feedback he’s received at open houses, including the mild negativity regarding the plank. The city specifically asked for feedback on the plank design and other fine details at previous council meetings.
Valdovinos and Eric Birkhauser, an architecture consultant on the project, gave a brief presentation at the final open house that outlined the final fine details that the council wanted feedback about.
Aside from the overlook, most of the small design elements didn’t see any negativity and community members only asked for clarification and reaffirmed the design team’s goals.
One of these details was the bridge’s proposed LED light system, which will illuminate the entire bridge at night. The lights will be able to display different patterns that can be programmed to display any colors from a candy cane red and white, to the Seahawks’ blue, green and grey.
Valdovinos and Birkhauser also explained the metal mesh material that the city plans to use for the guard rails. Birkhauser described the material as robust and cheap as it acts more like a net than a chain link fence would and is easily replaceable in small sections.
McDonald will review all this information with council next month before asking them for final direction on the design.
Brown said she expects council to either accept the design as-is and move toward a final adoption in April or direct staff to examine alternative options for the overlook.