The wide boulevard promenade-style bridge deck makes biking and walking to Myrtle Edwards Park an enjoyable experience. For bicyclists like Shaun and Kaitlin, the new W. Thomas St. Overpass made it possible to complete a loop-ride from their Eastlake residence through Discovery Park in Magnolia. The approximately 14-mile ride started by accessing the Burke-Gilman Trail and connecting with the Ship Canal Trail which continues to Magnolia now beneath the Ballard Bridge. The completed overpass, enabled them to continue their ride as a loop via the Elliott Bay Trail rather than retracing their route. A regular commuter, Kaitlin said that she will consider the West Thomas St. Overpass as a part of her way to work.
When asked how they liked the new overpass, both bicyclists and walkers most often responded, “It’s wonderful.” “Pretty Flash,” responded Jon Dietrich, down from Whistler visiting bicyclist-friend Chad Osborn, recently relocated from Vancouver, B.C. Osborn, a resident of Ballard for about twelve months was checking out the overpass for the first time today. Responding to the author’s question, Osborn stated “Happy to see it opened; waiting for it for some time.” Enjoying the ride with him was Amy Baker, his wife, as well as their friends from Whistler. Osborn commented that Vancouver didn’t have anything like this while Dietrich interjected, “In Vancouver, they’re taking out lanes from regular bridges and adding separated bike lanes.” To which Baker added, “Seattle could use some.” Carol Lacey, also of Whistler commented that she regularly used Vancouver’s retrofitted bicycle-accommodating bridge. The bicyclists all agreed that when the Burrard Street Bridge bicycle lane was first planned they were against it, but three years later, traffic has adjusted and it’s pleasant.
Artistically sleek and functional, the sloping sides of the West Thomas St. Overpass creates the feeling of opening up to the sky and beyond. This is especially true heading west to the Sound. The black ironwork is a striking contrast against the sky, the Sound and buildings as well as the green of the park even on a gray overcast day. Ramps leading to the bridge deck is neither too steep nor not enough; they allow access to walkers and bicyclists as well as baby strollers and wheelchairs. Traffic bollards and slow signs are a wise reminder of the overpass’ multi-use status.
In the past, many residents of Queen Anne didn’t bother walking to the Seattle waterfront because it lacked convenient and safe access. Even for the neighborhood’s bicycling residents, the waterfront wasn’t convenient. By the use on this blustery, gray and rain-threatening day, Myrtle Edwards Park is inviting; an enjoyable destination regardless of the weather. “Build it and they will come.” The line from Field of Dreams seems to be correct.