In March 2021, the WCC proposed the Wedgwood to Inverness Pedestrian Connectivity Project, a variation of a 2012 grant pursuit that also included a low-impact trail through the Inverness Ravine Park. The Wedgwood to Inverness Pedestrian Connectivity Project, as proposed in March 2021, was a feasibility-level study of a pedestrian connection along undeveloped city rights-of-way along NE 88th Street and 45th Ave NE. The feasibility-level analysis would have studied whether a trail or similar walkway could be constructed given the challenges associated with the site, which includes steep slopes and a history of unstable soils.
The reason for this project was to provide a safer, more convenient route for pedestrians and other non-motorized users to move between Wedgwood and Inverness given that the only east/west route is currently a single-lane, windy road along 42nd Ave NE and NE 92nd Street which has no lighting, no pedestrian facilities, and several blind corners that can put pedestrians at risk of injury. Furthermore, the length and slope of that single access make it difficult for pedestrians who aren’t in good shape to use.
From our outreach, we understood the project to be broadly supported by 63% of those who we polled and only opposed by 16% of those we heard from all neighboring communities. However, after receiving a formal letter of opposition from the Inverness Park Home Owners Association, we invited them and other Inverness and Matthews Beach neighbors to join our July board meeting to discuss their perspectives. During our meeting, we agreed to evaluate all options with them in a collaborative way with the goal of improving east-west connectivity between Wedgwood and Inverness.
On August 20th, we hosted Brian Dougherty with SDOT for an in-person meeting at the site to look at the site and its challenges and discuss opportunities to improve the access. Following our walk, we asked Mr. Dougherty for his feedback. It became clear that while pursuing a feasibility-level study was still a possibility, the cost of such a project would likely be more than SDOT typically spends in their limited budget for these types of projects in low-density neighborhoods like ours. Therefore, funding would have to be specifically identified in the budget for such a project and would therefore likely require us to politic for this funding. Given the likelihood that this project would require significant resources and uncertain future funding and would harm our relationship with some of our neighbors, the WCC board determined to stop pursuing the project.
The benefit of this site visit with Mr. Dougherty with SDOT was three-fold:
- It helped facilite a decision for the WCC board so that we can redirect our limited resources in a more productive way.
- It allowed SDOT to look more closely at the challenges we face along 42nd Ave NE and NE 92nd, our sole east/west connection, and the lack of safe access our communities experience.
- It facilitated conversation with SDOT and other neighbors about opportunities to improve our current conditions, especially along NE 95th Street and will hopefully be helpful in identifying near, mid, and long-term solutions to improve that corridor as a safer route for pedestrians.
We know that some will be disappointed by this decision while others will be relieved. Unfortunately, given our limited resources and the time of our volunteer board, we think this is the best decision in order to make a positive outcome for our community.