Open Alleyways vision for the Broadway-Nagle area after light rail & streetcar construction

With the approval of the two-way Broadway streetcar alignment, I figured it would be a good time to unveil the Open Alleyways Capitol Hill Rail Hub vision. This vision would incorporate the restructuring of Broadway as recommended by the Capitol Hill Community Council, and build upon it by adding pedestrian improvements as well as more green space.

Right now, community groups, designers, SDOT, and Sound Transit are coming together to reshape the streetscape around the new light rail station and streetcar route. These groups have come up with ideas such as incorporating cycle tracks (For an example of cycle tracks refer to the previous post) and turning Nagle into a “Festival Street” (a street open to traffic most times, but closed during certain activities.). These are some good ideas, but I believe that if we really want to “reclaim the streets,” we have an even greater potential.

For example, instead of turning all of Nagle into a festival street, this vision proposes closing Nagle between where Olive St continues as a path through Cal Anderson Park and Denny Way. South of this point would act as a festival street. Thus providing more pedestrian space as needed. As part of the Plaza concept, and as a better connection to Cal Anderson Park, Howell St., between Broadway and the park, would be converted to an open stairway with green elements leading down toward the park and acting as a direct entrance to Cal Anderson from Broadway.

To complete the pedestrian experience, this visions calls to close Denny Way to traffic (excluding the new streetcar) between Broadway and 10th Avenue completely. Then, widen Denny further, lay down brick and green elements, and create a plaza at the (potential) terminus.

This Plaza would serve as open public space, as an entrance to the Capitol Hill light rail station, as a place to catch the First Hill Streetcar, and as possible open space for outdoor restaurant seating or food vending carts. Between Denny and the Olive St. path, an ample amount of space would be provided for events such as the Broadway Farmers Market.

This sort of design has proven to work well in other cities across the world (see: Leidseplein, Damplein, and Spui in Amsterdam, as well as Plaze du General de Gaulle, in Lille). In addition to providing open space for the community, it would serve as a hub for neighborhood activity and as a pedestrian connection to a massive chunk of Capitol Hill.

A breakdown of the design is below:

  • Close Nagle between Olive St, and Denny Way to motor vehicles, excluding service vehicles
  • Leave Nagle between Olive and Pike as a festival street
  • Close Denny between Broadway and 10th to all traffic excluding the streetcar. In this space, build a plaza and streetcar terminus – If funding for an extension for the streetcar line is secured, the streetcar stop could be positioned closer to Broadway, leaving more open community space.
  • Convert Howell between Broadway and Nagle to a staircase with green accents, serving as an entrance to the park and plaza from SCCC/Broadway
  • Incorporate plaza design into CHCC’s Broadway Plan by improving signaling, leaving open cycle track entrances near Denny Plaza/SCCC, and giving pedestrians right of way on this stretch of Broadway between John and Pike – Improve signaling and install signage giving pedestrians the right-of-way (See: Pike Place Market) as well as signage directing cyclists to the cycle track