The West Boston Street sidewalk project is nearly done, with new sidewalk material, wider tree beds and new gingko trees. Photo by Sarah Radmer
The West Boston Street sidewalk project is nearly done, with new sidewalk material, wider tree beds and new gingko trees. Photo by Sarah Radmer

The sidewalk project on West Boston Street and Queen Anne Avenue North is nearly complete. The project repairs the sidewalk, widens the tree beds and creates a clear distinction between the street and alley.

The project is a joint effort between Picture Perfect Queen Anne (PPQA) and the Queen Anne Community Council (QACC). A few years ago, the groups worked with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to identify sidewalks in the neighborhood that needed upgrades, said PPQA chair Margaret Okamoto.

The groups noticed the sidewalk at West Boston Street and Queen Anne Avenue was “in really bad shape,” Okamoto said. The trees lining the sidewalk had pushed the ground up, with a metal pipe poking through in one spot, and multiple different materials had been used to patch the sidewalk.

Over a period of a few years, the groups applied for a Neighborhood Park and Street Fund. After a few years of denials, they were able to secure the funding for the project.

The original proposal didn’t include tree removal but, instead, planned for replacing the sidewalk and its crumbling curbs. People had parking their cars with the wheels on the sidewalk or parking in the alley area, so Okamoto was excited for the “clear delineation” of the area.

The tree pits were supposed to be enlarged. It was during that enlargement when the Seattle Department of Transporation (SDOT) realized it had to cut too many tree roots to keep the trees in, Okamoto said.

The construction started in early July and was expected to only take about three weeks, but because of unexpected tree removal, it has taken longer.

In a statement posted on the Queen Anne View, SDOT explained, “The westernmost tree and easternmost tree required extensive root pruning, which would have severely affected their health, jeopardized their structural stability and caused safety risks. Therefore, SDOT determined the best plan is to replace them.”

SDOT contacted the groups to ask which trees they should plant to replace them. PPQA suggested gingko trees, which are planted on the other side of the street, and “SDOT was happy to oblige,” Okamoto said. (Note: The trees will all be male, which will not create the same slimy mess as their female counterparts, she said.)

The new and improved sidewalks will make the area “much more friendly for pedestrians,” Okamoto said. She hopes the new trees will provide a nice seating area for Starbucks Coffee’s customers. She expects Starbucks to move its outdoor seating between the trees, which will open up the sidewalk and make for a “much more comfortable” seating area.

The upgrades will also replace the bike rack and add more bike-rack spaces. Okamoto also hopes to permanently remove the newspaper box on Boston Street in front of Starbucks to visually improve the area, but that decision is up to Starbucks and the newspaper vendors. “That’s an unknown piece right now,” Okamoto said.

After the West Boston sidewalk project, PPQA doesn’t have any other planned repaving projects. “It was a nice suggestion by SDOT to do this, and it’s great that it can be done,” Okamoto said. “It provides potential for some very cool, comfortable seating there and definitely enhances pedestrian safety. It’s a great project.”

In other PPQA news, the group is focusing on maintaining the projects it has already completed. Its watering costs have increased, so members plan to start a new fundraising cycle at the end of September, with a challenging matching grant for the donors. Okamoto hopes the group raises $20,000.

It also plans to redo the garden in front of Homegrown (2201 Queen Anne Ave. N.). Members will start that project this fall and finish in the spring.

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