Category Archives: Transportation

Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project kickoff scheduled for Friday, March 28

Flyer announcing the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project.

Flyer announcing the Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project.

You may have already noticed the billboards, flyers or walkers carrying signs in recent months along Lake City Way. But on Friday, March 28, The Lake City Way Traffic Safety Project will formally kickoff with an event on Lake City Way.

Neighborhood residents march on Lake CIty Way on November 12, 2013. (LCL photo)

Neighborhood residents march on Lake CIty Way on November 12, 2013. (LCL photo)

The project is a coordinated effort between the community, the City of Seattle, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the Washington State Department of Transportation. The project will bring engineering improvements, extra enforcement, and greater safety awareness to the busy Lake City Way traffic corridor.

Corridor Safety Projects are one of the tools employed by the WTSC to achieve the agency goal to end traffic deaths and injuries by 2030. There have been two other traffic safety projects in Seattle, Rainer Avenue South and Aurora.

Data compiled for Lake City Way from Northeast 78th Street to NE 145th Street between January 2007 and December 2011 show that on this 3.7 miles stretch of roadway there have been:

  • 717 crashes (143 per year)
  • 21 serious and fatal crashes (4 per year) and
  • 438 total injuries (88 per year)

At 3:30 p.m. there will be a walk along the street and at 4 p.m. the project will launch at Chase Plaza on the southwest corner of 125th and Lake City Way.

The LCW Traffic Safety Project task force is organized into three teams —engineering, enforcement and education— to identify problems and develop action plans using short term, low cost solutions designed to reduce serious injuries and deaths.

You can learn more about the project by clicking here.

Olympic Hills Greenway project open house Thursday, March 13th

Olympic-Hills-Save-the-Date-Web-GraphicProgress and proposals for the planned Olympic Hills Greenway on 27th Avenue NE will be unveiled during an open house, Thursday, March 13 at the Lake City Library.

The open house starts at 6 p.m. and a presentation begins at 6:30.

The City of Seattle elicited responses to the intial proposal for the greenway. A greenway basically takes an existing roadway and puts bikes and pedestrians on par with automobiles via design and safety enhancements. A greenway is planned for 27th Avenue NE and parts of 25th Avenue NE.

Last summer SDOT hosted a public meeting and gathered input on building the greenway, and input received then has influenced the project. “Based on feedback and our evaluation we have identified the most promising route and are excited to share recommended traffic safety improvements with you,” said an announcement received by neighborhood residents.

The proposed Olympic Hills Greenway

The proposed Olympic Hills Greenway

Car crashes into building, driver injured, accident closes all lanes of LCW

Photo courtesy Seattle Fire

Photo courtesy Seattle Fire

A 63 year-old woman driving a Volkswagen Beetle was trapped in her car after it drove across all lanes of Lake City Way and crashed into a building near NE 110th Street. She was transported to Harborview with serious injuries.

The accident was first reported at 2:20 p.m. As of 4:30 all lanes of Lake City Way were closed as officers investigated the scene.

The road reopened about 4:40 after being closed for more than two hours.

The building hit houses the Community Psychiatric Clinic. The building was being inspected after the accident to make sure it was safe to enter.

The photos below were tweeted by KIRO/7 reporter Alison Grande:

The car went off a rock embankment at Public Storage, across four lanes and hit the building, said Grande.

At about 4:40 p.m. Carolyn Hall Jensen from KING/5 tweeted that the road was open.

The photo below is courtesy of KIRO/7′s helicopter.

The accident scene, courtesy KIRO/7

The accident scene, courtesy KIRO/7

Pedestrian island on NE 125th prompts questions from residents, city answers

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A pedestrian island being installed on NE 125th Street at the intersection with 20th Avenue NE has promoted questions from Lake City residents. Some say the island makes using the turn lane difficult there. Others say the island is an obstacle that will likely damage cars.

Changes on the road have prompted much controversy in recent years as it was rechanneled from four car lanes to the current configuration of two travel lanes, a turn lane and two bike lanes.

Recently Brian Dougherty from SDOT provided the following answers about the island to the community.

Why did the crosswalk at 20th Avenue NE and NE 125th Street get marked?
There were no marked crosswalks across NE 125th Street between 25th Avenue NE and 15th Avenue NE – a distance of nearly half-mile. The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) marked the crosswalk and installed school crosswalk signs to make crossing the street easier, to improve pedestrian connections between neighborhoods, and to make the crossing safer and more appealing to existing and potential transit users. There are bus stops, a church and a child care center located at this intersection. The walk zone for Olympic Hills Elementary extends south of NE 125th Street and this marked crosswalk provides families living in the Victory Heights neighborhood a safer, more direct option for crossing NE 125th Street on foot.

Why is SDOT installing a pedestrian safety island at the marked crosswalk?
The island improves safety by providing two-stage crossing of NE 125th Street. This two-stage crossing gives people a place to stand and wait in the middle of the street where they are less exposed to moving traffic. Additionally, since the crossing may be used by families walking to Olympic Hills Elementary, SDOT is providing this additional safety feature to give families a safer way to cross the street.

Will this island restrict left turns at the intersection?
The pedestrian island has been designed to accommodate vehicles, including cars, SUVS, pickup trucks and delivery trucks, turning on and off NE 125th Street without hitting the island. Vehicles will have to slow down in order to access the turn pocket, which is a safety feature.

What are the benefits of this new pedestrian island?
Crossing the street can be a complex task for pedestrians. Pedestrians must estimate vehicle speeds, adjust their own walking speeds, determine adequacy of gaps in traffic, predict vehicle movements, and time their crossings appropriately. Drivers must see pedestrians, estimate vehicle and pedestrian speeds, determine the need for action, and react.

Raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time. This significantly reduces the complexity of the crossing. Federal Highway Administration research shows pedestrian islands have a 46 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes. Similar research found a reduction of motor vehicle crashes by 15 percent. These islands also visually narrow the street, reducing the number of people exceeding the speed limit.

Medians are especially important at transit stops. Transit stops are frequently located along busy streets. Providing medians can make these crossings safer and more appealing to existing and potential transit users.

Will there be additional enhancements to the pedestrian island?
At this time no additional enhancements are planned. SDOT plans to evaluate the crosswalk again in 2014 to determine if additional safety enhancements are needed.

Construction started on ‘Safe Routes to School’ sidewalk on NE 130th

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Construction has started on a new sidewalk on the south side of NE 130th Street between 25th Avenue NE and 28th Avenue NE. The stretch of sidewalk will connect existing sidewalks and will provide a safer route for pedestrians walking between Olympic Hills Elementary and the Lake City Library and Community Center. Currently pedestrians must walk in the street to travel between the facilities.

The project includes building a new concrete sidewalk and planting strip on the south side of NE 130th Street between 25th Avenue NE & 28th Avenue NE. The project will also install new trees, ground cover and additional street lighting. The total cost for the project is expected to be around $735,000. It is expected to be complete in March.

SDOT applied for and received a grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation to build the sidewalk. The grant also includes funding for education and encouragement of walking and biking to school, additional traffic enforcement and formal evaluation of arrival and dismissal patterns at the school.  SDOT’s partners in these efforts include Feet First, Cascade Bicycle Club, and the Seattle Police Department.

Construction was originally planned to start in 2013 but was delayed. Last summer neighbors rallied and helped a senior resident remove part of an elaborate garden she built that was along the route of the planned sidewalk. The sidewalk link is infrastructure that some longtime residents say they have been requesting for decades.

Joyce Hsu's "Flyways"

Joyce Hsu’s “Flyways.” Click image to see more about art project.

The sidewalk construction project will include a public art element. “Flyways” will be an installation by artist Joyce Hsu and is described as a free standing carousel of northern flicker birds mounted on top of a metal pole. It is planned to be installed at the intersection of NE 130th Street and 28th Avenue NE.

“It is my intention to create an artwork that is playful in look and field so as to attract the attention of school kids in addition to becoming an icon in the neighborhood,” said the artist in her proposal. Click here for more info on the art installation.

Click here for more information on the sidewalk project.

 

 

Olympic Hills Elementary Families Help Make Safer Routes to School

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Neighbors try out the new crossing flags

Walking just got a little bit safer in Lake City, thanks to families who attend Olympic Hills Elementary School. New safety flags and flag buckets have been installed at 30th Ave NE and NE 137th St to help increase pedestrian visibility at that intersection.  The bright orange flags were decorated in both English and Spanish by Olympic Hills Elementary students. The project is just one part of a Safe Routes to School Grant the school received from the WA Dept. of Transportation.

 

Neighbors identified this intersection as a particularly difficult one along 30th Ave NE, where cars often speed and there’s little pedestrian infrastructure. It’s also located in Little Brook, a high-density micro-community sandwiched between 30th Ave NE and Lake City Way. The area falls just on the cusp of the Seattle School District’s cut-off boundary for bussing, leaving many kids in Little Brook with a long walk to school. The Seattle Dept. of Transportation has promised to mark a crosswalk at this intersection, tentatively scheduled to be completed by the end of January.

 

A Walking School Bus on its way to Olympic Hills Elementary

A Walking School Bus on its way to Olympic Hills Elementary

A parent-led Walking School Bus has traveled this route regularly throughout the school year. Other Walking School Busses are active in the area too. Families participate weekly, meeting each other at designated locations throughout the neighborhood then walking to school together. Feet First, a non-profit organization promoting walkability, has been partnering with Olympic Hills on this and other projects. If you’d like to help out, there’s an MLK event planned for January 20th. Volunteers will gather to help clean up obstacles on one of the Oly Hills walking bus routes. For more information, contact  drew@feetfirst.org or call 206.652.2310 ext. 5.

 

The Safe Routes to School funding supports education and walk-to-school campaigns like these. Funding will also go to the construction of a new sidewalk, curb and street trees on NE 130th between 25th and 28th. Construction is just beginning and will provide a walkway connecting Olympic Hills Elementary to the Lake City Branch Library and Lake City’s retail core.

SDOT: NE125th rechannelization has reduced speed, number of collisions

NE 125th Street shown after rechannelization and repavement

NE 125th Street shown after rechannelization and repavement (LCL photo)

The Seattle Department of Transportation has posted data on its blog that shows speed and the number of collisions have decreased on NE 125th Street. This even with an increase in use of the road by drivers. You can read the entire SDOT post here.

From SDOT:

In May 2011 the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reconfigured the lanes on NE 125th Street between Roosevelt Way NE and 30th Avenue NE to make the street safer for everyone, better support transit and keep vehicles moving. Prior to the rechannelization there were two travel lanes in each direction. SDOT altered the road’s striping to provide one lane in each direction, a new two-way left turn lane and bicycle lanes.

Prior to the project, the 85th percentile speed (the speed most drivers are comfortable driving) was 41 m.p.h. eastbound and 39 m.p.h. westbound. Eighty-seven percent of drivers were traveling over the speed limit and 16 percent of drivers were speeding at 40 m.p.h. or more – more than 10 m.p.h. over the speed limit! Since the project was completed, the 85th percentile is now 38 m.p.h. eastbound and 36 m.p.h. westbound with an 11 percent decrease in the percentage of people exceeding the speed limit.

The data below from SDOT also shows a decrease in drivers speeding more than 10 miles over the speed limit.

The most dangerous drivers are now going slower.
The SDOT post says that the decrease in speed and number of collisions come with a 10% increase in used of the road. The increase is likely due to shifting traffic patterns after a toll was started on the SR520 floating bridge over Lake Washington.

The post goes on to say:

In one of the most satisfying outcomes, the rate of collisions and the rate of injury collisions have both declined. Despite the increase in traffic volume, the rate of collisions has decreased by 10 percent and injury collisions have decreased by 17 percent. This means that all of us – people who walk, ride a bicycle and drive – are safer when we use NE 125th. Modifying roads to discourage speeding is one of the recommended actions in Seattle’s Road Safety Action Plan, which has a goal of zero traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030.

All of this leads to fewer collisions.

 

To read the full report and see its data, click on this link: NE 125th Street Rechannelization Report.