Over the past two years the SDOT Blog has covered our efforts to reduce collisions on Aurora many times. From new radar speed signs to pedestrian improvements at 130th Street and from channelization improvements at Halladay Street to our ongoing education and enforcement efforts, we are determine to reduce collisions on this busy roadway.
But what else is in the works for Aurora?
For starters, we recently implemented a unique new signal cycle at the intersection of Aurora and 80th in an effort to improve the busy walking route to and from Bagley Elementary School. Prior to this change, drivers attempting to turn left from 80th onto Aurora encountered a protected-permissive turn phase. Left turning drivers would first receive a green arrow – the “protected” phase. Then the green arrow changed to a solid yellow arrow signaling the end of the protected turn phase. The solid yellow arrow then turned to a flashing yellow arrow while the signal for through traffic on 80th displayed a solid green ball. The flashing yellow arrow indicates that drivers may attempt left turns when there are sufficient gaps in traffic. This is called a “permissive” phase.
The new signal operation gives pedestrians priority. When the pedestrian push button is activated, the flashing yellow arrow, or permissive phase, is skipped for that cycle. Therefore no vehicles can make the left turn while the “walk” signal is displayed for pedestrians. The flashing yellow signal would resume during the next signal cycle if no pedestrians are present. The change is welcome by parents of children attending Bagley Elementary located a block east of the intersection, especially since it’s in place for the start of the school year.
In other signal news, SDOT crews will install a new protected left turn for drivers wishing to turn from northbound Aurora to westbound Winona in late 2011. This is the first signal on 99 as you drive north from downtown. SDOT expects this new signal to improve traffic safety and traffic flow.
Signal improvements are coming to N 95th Street and Aurora as well. This location is the mid-point of a ten block stretch of the Aurora corridor without a signalized crossing with transit stops and businesses on both sides of the street generate pedestrian traffic throughout the day. In 2009, SDOT fully assessed the intersection and determined that a new signal would drastically improve pedestrian safety, improve traffic flow, reduce speeding, and better connect the neighborhoods on either side of Aurora. So we worked with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to acquire a signal permit (Aurora is a state route) and successfully obtained grant funding for installation. Design is underway and installation will likely occur in 2012.
Further south, SDOT is preparing to implement a series of safety improvements centered around the Aurora Bridge. New signage will be installed warning drivers to expect merging traffic prior the Fremont Way and Halladay Street entrances. This project will include improved directional signage to the Queen Anne neighborhood and minor tree trimming to improve the visibility of these signs. Channelization improvements will be implemented concurrently on southbound Aurora at the Fremont Way and Raye Street entrances to Aurora. At Fremont Way, a solid white lane line will replace the existing dashed lane line and extend 200 feet south of the point where the two roadways become one. Since it is illegal to cross a solid white lane line, this new configuration will allow drivers entering Aurora to get up to speed before making lane changes. At Raye Street, a new edge line will be installed to provide drivers with better sight lines when entering Aurora. Coupled with the recently completed improvements at Halladay Street (for drivers entering and exiting northbound 99), the roadway around the Aurora Bridge will certainly funtion better.
All of these projects were conceived by the Aurora Traffic Safety Project’s Task Force. Read more about our Action Plan here.