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We’re continuing to improve the Melrose Ave and Pike St intersection in Capitol Hill

Crew members working to move traffic signal equipment to the east side of Melrose Ave and Pike St intersection. Photo credit: Cory Hutton (@streetcrafting), a member of Central Seattle Greenways

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Editor’s Note: This is a joint update from the Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).


  • We’ve been making steady progress to improve the Pike St and Melrose Ave intersection in Capitol Hill, while working to address public concerns about project construction and design features.
  • We have finished moving traffic signal equipment to the east side of the intersection which will help clarify how to travel through this intersection. We’ve been listening to public feedback suggesting other traffic signal adjustments and are considering the possibility of making more changes in the future.
  • This week, we will begin building a concrete island to prevent drivers from making illegal turns onto Melrose Ave.
  • We’ve been making ongoing adjustments to signs and street markings to make the intersection more intuitive.
  • We will paint colorful community crosswalks on Melrose Ave at both Pike St and Pine St later this summer. The painted crosswalk will be 10 feet wide with the same design as the previous crosswalk murals.

The Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) have been working to improve the intersection of Pike St and Melrose Ave / Minor Ave. We’ve recently made several improvements to the intersection and traffic signal and are about to start building a new concrete island to better protect people walking, rolling, and biking.

The Pike & Pine Streetscape and Bicycle Improvement project is being built by the Office of the Waterfront in coordination with SDOT. This project builds on the recent Melrose Promenade Project and improves the connection between the Downtown and Capitol Hill with many pedestrian and bike enhancements. These include wider sidewalks and over a mile of newly improved concrete-protected bike lanes on both Pike St and Pine St from 2nd Ave to Bellevue Ave.

While the project has many benefits for people walking, biking, and rolling, we have also been hearing concerns about the challenges of navigating this area during construction and the new design for the intersection of Pike St and Melrose Ave.

We take these concerns seriously and have identified several more short-term changes to make it clearer for people walking, biking, and driving through this intersection during construction. We are also carefully considering the possibility of more changes to the traffic signal in the future based on suggestions from community members.

We’ve finished moving traffic signal equipment to reduce confusion and are considering community suggestions for additional changes.

This past weekend, we finished moving traffic signal equipment at the intersection of Pike St and Melrose Ave. The signal lights with automatic bike detection have been relocated to the east side of the street where they will be more visible for people traveling along Pike St. This will be a better fit for the newly redesigned one-way street, reducing some of the confusion that we have been seeing for people driving and riding bikes.

A social media post showing four pictures of the street and various elements like traffic signals. The post was made by Streetcrafting and tags the Seattle Department of Transportation, Waterfront Seattle, and shares feedback about the intersection.
A recent social media post discussing new traffic signal location. This post is part of a larger thread which has helped us identify and solve issues with this intersection. Credit: Cory Hutton (@streetcrafting), a member of Central Seattle Greenways

While the new design improves visibility and addresses some of the concerns we’ve been hearing, we are also carefully considering community members’ requests to further change the intersection. We are currently looking into the feasibility of these thoughtful suggestions.

The current design is a “half-signal,” which has signal lights controlling traffic on Pike St and stop signs facing Melrose and Minor Ave. This is a common design for intersections where a major street intersects with a smaller street, and while it works well in many locations recent observations of how people are travelling through this intersection indicates that it is worth considering the suggestion to create a “full-signal” by adding traffic lights facing Melrose and Minor Ave.

Community members have suggested that this change could make it clearer to drivers coming from Melrose Ave when it is their turn to go. We’re also carefully considering the request to create a special pedestrian and bike-only phase of the signal, during which cars are not allowed into the intersection and people walking and biking would be able to cross freely. This design has several benefits, but also typically means that all types of travelers including pedestrians and bike riders would wait a little longer for their turn.

Changing the design for an intersection with a traffic signal is a complex process that is often affected by many factors. We will need some time to consider options so that we can get a better sense of whether the ideas are feasible, what it would cost, how long it might take, and other considerations.

We’re building a new concrete island to prevent cars from illegally entering Melrose Ave

The entrance to Melrose Ave was recently reconfigured with temporary barriers that prevent cars from entering this street from Pike St or northbound Minor Ave. This helped simplify the intersection and made the new bike route work better. However, we have been seeing too many instances of drivers ignoring the temporary signs and barricades to illegally cross the bike lane to get onto northbound Melrose Ave.

This week, we’ll start working to replace the temporary barricades with a new concrete island which will take a few weeks to build. This will make it more clear to everyone where they are supposed to go and block drivers from illegally entering Melrose Ave.

This will also make it more clear for westbound bike riders that they are supposed to turn right (north) onto Melrose Ave to get to the new concrete-protected westbound bike lanes on Pine St.

Graphic map showing the location of a concrete island in the intersection of Minor Ave, Pike St, and Melrose Ave. Other elements are also shown like crosswalks and travel lanes.
Graphic showing the intersection where a new concrete barrier will be located. Graphic: SDOT

Signs and street markings

We have also been hearing that people are confused about where they are supposed to go now that the street grid has changed and there are new one-way streets. This has been an issue for both people driving and riding bikes and has been especially challenging due to repeated theft and vandalism of temporary traffic control and directional signs.

Fortunately, this situation appears to have been improving as we install permanent signs and paint street markings. As we’ve made ongoing changes, we’ve repeatedly visited the intersection to observe people’s movements which has helped us to identify more opportunities for improvements.

We have identified more places to install additional “Do Not Enter” signs to make things clearer for people coming from different directions. We have also removed turn arrow signs at certain locations which may have been confusing people driving, leading them to make the wrong turn.

The new traffic signal location and soon-to-come concrete island will complete this effort, making the intersection function more smoothly.

A view of a street looking down a hill. A person is crossing the street to the right, with cars in the middle. Large buildings are in the background.
View of the temporary barricade at Pike St and Melrose Ave which will be replaced with a concrete island. Photo credit: Office of the Waterfront

Repainting the community crosswalk

Later this summer, we will also be repainting the colorful community crosswalks which were removed during the construction of the Melrose Promenade project.

The crosswalk murals will be painted across Melrose Way at both Pike St and Pine St. They will have the same colorful design as the original crosswalk mural and will now be 10 feet wide.

A person wearing headphones and a backpack walks along a colorful painted crosswalk.
2018 photo of the previous community crosswalk mural at the intersection of Melrose Ave and E Pike St. The new painted crosswalk will have the same design and be 10 feet wide. Photo: SDOT.

Ongoing efforts to make this project successful

We appreciate the diligent and thoughtful feedback we have received about this project from the public. This has helped us to consider a wide range of perspectives and travel needs as we develop possible design options.

The changes to Pike St, Pine St, and Melrose Ave are the result of a decade-long collaborative process. In that time, the streetscape and the way people get around Seattle have changed considerably. It makes sense that ongoing improvements to the downtown bike network has led to more people biking through this intersection, which has changed the dynamic at this intersection.

We are seeing that the adjustments we have been making during construction are improving things right now and address many of the concerns we have heard. We feel confident that the work to move the traffic signal and build a concrete island will make a big difference. We will continue to monitor the situation once all of these improvements are built, and will carefully consider the possibility of additional traffic signal changes as a potential future revision.

Thanks for your interest in this work – we hope you found this post helpful and informative.