Living in a major city often means regular growth in population, urban density, significant dependence on automobiles, and traffic congestion. Besides being an absolute pain for drivers, traffic congestion makes our roads less efficient, increases travel time, air pollution, and fuel consumption. We look for ways to combat traffic and improve traffic flow throughout the city. One way we do this is Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) technology. ITS technology is available in several forms, which you have no doubt noticed around Seattle. From countdown pedestrian signals to dynamic message signs that give drivers important information on traffic conditions ahead, ITS is providing ways to improve safety, travel time, and reduce fuel consumption.
You know that parking is a premium on Capitol Hill and First Hill. We know it too.
That’s why SDOT’s Community Parking Program is actively engaging with residents, businesses, and community groups in these neighborhoods to figure out how to make it better.
Earlier this year, SDOT collected on-street parking data in Capitol Hill and First Hill to get a feel for how long people are staying in a spot and how full the streets are. We’ve been sharing the data with community groups and have come up with a few options to change and improve the situation.
We’ll be presenting these ideas at a Capitol Hill & First Hill Parking Open House on Thursday, September 17 from 6 to 8PM at First Baptist Church (1111 Harvard Ave). Join us to discuss the challenges and opportunities, to comment on proposals, and to chat with SDOT parking staff. It’s sure to be a good time. We’re talking parking, after all.
Note: This post has been updated with a clearer picture of the green bike lane.
When you’re in the neighborhood, watch for a recently completed pedestrian and bicycle project at Boylston Ave. E. and E. Newton St. in the Eastlake area. The improvements make it easier and safer for people traveling by foot or by bike to cross under I-5 to Capitol Hill, adding another connection between two neighborhoods where walking and biking are a common way to get around.
The pedestrian portions of the project include “curb bulbs” (bump-outs at the corners) at the intersection to make pedestrians more visible to drivers and a new pedestrian “landing” on the east side. For bikes, we’ve added a green bike lane to increase the visibility of cyclists through the intersection and signal to drivers that they should expect to see bikes here. Both bikes and pedestrians benefit from our collaboration with WSDOT to introduce a sharper turn (and, hence, slower speeds) for vehicles getting on the freeway.
As with many of the projects you’ve read about this summer, this project was requested by the community through the Neighborhood Street Fund program.
SDOT just wrapped up pedestrian improvements making it easier to walk to Powell Barnett Park on Martin Luther King Jr Way. We’ve done this partly by splitting the crossing of MLK Jr Way into two steps.
The improvements include 1) a raised crosswalk at E Alder Street to reduce vehicle speeds at the intersection where pedestrians are crossing, and 2) a median island at E Jefferson Street – this is where the two steps come in.
If you’re not familiar with median islands, they’re a good tool to help pedestrian crossings on multi-lane streets. They provide a protected place for a pedestrian to stand mid-point when crossing the street. If they’re protected, pedestrians can concentrate on crossing one direction of traffic at a time.
In addition, the median island can have a traffic calming affect by visually narrowing the roadway. When drivers perceive the street to be narrower, they instinctively go slower. Since completion we’ve noted people slowing down for the crosswalk and have placed traffic counters on site to see if the data backs up our initial observations. Stay tuned for results!
This project was requested by the Leschi Community Council through the Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation levy approved by Seattle voters in 2006.
First of all we’d like to thank the people who took time to provide us with input on bicycle and truck improvements we were considering for the south end of the Ballard Bridge. We received 37 comments–a record for our young blog. After considering the comments and meeting with a small group of bicycle and freight stakeholders, we are no longer planning to use the design originally proposed. Instead, SDOT is taking the following steps:
- Review sign placement for the southbound traffic to give motorists more advance notice that bicycles will be entering the road.
- Trim trees in the area to improve visibility for traffic and bicyclists.
- Paint the curb cut where bicyclists enter the road to help alert drivers.
- Evaluate speeds of southbound traffic on 15th Avenue W. Depending on the results of the speed study additional measures may be taken including installing a radar speed sign, or lowering the speed limit.
The paving of Second Avenue from Denny to Pike is expected to be finished by mid September.
Meanwhile, concrete panel replacements on Second Avenue between Pike and Yesler are done and the roadway is completely reopened to traffic after being restricted to two lanes since late June. Crews are now focused on the area between Yesler and Jackson, where the Second Avenue Extension will be completely reconstructed through the end of September. Approximately half of the complicated intersection of Second Avenue Extension, Third Avenue and Main Street is complete after crews worked all weekend to pour the central most panels. This was no simple task with four different Metro trolley bus maneuvers and the water front street car tracks to work around!
It is the first day of school, and many kids are having fun getting there on a “walking school bus”. One of the first places the walking school bus started was in Brisbane, Australia. The goal was to get kids walking, expand their options for how to get around, create community, and reduce driving in neighborhoods and around schools. Parents beware: experience has shown the kids often like the walking school bus so much, they protest you ever driving them again.
A Walking School Bus can be created informally between neighbors and friends. Or it can be a more official school organized project. Ideas on how to start your own can be found on this website. SDOT helps support walking school buses with our Safe Routes to School program. For example; we recently installed a new flashing beacon and crosswalk near Blaine Elementary that will be used by an active walking school bus. We have also given grants to walking school bus groups for incentives and pedestrian flags. Do you have a walking school bus in your neighborhood? What has your experience been?
SDOT has been improving the pedestrian experience in the Magnolia neighborhood. Last year, the north side of the 3200 block of West McGraw was largely repaired. This year, the Magnolia Chamber of Commerce was awarded Neighborhood Street Funds (NSF) to continue repairing the sidewalk across the street. This project was also a part of the Sidewalk Safety Repair Program.
Local businesses have been very supportive and patient while the work has been underway and they have expressed their appreciation for these improvements. The Chamber has secured additional NSF funding for more sidewalk work in 2010 that will aid in repairing the south side of the 3400 block of West McGraw.
The NSF program is available for maintenance related projects identified and prioritized by community groups and their district councils. Applications are available through the Department of Neighborhoods in early spring for construction project s beginning the following year. This is an excellent resource for neighborhoods and has helped restore sidewalks in Queen Anne, Greenwood, Ballard, and Madison Park over the past few years.
It does almost feel like winter, doesn’t it? Hope you had a great holiday weekend and didn’t get terribly wet. More tomorrow………
We have a reputation in Seattle for enjoying the quirky side of life, but one place we like things nice and square is at our street intersections. When streets come together at non-right angles (as many in Seattle do), the intersection can be confusing for drivers and result in extra long distances for pedestrians to cross. The intersection of Leary Ave and 17th Ave NW in Ballard is one of these non-right angle crossroads and had been on the neighborhoods’ list of wanted improvements for years.
Last year, the community got funding through the Neighborhood Street Fund to clearly mark a straighter vehicle path through the intersection and clear up confusion. The changes not only let drivers know where to go, but also show bicycles and pedestrians what to expect from cars and trucks at the intersection. Continue reading after the break for more details on the project.