Tag Archive for 'project'

Linden Complete Streets Open House April 6

The Linden Avenue Complete Streets project is moving forward with an open house coming up this Wednesday, April 6. The project will implement 17 blocks of sidewalks, curbs, bike lanes, and trees on Linden Ave N from 128th St to 145th St. This design open house at the Bitter Lake Community Center, 13035 Linden Avenue North will allow the community to review and comment on the current design plans and is scheduled from 6:30 – 8:00 pm.


West Thomas overpass construction to start in March

Work will begin in March to connect Lower Queen Anne with the Myrtle Edwards Park via a pedestrian and cyclist bridge over Elliott Ave and the railroad tracks. From Seattle Likes Bikes:

After years of work (and fears the project had stalled for good), SDOT has announced that it has the funding to move forward with a bicycle and pedestrian overpass connecting Lower Queen Anne and Myrtle Edwards Park. The bridge will be built in the middle of a 1.2 mile stretch where the park and the neighborhood currently have no crossings. The project will make the park and the Elliott Bay Trail much more usable for both recreation and transportation.


15th Ave Reconstruction Open House

There’s an open house tonight for the reconstruction of 15th Ave NE. This project will include improvements to sidewalks and crosswalks. From SDOT’s blog:

Beginning in January 2011 the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will reconstruct most of 15th Avenue NE in the University District between NE Pacific Street and NE 55th Street. The roadway needs to be reconstructed to maintain an efficient and safe travel corridor for vehicles, pedestrians, and transit. To learn more and meet 15th Avenue NE project team members, come to an Open House December 8th!

The 15th Avenue NE project Open House details are as follows:
December 8, 2010
4:00 – 7:00 pm
University Heights Community Center
(5031 University Ave NE)
Room 209


Dangers of Aurora, part 2: Safety Project will benefit pedestrians

Aurora Traffic Safety ProjectAs we saw in part 1, Aurora is a dangerous highway, especially for pedestrians. The Aurora Traffic Safety Project is making Aurora safer for all users through a three-pronged approach of engineering, enforcement, and education.

There is only $250,000 available for engineering improvements along Aurora, so “getting word out is a critical piece” of the plan according to project manager Jim Curtin. Because many pedestrian collisions are caused by inattentive drivers who fail to yield the right of way, the tag line of the project is “Expect the Unexpected.” “We want people to be ready for anything at any time,” says Curtin.

New billboards on the corridor remind people to slow down and watch for pedestrians. Also, five radar speed signs will remind drivers how fast they are going. This method can lower speeds in these targeted areas by 3-5 miles per hour according to studies referenced by SDOT.

STOP for Pedestrians billboard design

Billboard to remind drivers to be careful

There are also pedestrian safety patrols on Aurora to make sure that drivers properly yield to pedestrians. Drivers who don’t yield to pedestrians will get a ticket and a brochure to remind them to drive safely around people on foot.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission has supplied seventy-five thousand dollars for additional police work during the duration of the two-year project. Citations issued on Aurora are up 110%, and 10,000 citations have been written since the project launched in June of last year.

Meanwhile, SDOT is doing what it can to address the road design. “If we had funding in place, we would like to re-engineer the roadway and put changes in place to slow people down,” says Curtin. The majority of pedestrian collisions occur in intersections and the existing signals are already “the highest form of traffic control that we can provide.” Still, SDOT has repainted crosswalks at all signals at a cost of $1,500 per crosswalk, and added new crosswalks at 115th and 130th Streets.

But Curtin says there’s more than just new paint. “When the Traffic Safety Project is complete in June of 2011, we will have installed more than 30 new curb ramps along Aurora (fourteen of which are already complete). In addition, we have applied for a grant to install a new traffic signal at N 95th and Aurora. This is the mid-point of a ten block stretch that lacks crosswalks despite busy transit stops on the east and west sides of the street.” Just a few weeks ago a pedestrian was struck at 95th St, so this improvement can’t come soon enough.

SDOT has applied for an additional grant to install curb ramps at N 135th St, another site of serious accidents. Other improvements that have already been made include reclaiming part of 84th Street to create a bus stop plaza and adding a left turn signal to traffic lights at 80th St.

The project team will continue to evaluate conditions along Aurora, looking deeper at collision patterns as well as lighting along the corridor.

SDOT is still evaluating how to reduce pedestrian collisions near Green Lake. There were some good ideas shared on this blog last time someone was hit there. According to Curtin:

We are currently leaning toward an option similar to one of your reader suggestions. In this option, we would install signage or paint directly onto the jersey barrier with the “no pedestrian crossing” symbol (the ped symbol with a red circle with a line through it). Beneath the symbol we would paint “crosswalk X blocks” with an arrow pointing in the direction of the nearest crosswalk. We would install these markings in areas where we see this behavior most often. We’ve identified several areas thus far including: the Green Lake area, near the N 50th St underpass, near the N 46th St underpass, near the N 41st St overpass, near the N 38th St underpass/north end of the Aurora Bridge, near the south end of the Aurora Bridge, near the Galer St overpass, near the Broad St underpass, and near Denny Way. Believe it or not, most of the ped collisions on the south end of the corridor happen within one to two blocks of a safe crossing. Again, there is no guarantee that pedestrians will take time to read the message but we feel that this is a viable option.

While Aurora will still be a dangerous roadway without re-engineering, the project is already seeing success. Curtin says, “We’ve seen a 30% reduction in collisions and want to sustain that for the next couple years and beyond.”

More information about the project can be found at the project website, or from this interview with SDOT project manager Jim Curtin on Aurora Seattle.


Dangers of Aurora, part 1: A dangerous pedestrian environment

Aurora Ave N, one of Seattle’s busiest roadways, is also one of its most dangerous for pedestrians as well as drivers.

Traffic Death Thermometer near Aurora

Traffic Death Thermometer near Aurora in 1940

The Washington State Department of Transportation analyzed three years of collisions along Aurora. The study found that while pedestrians were involved in less than 3% of the total collisions along this roadway, they accounted for more than 30% of the fatalities. Over 70,000 drivers pass along at least part of the eight-mile stretch between the Battery Street Tunnel and 145th St at the Seattle City Limits every day, and significantly fewer people walk on this mostly-car-oriented roadway. Pedestrians therefore represent a disproportionate number of the fatalities that result from collisions on Aurora.

Due to the high speed of traffic along this street, people struck by a vehicle on Aurora are more likely to die than people hit on other roadways. 8 out of 10 pedestrians hit at 40 mph suffer fatal injuries and, according to a 2003 WSDOT study, vehicle speeds along Aurora average around 45 miles per hour.

According to Jim Curtin of SDOT, “We see more fatalities on the south section, where there are higher speeds. Up north pedestrian collisions are more frequent but less severe.”

“The speed limit on Aurora south of Green Lake is 40 mph but speeds in this segment tend to be over 45 mph,” says Curtin.

The fundamental problem with Aurora is the road design. The roadway does not meet modern standards for vehicles, much less pedestrians. For example, sharp curves limit visibility, and narrow lane widths lead to more vehicle accidents. Pedestrians are further endangered by the lack of sidewalks on Aurora north of 110th, where sidewalks exist only in front of recent development.

However, most pedestrians are struck while in an intersection. The intersections at 85th, 90th, and Northgate Way account for 1/4 of all the pedestrian collisions along Aurora. More than half of these collisions occur between 85th and 125th. Many of these accidents are due to “inattentive drivers turning their vehicle” according to the WSDOT study. “I don’t know that people are following the rules of the road and yielding the right of way to pedestrians,” says Curtin.

Also, crosswalks are spaced far apart in some places, and many people attempt to cross Aurora where a crosswalk does not exist. According to Curtin, “a lot of people who have been doing this have problems with drug and alcohol issues. We have seen a number of people get hit near the motels.”

Speed, inattentive drivers, and poor road design make Aurora a dangerous place to walk. In part 2, we’ll talk next about how the Aurora Traffic Safety Project is addressing the issues along this major corridor.