35th SW memorial walk, report #2: Another death, another meeting – will major safety improvements follow, this time?

January 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm | In High Point, Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 55 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

James St. Clair‘s niece choked up as she struggled with saying her uncle “was” rather than “is.”

But her words were clear and plaintive as she wondered aloud “what could happen in another seven years if it’s going to take that long to make changes?”

“Seven years” referred to the time elapsed between the death of 27-year-old Susanne Scaringi, who lost her life bicycling at 35th and Graham in September 2006, and the death of Mr. St. Clair, 69, hit and killed while walking across 35th at that same intersection last month.

Darlene Saxby spoke about her uncle, and her fears, during the community meeting that followed Saturday’s community-organized Memorial Walk on Saturday. (She also spoke during the memorial, as seen in our first report, with video, here.) After words and song in his honor, yards from where he died, about 20 participants walked on to Neighborhood House’s High Point Center for that conversation.

For Darlene, this was new. For some in High Point, it was achingly familiar. In April 2011, after the death of a motorcyclist at 35th/Juneau, a roadside memorial:

A roadside rally:

Some extra enforcement:

And a discussion of safety.

Flash back across another two-and-a-half-year span before all that. In September 2008, a teenager was hit and seriously hurt crossing at 35th and Juneau:

Soon after that, local youth joined in a safety rally along 35th:

crowd35th.jpg

And that in turn was less than a year after a previous plea for safety improvements, days after 85-year-old Oswald Clement was killed crossing at 35th/Othello. Between his death and the teenager’s injury, yet another person had died on 35th – Gregory Hampel, a 39-year-old hit by a car while trying to get his dog out of the road near their home.

Five lives, seven years. The challenges had not changed, but some of the faces and names had changed:

At Saturday’s gathering, Deborah Vandermar represented the High Point Neighborhood Association as its current president, carrying on a campaign for which her predecessors also had advocated. New safety advocates were there – Cathy Tuttle from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, lead organizer of the memorial walk; Don Brubeck and Kathy Dunn from West Seattle Bike Connections; Jake Vanderplas from West Seattle Greenways; Andrew Glass Hastings, representing newly elected Mayor Ed Murray, who sent his regrets (his predecessor Mike McGinn had come for the walk but left before the meeting, as had City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen).

Others, not so new to the discussion – neighborhood traffic liaison Jim Curtin (above left, with Glass Hastings) from SDOT, a West Seattleite himself, who had just discussed local traffic safety yet again with the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council in November; Deb Barker from the neighboring Morgan Community Association. Also there, about half a dozen High Point-area residents, and several from elsewhere, even an advocate from Lake City.

Curtin spoke of possibilities – three E’s – engineering, as in rechannelization (formerly known as “road diets”), mentioned in our 2007 story (at the time, 35th between Juneau and Myrtle was the specifically suggested stretch); enforcement; education, as in community awareness of the need to slow down.

Deb Barker suggested that with 10 crashes at 35th/Graham, including two fatalities, people are aware, and enforcement has been tried.

Glass Hastings offered the thought of a holistic look at 35th, which he observed is “a multimodal corridor but not really set up to be one.” Perhaps some uses should be shifted to other area streets. WS Bike Connections’ Brubeck supported that, saying that his group told Bicycle Master Plan updaters that they would rather work with a parallel route like 37th or 34th rather than have bicycle facilities shoehorned into 35th.

That still didn’t solve the problem of how those who must cross 35th, especially on foot, could do so more safely. James St. Clair walked with a cane, and not only did that mean he was likely moving relatively slowly, it also was an explanation for why he was not crossing at a nearby light – either Raymond, a block south, or Morgan, a block north – that would have meant even more walking. SNG’s Tuttle pointed out that more than a few seniors live in High Point – at Elizabeth House, at Bridge Park, in private residences/rentals – but accommodations are vital because, she said, “we need to let older people age in place, walk with dignity.”

Not only is the 35th/Graham intersection without a painted crosswalk, noted participant Pete, it is not well-lit by streetlights: “I don’t understand why ALL intersections aren’t extremely brightly lit!”

Curtin recalled the removal of certain painted crosswalks in 2006-2007 because of safety concerns (we chronicled a few – including one on 35th, at Kenyon, where, in the years since, even more of a pedestrian-attracting business node has sprung up).

But, he said, other roads are “at the head of the line” for work, and the city’s resources are finite – especially money. He said the city sees 33 crashes a day; 35th has had roughly one every three days (1,000 in 10 years).

That’s when the talk turned to the social-justice aspect of making 35th safer – for its neighboring community that is diverse not just in ethnicity but in income and ages – and the question of whether north Seattle gets faster action than south Seattle. The case of NE 75th came up; a crash last spring left a couple dead and their daughter, a young mother, badly hurt; another street lined with memorial tributes. Within months, changes were made to the road, including rechannelization.

“75th was responded to very quickly,” observed WS Greenways’ Vanderplas. “What were those special factors and how can we get them?”

Curtin acknowledged the project “came together in about six months. The mayor’s office [then-Mayor McGinn] asked for changes, funds were provided.”

But he also pointed out that 75th “was significantly different from 35th” – a wide street “with just one stripe down the middle … almost a clean slate,” unlike 35th SW.

“OK,” said Brubeck, “so, SEVEN months here, right?”

“We would really want to talk with you in the community, to talk about the problems and solutions, and share specifics,” Curtin said. And he warned again that “there are other needs around the city we need to keep in mind. It’s not a question of whether this corridor qualifies …”

“So what are the expectations?” interjected Glass Hastings. “Re-stripe the roadway? That’s relatively easy and cheap. It can be undone (if it causes problems).” Other changes, he reminded the group, would take time to design and implement. “As a community, you need to figure out what you want to see out there.”

“There have been many, many meetings about safety,” reiterated Vandermar, also stressing the social-justice framework. “The people who are being hurt the most are the ones who are least able to get to meetings” because they are so busy, with multiple jobs, children in school, trying to stay afloat. “This community is hard to organize. (They) are holding up a LOT of social-justice issues.”

For other stretches of 35th, it is no simpler, added Mat McBride, chair of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council and 35th SW-fronting resident. He said he has lived for 10 years on the block where Greg Hampel died in 2008 – “inches” between those walking and those driving – “that’s the reality of 35th … Paint would change the nature of the road, fundamentally. People will get used to it. I would encourage you to take that step, even if phased.”

Curtin observed that the city’s “done more than 30 rechannelizations” – including the major changes to Fauntleroy Way SW four years ago – and while many are fearful at first, “the doomsday talk has never come to fruition.”

Back to the topic: An attendee says, “This conversation has been going on since (Susanne Scaringi’s death in 2006) so in my eyes, you should have enough data to proceed.”

Curtin: “Yes, I have data, tons of data.” But, he continued, that doesn’t negate the need for some planning – though he allowed that could be done quickly. Less complex than the deep-bore tunnel, someone joked.

And that is when James St. Clair’s niece Darlene made her plea – hoping someone else’s family won’t be going through, in one year or two or three or seven, what hers is right now, because of what happened at 35th and Graham that December night:

(December 2013 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
POSTSCRIPT: While Councilmember Rasmussen wasn’t at the meeting, he had spoken at the memorial that preceded it, saying the street hadn’t gone entirely unaltered in recent years:

And today, he shared with WSB a followup he has sent to Mayor Murray and acting SDOT director Goran Sparrman:

Dear Mayor Murray and Mr. Sparrman:

Saturday I attended another memorial walk on 35th Ave. S.W. to remember another person (James St. Clair) who was fatally injured when struck by a car as he crossed 35th.

I and other Councilmembers have worked to improve the safety of 35th Ave. S.W. for several years. Now, there are speed indicator radars, red light cameras and more traffic signals. But more must be done. No one feels safe crossing 35th Ave. S.W.

I have previously requested SDOT to consider a “road diet” or rechannelization to improve safety. SDOT declined to do so because the average annual weekday traffic volume is approximately 23,000 vehicles. The last time SDOT considered a road diet SDOT determined that too many vehicles travelled on 35th to warrant reducing the lanes.

I understand that SDOT may be reconsidering the earlier decisions not to reduce the number of lanes. If so, I would like to again repeat my request that the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Mayor consider a road diet (rechannelization) and also other actions that can be implemented to make 35th Ave. S.W. a safer street.

Thank you.

Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
Chair, Transportation Committee
Seattle City Council

HAVE YOUR SAY: To voice your opinion, you can contact Mayor Murray – go here – and/or Councilmember Rasmussen – go here – for starters, until and unless we get word of a specific process to be launched for changes on 35th SW.

55 Comments

  1. Hay people of WS we need to shape up. We need to slow down and watch out for people trying to cross the street. We need to stop and let them cross. Because if we don’t shape up we will soon see a center turn lane and 35th turned into a one lane each way. And we know what that will do to traffic. If we keep driving the way we are then we deserve what we get.

    Comment by boy — 4:51 pm January 21, 2014 #

  2. With all due respect, stopping in the middle of the road to let someone cross is an invitation to be rear ended. 35th is a four lane highway and should be respected as such. Pedestrians need to plan their route better and cross at the available crosswalks and lighted intersections at appropriate times. This loss of life is devastating, but all of the blame cannot be placed on drivers alone.

    Comment by Roxy — 5:33 pm January 21, 2014 #

  3. Excellent coverage, thank you for covering this in such fine detail!
    -
    I would like to encourage others in the area to send a note to the Mayor. I just sent a request for a road diet on 35th. I believe this is my 3rd request following the motorcycle fatality that occurred on 35th several years ago outside my house.
    -
    The flux of traffic on 35th is pretty close to the threshold for a diet, so its within reason for the city to take action.

    Comment by 35th — 5:34 pm January 21, 2014 #

  4. Why don’t we try and keep the people away from 35th instead of cars. Seems to me that we keep trying to mix people and bikes with cars and trucks….it very apparent it’s not working. How about a center divider to keep people in just a couple crosswalks (like by Green lake). How about a bike lane on 36th where there aren’t any Target,Safeway,Thriftyway semi’s trucks or the rest of us to deal with.

    Just another view!

    Comment by Sunny.206 — 5:36 pm January 21, 2014 #

  5. There are very long stretches of 35th that do not have pedestrian controlled intersections. If you are trying to cross on foot you’re in for a long walk to find one.
    .
    But, if you try to cross at one of the un-controlled intersections, even if the cars see you and stop the other motorists usually just think they are trying to make a turn and merge to go around. Then, while they are changing lanes and accelerating they are even less likely to see the pedestrians.
    .
    It’s a very dangerous situation.
    .
    I’m really amazed that there haven’t been more collisions given the volume of traffic and the dark, wet winters that we get.

    Comment by Jesse D — 6:22 pm January 21, 2014 #

  6. We need a change.org petition for this. The loss of life is unacceptable regardless of whether someone was crossing via a crosswork. I believe a road diet approach would certainly help. These lanes are too narrow anyway!

    This link has some good info on road diets and mentions 35th as a candidate for one. Let’s make this happen!

    Comment by Kevin — 6:22 pm January 21, 2014 #

  7. Roxy, 35th is not a “highway”. It is a Residential Arterial.

    .

    Also, as to comments that suggest limiting crossing options/locations for pedestrians; to some folks with limited mobility, or other limited physical ability, going the extra distance necessary to find an intersection with a light, can be very time consuming, and physically exhausting, for a person that basically needs to just get across the street.

    .

    Yes, pedestrians need to use due caution, and will always lose in a collision with a couple tons of steel, but it is well known that there is, and has long been, a history of excessive speed, and red light running on Seattle streets.

    .

    One does not need studies, documentation, photo evidence, or some such to verify that. They just need a pair of functioning eyes.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 6:25 pm January 21, 2014 #

  8. @roxy

    how dare those pedestrians recklessly throw their lives away by following the law (RCW 46.61.240) and being all uppity expecting not to be killed by someone piloting >2000 lbs of steel that is a privilege and requires a license to operate.

    Those pedestrians had it coming by walking around near cars, they practically ask for it.

    Stay classy WSB commenters

    Comment by vincent — 6:37 pm January 21, 2014 #

  9. I spoke with SDOT after the meeting. Re-channeling is absolutely within the realm of possible, the desire is there. The hitch is money, which SDOT doesn’t have in reserve. One million dollars, to fix the entire 3 mile stretch. In today’s budgets, a rounding error.
    .
    Grants, leverage, bake sales, whatever. Let’s get it done.

    Comment by Mcbride — 6:48 pm January 21, 2014 #

  10. I know several people who have been in serious, one life-threatening, rear-end accidents on 35th when they stopped to make a left turn at an intersection that has no traffic light nor dedicated left-turn lane. I don’t speed and I always stop for pedestrians, but if it is one of the no-traffic-light, no-left turn lane intersections, I am always very nervous as cars go speeding by me or slam on their brakes behind me.

    Comment by iggy — 7:12 pm January 21, 2014 #

  11. How sad. We have got to put more stop lights on 35th, and give it a slower speed limit. 35th is far too unsafe as it stands. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased.

    Comment by ScubaFrog — 7:23 pm January 21, 2014 #

  12. 1,000 crashes in ten years?! On a street with a 35 MPH speed limit in a residential neighborhood? Holy cow.

    Americans, why can’t you just do the speed limit and stop running over people? It’s not a Herculean task.

    Comment by transplantella — 7:36 pm January 21, 2014 #

  13. In Roxy’s Defense,
    There is a light controlled crosswalk one block north and one block south of Graham. Drivers are not always at fault in Pedestrian accidents.

    Comment by D.D.S. — 7:37 pm January 21, 2014 #

  14. I always take Fauntleroy, even if it’s slower. There’s a real sense of road rage on 35th. Sorry to hear of another fatality.

    Comment by Gary e — 7:48 pm January 21, 2014 #

  15. Gary I agree with you 100%. I don’t understand how someone could get so angry with someone driving close to the speed limit.

    Comment by timh2o — 8:06 pm January 21, 2014 #

  16. ONE MILLION dollars for a road diet? Wow…..

    .

    Save the money, add a few well lit crosswalks.

    .

    Reducing capacity on this arterial in a rapidly growing community is foolish.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 8:10 pm January 21, 2014 #

  17. With respect to the deceased. I have to agree with roxy. 35th is a major artery from west seattle to white center and should be treated as such, feared and respected. What the heck is Re-channelized anyway? Just another word for creating more back-ups on peoples already long commutes. Which leads to more road rage. So if you like/want even longer back ups stretching down 35th go with that option. For those that live on that stretch that complain, you remind me of people that live next to a river that complain about floods every year. Years ago I saw an officer in California interviewed on TV about why they don’t pull people over for speeding very often, his response was they want people to get to where their going and not to impede already congested traffic.

    Comment by LongtimeWSite — 8:54 pm January 21, 2014 #

  18. I think it is awesome to see folks from that neighborhood out holding those signs. That’s a bit of decent humanity for a change.

    Comment by NotMe — 9:33 pm January 21, 2014 #

  19. On 35th, a well lit crosswalk would be accompanied by a stoplight (the only option SDOT will consider). Which, frankly, would be awesome for the thousands of people who commute by bus every day on those routes. That includes the schoolchildren, who catch the bus on the corners along 35th. Or the elderly. Or, y’know, anyone who needs to cross the street.
    .
    But those are Really expensive. And I hear that bringing traffic to a complete stop slows it down lots.
    .
    I know, the predictions are that re-channeling will cause doom (DOOM!) along the modified corridor. Except that it never happens.
    .
    This road is a failed experiment, and it’s killing people. Advocating for convenience is not defensible.

    Comment by McBride — 9:35 pm January 21, 2014 #

  20. Loss of life is always sad and there can always be more done to prevent it again. No one solution resolves everything and it’s up to individuals in cars, foot, bike, wheelchair, horseback, donkey, Segway to make the choices they do when they do. 35th Ave SW is a heavy traffic arterial, not sure you can really refer to that as ‘residential arterial’ although there are actual residents along 35th Ave SW.
    .
    Here’s some info I found online that people should take a look at and think about:
    .
    http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/npi/plans/morgan/00000007.pdf
    “35th Avenue SW Corridor Pedestrian Improvements
    The 35th Avenue SW corridor is one of the main north-south arterial routes serving West Seattle.
    Its main role is to carry trafic to and from the West Seattle Bridge and to provide access to
    Westwood and other shopping destinations south of the Morgan Junction neighborhood, The 35th
    Avenue SW roadway is fairly wide, accommodating four trafic lanes with on-street parking on both
    sides. On the portion of 35th Avenue SW in the Morgan Junction neighborhood, there are traffic
    signals at SW Findlay Street, SW Morgan Street, SW Mytile Street, SW Webster Street, and SW
    Holden Street, and there is a pedestrian signal at SW Raymond Street,
    Heavy trafic volumes and high speeds combine with the roadway width to make it difticult for
    pedestrians to cross the street, even at the signalized intersections. In addition to its important
    traffic-carrying role, 35th Avenue SW must provide safe, convenient crossings for pedestrian
    movement to/from bus stops, parks, and other neighborhood destinations. Lane configuration and
    traffic control/calming must be designed to serve these conflicting needs.
    Recommendation: Improve pedestrian crossings at signalized cross-streets and at bus stops
    along 35~ Avenue SW by the installation of the following, as appropriate
    . paint crosswalks
    ● curb bulbs
    . pedestrian median refuges
    ● pedestrian signals”
    .
    Definitions of Seattle arterials:
    http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/streetclassmaps.htm
    .
    And although I’m not totally sure if this qualifies for Seattle city arterial streets, King County gets federal funding for streets designated as ‘arterial’. Something to think about if you want to make it not provide the current automotive traffic flow.
    http://www.kingcounty.gov/transportation/kcdot/Roads/TransportationPlanning/ArterialClassificationSystem.aspx
    .

    What are the advantages of arterial street designation?
    Arterials are eligible for state and federal funds for improvements such as curbs, gutters and sidewalks. Most of the county’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) funds are oriented to the arterial system. Arterials are first to be plowed during snowstorms, first to be kept open in emergencies, are maintained to a higher standard, and are eligible for amenities such as walkways, pathways and equestrian trails. Non-arterial streets generally lack lane markings like outside edge lines or a centerline. Learn more about arterial classification.

    What are the disadvantages of arterial street designation?
    Arterial streets generally have higher traffic volume. Traffic calming measures such as speed humps are usually not appropriate for arterial streets because they are used by emergency vehicles. Commercial traffic, such as trucks, should use arterial rather than local roads.”

    Comment by Mike — 9:55 pm January 21, 2014 #

  21. 35th is a major artery from west seattle to white center and should be treated as such, feared and respected.

    .

    Um. No.

    .

    It is a major artery, where speeding has gotten out of control, and there is no excuse for the speeding. Also, there is never an excuse for road rage. If someone can’t handle the stress of driving in traffic, (the same stress that everyone in the traffic is dealing with) perhaps it’s time they hung up their car keys until they got their anger issues under control.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 10:03 pm January 21, 2014 #

  22. I really believe there are many drivers who under the delusion speeding gets them somewhere faster.
    See you at the next light.

    Comment by alkistu — 2:02 am January 22, 2014 #

  23. I’m sorry, but not really: the vocal minority opposed to safety improvements and if needed more lights, a rechanneling, speed cameras, or whatever else is needed on 35th will lose. I’m a homeowner that uses 35th daily in my car as does my wife and child. My wife and child also walk the road several times per week AND I take the bus on it typically 8 to 10 times per week. The very large majority of us and the city are more concerned with our own safety and the safety of others rather than the tiny number of you who want some fictitious right to drive fast or without restriction. Every single law and precedent favors what must come and I personally am going to–and already am–pushing for 35th to get beaten into shape. It’s now apparently on everyone’s radar in the city government. I know, because I’ve been told so. Nothing happened for years because of ginned up political concerns and fears of “car NIMBYism”, as it was such a busy and long stretch. Congratulations to anyone who pushed back over the years. Blood is on your hands and your opinions are no longer going to dominate the conversation.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 4:39 am January 22, 2014 #

  24. Some people drive on 35th as if it were a mini freeway. We avoid driving on it unless we have to mainly because of the traffic behavior, its just a risky road. There may be multiple reasons but there it is.

    Comment by cj — 5:16 am January 22, 2014 #

  25. 35th is an arterial through a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood – it is not a commercial thoroughfare where speed has little detrimental effect. Common sense has disappeared where driving is concerned; road rage is endemic; and speed limits are not enforced. There may be occasional speed traps further north, but 35th south of Rox rarely sees any kind of speed enforcement.

    alkistu makes a good point. I see these jackasses making dangerous, high-speed maneuvers all the time – only to find myself level with them at the next red light. Idiots.

    Comment by anonyme — 6:26 am January 22, 2014 #

  26. I support the road diet proposal for Interstate 35. the city has steadfastly refused to address this location and the victims are piling up. This is ridiculous.

    Re-Channel NOW!

    Comment by SGG — 7:15 am January 22, 2014 #

  27. Option: Make it a tunnel with 44% less capacity and no exits and turn the roadway into a great big park. Problem solved. Oh, be sure to budget billions for it.

    Comment by Rick — 8:38 am January 22, 2014 #

  28. In reading the comments, you can kinda tell who’s been seriously injured or had someone close to them taken away suddenly via a car accident. I think when people drive (or drive recklessly or self-centeredly) for years without being harmed, they often feel a false sense of invincibility. Until it happens to you and you find yourself in months of physical therapy or worse, grieving a lost loved one, I guess it’s easy to be breezy.
    .
    I hate driving, and more and more I’m disliking being a pedestrian in West Seattle.
    .
    I wish we would fix obvious road issues *before* someone is killed.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 9:34 am January 22, 2014 #

  29. Don’t know about you all, but in dealing with the public, I find that “Common Sense” is a farce. We are always catering to those of us who exhibit little to no sense in their day to day dealings. It’s always one or two or ruin it for all. Chalk it up to population control and forget about it. I love 35th and it works like it should. Face it, human beings are stupid. Wasting millions & millions to ensure dolts don’t injure themselves is just as asinine as it can possibly get!

    Comment by craig — 9:35 am January 22, 2014 #

  30. I totally support a complete road diet: 30mph limit, 1 traffic lane each direction, center turn lane, bike lane, parking, some crosswalks painted and lit, some curb bulbs to aid pedestrians in crossing safely.
    .
    Seattle has previously said that traffic volumes on 35th are SLIGHTLY too high for the improved two-traffic-lane format. But at the same time, the volumes on the other N-S routes like California and Delridge are actually slightly less than their capacity. If 10% of 35′s drivers switch to California or Delridge after rechannelization of 35th, and a few drivers go east on Roxbury to reach I-5 that way, 2 traffic lanes could be sufficient for the remaining volume on 35th. And if it doesn’t work after a couple years, the city could still go back to 4 lanes and try more extreme or more expensive options.
    .
    Travelling 3 miles at 30mph takes 51 seconds longer than travelling the same 3 miles at 35mph. Yes, I know commute times are too long, but that 51 seconds is really not the problem.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 10:29 am January 22, 2014 #

  31. Re: Rechannelization/Road Diet
    .
    For the naysayers to the road diet, I ask this: Is the issue with traffic flow on 35th due to volume or turning and stopping vehicles?
    .
    As someone that drives on 35th at least twice daily, I would argue that the primary issue that impedes flow isn’t the amount of cars so much as cars turning or buses stopping. If there were turn lanes and bus stop lanes, which there would be with rechannelization, the one lane that was there for forward traffic wouldn’t be stopping and going so much, meaning a faster average speed and less slowing and stopping.
    .
    I think of it as the difference between two lanes of stop and go traffic. One where cars are going 20, but then stopping every hundred feet versus one where the cars are going a steady 10. I’d rather be in the steady lane myself.
    .
    The additional benefit is that safety is improved because we’d have fewer evasive maneuvers to avoid turning cars and stopping buses, and fewer blind spots for pedestrians… But think of that as a fringe benefit only if you like, the end result is still a better driving experience.

    Comment by M — 12:23 pm January 22, 2014 #

  32. So let me get this straight Lura…if there is too much traffic for two lanes, change it to one? There is the logic I was speaking of.

    Comment by craig — 12:31 pm January 22, 2014 #

  33. 800,000 projected from speed cameras. $5,000,000 accumulated. Special meeting held to determine what to do with extra funds. Outcome not mentioned. Haven’t seen one ounce of safety improvements at Gatewood elementary or Thistle intersection. Redirect this money to safety projects as it was meant to be.
    Ideas…. move Gatewood school warning sign North so cars actually know there is a speed zone there before they get there. SAFER FOR THE KIDS!!! Oh but less money…better scratch that idea. Do tree trimming at Thistle so you can see the lights better and put one of the “count down” pedestrian signals so we better know when the light will change. instead at Thistle the city is making the left turn light from N35 to W Thistle cycle over and over and over to trap you into more tickets making this intersection more unsafe…..not safer. They are fishing for more MONEY NOT SAFETY!!!

    Comment by j — 1:14 pm January 22, 2014 #

  34. If SDOT continues its plan to spend $0 on 35th road maintenance or rebuilding it, the potholes and ruts will slow down cars. I’ve seen myself drop down to 25 in some sections because I fear for my back and car suspension.

    So spend nothing more to maintain it. In the next few years it will be such a third world dump people wont be able to do more than 20mph and pay more attention to pedestrians (atleast when not swerving around potholes/ruts).

    Win-Win!

    Comment by wsn00b — 1:43 pm January 22, 2014 #

  35. YES!! Let’s spend MORE money to completely redesign 4 miles of an existing road to have LESS capacity!! That’s EXACTLY what West Seattle needs! Please don’t let the sarcasm go over your heads. Don’t get me wrong, my heart breaks for that poor gentleman and his family and friends. All traffic-related loss of life is a tragedy. I’ve had to cross 35TH every day for years to get the 21x, so I am well aware of how dangerous it is. But I also DRIVE 35th (I know, I’m a filthy non-bike rider) and squeezing the volume of cars on 35th into 50% less space is just STUPID! Let’s just make it one-way street, and Delridge go the other way, so that nobody can drive anywhere!!! Lura, your math is invalid-it doesn’t account for the guyin front of you going 27mph.

    Comment by NO-ROAD-DIET!! — 1:48 pm January 22, 2014 #

  36. The problem is that the city has never planned for growth. It’s aparent all throughout the city. So we have less city, more moving people. The problem will never go away if we don’t plan for future growth. We can go on pretending that these old road ways can hold everyone, so people find alternative roures, and then speed.

    Comment by Jeff — 1:58 pm January 22, 2014 #

  37. @mcbride

    SDOT quoted $1mil? Wow. I was told NE 75th cost between $100k-$250k per mile. At that price, it’s doable through grants. At the very least, look at doing a mile at a time. NE 75th St was only rechannelized partially (between 15th Ave NE & 35th Ave NE).

    $90k: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/npsf/default.htm

    $100k: http://www.seattle.gov/neighborhoods/nmf/largeproject.htm

    Ask SDOT if they will apply for a SR2S grant ($8mil), as there are elementary schools nearby: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/LocalPrograms/SafeRoutes/CallForProjects.htm

    Good luck!

    Comment by Andres Salomon — 2:30 pm January 22, 2014 #

  38. Andres,
    .
    Conversationally, we discussed the $250k/mile figure, with a little extra for planning and unforeseen expense. Under promise, over deliver. I was suggesting compromise with a phased approach, but to SDOT it makes fiscal and practical sense to do it in one shot. I can be on board with that.
    .
    I don’t typically apply for the DoN grants myself, as I would then need to recuse myself from voting at the district level. However, I’m always happy to answer anyone’s questions about them, and provide what assistance I can. Not enough folks apply for them IMO, and the Parks dept and SDOT find great value in the applications even when unfunded. The Safe Routes grant is great, thanks for the tip.

    Comment by McBride — 3:06 pm January 22, 2014 #

  39. Yes, there are four lanes now, but those four lanes don’t really provide four full lanes for actual flowing traffic.
    .

    All four of the existing traffic lanes on 35th have to accommodate stopped cars waiting to turn left, cars slowing to turn right, bicycles, and cars stuck driving slowly behind bicycles.
    .

    There are actual traffic engineers who study this stuff, and model it on computers, and even have professional journals and stuff.

    .

    And in some traffic situations, it turns out that you actually can have better traffic flow when you take those stopped cars and slow cars and bicycles out of the traffic lane.

    Comment by Lura — 5:32 pm January 22, 2014 #

  40. I drive 35th a LOT, and I have to say that I have been constantly concerned by the amount of speeding I see. I try to drive at the limit, or close to it, but there have been innumerable times when someone will either tailgate me or speed around me because they want to do 40 or more. I’ve been here 10 years and it’s definitely gotten worse over time. I would say the average speed on 35th, at least at certain times of the day, is closer to 45 than 35, especially going north and coming down hills such as that just south of Morgan.

    Comment by AmyB — 6:35 pm January 22, 2014 #

  41. The design and speed limit of 35th doesn’t concern me at all, I live right off one of it’s major intersections. I think that if drivers can stay in their lanes and stop driving distracted, we have little to worry about. I’ve been run out of my lane a lot on that road–drivers need to be more attentive to the road and put down their phones.

    I do appreciate a well-designed crosswalk. Adding some more along the way, in the commercial areas, would be great. I don’t think dumping money into a redesign will do much if drivers and pedestrians continue to break rules, and go unpunished.

    Comment by K — 6:58 pm January 22, 2014 #

  42. Rechannelization of 35th will make it safer for everyone, not just pedestrians and cyclists. Less accidents = fewer slowdowns. 4 lanes are maybe only really needed around major intersections, such as Fauntleroy, Avalon, Alaska, Morgan, Barton, Roxbury to hold car capacity at stoplights (such as we have in the Fauntleroy/Alaska junction). The current 4 lane design from Roxbury to the bridge just encourages bad and risky behavior.

    Comment by Kathy — 7:03 pm January 22, 2014 #

  43. I guess you could say the original 35th Avenue configuration was “channeled.” I grew up at 35th and Hudson and watched as the wide center dirt strip was plowed under to make the concrete “freeway” it has become. Even with the 30 mph speeds and lower traffic volumes of the ’50s, we were never allowed to bike or walk on the sidewalk and we would never have parked a car there. We witnessed crashes and pedestrian injuries regularly. It is a scary stretch of pavement and I still avoid it when I can. I am skeptical that two lanes with a center turn will impact the number of
    pedestrian injuries we have seen lately. Drivers take for granted that the roadway is theirs and at 35-50 mph in those narrowest of lanes on a rainy night, pedestrians are going to be hit.
    By the way, where did the statistic that California Avenue is below capacity come from? It is glutted with stop and go traffic and 45th, where I live now, is lined with parked commuter cars and filled with speeding Junction-avoiding traffic. I think we are at capacity in West Seattle…no more until traffic solutions are found.

    Comment by BJG — 8:35 pm January 22, 2014 #

  44. I cross 35th twice daily using controlled crosswalks and trust me I am looking both ways when I do it. I have had drivers enter into the crosswalk twice. I don’t think any restructuring solution will take the place of good driving skills and regard for the speed limit and pedestrians. Another controlled crosswalk where people are prone to cross may help. So scary quite a while back I saw a local woman in a wheelchair in the crosswalk at 35th and Morgan get her chair bumped by a driver taking off when the light turned green. Her chair wobbled back and forth. The poor lady couldn’t beat the light in the wheelchair. Seriously, enough said!!! Be prepared to run I guess?

    Comment by Laura — 10:09 pm January 23, 2014 #

  45. THE SDOT HAS CAUSED THIS PROBLEM ,NO ONE ELSE CAN BE BLAMED…THEY TOOK DELRIDGE FROM A FOUR LANE ARTERIAL DOWN TO A TWO-LANE ,ALL THAT DID WAS TO PUSH THE TRAFFIC OVER TO 35TH,IT IS HARD ENOUGH TO GET OUT OF WEST SEATTLE WITHOUT RUNNING INTO A BOTTLENECK, WE HAVE VERY FEW CHOICES OF ROADS WHEN WE ARE LEAVING WEST SEATTLE .WHEN SDOT REMOVED THE CROSSWALK ON KENYON THEY WERE TRYING TO MOVE THE PEDS. ONE BLOCK NORTH TO THE LIGHT-CONTROLLED INTERSECTION.IT DIDN’T WORK PEOPLE ARE TO LAZY TO WALK ONE SHORT BLOCK NORTH. TRAFFIC WOULDN’T SLOW DOWN FOR THE CROSSWALK SO WHY HAVE IT? WE HAVE A VERY GOOD FIX FOR THE PROBLEM IT IS CALLED A TRAFFIC OFFICER /MOTOR OFFICER/SPEED TRAP, AND MANY OTHER DEROGITARY TERMS ….BUT IT WORKS.EVERY TIME WITHOUT SCREWING UP THE EGRESS IN WEST SEATTLE. WITH A FEW SPEEDING/DISTRACTED TICKETS IN THEIR MOBILE PHONE BOOTHS THEY WILL SLOW DOWN AND OBEY THE EXISTING LAWS AND RULES FOR THE SAFE OPERATION OF A MOTOR VEHICLE ON THE PUBLIC HIWAYS….TRY IT ,IT WILL WORK EVERY TIME……JUST BE CONSISTENT..A MOTORCYCLE OFFICER IS CHEAPER THAN SOME MILLION DOLLAR TANGLE-UP THAT PROBABLY WONT WORK ANY WAY……

    Comment by Robert — 8:04 am January 24, 2014 #

  46. ROBERT! Please cite the data that backs up your claim that Delridge’s “Road Diet” has resulted in a significant shift of traffic, from there, over to 35th.

    .

    I do agree with you, however,(albeit in my indoor voice) that enforcement should be stepped up on 35th, at least until its Road Diet is implemented.

    .

    But then, everyone would be complaining that there are better things our limited resource Police Department could be doing with their time, and that the ticketing has absolutely nothing to do with pedestrian/bicycle/traffic safety, and everything to do with generating revenue for the City.

    .

    Mike

    Comment by miws — 9:23 am January 24, 2014 #

  47. Robert may actually have a point, I’m not sure. I live on 35th south of Rox and I’ve noticed many more big commercial semi’s on 35th recently.

    Walking home a short time ago, every single vehicle was blowing through the radar sign on 35th at such a speed that the red letters simply spun without being able to register speed. That means they were all doing 10mph++ over the limit. I believe that enforcement is the only answer, and really don’t give a rat’s a$$ if the speeders whine about padding the City’s coffers.

    Comment by anonyme — 2:28 pm January 24, 2014 #

  48. West Seattle is growing way beyond its capacity to allow for the traffic flow that now exists, and it will only get worse. I don’t know what the answer is, but if it were up to me, I’d have a motorcycle cop or two permanently assigned, 24/7, to slow the speeders down, and even though it will make more congestion, there needs to be more traffic lights. I used to frequently make a left turn at 35th and Juneau. I quit doing that after several close calls with speeders behind me, even though I turned on my turn signal just past 35th and Morgan.

    Comment by phil dirt — 10:12 am January 25, 2014 #

  49. Here is another person who will not turn across lanes on 35th. After a $6000.00 rear ending I learned my lesson to only do it when it can be done
    without stopping. At least I was not pushed into the path of the metro bus coming towards me. Grateful :)

    Comment by Laura — 11:41 pm January 25, 2014 #

  50. IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO DO, SIT ON 35TH WITH A HAND-HELD COUNTER AND COUNT THE SPEEDERS WITH A CELLPHONE STUCK TO THEIR HEAD ZIPPING ALONG LANE TO LANE NO SIGNALS,YAPPING MERRILY ALONG RUNNING LIGHTS AND TOTALY OBLIVOUS TO WHAT IS GOING ON AROUND THEM..AS FOR MIKES QUESTION IN THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTYS YOU HAD NO TROUBLE GETTING OUT OF WEST SEATTLE, WHEN THEY PUT THE FREEWAY BRIDGE IN , SOON AFTER THEY MADE DELRIDGE A TWO LANE WITH PARKING ON BOTH SIDES I CAN’T REMEMBER THE EXACT DATE BUT IT WAS AFTER THE HIGH BRIDGE WENT IN..

    Comment by Robert — 8:47 am January 26, 2014 #

  51. WSB, did you publish an update with the final police report on the driver who hit Mr. St. Clair and whether he was charged with anything? If so, I missed it, could you post a link? I know your initial report reported the police saying he didn’t show signs of impairment, but it didn’t say anything about speeding, etc. Very interested to know what the final determination was.

    Comment by SD — 1:34 pm January 26, 2014 #

  52. Final reports in these investigations take months.

    Comment by WSB — 2:03 pm January 26, 2014 #

  53. Ok, thanks, I had no idea they took that long.

    Comment by SD — 8:11 pm January 26, 2014 #

  54. There is a serious problem with people not caring about hitting pedestrians in Seattle. I walk on average 12 miles/day and have been hit by cars 7 times in the last 5 years. Usually, not serious, every single incident took place while I was in a marked crosswalk with a walk light during the daylight. Once was on the sidewalk and the car drove down the sidewalk and struck me. The drivers usually just leave without checking on my condition. I see drivers with everything from cellphones to crackpipes in their mouths. In my opinion, changing laws would have no impact. Yesterday alone, two drivers drove through stop signs as I was crossing the street, one driver honked the horn and flipped me off as he went by me (he was going at a very high rate of speed in a residential area as well). I honestly don’t know what the answer is except I do know that more people are going to be killed and that the City of Seattle does not care. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Comment by Don — 7:31 pm January 27, 2014 #

  55. I think that if drivers can stay in their lanes and stop driving distracted, we have little to worry about.
    .
    Yeah. Good luck with that.

    Comment by datamuse — 6:35 pm January 28, 2014 #

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