‘I-35′ no more? City leaders announce ‘multi-year’ 35th SW traffic-safety project

February 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news | 53 Comments

(January WSB photo: Temporary speed trailers on 35th SW south of Graham)
After years of discussions about safety improvements on 35th – and less than two months after the most recent deadly crash – the city is now committing to action. Just in:

Today Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen announced that the City will launch a multi-year traffic safety corridor project for 35th Avenue SW. The mayor and councilmember both committed to improving safety for all users on streets like 35th Avenue SW by reducing speeding and collisions.

“Reducing speeds is the single most effective way to decrease collisions and prevent future tragedies on Seattle’s streets,” said Mayor Murray. “Through thoughtful traffic safety corridor work we can help make 35th Avenue SW safer for everyone.”

With safety projects already underway for Lake City Way and SW Roxbury Street, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will launch a 35th Avenue SW Corridor Safety Project in fall 2014 to help enhance safety. The project will focus on the three mile segment between Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Roxbury Street. Early implementation efforts will begin in March 2014 and will include pedestrian focused education, especially for older residents, and enforcement targeting speeding, distraction and failure to yield.

“Continuing our efforts to improve safety on the 35th Ave SW corridor is important,” said Councilmember Rasmussen. “A traffic safety corridor study will engage the community and help build on the improvements made in the past several years.”

Traffic safety corridor projects address roadway safety through data-driven engineering, enforcement and education efforts that reduce speeding and collisions while improving pedestrian crossings. These projects are guided by an extensive SDOT public outreach effort where the department shares traffic data and reviews recommendations from modal plans with the community. SDOT then works collaboratively to develop solutions, identify priorities and establish a timeline to implement short and long term improvements.

Potential engineering measures to be considered during this process would include traffic signal installation and enhancements, channelization modifications, pavement repair, arterial traffic calming, lighting and pedestrian crossing improvements.

Previous corridor safety projects in Seattle have achieved significant safety enhancements. The Aurora Traffic Safety Project (2009-2011) reduced fatal and serious collisions by 28 percent and total collisions by 21 percent. In spite of an increase in traffic volumes, the Fauntleroy Way SW Project (2009) reduced injury collisions by 73 percent.

In addition to numerous earlier discussions of 35th SW problems and potential solutions, this time, neighborhood and advocacy groups launched an online petition.

53 Comments

  1. I have nothing to add but “hurray,” personally, as a daily commuter and user of 35th Ave SW.
    .
    Also, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is tonight, 630pm, 6400 Sylvan SW, High Point Neighborhood House! It’s safe to assume this is now on the agenda a little.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 3:17 pm February 11, 2014 #

  2. Thanks, Joe, I hadn’t even had time to add that plug – wanted to get the announcement on the site the second I saw it (had no warning it was coming), and adding more context/background around it now – Tracy

    Comment by WSB — 3:19 pm February 11, 2014 #

  3. I applaud the calm, thought out approach by Mayor Murray, rather than impulsive measures so prevalent under the last mayor. Maybe a road diet is a solution, but lets figure out what works best for everyone first.

    .

    I also like the idea of increased patrols on 35th. For those who feel the need to speed, open up your wallets.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 4:33 pm February 11, 2014 #

  4. Speed Racer is going to be a tad bit upset.

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 4:48 pm February 11, 2014 #

  5. Happy to hear this. Unhappy to hear that 35th south of Roxbury apparently will be ignored, as usual.

    Comment by anonyme — 4:56 pm February 11, 2014 #

  6. Gee, I can hardly wait for Seattle DOT to make some “improvements” on 35th SW.
    .
    Just like they did in the Alaska junction (when they tried to remove our walk-all-ways), on Delridge, Fauntleroy, Mercer St., etc., etc.
    .
    Is there even one single example where Seattle DOT actually improved anything?

    Comment by JoAnne — 5:01 pm February 11, 2014 #

  7. I agree with JoAnne, the Alaska mess is horrible. I have been almost hit at least 20 times by the Jiffy Lube. People have no idea that, that lane is a bus lane and when I attempt to merge over someone will come blasting up from behind. Not a good design AT ALL.

    Comment by coffee — 5:07 pm February 11, 2014 #

  8. They did a good job fixing Ravenna Blvd.

    Comment by trickycoolj — 5:24 pm February 11, 2014 #

  9. “arterial traffic calming” What the heck is that Car Stress Reduction?

    Comment by clark5080 — 5:30 pm February 11, 2014 #

  10. JoAnne – if you read to the end of the article above your comment, you’ll find a list of several examples where SDOT improved things.

    Comment by LWC — 5:34 pm February 11, 2014 #

  11. @Clark5080- Its when you rub lavender on your vehicle before you head out for the day.

    Comment by alki resident — 5:43 pm February 11, 2014 #

  12. It’s a good start; I’m going to not poke holes in this for now. There are a ton of options that should be studied for a more permanent solution but at least we’re getting some much needed attention to this. Even when I cross at a light I feel as if I’m at risk. Enough!

    Comment by Audrey — 6:00 pm February 11, 2014 #

  13. Hoping that part of the safety improvement project includes cracking down on reckless driving. Not just talking about speeding, but people making incorrect left turns (not waiting their turn, causing oncoming traffic to slam on their breaks), people who run red lights, not yielding to pedestrians, going too slow, swerving into other lanes, driving while talking on phones, dogs on lap, etc.

    Speed is just one factor of the smorgasbord that is selfish driving.

    Comment by K — 6:38 pm February 11, 2014 #

  14. Oh joy…another pefectly good arterial will be be ruined.

    Comment by MSW — 6:58 pm February 11, 2014 #

  15. What ever happened to common sense? Drivers and pedestrians need to use more of it.

    Comment by MSW — 7:09 pm February 11, 2014 #

  16. Ah yes, arterials where multiple crashes, horrific injuries and deaths occur are “perfectly good”.

    Comment by JN — 7:13 pm February 11, 2014 #

  17. Thank you, Mayor Murray, Council Member Rasmussen, and all the people in the High Point neighborhood who sent the message.

    Comment by Don Brubeck — 8:20 pm February 11, 2014 #

  18. What if the laws against driving while texting and talking on cell phones were enforced? Think of the money the city could make. Plus, handing out the stiff fines would put some teeth behind the law and possibly change that behavior. If distracted driving is really as dangerous as drunk driving, it seems like an obvious thing to crack down on.
    (Maybe, “Entering West Seattle: a No Distracted Driving Zone” signs?)

    Comment by Chris — 8:32 pm February 11, 2014 #

  19. I’m glad they’re going to try and do something about 35th. The other night it was dark and raining and I was driving northbound from Barton to Alaska, in the right lane, going just below the speed limit because visibility was not good. I could not believe how many people were angrily passing me at high speeds, flashing lights at me, beeping.

    Comment by Sue — 10:05 pm February 11, 2014 #

  20. I hope pedestrian education involves brightly colored clothing. I often turn onto 35th at Graham out of HP and peds in all black at night dart out from the opposite side of the road. With newer cars having side airbags in the A-pillar it can be really easy to not see people jump off the curb until if becomes a close call.

    Comment by trickycoolj — 10:22 pm February 11, 2014 #

  21. I think we need more laws and bigger government. I also think we need to rezone the 35th ave. so we can have more construction without improving our road structure. Keep growing West Seattle you really know how to plan.

    Comment by trevor — 10:23 pm February 11, 2014 #

  22. Bravo!! Congratulations neighbors all along the 35th Ave SW corridor!

    I’ve been using 35th daily for the past six years and have regularly witnessed serious collisions, close calls and been there supporting community efforts. Thanks to the WS Blog we are aware of more collision than we see.

    Thanks to everyone who has advocated at any point for making this road safer. This victory is of the power of neighbors coming together and it wouldn’t have been possible without support from our beloved WS Blog. Way to go! Now, we must stay involved in the planning for the road changes to be meaningful and effective. Yay!

    Comment by 35th_daily driver — 11:17 pm February 11, 2014 #

  23. It would be nice if s.dot would add more base to the underbed , the busses are killing the existing base.from the water tower to the morgan street intersection.

    Comment by Robert — 7:18 am February 12, 2014 #

  24. LWC, those statistics are questionable at best, which might be why there was no source cited for them.
    .
    If there was an accident in front of my house in 2009 and not in 2010, then I could say there was a 100% decrease in accidents in front of my house from 2008 to 2010.
    .
    That doesn’t mean the difference was real, i.e., not due to random chance. However, even if the difference is real, the number doesn’t show the reason for the change.
    .
    Those statistics probably came from the city.

    Comment by JoAnne — 8:38 am February 12, 2014 #

  25. Statistics can prove anything you want them to. Just depends on your agenda.

    Comment by Rick — 9:06 am February 12, 2014 #

  26. This is great news and hurray for the Seattle DOT. I wish we’d get a collective backbone and admit that speed kills, and set and enforce laws that keep speeds reasonably safe on all arterials. 35 is pretty fast and is just selfishly dangerous in any area where humans not in cars are present on the streets.
    You don’t have to look to far to find evidence that speed is a major factor in many automobile crashes. Here’s one from the World Health Organization.
    http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/world_report/speed_en.pdf

    Comment by Mr. Bradley — 9:47 am February 12, 2014 #

  27. Well, JoAnne, if your approach is to automatically question the validity of any information that challenges your world-view, the results will be predictable. Carry on…

    Comment by LWC — 10:25 am February 12, 2014 #

  28. I believe the problem is with design. The West Seattle Bridge is a great example. Everyone complains about people driving too fast on the Spokane Viaduct and the Bridge. However, drivers naturally go fast in part because the road is looks and feels like a freeway we are trained to drive fast on, so many people do, whether it’s right or wrong.
    .
    Likewise, 35th is simply a wide, straight chunk of pavement with no visual cues besides some signage of its “natural” speed. It simply feels like a highway with a natural speed of 40-45. Add in a propensity to go 5-over, and you get I-35. However, this highway is in the middle of a residential neighborhood, in a major city, so a lot more risk to people is present.
    .
    I hope the city doesn’t just slap down some stop lights, time them poorly (cough…Avalon & Gennesee…cough) and call it good. Aggressive ticketing is OK as a short-term solution, but is a pretty ham-handed way of executing road policy, and won’t make the road much safer anyway in my opinion. I’d like to see a nice boulevard concept with trees, median, on-demand crosswalk signals, and curb bulbs, not unlike the Fauntleroy triangle proposal. I think 35th should continue to prioritize cars, unlike poor Dexter, but a lot can be done to make it safer and look better as well and ultimately we will all benefit.

    Comment by Azimuth — 10:31 am February 12, 2014 #

  29. @anonyme
    35th south of Roxbury doesn’t have a speed problem that I’ve notice, and I live on that stretch of road. The only speeding issue I’ve noticed is the Motorcycles. But I think that problem cured itself on it’s own. Between the school zone and the road wear, I don’t notice too many speeders.

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 11:03 am February 12, 2014 #

  30. Good points, Azimuth. I think you’re right. If just telling people to slow down worked, it would’ve worked by now.

    Comment by datamuse — 11:53 am February 12, 2014 #

  31. Great, maybe we should just adopt horse and buggies at Avalon and 35th. This road has issues for sure, but I’m sorry reducing the speed BELOW 35 is going to make anyone wanting to travel or even LIVE in West Seattle a nightmare. It already takes quite a while to get down this arterial road with various stoplights, school zones, redlight cameras that instill ridiculous tickets. Yes I’m an aggressive driver but that doesn’t translate to unsafe, drivers need to be aware and SO DO pedestrians. Only walk when the walk sign is lit, don’t be attempting rogue missions across poorly lit streets while traffic is flowing per the green lights.

    This is frustrating to me especially since I bought a house in WS last summer, what will my resale value be now, especially since Metro has already been cut and I can’t get a bus unless it’s an express during peak times which is inconvenient and now the main route of traffic through the entire neighborhood (we live in a city people) will be reduced to what 25mph? 20mph? Get out your reins and whips kids and prepare to lead your horses to water…ugh

    Comment by Greystreet — 11:54 am February 12, 2014 #

  32. I live on 35th right at the top of the hill between Hudson and Edmunds. I have lived in this same area for 10 years now and I can tell you from personal experience that people drive way too fast along this area. My neighbor and I sat out with a speed gun one day and the average speed was 45-50 mpg as people hit my stretch of road trying to get to the bridge/junction as fast as possible. Even at the light I always wait for cars to come to a complete stop before crossing as many cars have ran the light at Edmunds while they are speeding and of course chatting or texting on their phones. Any change would be welcome, but more real time speed signs and pedestrian lighted walkways with flashers and speed bumps would be excellent. As a father and a pet owner please people just SLOW DOWN! 35th avenue isn’t the freeway and the posted speed is the law.

    Comment by Greg — 12:51 pm February 12, 2014 #

  33. Azimuth makes a good point about the “natural” speed of the road. Several years ago, I was driving in San Diego and in several instances on different types of roads I found myself traveling at a speed that felt natural for the road, only to find that this was indeed the posted speed limit. Loved it. Not sure I agree with all Azimuth’s solutions, tho. One thing that exacerbates the speed problem is the hills, which tend to result in increased speed (both ways).
    .
    Studying the problem is a good idea, but I DO with they would fix the mess on Alaska street. Simple solution would be to get rid of the ridiculous bus lanes and restore parking to the locations where there was parking before. It is downright dangerous the way it is now – both for drivers and for pedestrians!

    Comment by Leaving — 1:01 pm February 12, 2014 #

  34. I’m glad they mentioned the pavement issue. My car has a fairly wide wheelbase, and for a lot of that stretch, I have to fight to stay on the straight trajectory because it’s bouncing all over the place from the huge gaps in the roadway’s mismatched pavement, the giant protruding manhole covers, and the significant holes around those things. And I’ve had plenty of people almost hit me from veering into my lane from the same issue. It’s not going to help speeders or visibility problems, but it will help with some things — and mean we can pay less attention to fighting with our cars and more attention on the actual driving part.

    Comment by emcat8 — 1:08 pm February 12, 2014 #

  35. Greystreet, you seem like the perfect example of someone who reasons “I haven’t killed anyone yet therefore my driving is perfectly safe.” Keep in mind that while you may be West Seattle’s best driver, you simply can’t trust other drivers to not make mistakes. Part of safe driving is slowing down, staying alert, and giving yourself enough time to react to someone else’s mistake. To me, aggressive DOES equal unsafe because if you are barreling down the road like you own it, you’re driving on borrowed time.

    A PSA on the subject:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buPtCWWeVxE

    Congrats to everyone who signed the petition!

    Comment by higgins — 1:10 pm February 12, 2014 #

  36. Yay!! Way to go neighbors, WSTC, etc for getting this on the agenda! :)

    Comment by Mat — 1:21 pm February 12, 2014 #

  37. Higgins, the inconsistency in driving styles is what leads to safety issues as well. Call my style what you want, but its my perogative to drive my preference. That said, when you have drivers going the speed limit, people making inappropriate turns, drivers NOT going the speed (limit – either above OR below), it is a recipe for disaster. I dont disagree that that road has issues, but for the love of god how could the speed limit be dropped any lower? It doesn’t make sense to me. I like the idea of two lanes, one in either direction with a turning lane, unfortunately this will push more traffic onto side streets and see the inappropriate use of a turning lane to pass people when “noone is looking”
    I dont have a solution that’s for sure, but I do know that I may just avoid it all together and go West marginal Way instead

    Comment by Greystreet — 1:35 pm February 12, 2014 #

  38. Greystreet, it is NOT your prerogative to drive however you want. Thankfully not everyone takes such a narcissistic view of their driving privileges! And I highly doubt they’ll drop the speed limit to 20 mph like you suggest in your previous post, but even if they do it would take an extra 3.9 minutes to go the three miles between Roxbury and Fauntleroy. It’s not the speed limit that really slows traffic down, I agree that it’s the stoplights and people waiting to turn. I think a center turn lane would be great. That road needs a buffer between north and south bound traffic as well as a safe place for turning cars to wait. Lastly, I drive West Marginal twice a day and love it, traffic is almost always light and there are five glorious lanes for your driving pleasure. But, ahem, aggressive drivers might want to avoid it due to the heavy truck presence. Those guys go slow as molasses and don’t care one bit about holding up passenger cars. And you won’t win in a fight against one.

    Comment by higgins — 2:23 pm February 12, 2014 #

  39. This is absolutely great news! We still have a ways to go. Not only is it important to reduce speeds in certain areas, it is important to teach and remind children, youth and some adults, how to cross properly and safely. I see to many near accidents with folks just bravely running across the street, even when there is a crosswalk nearby. Or not paying attention when it says walk, to make sure it’s safe, instead of assuming it is.

    Comment by Cynthia Clouser — 2:47 pm February 12, 2014 #

  40. You think there are aggressive drivers now? Try to drop the speed limit below 35 and see what happens. I am constantly behind dimwits who can’t drive the posted speed limit as is. Bottom line is people/human beings aren’t all that they’re cracked up to be. If you’re a pedestrian and you can’t judge whether or not you’ll be hit by oncoming traffic….it’s probably best you go. If you can’t drive the posted speed limit, it’s probably best you stay off the road. This society is becoming too complacent and handing out participation awards to everyone leading to the masses being asses. The road works fine. It’s people who are idiots!

    Comment by craig — 3:00 pm February 12, 2014 #

  41. Wes C. Addle, do you live south of 104th/106th? Traffic on 35th all but disappears past those points; I live north of there, where traffic is fairly heavy – and often fast. As for the motorcycles, they’ve been out a few times lately, but it’s really not their time of year.

    Comment by anonyme — 3:34 pm February 12, 2014 #

  42. Yes I’m an aggressive driver but that doesn’t translate to unsafe
    .
    Actually, yeah, it pretty much does.

    Comment by datamuse — 5:02 pm February 12, 2014 #

  43. @anonyme
    Yes I do live south of 106th, and I will agree with you that seems to be the cut-off as that is usually only local residential traffic. But the area between 106th and Roxbury is usually pretty slow going (for me) with the Speed signs, school zone, and the road being narrower.

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 5:14 pm February 12, 2014 #

  44. The worst stretch of 35th to me is the area between Holden and Kenyon street. With the staggered stoplights and the various turns and signals, it’s a mess.

    Comment by Wes C. Addle — 5:20 pm February 12, 2014 #

  45. I appreciate all the interpretations of what an aggressive driver is, we are entitled to our opinions. Quote as you like, but aggressive can also mean “with a purpose” in this, so let me rephrase it for you, “I drive with a purpose” is that more PC? Someone who drives with a purpose is paying attention to the “darters” who appear out of nowhere and cross the street in an unmarked cross walk, someone who drives with a purpose is aware that there is traffic stopped ahead because someone has been waiting to make a left hand turn where there isn’t a turning lane and backing up traffic for ages. I’m not really phased by your critiques of my driving ability, I’ll continue to be aware of my surroundings and get where I need to go regardless of the BS that is going to occur on this stretch of road, I just hope they are smart about it and consider all times of the day, weather conditions, etc. aaaand done.

    Comment by Greystreet — 5:55 am February 13, 2014 #

  46. And craig…that was very well said, thank you :) my sentiments exactly

    Comment by Greystreet — 5:56 am February 13, 2014 #

  47. S.DOT needs to adopt the english system of chicken lines for the drivers that don’t know how to turn from a two lane road to a four lane. when turning left go to the left or inside lane –right turn to the outside or right lane. seattle drivers seem to need both lanes to get around the corner.TRENTON and 35 is a perfect example . if your car or truck will not make the turn without crossing through both lanes GET A SMALLER CAR.

    Comment by Robert — 7:08 am February 13, 2014 #

  48. Yes..thank you Greystreet and Craig!

    Comment by Mayberry — 1:51 pm February 13, 2014 #

  49. actually, aggressive driving is a ticketable offense. hence the agressive driving response team, seen frequently on the bridge.
    .
    also, the posted speed limit is the maximum allowable speed under optimal conditions, e.g. dry pavement. it is NOT the suggested speed, or the minimum speed.

    Comment by redblack — 3:38 pm February 13, 2014 #

  50. Just for kicks: who here among us asking for lower speed limits/road calming etc. on 35th has texted or used their cellphone while driving on 35th? C’mon let’s be honest!

    .

    Using cellphone/texting has been shown to render the driver as impaired as one driving at just the legal alcohol limit.

    .

    Modern cars are much much safer in terms of braking, tire traction, handling. So why still the high accident rates? Look at cellphone use while driving.

    Comment by bolo — 9:50 pm February 13, 2014 #

  51. agreed, bolo. i find that even a speaker or hands-free conversation is distracting, so i have stopped responding to the phone while i’m driving. texting is out of the question. generally, though, when i see people talking on the phone, they’re usually driving too slowly, and they seem to forget what turn signals are.
    .
    here’s a thought, though: how many drivers rely on GPS so heavily that they make unexpected moves in response, because they don’t know where they’re going ahead of time?

    Comment by redblack — 4:28 am February 14, 2014 #

  52. Thinking Craig, Greystreet, Mayberry and I should totally hang out. I too, drive with a purpose, with my phone out of my hand while driving.

    We need to make people more responsible for their behavior, and not just when it comes to driving, walking and biking.

    Comment by K — 8:13 pm February 17, 2014 #

  53. you go ahead, K. hang out with folks who flaunt the law.
    .
    meanwhile, i’ll continue to be an accident-free defensive driver who has zero tickets and cheap insurance rates. and, as such, i’ll be watching for your aggression.
    .
    and pedestrians.
    .
    from your comments, you folks seem way too far from your last defensive driving or traffic safety classes.
    .
    don’t like the laws? fine. change them. but until you do, it’s still your job to obey the laws that exist.
    .
    sorry.

    Comment by redblack — 8:33 pm February 18, 2014 #

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