West Seattle road/trail safety: Re-envisioning Chelan/Spokane/Delridge/W. Marginal

February 26, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

This morning, an invitation-only design charrette downtown is devoted to taking a fresh look (as explained here) at one of West Seattle’s more-problematic intersections, and it was preceded by a walking tour on Tuesday afternoon. The intersection is the five-way meeting of Chelan, Spokane, Delridge, and West Marginal Way SW, just west of the “low bridge.” West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was among those on hand for a firsthand look and discussion of its challenges and its potential.

Among the stops – a bus lane that wasn’t serving its originally intended purpose, because of route changes.

The bicycling/walking/running trail was scrutinized too; there’s already a project in the works just to the south at 23rd/Delridge to improve connectivity (as mentioned in our coverage of the most recent West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting).

This morning’s design event was billed as for “stakeholders”; we’ll be checking back to find out what’s next.

20 Comments

  1. Oh, yippee! I’m new to West Seattle, and this intersection is very confusing to me, especially at night. However, I did get a nice little tour of Harbor Island one sunny day . . . .

    Comment by HappyOnAlki — 9:20 am February 26, 2014 #

  2. Hopefully they will consider signal timing? When trains move back and forth on the tracks, it trips up the signal timing so that sometimes signals don’t cycle through for 2-3, or even more cycles. Pedestrian signals for the crosswalks unaffected by the train movements could be allowed to proceed. Left turn movements could also be allowed since they are not restricted by the train movements. How does one become an elite “stakeholder” here anyway?

    Comment by sgg — 10:27 am February 26, 2014 #

  3. Not sure why this intersection is so baffling to people – the only reason it’s even a problem is because SO many people try to take a left in the left lane, then snake over to the right in front of Chelan Cafe to cut off like 5 cars – that’s about 8 seconds you saved there genius.
    And nobody seems to realize that you can take a free right on a red, and they sit at that turn to Spokane until it’s green – sigh.
    Compounded of course by the fact that Seattle drivers do not understand the concept of a zipper – that’s how you merge people – so the sneaks who are cutting people off can’t even manage that without causing issues.
    Agree on the timing, it can cycle through a couple times when a train is coming.

    Comment by OGG — 10:55 am February 26, 2014 #

  4. @OGG – You seem very frustrated today. I hope things get better.
    Not all states allow you to turn on a red arrow. In Washington you can but not everyone is from Washington. I wish the red arrow law was changed to one common rule.
    Also, I doubt Seattle drivers are the only drivers in all states that cant zipper. I believe this is general issue but I agree that its unkind.

    Personally, i don’t like the train issue. I’ve spent a couple light cycles waiting.

    To cyclists, you can trip the light if you put your tire on the “T” in the middle of the road. Its a small “T” right behind the crosswalk.

    Comment by wsea — 12:35 pm February 26, 2014 #

  5. This would be an excellent opportunity to put in crossing arms (and sync up the traffic lights) so the trains don’t have to blow their horns at West Marginal. Local residents are getting unnecessarily hammered at all hours of the night.

    Comment by Jim — 1:13 pm February 26, 2014 #

  6. One reason it’s baffling is that in addition to being a 5-way intersection for heavy motor traffic it also includes two additional entry points for bicyclists and pedestrians and no intuitive pathway through for those non-motorized modes of transportation.

    I encourage every reader here to travel by bike from the trail behind the Chelan Cafe eastbound to Harbor Island and back during rush hour and to report back here about how that went.

    Comment by JAT — 1:18 pm February 26, 2014 #

  7. Abandon hope – it’s a mess! Need a safer route for peds and cyclists crossing the Delridge onramp to the low bridge. Existing crosswalk is too close to curve coming from Delridge. Eliminating the unused bus zone might allow rerouting some ped traffic? And, I heartily endorse the suggestions about trains and signals. I also will note that the high-priced consultants used by the Port in developing T-5 said there would be no problem here!

    Comment by Mike — 1:20 pm February 26, 2014 #

  8. OGC – regarding the comment about drivers cutting people off in front of the Chelan…
    from which direction/road are you referring to? There’s several different answers depending on which direction a)crossing off the low bridge b) crossing from E. Marginal c) crossing off Delridge d) crossing off the high bridge? Same for your comment about sitting at Spokane while the light is red rather than take a right on red (which is not a requirement – no one need to do so if they don’t want to), and it’s not legal to take a right on a red if it’s a red arrow in WA if I remember correctly.

    Comment by AJL — 1:34 pm February 26, 2014 #

  9. The only five-way intersections that are functionally efficient are ones with traffic rotaries (circles).

    Comment by bleu sky cheese — 1:40 pm February 26, 2014 #

  10. AJL, it is legal to turn right on a red arrow in Washington (after stopping, of course.) http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=46.61.055

    Comment by KBear — 2:14 pm February 26, 2014 #

  11. Thanks KBear!

    Comment by AJL — 2:59 pm February 26, 2014 #

  12. Really glad to see people putting their heads together to improve this problematic area. Thanks for the coverage, WSB!

    Comment by Lox — 3:00 pm February 26, 2014 #

  13. Mike – you are correct. In their 1994 Environmental Impact Statement for the expansion of Terminal 5, The Port of Seattle told the community there would be no train horns at the W.Marginal Way crossing. So much for EIS’s or Port of Seattle promises.

    Comment by Jim — 3:05 pm February 26, 2014 #

  14. I vote for more roundabouts in this city. Can we have one at the Alaska-Fauntelroy intersection, too?

    Comment by Wendell — 3:26 pm February 26, 2014 #

  15. That intersection was confusing in the thirties.

    Comment by Buffy — 3:41 pm February 26, 2014 #

  16. Thanks Buffy- that comment made my day (of course what an indictment that we can’t sort that out over the course of 80 yrs)

    Progress indeed!

    Comment by JAT — 6:04 pm February 26, 2014 #

  17. + 1 for OGG, good points.

    Comment by West Seattle Hipster — 6:07 pm February 26, 2014 #

  18. This intersection is confusing and dangerous. If you go west over the lower bridge and want to continue on to Avalon, Harbor or Admiral Way you can not simply go straight. You must turn left onto Chelan then almost immediately right from Chelan to Spokane. The only “correct” lane coming off the bridge to make these turns is the far right lane to make the left turn. Then you must worry about someonecutting you off from the left hand lane on Chelan to make the upcoming right. If not injured, you can contemplate why you are looking at 2 red arrows stopping you from making a right turn onto the dedicated roadway.
    Thanks for clarifying that right on red arrow is legal. I’ve spent some time there wondering.
    Alot could be done to make this safer and less confusing.
    SDOT won’t do a thing until someone is killed. Then they’ll reduce the speed limit by 20mph.

    Comment by gifff — 7:30 pm February 26, 2014 #

  19. My grandfather accidentally killed someone at this intersection in a car accident back in the mid-80′s. I was told he was leaving the Chelan Cafe at the time. I assume he was navigating back toward Delridge but do not have any paperwork to verify.

    Comment by 3rd Generation — 8:33 pm February 26, 2014 #

  20. @AJL – OGC is referring to going west to Avalon/Harbor/Admiral Way as also explained by gifff. This intersection has ALWAYS irritated us and it is very problematic. I’m glad they’re looking into changing it and based on the other comments, it can’t happen soon enough. Hopefully the change is good…or better yet, great!

    Comment by sun*e — 9:33 am February 27, 2014 #

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