35th Avenue SW safety: No more left turns from Graham, soon

June 11, 2014 at 10:32 am | In High Point, Safety, West Seattle news | 28 Comments

(December 2013 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
After James St. Clair was hit and killed walking across 35th at Graham in the High Point area last December, longstanding concerns about 35th were aired again – and in February, the city announced a road-safety project. Today, SDOT sends word of a change ahead even before the safety project officially begins this fall:

SDOT is moving forward with operational changes at the intersection of 35th Avenue Southwest and Southwest Graham Street [map] this month. Residents living nearby will receive the attached postcard later this week in regard to this work.

SDOT will be installing “right turn only” signs on Graham Street at the junction with 35th. This operational change will improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers. Once the signs are installed, drivers going from Graham to 35th will be limited to right turns only.

The signs will be installed before the end of June and additional changes to this
intersection will be considered through the 35th Avenue Southwest Road Safety Project which will kick off in October.

35th/Graham also was the site of the collision that killed Susanne Scaringi in fall 2006.

28 Comments

  1. Good! It never ceases to amaze me how many people insist on turning left from Graham during rush hour out of High Point. The side by the car wash has a pretty steep incline too which makes it even harder to safely execute a left turn quick enough. I turn right from High Point often when I’m headed north but would never contemplate a left turn from there. Hopefully they’ll install more than signs, people easily ignore no-left signs all over the place “oh hey I’m gonna do it anyway try and stop me!” Looking forward to seeing what additional improvements are coming this fall.

    Comment by trickycoolj — 10:53 am June 11, 2014 #

  2. Well this takes care of one block. It seems the city has found away to placate some calling for change in the cheapest way possible. The speed of traffic is the real issue here. We had two collisions last week and multiple deaths in the last few years. 35th is a residential street and should be treated as one.

    Comment by Lives on 35th — 10:56 am June 11, 2014 #

  3. This makes no sense!!!
    People will now be turning onto the residential streets to pop back out onto 35th. That is a major intersection and people will not go to either the Alaskan thoroughfare or to Holden to get onto 35th if they are in the Morgan Junction area. This should be interesting :(

    Comment by monroe1200 — 10:56 am June 11, 2014 #

  4. Great news. Besides the tragedies mentioned in the story, I’ve seen far too many close calls at this intersection. Visibility is poor, and there are signaled intersections a block in either direction. Of course, I expect some people will ignore the signs anyway.

    Next step to improving this intersection would be to restrict parking on Graham between 35th & 36th, either to none at all or to just one side of the street.

    Comment by SarahScoot — 11:00 am June 11, 2014 #

  5. monroe1200, no, people will go to Morgan or Raymond, the signaled intersections one block south and one block north, respectively. Why would anyone go all the way down to Holden or up to Alaska (I assume you mean Alaska, not Alaskan, as Alaskan Way never intersects with 35th Ave. SW)?

    Comment by SarahScoot — 11:02 am June 11, 2014 #

  6. Huh? Why would people go all the way to Holden or Alaska? The street immediately north of Graham is Raymond, which has a traffic light. The street immediately south is Morgan, which has a traffic light. Vary your route one block to the north or south, and you have a safe place to turn left at a traffic light.

    Comment by hopey — 11:06 am June 11, 2014 #

  7. 35th needs a road diet. Two lane with a center turn lane, street parking, possibly bike lanes. Right now it is a zoo.

    Comment by sven — 11:21 am June 11, 2014 #

  8. I think monroe1200 has mistaken Graham for Morgan.

    Comment by datamuse — 12:08 pm June 11, 2014 #

  9. SDOT finally does something that will help a situation without causing congestion and people piss on it.

    Comment by dsa — 12:30 pm June 11, 2014 #

  10. I don’t I need a road diet, but thanks. With all the new growth happening in WS, there will be more vehicles on the road and I fear the diet would just make it worse for commuters. Until the city has a better transportion plan (one other than buses and bikes), people need roads. Buses simply sit in the same traffic as everyone else and not everyone can/should ride a bike. How about some light rail first, then we can talk about diets? The city isn’t making it any easier to get around and they’re not thinking about Seattle’s rapid growth.

    Comment by 35th Ave SW — 12:36 pm June 11, 2014 #

  11. Tru dat, Sven.

    Comment by MCJ — 12:38 pm June 11, 2014 #

  12. NASCAR fans are going to be terribly confused now with the lack of left turns.

    Comment by wsn00b — 12:42 pm June 11, 2014 #

  13. Thanks, 35 Ave SW. 35th already has too much traffic for a road diet. I’m happy to see steps taken to make 35th safer, but a road diet isn’t the answer.

    Comment by PG — 12:48 pm June 11, 2014 #

  14. I probably missed this info over the last year or so- but regarding all the crashes- injuries- fatalities – has anyone been charged- tried- sentenced for anything? DUI- inattentive driving- speeding/ negligence etc.?

    Comment by Anne — 1:03 pm June 11, 2014 #

  15. Take some of the millions and millions the traffic cameras are collecting and put in the blinking crosswalks like white center has. The crosswalk is embedded with orange lights that flash as a pedestrian is crossing. You can’t not know a person is walking across the street.

    Comment by j — 1:24 pm June 11, 2014 #

  16. that took way too long. the families, friends and neighbors of those killed on 35th over the years are in my thoughts right now. don’t you feel ashamed for SDOT?

    terribly and unforgivably bureaucratic thresholds.

    Comment by westseattledood — 1:42 pm June 11, 2014 #

  17. monroe1200 is 100% right, others who think folks will go 1 block N/S to a traffic light (as reasonable and logical as that seems) are sadly mistaken.
    I live in the area, traffic avoids the lights at all costs.
    Any given morning (really, test it out yourself) there will be 1-2 cars waiting for the light at Raymond, and at least 5-6 cars waiting to take a left from Juneau to 35th – every morning, without fail, 100% of the time.
    A steady stream of cars comes up Raymond from Faunt., turns left on 36th, and the right on Juneau to take the left on 35th. That deviating 2 blocks to avoid a light that is 200 feet in front of them.

    This is too little too late, and is more poorly planned, reactionary, change from SDOT. It will make the side street far more unsafe, 40MPH down 37th to get away from that light SDOT is trying to force drivers to use.

    Tell me, did anyone see any study being done at all? Any traffic measuring devices, any temporary signage, anything? Why Graham, why not Juneau where there were two accidents in a single day like a week ago? Why not all side streets? Why would you even leave an uncontrolled left turn on a street with such a terrible safety record? Just extremely poorly thought out, a completely ineffective change, and guaranteed to increase accidents in the area.

    Does SDOT just not understand how people drive?
    520, Bertha, East Link, they’re inept.

    Comment by zark — 2:39 pm June 11, 2014 #

  18. I’m skeptical about 35th Ave SW truly being the author of that message.

    Comment by Albert Einstein — 2:58 pm June 11, 2014 #

  19. datamuse is correct, my bad :(
    that makes WAYYY more sense! :)
    But I still think that people will just traverse the residential streets more.

    Comment by monroe1200 — 3:21 pm June 11, 2014 #

  20. so, zark…should we just leave things as they are, results bedamned? Got a better plan that would help now, not some dream about light rail or something else that may never happen in the future? Wow…I’m amazed at the people who bitch and moan because something isn’t being done, and then bitch and moan because it has. :-\

    Comment by JanS — 3:26 pm June 11, 2014 #

  21. I make this left turn every day. Probably a good thing it’s not allowed. No reason I shouldn’t head to the light. 2 minute delay, but much safer.

    Comment by Scott — 3:34 pm June 11, 2014 #

  22. Zark,
    None of those projects you mentioned are SDOT…

    Comment by timh2o — 3:40 pm June 11, 2014 #

  23. Zark, I live on 37th between Raymond and Graham and am very familiar with the patterns you’re talking about. There already are far too many people barreling down 37th and down Raymond. Nearly every day I come home down 37th between Juneau and Raymond (going no more than 25 MPH), and always come to a full stop at Raymond because the people going E/W along Raymond think they have some magical right-of-way and don’t even pause.

    But I digress. I see what you’re saying, and I also take that left turn from Juneau to 35th most mornings. Visibility is good and I have never had a problem. I wait at the Raymond light if I’m going out in non-rush hour, because traffic is heavy both directions (during rush hour it’s mostly northbound, with the occasional few southbound cars). Honestly, one thing that would help would be to shorten the amount of time it takes for the 35th & Raymond light to switch from N/S traffic to E/W. It can be a long wait, which does encourage people to go to a back-up option like Juneau.

    Comment by SarahScoot — 3:49 pm June 11, 2014 #

  24. Anyone, including SDOT, who thinks that a No Left Turn sign will prevent people from turning left onto 35th at Graham are delusional.
    I watch parents, mostly moms, taking their precocious and precious little ones to Pathfinder Elementary via a street through my neighborhood and every day they make a dangerous illegal right turn against a No Right Turn sign that is blatantly obvious. They don’t care, they are self important, and they are stupid. Other drivers do it as well. UPS, Postal Service, School Bus and your regular idiot Joe’s, Josephine’s, Jose’s and Jamilah’s.
    *
    The only way to stop unwanted driver behavior is not with signs, but instead it needs to be a concrete barrier or curb, or better yet, a ticket issuing camera.

    Comment by What Sign? I Don't See No Stinkin' Sign! — 4:43 pm June 11, 2014 #

  25. Just a note about those side streets between graham and the lights. On the Highpoint side they are all 20 ft wide with parking on both sides. Another “traffic calming device” from SDOT. This means every block you have to wait for traffic in one direction before you can go n to s on each block. On Graham and Juneau you can drive a car in either direction at the same time, Therefore the traffic calming pushes the traffic to those streets which are under discussion. SDOT and the planning commission knew this at the time of the Highpoint re-developement since I told them. The current configuration is by design and don’t let SDOT tell you it was “unforeseen”.

    Comment by Ken — 5:54 pm June 11, 2014 #

  26. Amen, Sven!

    Comment by Sam Uzwack — 8:18 pm June 11, 2014 #

  27. Live in Highpoint and never turn left at Graham. But they need to FIX the light at 35th and Morgan with a left arrow going onto 35th. There is way too much traffic there trying to turn because it’s the only safe place to do it, it gets backed up going Southbound at 7 o’clock in the morning. Are they going to fix that if they will be essentially redirecting traffic there??

    Comment by Qforest — 10:15 pm June 11, 2014 #

  28. 35th is the last major north/south thoroughfare in West Seattle. It really should be maintained as such. It would make far more sense to close off the access to all side streets other than signaled intersections and remove all on street parking.

    The only way I can see it having a road diet is if they add a light rail line down it and keep buses off of that road. Killing lanes on Fauntleroy pushed a lot of traffic up to 35th. Not sure were they can go if we shut down 35th as well.

    Comment by Jordan — 7:48 am June 12, 2014 #

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