By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Rechannelization (aka a “road diet”) for the mile of SW Roxbury between 17th and 35th SW (map) is a big part of what SDOT is proposing to do, to fix what it acknowledges are “horrible” conditions for everyone from drivers to pedestrians:
Other proposals and plans for the road, between Olson and 35th, have just been revealed too – a mix of paving, painting, signage, and signals.
It was all unveiled by SDOT’s neighborhood traffic liaison Jim Curtin (who also happens to live in the area) in a meeting tonight at Southwest Library, with more than 20 neighbors in attendance, including leaders of neighborhood groups that campaigned for the city to finally get something done. (See the full slide deck here.)
As Curtin prefaced, SW Roxbury from Olson to 35th is a very busy road, a “principal arterial,” with 13,000 cars a day on average at 35th, almost twice that (25,000) at Olson Place SW. Speed studies show that most drivers are going at least five mph over the speed limit, Curtin said, adding that alongside Roxhill Elementary, 85 percent of vehicles are going more than 11 mph over the 30 mph limit, and, as he pointed out, speed is the number one factor in crashes – of which there have been 223 in the past three years, with 112 people hurt. The eastern section is more crash-prone than the western section. 11 crashes involved vehicles and pedestrians; two involved vehicles and bicycles.
Long-term proposals unveiled, under design right now into early 2015, with the “final determination” to be made before year’s end, and work to be done next year:
They’ll look at the corridor in three sections, he said, western, then White Center, then eastern. For the western segment, the most dramatic proposal:
*Rechannelization between 17th SW and 35th SW, one lane each way, middle lane for turns, shared bus lane with a potential new bus-layover zone near Roxhill Elementary, signage improvements, spot pavement repairs, but no “bike facilities” yet. He says that stats show that rechannelization works well on streets carrying fewer than 25,000 vehicles per day – and as noted above, that defines this stretch (16,000 at the most along the rechannelization-proposed segment). As if on cue, an attendee said, “This is the same thing that was successful on Fauntleroy, right?” and Curtin had a slide ready for that:
It showed 31 percent fewer collisions on Fauntleroy Way after that change five years ago, while it carries a bit more than the 17,600 vehicles a day that it did before the rechannelization. Travel times are unchanged, from four more seconds to 1.2 minutes; “top-end speeders” are down 13 percent.
Curtin says this will make for a better pedestrian situation, eliminates the “multiple threat” collision danger, so more crosswalks might result. Right and left turns will be safer too, he says. He also points out a five-foot buffer planned for each side of the road – and acknowledges that could be the future bike-lane space, after a question from an attendee.
Why can’t this stretch through the White Center area at 15th-17th? he was asked. Travel times there would go up “to unacceptable levels,” Curtin says they found out, through an analysis. But they do plan pavement repair between 17th and 18th, plus “new curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals at 17th,” as well as signage improvements (like the ones now up at Fauntleroy/California, warning that turning vehicles need to stop for pedestrians and bicycles). “We’re going to go out there and take care of business,” Curtin declared. And yes, he told an attendee who asked, they are in communication with the county (SDOT is actually responsible for Roxbury up until the curb on the county side of the road, even though the boundary technically goes through the middle). A “crosswalk design” might be possible at that spot, Curtin suggests – not part of the formal plan but “if anyone’s interested in talking about it … we can partner up and make it happen.”
The parking alongside Roxbury right by downtown White Center will not be affected by this – business owners “fought really hard to keep it,” Curtin notes. In addition, the parking has NOT been a factor in any crashes, he said.
Now, for the eastern section of Roxbury:
*”Engineering education” is what they want to use to address the main problem, speeding, with two radar speed signs that will likely be in by year’s end, plus “channelization improvements” at Olson/4th – the latter, “to address some of the sideswipe issues.” That will include some “subtle tweaks” to the paint on the roadway to address that.
*To address concerns about a long stretch with no pedestrian crossing, they would seek, “long term,” a signal at 12th SW, in the “neighborhood pond transit stop” area, said Curtin. Grant money would likely help with this, he explained.
But that’s not all the city’s proposing, and not all it’s been doing. Some work’s already been done. But first, the new short-term projects announced by Curtin:
Work is beginning now to pave Roxbury between 24th and 27th; left-turn pockets will be installed at 26th, for both north and south approaches; and grant-funded sidewalks are in the works between 28th and 30th SW – that’s just been announced, Curtin said. If more grant money comes in, they will head south on the east side of 30th, he said.
And he listed the “short-term projects” (as in, completed now or completed soon) that are already in place:
The school-zone speed-enforcement cameras at Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School will start issuing warnings September 2nd, the first day of school, continuing for a month – if you’re caught speeding, you will get that warning in the mail. “You’re not going to get a ticket for going 22 mph in a 20 mph zone,” said Curtin, “but if you go much faster, you’re asking for it.” They’ve also put up curve warnings and advisory speed-limit signs at the Roxbury/Olson curve, and signs will be put up soon warning that “left turn yield(s) on (green light)” at Roxbury/Olson/4th. (Curtin said that since the signs have gone up in that spot – the most crash-prone intersection in West Seattle – nothing major has happened.)
Meantime, other stats Curtin listed about Roxbury:
*153 parcels abut Roxbury
*more than half are single-family homes
*almost a fifth are retail, office, industrial
*3 schools, parks, open space
*Westwood/White Center urban village in the heart of the area
*Served by 10 transit routes, including West Seattle’s most-popular route, 120
As Curtin recapped, the speed/collision problems on Roxbury were an impetus for this, as well as Safe Routes to School funding availability, and local community councils’ request for help – Westwood Roxhill Arbor Heights, Highland Park Action Committee, and North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.
This was preceded by meetings back in February (WSB coverage here), as well as other “outreach” events that Curtin also recapped, including the White Center Summit, WC Chamber of Commerce, and more, including a WC Community Development Association outreach project making contact, he said, with more than 200 households for whom English is not the primary language.
In addition to the second “design review” meeting next Monday in Greenbridge (6 pm at the YWCA, 9720 8th SW), you’ll also be able to check out the proposed designs at Delridge Day on August 9th (11 am-3 pm at Delridge Community Center park). And if you’re in the area, look for information in the mail.
OTHER ‘NEXT STEPS’: SDOT is talking to businesses August through October, planning a “final” determination and community meeting late this fall, and then would do the work in spring-summer next year.