47th/Admiral signal: Design’s done; construction set for this fall

SDOT has announced that design is done and construction will start this fall – possibly as soon as October – on the long-sought signal at 47th SW and Admiral Way, and that it will be accompanied by four striped crosswalks, as seen in the new design graphic above. This fall will mark three years since the Admiral Neighborhood Association ramped up its campaign for the signal with a rally in memory of 26-year-old Tatsuo Nakata, killed at the intersection in fall 2006. It took a lot of pushing to get funding committed – in early 2012, SDOT was still saying 47th/Admiral wasn’t high on the list. Then last year, the City Council made changes in then-Mayor McGinn’s spending plan in order to find full funding for the signal.

Here are key parts of the finalized plan, according to SDOT:

*Installing a new traffic signal
*Adding four additional striped crosswalks
*Upgrading six curb ramps at key corners of the intersection to be compliant with current American Disability Act (ADA) standards
*Replacing the existing center-turn lane with left-turn-only pockets on SW Admiral Way
*Removing minimal parking up to 50 feet from the intersection approaches on the north and south sides of 47th Avenue SW and SW Waite Street
*Removing the existing pedestrian signal

According to SDOT’s Maribel Cruz, “We anticipate construction will begin late this fall and will last for approximately three months, depending on weather conditions. The project team plans to host a community drop-in session at a nearby café in October, prior to the start of construction, and will continue to keep the community informed as the project progresses.” More information is online at this newly updated project page.

P.S. We should note that this intersection will be a lot busier soon, with Aegis Living planning to build a new retirement center on the 4700 SW Admiral Way site of the former Life Care Center, proposed to include 48 assisted-living apartments and 33 memory-care apartments..

64 Replies to "47th/Admiral signal: Design's done; construction set for this fall"

  • SGG August 19, 2014 (12:35 pm)

    Excellent news! It sure took a long time.

  • liz August 19, 2014 (12:43 pm)

    Finally! This will really improve the quality of the lives of frequent pedestrians like me who live in the neighborhood.

  • JayDee August 19, 2014 (1:02 pm)

    From what I understand, the 2006 accident was an outlier and fatal accidents or any accidents do not occur with high frequency at this intersection. In fact, the reason there hasn’t been a signal is because it never ranked high enough risk-wise to justify one.

    I think more cars spin out southwest of this intersection (at the location of the former bus stop near 49th and Admiral).

    I am sure that peds will feel more secure, but I am not convinced they will be safer. I know drivers will not necessarily applaud one more signal on Admiral. I am not convinced there was a problem at this intersection that a simpler ped-activated crosswalk signal (like Andover/California) would not have solved.

  • peri August 19, 2014 (1:07 pm)

    I have to say that I think this is a stupid idea to solve the problems at that intersection. SDOT’s problem is that it refuses to use Rapid-Flash Beacons, which activate immediately (and only) when a pedestrian presses the button; in Tacoma and in other communities around the Sound I have seen these prove highly successful. Instead they use lights which flash continuously regardless of whether a pedestrian is present, leading most drivers to ignore them 24/7. And now they decide that installing a traffic light that will stop traffic no matter whether pedestrians are present or not is the solution. It’s worse for cars, and frankly it’s slower for pedestrians, who will have to wait for the walk signal to work its way around (instead of the rapid-flash beacons which activate immediately). Sigh.

  • Diane August 19, 2014 (1:17 pm)

    8 years later; way to go SDOT
    major kudos to Admiral advocates for the long persistent fight for this

  • Mel August 19, 2014 (1:27 pm)

    Stop light and multiple crosswalks on a curve – what could possibly go wrong?
    Would be cheaper and safer to make that intersection a “DO NOT CROSS” zone, but people don’t care about cost when there’s convenience to be had. After all, that’s someone else’s money, right?

  • WSEA August 19, 2014 (2:01 pm)

    we’ve been asking for some type of crosswalk lights (or stop light) between admiral and 49th for years. Its impossible to cross at times with kids in tow. This is a big win for the area. Thanks to the admiral neighborhood association for keeping on this issue.

  • emily August 19, 2014 (2:09 pm)

    I doubt a ped-activated crosswalk signal would have helped. I dodge way too many cars at 59th & Admiral trying to get to/from school. Traffic on 59th doesn’t have a signal and doesn’t seem to care if people are in the crosswalk. /rant

  • AJL August 19, 2014 (2:16 pm)

    What lengths drivers will go through to object to (the horror) slowing down and traffic mitigation for vulnerable road users constantly amazes me. Then they lambast any other road user (bicyclists, pedestrians, etc.) for not following the rules (kettle meet pot).

    This is good news here. As one who doesn’t drive very often, this is not a friendly intersection to cross anywhere, not just Admiral. Slowing fast auto-movements will most definitely be of much help.

  • Cjl August 19, 2014 (2:26 pm)

    Wow, this is great! I cross this street several times a day and have had more near misses then I can count. Just yesterday I got stuck in the middle of the street waiting for cars to stop. I don’t cross until I see a car stopping for me and there weren’t any cars coming from the other direction so I went. A car did come along and flew right past me and my dog while I stood in the middle waving my hands for him to stop. It’s terrifying to get stuck in the middle of admiral with cars whizzing by. I try to be really careful but sometimes cars come around the bend in the road and never really notice the pedestrians. I’ll be relieved when the lights get finished.

  • David Whiting August 19, 2014 (2:33 pm)

    The next Admiral Neighborhood Association (ANA) meeting (Tuesday September 9th) will feature the SDOT project team and the safety improvements planned for this intersection.

    Many of the concerns and frustrations noted in the comments above were also held by many of us at ANA. This may not be an ideal solution, but is a definite improvement from the existing conditions.

    I encourage anyone with an interest in this intersection, or is concerned about the recent robbery and assault of the coffee shop employee to become more informed and engaged through their local community council.

    David M. Whiting
    ANA President

    • WSB August 19, 2014 (2:51 pm)

      Thanks, David! I’m surprised SDOT didn’t mention that in their note to us about this but oh well, glad YOU did! For those who aren’t regular attendees, ANA meets at 7 pm on the second Tuesday (9/9 in this case, as David mentioned) at The Sanctuary at Admiral, the landmark church-turned-event-center at 42nd/Lander – TR

  • datamuse August 19, 2014 (2:44 pm)

    Would be cheaper and safer
    Citation needed.
    to make that intersection a “DO NOT CROSS” zone, but people don’t care about cost when there’s convenience to be had
    Pedestrian convenience, to be sure.

  • Dis August 19, 2014 (3:03 pm)

    someone said >>>> Traffic on 59th doesn’t have a signal and doesn’t seem to care if people are in the crosswalk. /rant

    I am confused. I thought there was a traffic light at 59th and Admiral?

  • emily August 19, 2014 (3:29 pm)

    The light at 59th and Admiral only stops the traffic on Admiral. Drivers on 59th treat this as their green light and turn through the marked pedestrian crossing — often oblivious to the pedestrians in the crosswalk.

  • Azimuth August 19, 2014 (3:39 pm)

    How long until SDOT figures out the light timing? I give them at least as long as it took to design this project.

    And I agree with peri. Activated cross walks probably would have been sufficient, if not better. The problem with lights is that they are dumb and stay red long after the pedestrian has finished crossing.

  • j August 19, 2014 (3:44 pm)

    Sidewalks, blinking lights, clearly painted crosswalks, ramps, properly parked vehicles. What we wouldn’t give in Arbor Heights to have your “horrible” intersections.
    We’ve been trying for 40 years to get a four way stop at 39th and 104th and yield signs or traffic islands from 39th and 104th to Marine View Drive where there has been several collisions.
    Good for you Admiral but hey… where is the money really needed?
    Safe routes to school ends at Roxbury.
    In AH it’s Insane Routes to School.

  • John August 19, 2014 (4:45 pm)

    It’s an awkward spot for a traffic signal. I agree with Mel that a “Do Not Cross” zone would have been safer. Will the light be pedestrian activated or will it cycle through red lights whether there are pedestrians or not?

    • WSB August 19, 2014 (4:54 pm)

      John, it will be a full signal. That is what community leaders advocated for and what the council funded. – TR

  • local August 19, 2014 (5:01 pm)

    i live a block from here and i am really happy about this, both as a pedestrian and as a driver. Admiral gets super busy, it can take 5-10 minutes to find a gap to pull out into. People drive way too fast along here, they race from California in their excitement to get to the beach, and zoom around the corner with no care whatsoever. The fact that there are no lights from California to the beach means most people treat it like a freeway. And to those who say a few deaths aren’t as important as your convenience – shame on you.

  • cj August 19, 2014 (5:18 pm)

    Does this suggest that the rest 47th is going to be finished off as a new complete through street for West Seattle?

  • Tom Rasmussen August 19, 2014 (5:29 pm)

    West Seattle Blog is correct. Many many people in the community have been seeking a signal here well before the fatality. I advocated for funding for this signal. The City Council agreed, it was funded, and we will see results.

    Thanks to the community for their concern and patience.

  • ltfd August 19, 2014 (5:34 pm)

    How is Ephraim Schwartz doing? You know, the West Seattle resident who was driving & talking on his cell phone when he hit & killed Tatsuo Nakata. I wonder how his life is going?

  • dsa August 19, 2014 (5:39 pm)

    Sorry j in Arbor Heights about no 4 way stop or yield signs, but SDOT was told by the council to spend a million dollars in Admiral instead. Engineering decisions should not be political.

  • Alki Mail Staff August 19, 2014 (5:41 pm)

    The staff at Alki Mail are so happy to see we are getting the light! We have seen more than our fair share of car accidents and close calls right in front of our shop and we are ready for it to end!

  • JayDee August 19, 2014 (8:09 pm)

    local: 5 to 10 minutes? Maybe 30 to 180 seconds. Be realistic and reflect what the average driver would face. Not even my timid METRO driver waits over a minute to pull into WB traffic.

    And none said there were a few deaths; there was one. Regrettable but an outlier when to decide if there is a full signal or a crosswalk activated signal

  • Kim August 19, 2014 (8:11 pm)

    Sorry Alki speedracers. This is a good solution for the neighborhood. It’s like playing Pedestrian Frogger to cross Waite or 47th let alone Admiral. Bravo ANA and SDOT.

  • Thomas M. August 19, 2014 (8:54 pm)

    Great. That intersection can be a real white knuckle experience.

  • Mike August 19, 2014 (10:05 pm)

    Get ready for a lot more fender benders.

  • JanS August 19, 2014 (11:32 pm)

    @dsa – “engineering decisions should not be political”….is that a comment that somehow Admiral residents are “special”, so they are advocated for more?If that’s what you’re saying, well, that’s bull. Now, if you’re saying that the city council shouldn’t be involved, well, they have to be…they approve the money…

    having said that, I agree that AH gets the short stick often, from no sidewalks, to no lights, to no bus service….time for you all to band together and campaign loudly and often for some changes…

    there will be assisted living at the new Aegis…older folks who will leave the building every so often. They move slower…this light will be helpful , esp. for them. As a disabled person myself, I find that I simply do not move along at the fast clip that I did in previous years. It’s taught me patience with others…..something many od us need to learn.

  • dsa August 19, 2014 (11:55 pm)

    Just looking a little closer at it I think they better plan on not allowing “right on red” from northbound 47th to eastbound Admiral.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (12:02 am)

    I don’t understand the no right on red from westbound Admiral to northbound 47th. The through traffic on 47th is non existant. Maybe with the light they think all of north Admiral will use 47th instead of California. It makes no sense. The reason cannot be for pedestrians since they have not done this for the other three right hand movements.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (1:29 am)

    JanS, better methods have already been mentioned here than a full expensive light. If SDOT had not been dictated to by politicians they may have been able to address both Admiral and Arbor Heights concerns.

  • Alki res August 20, 2014 (3:22 am)

    Great news. This is part of the solution to the indy 500 race up and down this hill. We also need SPD with radar to keep drivers at the speed limit. I walk, cycle and drive this road constantly. It needs to be made safe for all road users. I just want to get home alive. Thanks to the community activists who made this happen.

  • roxy August 20, 2014 (7:53 am)

    As an AH resident, who has many friends in Admiral, the proposed light is needed to slow traffic and allow safer ped crossing. When a sidewalk was added near Roxhill Elem and the light cycled red more frequently slowing drivers down I certainly felt safer while walking.

  • Dad, A August 20, 2014 (8:36 am)

    Great! Now can we get a crosswalk at 45th and Admiral? I see people crossing there all the time to walk to Lafayette and Madison. Seems dangerous.

  • wetone August 20, 2014 (10:07 am)

    I see many things wrong with what is happening in this design. 1. cars going west bound are going to be approaching light going downhill on curve. 2. traffic will be pushed to the side streets hugely during morning and evening commutes from the back-ups caused by this design and causing traffic issues for cars trying to turn onto or off Admiral way within a 1/4 mile of this new design. When new project is done at the old Life Care Center property will another light have to be added for safety and ingress/egress ? This solution for the problem seems way over thought with little common sense for this area. Cross walks with push button lights activated when needed could have easily been put above and below this intersection (better visibility) also helping with traffic flow. If traffic light is really needed locate at 49th & Admiral. 49th is a street used by transit and school buses (new school access) along with not causing the problems of ingress/egress of Admiral that this design will have with area. Not a design I would be proud of Tom Rasmussen from someone that’s been using Admiral Way for over 50yrs. I can see it now what 3-4+ minute light will do to that area during commute times :(

  • KBear August 20, 2014 (10:11 am)

    Dad, there IS a crosswalk at 45th and Admiral, albeit unmarked. It is perfectly legal to cross there, and traffic must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk. Or did you mean a painted crosswalk with a signal?

  • AlkiResident August 20, 2014 (10:24 am)

    I disagreed (and still do) with the decision to install a traffic signal at this intersection. Yes, as a pedestrian you must be careful when crossing the intersection. But here’s a tip: don’t step into the street before you are certain traffic from both ways has stopped. Once you’ve confirmed traffic from both directions has seen you and has stopped, it is now safe to cross.

    But fine. Now we’ll have a traffic signal. What I disagree with EVEN MORE is the decision for it to be a full signal and not pedestrian activated. Can someone explain to me how this is necessary? How many cars every hour are going to stop at this signal with no pedestrians in sight? Unless I’m missing something, I see this as a very inefficient and wasteful stopping of traffic.

  • KBear August 20, 2014 (11:17 am)

    All the reasons given against this development (downhill, on a curve…) are exactly why it is needed. If drivers had been obeying the law all along, not speeding, watching for pedestrians, stopping for them, there wouldn’t be a need for a signal.

  • Near Alki August 20, 2014 (11:36 am)

    I don’t understand what this means…

    *Removing minimal parking up to 50 feet from the intersection approaches on the north and south sides of 47th Avenue SW and SW Waite Street”

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (12:04 pm)

    Just to be absolutely clear, I long ago advocated for a *pedestrian* activated signal at this location, not what got dictated by the politicians.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (1:08 pm)

    I do not understand why the proponents of a full signal will stop people from speeding through a green light. It might just have the opposite effect as they try to beat the light.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (1:11 pm)

    Near Alki, 47th as it approaches Admiral is a tight turn because of the angle, so that is probably the reason for the parking restriction. It does not explain doing both the “no right on red” and no parking on the north side though.

  • wetone August 20, 2014 (1:13 pm)

    KBear it’s more like all the reasons not to have a crosswalk in that area. Down hill turn is a bad place for any motor vehicle or bicycle for that matter to stop, especially in bad weather and wet for ones traveling westbound and for eastbound on nice sunny mornings one hits the sun glare. It’s a lot easier for a person to stop and look than for a 4000lb 30mph vehicle stopping instantly. It will be better access for the business on the corner tough. See this a lot in junction area lately, people just walk out in front of cars without looking or making some kind of eye contact. Motor vehicles don’t stop instantly folks, anytime one crosses a roadway look and make eye contact. For some reason our elected officials in this town seem to have given people the idea it’s safe just to cross when and where one wants and cars just magically stop instantly.

  • Clementine August 20, 2014 (2:12 pm)

    I am very happy about having a signal at this location. Living in the neighborhood behind Life Care it is getting increasingly difficult to enter Admiral from Waite Street or 49th. I have waited 5-10 minutes at the Waite street stop sign during morning and evening rush hours and on sunny summer days. Three single family homes have been demolished within the last couple years on 48th and replaced by 3 four unit row houses and 2 new single family homes. With Aegis building their new facility traffic will increase even more. So happy that there is no right turn on red from 47th. I also don’t see a problem with people stopping at this light People should be slowing down here anyway they go way too fast.

  • AlkiResident August 20, 2014 (2:25 pm)

    Can someone please explain why this will not be pedestrian-activated traffic signal?

  • KBear August 20, 2014 (2:29 pm)

    Wetone, if you can’t stop your car on a downward slope, rain or not, you’re driving too fast.

  • DaveB August 20, 2014 (3:53 pm)

    I live in the neighborhood behind the Aegis property and I’m in favor of this change.

    -No right on red on westbound Admiral: I assume this is to prevent people from turning on to Waite (as often happens when cars on Admiral are stopped for the crosswalk (and I have done it myself (blush))) and to prevent any problems with pedestrians crossing 47th.

    -With the downhill curve heading west, it would make sense to have the light visible far enough up the hill that people won’t be surprised when it changes (as they often seem to be by pedestrians on the existing crosswalk). I hope that happens.

    I understand people not wanting this light for various reasons but the only comment above I found irritating was Mel’s: “Would be cheaper and safer to make that intersection a “DO NOT CROSS” zone, but people don’t care about cost when there’s convenience to be had.”
    So those people who live on the north side of Admiral should walk half a mile to California or down to 50th to cross to catch the bus, go to Alki Mail, or visit friends on the other side of Admiral? Would you support a change like that in your neighborhood, Mel?

    A couple thoughts on other comments:

    -This is the definition of a crosswalk per RCW (Revised Code of Washington) 46.04.160: “The portion of the roadway between the intersection area and a prolongation or connection of the farthest sidewalk line or in the event there are no sidewalks then between the intersection area and a line ten feet therefrom, except as modified by a marked crosswalk.” My interpretation is that any place you can walk from a corner to another corner in the flow of the sidewalk is a crosswalk.

    -Waiting for cars to stop:
    RCW 46.61.235 says “(1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.
    (2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.”
    While waiting for cars to stop is a good idea, I find that a lot of drivers don’t stop until you are actually in the crosswalk, so I take one step in (once it’s safe per above) then wait for the traffic to stop before proceeding.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (4:03 pm)

    AlkiResident, a fully controlled signal should by all means include a pedestrian-activation even though that is all that is needed without the extra sophisticated controller hardware and traffic loops that would come with a fully controlled signal.

  • dsa August 20, 2014 (6:31 pm)

    No Dave, I’m asking about the no right *from* Admiral to 47th. It makes no sense to protect that Admiral crossing on the north side and not the south side. Additionally, why not no right on red for the eastbound traffic on Admiral to prevent traffic diversion. So little of this improvement makes sense.

  • Mike August 20, 2014 (9:02 pm)

    well, it’s slightly better placement of a crosswalk than the current one where even with a light nobody can see pedestrians until they’re nearly about to run them over coming down hill. Those of us that live here know to look, those that come to visit do not and will still have issues with this new crossing area and the stop light. The bigger issue now will be multiple fender benders and pedestrians feeling ‘safe’ when they have a crossing signal while a driver who is unaware of the oncoming signal being red might very well plow over the pedestrian.
    It’s the responsibility of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians to always be alert. I’ve yet to experience Admiral Way being the Indy 500, most cars I’m usually stuck behind are doing 20-25mph both ways and they still nearly run over pedestrians while I actually stop and honk / flash my lights at oncoming traffic who are not aware there’s a person walking across in front of them.

  • DaveB August 21, 2014 (12:23 pm)

    dsa, my guess (and it’s purely a guess) is that if people can turn right onto 47th from Admiral, they’ll also assume they can turn onto Waite.

    Hopefully someone will ask at the meeting in October. I will if I remember to go.

  • dsa August 21, 2014 (3:20 pm)

    That could be the reason DaveB, but this is a five corner intersection and continuing on to Waite would be running the red light as it’s pretty much a straight shot.
    Too bad there isn’t enough room to just build a cul-de-sac turn around and completely cut off the 47th connection. That would condense this intersection walk crossing lengths and driver wait times.

  • DaveB August 21, 2014 (6:47 pm)

    Good point on the turning, dsa.

  • j August 21, 2014 (8:46 pm)

    Alki Resident
    To answer your question a pedestrian activated signal will not make as much money as a fully functional signal. Before long advocates will be complaining about all the red light runners and rear end accidents. In come the”safety” cameras issuing you a $189 ticket where half of the money goes to Arizona.
    Hope this helps.

  • dsa August 21, 2014 (9:24 pm)

    Ah j, future traffic cams, you’ve just explained why they are planning on the no right on red off Admiral.

  • miws August 22, 2014 (7:49 am)

    …..a pedestrian activated signal will not make as much money as a fully functional signal. Before long advocates will be complaining about all the red light runners and rear end accidents. In come the”safety” cameras issuing you a $189 ticket where half of the money goes to Arizona.





  • Peter August 28, 2014 (9:45 am)

    Does anybody know if the light will be pedestrian and/or (side street) vehicle proximity activated, or via timer, even if no one wants to cross? I ask, because timer-driven would be over-kill and a bad solution, IMO.

    The ped-activated crosswalk at SW Olga and Admiral Way SW works reasonably well, and that’s an even busier stretch of road. Often with even faster moving cars. The flashing lights on the uphill side warn oncoming drivers on the downhill curve, similar to the situation that exists at 47th/Waite St. I use the Olga crosswalk almost daily. Prior to the ped-crossing install at Olga, crossing Admiral there was by far the most dangerous thing I regularly did, and I climb mountains for fun. Especially bad if it was dark and rainy.

    – Peter.

    • WSB August 28, 2014 (10:30 am)

      Peter – SDOT has described it as a “full signal,” as community advocates had sought, not a “only if somebody pushes a button” type.

  • Peter August 29, 2014 (7:48 am)

    Thanks WSB. Understood, but does that mean it’ll sometimes turn red, even if nobody (peds or cars) is waiting at one of the cross streets? If so, that is dumb IMO, and will only further encourage a race to make it past the intersection.

    No argument that the ped crossing needs to be made safer. Cars trying to go straight or making a left off of 47th or Waite (across traffic) is also risky. Cars turning right can usually do so safely, with a little patience. Unfortunately, the magnetic detectors can’t tell if cars are trying to take a left, right, or go straight :)
    – Peter

  • Tip August 29, 2014 (2:52 pm)

    Great, more traffic on Stevens so people can avoid another light on Admiral. Thanks SDOT! :)

  • Joe and Linda September 8, 2014 (5:51 pm)

    We have five grandchildren and would never trust drivers to stop at this crosswalk. We cross this intersection every day and cannot count the times we have almost been hit. Drivers drive way too fast and blatantly do not stop! Those who have Suggested that a light is not needed are crazy, thank you to SDOT, Finally!

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