By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The proposal for rechannelization – aka “road diet” – for Southwest Roxbury’s westernmost arterial mile was no longer a surprise when it was explained last night for the second time in five nights. At least some of the ~30 people at the second meeting about the design proposals for SDOT’s SW Roxbury Safety Project had clearly checked out news of the plan that circulated after the first meeting last Thursday.
Road diets have their critics, but this proposal did not draw an angry crowd to last night’s meeting at the Greenbridge YWCA in White Center, led by SDOT’s Jim Curtin, who also presented last Thursday’s briefing. One person voiced open concern about possible traffic congestion as a result. Several others, though, asked why the rechannelization couldn’t cover the entire arterial stretch of Roxbury, all the way east to Olson. And the general mood of questions/comments was in favor of something even more restrictive than SDOT is suggesting.
But before we get to that: In case you missed it, rechannelization – one lane each way, with a center two-way turn lane, west from 17th to 35th – is part of what SDOT is proposing. We detailed the entire plan in our coverage of last week’s meeting – please read that for full details; we went to last night’s meeting mostly to check out the questions/comments the second time around – it was scheduled as a rerun rather than a followup. Here’s the SDOT slide deck, same thing last night that was shown last Thursday:
Again, the reason why a safety project is on the table: 223 collisions in last ~3 years, with 112 injuries. That’s about double the injury rate for collisions citywide, said SDOT’s Jim Curtin, who led this presentation/discussion as he had done in West Seattle last Thursday. “These are not just minor fender-benders.”
Along Roxbury, SDOT operates the signals and “we maintain the road curb-to-curb,” Curtin clarified in response to a question, even though for most of the stretch, the city-county line goes “right down the middle of Roxbury” until 30th – west of there, “it’s all city,” he noted.
With this meeting held off the east side of the corridor, there was some extra attention on the proposals for that side. Curtin pointed out that the Roxbury/Olson/4th area has had five spinout crashes. “Curve warning and advisory speed-limit signs” went in earlier this year, and none of those crashes have happened since. There will be “left turn yield on green” signage. Roxbury repaving 24th-27th will start right after the curb-ramp work that’s under way on that stretch now is complete. Left-turn pockets are also planned for 26th/Roxbury – there might be left-turn signals too, not yet determined.
Could the school-zone speed cams on the way to Holy Family and Roxhill Elementary zones be used outside school hours? State law would have to be changed, Curtin replied.
He reiterated that the work would start on the western segment – with rechannelization proposed just west of White Center, which would have “a massively incredible effect on speeds,” Curtin said. He reiterated that streets with 25,000 vehicles on weekdays, or fewer, are candidates – and this segment carries 13,000 to 16,000 a day, making it an “ideal” candidate. There will be a bus lane through Roxhill’s area because its bus-load area is on Roxbury. There might be a RapidRide layover zone there, to get rid of the “wall of buses” on Barton. No curb bulbs or median planned, Curtin said, reassuring someone who said those types of features were causing trouble at spots in West Seattle.
Asked about bicycle facilities, Curtin mentioned what he had at last week’s meeting – that Roxbury in the rechannelization zone will have a five-foot buffer on each side but the pavement is too rough right now for a bike lane, so that needs to be fixed before a bike lane could be considered. A future protected bike lane is part of the Bicycle Master Plan, Curtin confirmed. (By the way, he drives Roxbury east of 35th every day, he said.)
36 streets around Seattle have been rechannelized to date, in recent decades. Asked why it couldn’t go along the entire stretch, he said SDOT wished they could, since there’s “less risk when there’s fewer lanes of traffic” – but, “The model kicked out some travel times we considered unacceptable” – a 5-minute end to end trip during peak times could have become 15 minutes.
One person asked if signal changes were planned at 16th/Roxbury/Delridge. They are certainly “possible,” said Curtin, but not necessarily part of the plan right now – “it’s such a complicated intersection already,” he said. What about a walk-all-ways setup there? Curtin said “This intersection COULD get one of those, but certainly not right now.” You would need to have at least 100 pedestrian crossings per hour, he said, and White Center is “on the borderline” of that,
By this point, the meeting went into full Q/A mode. Somebody complained about unmowed planting strips. “The city could take action against them, which I think is pretty rare,” CUrtin said.
A 12th Avenue SW neighbor said she’s excited about the prospective pedestrian signal there, mentioned as a “long-term” project – right now, she just marches right out, puts up her hand to stop traffic, “gives (drivers) the stink-eye” until they stop.
What’s next for the project? Starting today, they’ll talk with local business owners, through October. You can also talk with SDOT at the Delridge Day festival next Saturday (August 9), 11 am-3 pm in Delridge Community Center Park (Delridge/Genesee). While some parts of the project are ongoing, the major elements – once the plan is finalized – will be done next spring/summer.