HIGHLAND PARK WAY UPDATE: Reopened!

(TOPLINE: After a 2 1/2-day closure to clear slide debris, Highland Park Way is open again as of just after 5:30 tonight)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:52 PM: Our photo taken a short time ago shows some slide cleanup still under way on Highland Park Way, and now there’s word from SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero that it will NOT be open before the PM commute after all:

Highland Park Way SW remains closed due to slides and is expected to reopen this evening.

SDOT completed removal of the remaining debris earlier today. SCL is installing a new power pole. SDOT crews will then install ecology blocks to buttress the hillside.

This work is expected to last into the PM commute. Please continue to use detours.

The hill between Holden and West Marginal Way has been closed since the sliding happened around 5 am Wednesday (here’s our original report; here’s a Thursday report with a closer look at just how much slid).

5:39 PM: Kelly tells us it’s open. We are en route.

5:47 PM: Just drove the hill – yes, it’s open again, all lanes. And Metro says Route 131 is back to its regular route.

ADDED 6:48 PM: A couple of postscripts. First, we asked SDOT this afternoon if they had determined any cause other than the heavy rain – a commenter had noted earlier, for example, that WSDOT had blamed one of its recent freewayside slides on a drain problem. But SDOT spokesperson Romero checked and said, no other factors were involved here. Meantime, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who lives in Highland Park and was among those whose travel was affected by the closure – wrote about the slide in her latest e-mail-list update, which went out this afternoon. After an update on the cleanup, she added:

… I’ve asked SDOT what kind of assessment they’ll be doing about the long-term safety of this area from future slides, and what improvements we can expect after the cleanup.

I thank King County Metro for their quick rerouting of Route 131 to accommodate bus riders in the area (myself included). The incident highlights for me – once again – the need for an emphasis upon improvements on Highland Park Way. So many people (from all over West Seattle) use this corridor to get off the peninsula. What might have once been a little-known egress is not any longer.

The Highland Park Action Committee has long been an advocate for improvements to the Holden and Highland Park intersection to slow down and make traffic flow more efficient. The focus of those efforts has been on the design and development of an arterial roundabout. SDOT agrees that improvements to this corridor are warranted. It is not funded at this time. I have inquired with SDOT about the funding estimate for the design portion alone to see if I can help identify some funding to give the project some momentum.

Though the focus of the community has been on the roundabout, I am inquiring with SDOT whether they’ve considered lane separation as an improvement. Many people I know who are familiar with this road drive in the outermost lanes and avoid the opposite direction inner lanes because of the driving practices of people less familiar with the route, or practices of those who are familiar but speed hazardously nonetheless.

25 Replies to "HIGHLAND PARK WAY UPDATE: Reopened!"

  • Stwphanie February 17, 2017 (5:39 pm)

    Open now!  Just drove through!

    • WSB February 17, 2017 (6:46 pm)

      Thanks! We decided to go over for a look at 5:30 and just before we got there, Kelly tweeted at us that it was open, about the same time your comment came in. Appreciate the updates! – TR

  • Trickycoolj February 17, 2017 (8:37 pm)

    Appreciate the follow up with SDOT and response from CM Herbold! 

  • WestCake February 17, 2017 (9:22 pm)

    Amazing no one was hurt or killed, and they cleaned it up quickly – good work.

    I can identify some funding; a state income tax. And then we could afford to be proactive, employ some people and improve infastructure.

    I’m aware the highest sales tax in the nation + a real estate tax that is 1/2 voter approved extras is poorly mismanaged according to people who deride the notion of a state income tax.

  • Michelle February 17, 2017 (10:38 pm)

    Seattle-ites haven’t a clue how to navigate an east coast roundabout. Mayhem, chaos, and increased accidents are in our future if that is the chosen solution.

    This isn’t Bellevue. What I mean by that is that West Seattle is 2nd and 3rd generation native born folk.

    Honor those who have made West Seattle the amazing “small town within a big city” that everyone loves.

    Do the right thing and use tried and true Washington solutions.

    Thank You.

    • AMD February 18, 2017 (6:59 am)

      To be fair, Seattleites don’t know how to navigate 4-way stops either.  Or whatever you want to call the current configuration of Highland Park and Holden.  

      Also, I don’t know what you mean by “true Washington solutions.”  This solution was proposed by Washingtonians and is supported by Washingtonians (West Seattleites at that!)”  Are you suggesting we have a Sasquatch direct traffic there so it feels more “northwest”?

      • datamuse February 18, 2017 (11:04 am)

        It’s not a four-way stop, which is probably part of the problem. North and southbound traffic going straight doesn’t stop, traffic coming uphill and going right yields to left turners coming north, eastbound traffic has a stop sign, and then there’s those funky little side streets on the eastern side (I live off one of them so I navigate this daily).

        .

        I think the technical term for it might be “a mess”.

      • Alan February 18, 2017 (2:10 pm)

        A four-way stop would be an improvement over the existing situation. I can’t imagine how those coming from the east side of HP Way, wanting to travel on Holden, ever make it. There is so much traffic heading east that would never consider when they have the right-of-way. If you have been through that intersection, thinking it was a four-way stop, you are not alone. Drivers turning left off of northbound HP Way have the right-of-way over those on Holden, yet it is clear that many do not realize that.

        All of that is a mess but the biggest problem is the uphill traffic, which you cannot see. Traffic coming uphill to turn right onto Holden blocks the view of traffic that is continuing straight. Traffic that is frequently traveling at 45-50.  Also, there is traffic in the right lane that suddenly realizes they are about to be forced right and so jump into the other lane. Turning to go downhill from Holden is like playing Russian Roulette.

        BTW – I’m a fourth-generation West Seattleite and I have driven roundabouts in Canada, North Bend, Yakima, and Scotland. Even with the disorientation of driving on the left side of the road, I would choose that anytime over the current situation at Holden and HP Way.

    • Trickycoolj February 18, 2017 (9:09 am)

      Round abouts are very popular in our state capitol Olympia (perhaps you’ve heard of it) as well as its two neighboring communities Lacey and Tumwater and further out Yelm.  Used one in North Bend last week.  They work very well.  

    • Dudeling February 20, 2017 (10:29 am)

      Roundabouts are inherently more efficient to moving traffic than a 4-way stop or a stoplight.  They really aren’t that hard to handle at all.  The ones they’ve installed in Woodinville work just fine, it’ll be fine here too.

  • Canton February 18, 2017 (7:14 am)

    Funding?!?! How about the billion dollar “move seattle” property tax levy???

  • WestSide of the 206 February 18, 2017 (8:15 am)

    Thank You Michelle.West Seattle has been yupped up enough by these homestead crushers.#nomorehi-riseoverpricedcondos…….

  • Archie February 18, 2017 (12:24 pm)

    ” Used one in North Bend last week.  They work very well.  “


    Yeah when you have the space for them.  Those roundabouts are at least 3x the size of the intersection in question. 

    A “roundabout” (I use the term loosely) in this location would be nothing more than a small sad circle of concrete that people would just quickly juke around the wrong side of or occasionally  drive over and get into an accident. 

    No thanks.

    • WSB February 18, 2017 (12:41 pm)

      Not true. See the design (covered here many times) here: https://www.seattle.gov/transportation/docs/nsf/2016051.pdf

      • dsa February 18, 2017 (2:08 pm)

        What I see in that round a bout proposal is a lane reduction to one lane every which way you go.  Suppose you want to go east to north, stop, you’ll have to wait and weave in with the already northbounders.  How much fun is that?  Might as well just put in a signal and not make any other changes to capacity. 

        • Alan February 18, 2017 (2:23 pm)

          Do you stop on an on-ramp to the freeway and wait for an opening? I hope not. A roundabout works the same way, in as much as it is a zipper merge. Those “already northbounders” do not have the right-of-way. If you are in the circle first, they will merge behind you.

          • dsa February 18, 2017 (3:30 pm)

            I know how a round a bout should work, but look at the design of the narrow configuration.  It is half of the existing.   The traffic volume is too high for one lane flows.  Stops, weaves and backups will occur. 

          • Dudeling February 20, 2017 (10:36 am)

            It’s not half of the current.  There is already only one lane in each direction.  There are a couple of turn lanes, however the way a roundabout works, those become extraneous, and the existing spaces become slightly wider.

            The efficiencies gained from a roundabout more than make up for the loss of unnecessary turn lanes.

        • Craig February 18, 2017 (7:28 pm)

          I agree with you DSA in that a roundabout might cause some bottlenecks(-westbound evening traffic will slow  down but maybe thats a good thing?) 

          Seems that the morning commute would have a lot less wait time on westbound Holden and a much safer entry with a roundabout. 

          I vote for a giant Sasquatch statue at the center… 

          • Craig February 18, 2017 (7:29 pm)

            less wait in the eastbound direction that is…

  • AXM February 18, 2017 (5:19 pm)

    Ultimately, speeding is the issue.  I am NOT a fan of speeding-infraction cameras (I think we have them only in school zones currently – but grudgingly accept that they’re effective at getting people to slow down near schools – a $245 fine is quite an attention-getter), but I’d accept some both uphill-bound and downhill bound (at about the half way point – or where the road bends) and maybe one near the top for uphill-bound traffic.  People need to slow the heck down.  Hit speeders in the wallet – that would help much with most of the issues.  Again, I’m not a fan of them, but think they might be a good idea for this hill.

  • AXM February 18, 2017 (5:20 pm)

    P.S.  People/motorists have died on Highland Park Way.

  • dsa February 18, 2017 (7:06 pm)

    The speed existing speed limit should be enforced more often and in more random places than they do now.

  • Alan February 19, 2017 (10:24 am)

    Speed is a big part of the problem but is not the only issue.  Much of the traffic is not north to south, but east to west and vice versa. People are coming across much of West Seattle, up Holden to turn left onto HP Way. There is also a great deal of traffic coming up HP Way to turn right on Holden, going to SSC and elsewhere.

    The problem is that when you have a line of cars coming up the hill to turn right onto Holden, the driver at the stop sign can not see down the hill. The cautious driver will wait and try to ignore the honking behind them as cars get backed up for blocks. For those that don’t normally take this turn, here is a picture at the stop sign in traffic. The driver’s view is actually a few feet back and worse.

  • Alan February 19, 2017 (10:55 am)

    If SDOT can’t do a full fix on this, with a roundabout, a stop light or even a four-way-stop, I have a simple fix. They should remove the stop signs on Holden/Austin and place them on HP Way. Allow the uphill traffic to flow as it does now but put a stop sign at the top of the hill on HP Way for those continuing south and another for those on HP Way in the left-turn lane to Holden.

    This would free uphill flow onto Holden and fee flow from Holden down the hill. It would eliminate the traffic speeding through the side-streets to get around the backup. I would prefer a traffic light or roundabout but if SDOT cannot find the funds for that, we cannot wait another 70 years for them to do something. 

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