FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: SDOT goes public with newest traffic studies, will continue with plan to eliminate ‘right-turn pockets’

As the Fauntleroy Boulevard project gets closer to final design, many who are closely watching the process have asked for details of the newest traffic studies done by/for SDOT – since the project was on hold for a few years, and conditions changed in the meantime, new studies were ordered. The full report has just been linked to the project website, and we’ve uploaded it to Scribd so you can also see it, embedded, above (direct link to city-hosted PDF is here).

In short – SDOT says that the study’s results do NOT change its plan to eliminate the right-turn “pockets” at Avalon and Oregon. Right turns WILL still be allowed – but turns will have to be made from the outside through lane.

Meantime, if you don’t have time to read through the study report (31 pages) right now, here’s how the contractor summarizes its findings on page 28:

The proposed project will construct landscaped center medians, realigned intersections, improved street lighting, protected bike facilities and improved pedestrian facilities with defined sidewalks and new crossings of Fauntleroy Way SW.

DKS has completed a project traffic analysis of the existing, the year of opening, and the future 2044 project condition.  The following summarizes the main findings of analysis:

 The protected bike lanes are proposed to be one‐way on both sides of the corridor and therefore should have minimal impact on the signal operations as a bike signal phase will not be required.
  
 The year of opening conditions accounts for an 8% growth which includes planned development within the next two years in the area. Signal timing changes at intersections along Fauntleroy Way SW and 35th Avenue SW are required to accommodate this growth. The signal timing adjustments, in conjunction with turn restrictions, provide acceptable LOS D or better operations in the year of opening conditions. Certain intersections experience better operations in future conditions due to optimized signal timing.   

 The proposed additional marked crosswalks across Fauntleroy Way SW at SW Avalon Way and at SW Oregon Street are not recommended as they would require an additional signal phase for an exclusive pedestrian crossing, reducing the efficiency of the intersection operations by introducing additional pedestrian and vehicle delay at the individual intersections and to the corridor.  

 The Fauntleroy Way SW Boulevard project is expected to allow for acceptable corridor operations through the year 2044.  This is due in large part to PSRC’s new 2040 regional travel demand model which projects little vehicle traffic growth along Fauntleroy Way SW, but a 25‐33% growth in transit trips on the SW Alaska Street/35th Avenue SW transit corridor.  Also, by 2040, both pedestrian and bicycle trips in this section of the City are expected to grow at approximately twice the rate of vehicle trips.    

 To ensure a conservative analysis, pedestrian volumes were assumed to double at the intersection of SW Alaska Street/Fauntleroy Way SW Boulevard, while bicycle volumes were assumed to double along the corridor for the year of 2017. Through 2044, pedestrian volumes were assumed to double at every intersection and bicycle volumes were assumed to triple along the corridor.

Meantime, SDOT continues taking comments through the end of this month on whether to break the median at 37th SW – scroll to the middle of the project page to see how to send your thoughts. The city expects to finalize the design this summer and start construction earlier this year.

Previous WSB coverage can be browsed here.

15 Replies to "FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: SDOT goes public with newest traffic studies, will continue with plan to eliminate 'right-turn pockets'"

  • Pretty does not equal safer May 17, 2017 (2:31 pm)

    Nice to have some data for all to see.  Here’s what stuck out for me.  

    1) fewer accidents occur where there are right-turn pockets; and the most accidents occur where there are not.

    2) Metro transit is sparse at AM and PM peaks (four times per hour for one route and once for two routes).

    3) Predicting traffic patterns in 2040 is an exercise in futility (and a waste of money) since it cannot account for effects that would occur if a light rail station will be in the area (or not).

    With the increased in vehicle traffic put at 8% for 2019, I would use the same data to predict an increase in accidents up and down the corridor due to lack of right-turn pockets and an increase in vehicle traffic greater than 8% due to no increase in Metro service and no increase in bike traffic.  However there may be an increase in bike and vehicle collisions along Avalon since no bikers travel on the upper West Seattle Bridge and therefore are more likely to travel along Avalon to the lower bridge.

    • Jort Sandwich May 17, 2017 (3:18 pm)

      People say this thing about nobody biking on the High Bridge all the time, as though that is the only place this street goes to.

      How are people supposed to get to Avalon? Just magically appear? The Fauntleroy bike lanes will make it easier and safer than ever for people to commute by bike from the Alaska Junction (and other West Seattle locations), down Fauntleroy and connecting over to Avalon. 

      Every bike commute trip in West Seattle doesn’t begin and end at 35th and Avalon. 

  • Benjamin May 17, 2017 (2:43 pm)

    I live on Genesee between Avalon and Delridge. We keep
    getting the shaft. 
    The right turns saves
    us form the bridge back up if I am coming home from Safeway.
      And as for the “protected” bike
    lane, it puts the bike rider in more danger when cars are turning right. The
    bike rider will now haw to swing out into the through lane (going uphill on Fontleroy
    at Oregon) many motorists do not understand this legal and safe maneuver,
    leading to more frustration. And hopefully we tear it all out in a few years
    for light rail?

  • bolo May 17, 2017 (2:47 pm)

    “PSRC’s new 2040 regional travel demand model which projects little vehicle traffic growth along Fauntleroy Way SW…”
    Does this strike anyone else as a erroneous premise? In high school we learned to check our premises as erroneous premises would surely lead to incorrect answers.

  • Mike May 17, 2017 (3:40 pm)

    Meanwhile UPS realized they save millions a year in fuel by trying to make more right turns and less left turns.  Oh and decrease the number of accidents. Stupid UPS, they should hire an SDOT guru…

  • Jort Sandwich May 17, 2017 (3:44 pm)
    Bravo! Kudos to SDOT for standing up for safety by ensuring that the right-turn pocket lanes are eliminated from Fauntleroy. I’m proud of the brave engineering team that is using science, facts, data and studies to build a better street for ALL road users. 
    The right-turn pockets add nothing in terms of making street design safer — they only detract from the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. Nobody’s commute time should be shortened at the expense of somebody’s safety.
    Right-turn pockets are a remnant of old, outdated late-20th century street design. There was a time when the highest measure of a traffic engineer’s success was how many cars could get through a given street with as few delays as possible. As a result, our rate of traffic-related deaths and injuries skyrocketed to levels beyond what most developed countries would ever consider “normal.” Thankfully, a new generation of engineers is beginning to design streets that focus on safety, rather than speed and efficiency.  
    This is great, great news for West Seattle!
  • fiz May 17, 2017 (4:08 pm)

    Scrap it.  Please.

  • TheKing May 17, 2017 (4:33 pm)

    Unless SDOT can fix the real problem of people on their phones while driving or walking near a road, it doesn’t matter what they do. 

  • WSobserver May 17, 2017 (7:12 pm)

    As a pedestrian who takes the bus, all I want to know is if I will be able to cross the Fauntleroy/Alaska intersection without risking my life.

    As it is now, I just won’t go down there at all. No.

  • rob May 17, 2017 (8:47 pm)

     there are so many roads  andexsiting parks in this city that need help. Maybe before we build more  new stuff we should at the very least make sure what we have is in fine working order. An then an only then when we  an city leaders have made sure what we have is working  then mabey just maybe we as a city can build new stuff that has to be maintained

  • TreeHouse May 17, 2017 (9:20 pm)

    This is great news! 

  • Triangle Resident May 18, 2017 (10:57 am)

    Finally we have the data that supports this long over due improvement to this tired Fauntleroy stretch of road.  Turn pockets have been proven to be extremely dangerous decades ago and I for one am glad they are going.  Next up is the battle West Seattle needs to take seriously now, not later, where will the station be located for rail once our tunnel is bored.  No way should we accept a football field size piece of steel like Tukwilla did.  They can do it for the U district, Roosevelt, they can do it for us.  The sooner the better.

  • wsn00b May 18, 2017 (12:18 pm)

    Looking forward to more sketchy weeds and garbage filled medians that SDOT can’t and won’t maintain. Just look 50 feet east of 35th/Fauntleroy and look at the road shoulders. 

    SDOT, just stick to the basics and pave/stripe roads. 

  • zark00 May 18, 2017 (3:37 pm)

    I was not able to find anything showing that right turn pockets “have been proven to be extremely dangerous decades ago” – anyone have any links?

    If you google ‘right turn pocket dangerous’ this page is the first result.

    Not saying they’re not, just tried to read about it and that data does not seem to exist.

    Sounds like eliminating right turns on red signals is much more of a safety boon – but who knows.

    Gotta laugh at SDOTs assessment that by 2040 bicycle trips will grow by 3x the number of vehicle trips – it’s like they can’t read their own data.  Bicycle commuting is, and has been, flat in Seattle for over a decade now.  3% of commuters in early 2000’s, 3% of commuters now.  

    Nothing against biking, I just am a firm believer in using the data you have collected in an intelligent way – which SDOT is not doing.  Make biking as safe as possible, and improve mass transit.  That’s what people will use if/when they give up their single driver commute – they won’t bike. The data proves that fact.

  • Mark May 19, 2017 (6:15 pm)

    The new traffic report is a charade, the data clearly shows keeping the right turn pocket at Avalon as warranted, off the charts warranted.  

    SDoT is ignoring this data, they have been provided a alternative plan that keeps the right turn pocket yet they diss it.

     Many people in the community have requested that SDoT keep the right turn pocket.  What is the point of asking the community what we want when they ignore us?

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