FOLLOWUP: Yes, SDOT is still working on 35th Avenue SW Phase 2

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At least once a week, somebody asks what’s up with 35th Avenue SW Phase 2 – or whether there will even be a 35th Avenue SW Phase 2, given that it’s been more than a year since SDOT provided the last major community update focused on the project.

We took the question to SDOT’s longtime point person on the project, Jim Curtin.

Yes, he says, Phase 2 is still being worked on. But first, SDOT is “preparing to come out with before-and-after data,” covering the two years since the Phase 1 rechannelization south of Morgan.

In August 2016, you might recall, SDOT unveiled possibilities for Phase 2 at an open house (WSB coverage here), and said whatever was decided would be put in this year.

This year is almost over. Curtin explained that “Councilmember (Lisa) Herbold asked us to let the community help us with the design. We thought it would be a good idea to pause and make sure we were collecting sufficient amounts of data before making decisions.” Now, he says, they believe they have, and they’ll be releasing the “before-and-after study” which “will also have our plans for Phase 2 within it.”

No hint on how soon this will go public, but he promises it’s “going to be incredibly comprehensive and illustrative of how the corridor functions in the Phase 1 area and will also have information about what’s in the future for 35th north of Morgan.”

In connection with a connecting project – the West Seattle Greenway – crossing improvements already have been announced for 35th/Graham (that announcement in June suggested that the next 35th SW update would be in July).

Curtin says those are still planned, along with other “long-requested new crossings.” And while, again, other details – such as whether part of the stretch will be rechannelized as was a long stretch south of Morgan – aren’t available yet, Curtin told us, “There will also be attempts to reduce the speeds on the north end, where we still have some significant speeding issues.”

He acknowledged again that the next phase has “been a long time coming.” The design process is under way, and there’s no new funding request – Curtin says it’s coming “mainly through the Levy to Move Seattle.” As for how the next phase will be unveiled, if you haven’t already guessed this from other city events in the past year, they are not likely going to have a city-official-with-slide-deck-style presentation, he said. The city’s contention is that some community members “aren’t comfortable in those situations, so we miss potentially powerful input.” So look for potential “drop-in sessions,” probably another walking tour, and information online … sometime soon.

30 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Yes, SDOT is still working on 35th Avenue SW Phase 2"

  • S October 12, 2017 (2:35 pm)

    Oh great another failed SDOT project. Slowing traffic into one lane with more and more people coming.  Make scene. 

  • Oakley34 October 12, 2017 (2:40 pm)

    Awesome.  A cross walk and physical barrier to breaking that right-turn-only are long overdue at 35th and Graham.

    • KM October 12, 2017 (8:23 pm)

      Excited about this as well!

  • long time WS resident October 12, 2017 (3:10 pm)

    I don’t see how a single lane down 35th can be sustainable when the population of Seattle and West Seattle continue to grow extremely fast.   As it is now I take other routes as best I can to avoid the car train.  I fully appreciate the need for safety, but IMO this is insane.  I know its a mixed bag with people loving it or hating it.  I have lived here all my life (lets say I am over 50), and I find 35th very frustrating now.  I’m not trying to go 40, but 30 mph might be nice at commute time.   Despite all the people that dislike this I am sure it will move forward as SDOT always seems to move forward regardless of public input.  I know this comment is useless in the long run and possibly the short run but I felt compelled to voice my opinion.  I personally don’t feel safer when the guy behind me is two feet from my rear bumper.  I guess time will tell how really bad it gets.  Bellingham is looking better and better.

    • Josh October 12, 2017 (3:45 pm)

      I agree.

      Is it just me who feels like things got more dangerous? There’s always a car right on my bumper, and I’ve been nearly rear-ended so many times. There’s something about this one lane stretch that isn’t like other one roads, but  not sure what.

      • Andros October 12, 2017 (6:07 pm)

        I have been rear ended on 35th Ave now in my new car.  How do we get Lisa Herbold fired from her job.?

        • KM October 12, 2017 (10:30 pm)

          Did she rear end you? 

    • PG October 18, 2017 (12:07 pm)

      I so totally agree with this comment!

  • Mark Schletty October 12, 2017 (3:17 pm)

    SDOT is going to tell us the numbers pertaining to usage, speed,  time, etc. for phase 1. To justify whatever they want to do with phase 2. I suggest that you look at the “bike count” numbers they claim for the Spokane  route to downtown. They claim over 1,120,000 bikes crossed it in the last 4 years, and that even yesterday almost 900 bikes crossed.  Does this reflect what anyone living here sees in terms of the number of bike riders? I don’t think so. But it does tell you how much you should believe anything the SDOT claims based on its studies.

    • QC October 12, 2017 (10:09 pm)

      Hi Mark, it’s a bit off-topic, but this seems worth responding to. The bike crossing numbers on the Spokane Street bridge are not proof of a conspiracy. They’re real. The counter on the bridge uses inductive loops embedded in the pavement (the same things that detect cars at traffic lights) and the cumulative crossings for each day are displayed on an LED sign on the east end of the bridge. It increments by one every time I cross it, which is generally twice a day.  A couple weeks ago, after a late night at the office, I was rider number 2 for the day at a few minutes past midnight, which proves that it resets when expected. The numbers vary with season, weather and day of week, just as you would expect for real data.

      In fact, here is that data in easily browsable form: data: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/bikecounter_spokane.htm. You can clearly see that daily crossing volumes range from the few hundreds in the winter months up to 1500+ in the summer months. This is right in line with the ~800 crossings per day to reach the 1.12 million number you quoted over the past 4 years. Also, numbers are much higher on weekdays, which supports the idea that most cyclists are crossing the bridge for transportation to/from work, as opposed to weekend recreational rides. There’s even a big spike last spring that corresponds to the extended viaduct shutdown (and yeah, there were a lot more bikes!)

      Further supporting those numbers, I’ve been caught in backups of many dozens of riders during bridge openings, which is of the right order of magnitude given the numbers above.

      So no, the bike numbers are not evidence of a big SDOT plot to fake data to justify predetermined policy goals. It just means that more of your neighbors use a bike to get to and from West Seattle than you might have realized.

      • bolo October 13, 2017 (11:05 am)

        My observations are similar to QC’s. The counter works as expected. Oftentimes, while crossing the bridge in the late evenings, the count is well over 1,000. Starting to see several on the orange, yellow, and green bikeshare bikes crossing the bridge.

  • WSRez October 12, 2017 (3:56 pm)

    I’ve lived on 35th Ave for 14 years. If SDOT leaves this project unfinished with the section North of Morgan St 4 lanes they will be accountable for the unsafe condition that they have artificially created. The traffic transitions near Morgan are much less safe than before. In the Northbound lanes it’s become a dragstrip north of Morgan from cars that perceive the delay from driving single file south of Morgan.  For the cars traveling in the Southbound lanes they’re racing to the front of the coming single file lane. Safety is reduced for residents and drivers in this transition area. I am sure SDOT is made up of well intending employees, but I feel they either need to complete the rechannelization all the way north as they advertised to residents, or return it to a full 4 lanes south to Roxbury. 

  • Jort October 12, 2017 (4:18 pm)

    I look forward to the rechannelization for the north section, which will forcibly slow down cars and make the neighborhood safer for more people.

  • Mark October 12, 2017 (5:13 pm)

    This section should be 5 lanes with raised medians at pedestrian crossing.  During off peak the curb lane could be used for parking.  This option provides peak hour capacity and allows street parking during off peak to calm traffic.  

    I have mentioned this 5 – lane option before, SDoT needs to include this option.  Traffic volumes on this section of street are higher than the capacity of a 3-lane operation, thus my proposed hybrid makes sense.

    • Jort October 12, 2017 (5:52 pm)

      Mark’s idea makes a lot of sense …

      … if your goal with this street is to get as many cars through it as quickly as possible. Hey! Just like a freeway!  

      SDOT doesn’t “need” to include this “option,” because this “option” is that we retain the freeway-like nature of the street. Thankfully SDOT will blow off this “suggestion,” as they often do. And rightfully so.

      I prefer SDOT’s choice to make this street slower, thereby safer. I’m sorry that people’s feelings are hurt for having to drive slower, but SDOT’s job isn’t to move as many cars through 35th as possible. Their goal is to make our streets safe. 

    • The King October 13, 2017 (4:01 am)

      You are right Mark, citizens along the Vista Del Mar had to threaten Los Angeles with a lawsuit to get their lanes back after it created a similar debacle we are stuck with. 

    • ilivehere October 13, 2017 (6:53 am)

      5 lanes?! Why don’t you move in with your small child, try crossing the street to the library or riding a scooter and see if you rep the same way. 35th is a RESIDENTIAL street, not a highway. If you made the mistake of buying a home too far south to justify your commute time, you should move, not ask those of us that LIVE here to compromise our safety for your convenience. 

  • Mark October 12, 2017 (6:23 pm)

    Jort

    35th Avenue SW is a classified Principal Arterial and its function is to move goods and people in a safe and efficient manner, it is not a residential street.

    SDoT is a agency that has lost its Technical Skills, the parlence in the Traffic Engineering community is that they have drank too much kool aid and need to sober up to real Technical Traffic Engineering.  

    The fact is the 5 – lane option is the Technically correct option and does need to be included as an option.  

    Mark

    • Jort October 12, 2017 (6:51 pm)

      Mark, arguments like yours have been made against road diet after road diet after road diet in America. 

      And every time, the benefits of the final product outweigh the supposed catastrophic effects to the highly-sensitive feelings of car drivers. Benefits like: crash reduction, fewer injuries, fewer deaths, less property damage, slower speeds, etc. , etc., etc. 

      The 5 lane option was absolutely the technically correct option … in 1983.  

      It’s 2017. SDOT has moved on to prioritizing safety over speed. Now, they’re engineering “transportation” instead of “traffic.” Maybe you should join, too! 

      Please stop telling SDOT transportation engineers that you, and you alone, know the “technically correct” way to handle the design of our streets. You have an opinion, sure, but it’s just that: an opinion. And it’s not one that the modern engineering community shares with you.

      • Canton October 13, 2017 (6:26 am)

        Hey Jort, how about trying to keep your undergarments from bunching, and stop yelling down everyone with an opinion. Just as you state, your opinion is just that, yours.

    • Canton October 12, 2017 (7:51 pm)

      Agree Mark, they use this peak no parking method on a lot of feeder routes around the city.

      • ilivehere October 13, 2017 (6:54 am)

        PEOPLE LIVE IN THESE HOMES. THEY PAY TAXES. Where do you suppose we park- so you can get to work faster. But a house closer to the bridge!

  • David October 12, 2017 (8:33 pm)

    I think the 5 lane option with off-peak parking makes the most sense too.  This will benefit transit riders as well as automobile traffic since almost all automobile drivers ignore http://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.220.  Since the bus in peak traffic will already be in the traffic flow, there’s no need for it to re-enter.  It is still possible to make 35th “slower”.  Simply drop the speed limit from 35 to 30 and then enforce the lower speed.  

    • D Del Rio October 13, 2017 (10:35 am)

      They could also put speed humps like they have on Beach Drive, and on 16th near South Seattle College. 

      • WSB October 13, 2017 (10:42 am)

        SDOT has said they don’t do that on major arterials. Neither Beach nor 16th is a major arterial.

    • KM October 13, 2017 (11:52 am)

      I remember that being an option early on, if I’m not mistaken. The problem is, that I have experienced on NW Seattle arterials and on Madison, is that cars still park in the lanes when they aren’t supposed to, and it takes a while to tow, if the process is started by a call being placed, etc.

      Since we don’t have proper traffic enforcement in Seattle, I don’t think it’s a good solution. Cars dart in and out of lanes to try to pick up speed in that outside lane until they are stopped by a bus or parked car, and then have to change lanes to get back in, praying someone will let them in, or just cutting other drivers off. It’s unsafe and creates bottlenecks and blocked intersections. Seattle drivers haven’t demonstrated the capability to handle this type of arrangement, unfortunately. I’ve seen it successful elsewhere though.

  • Mark October 13, 2017 (11:37 am)

    Jort

    I support street fitness (I do not like the term diet) projects when the traffic volumes work.  Over the years I have recommended a number of streets for conversion!

    What I propose is a hybrid fitness project that provides the needed peak hour capacity.

  • zark00 October 13, 2017 (12:35 pm)

    Why does SDOT continue to ignore Juneau in favor of MORE work on Graham?

    Makes no sense – it’s like they don’t read their own accident data – oh yeah!  Forgot – they totally DON’T read or understand their own data.  More accidents, and far worse accidents, at 35th and Juneau than 35th and Graham by a factor of 5 over the past 20 years.   Juneau is the first street that goes through from Fauntleroy to 35th heading South – and it’s used like a mini 35th – people HAUL up and down it as part of their regular commute. 

    People also, like Long Time said, use for example, 36th as a replacement for 35th because they get annoyed at the slow traffic on 35th.  So now 35th is held at 30MPH, and we get to deal with people driving 40 down residential side streets.  And they’re on their phones too – which is always great to see.  Any idea if when Seattle police might start giving a crap about texting drivers?

    • KM October 13, 2017 (1:37 pm)

      The proposed Greenway crosses at Graham, I think that is why there is a focus there.

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