A morning @ 34th/Morgan: Crossing-guard crunch, and more

We saw that close call while spending time at 34th/Morgan this past Tuesday morning, meeting with neighborhood and pedestrian-safety activists who say it’s one of this area’s most dangerous places for schoolkids to have to cross. Here’s a taste of the regular traffic:

Kids coming from the booming north side of High Point cross here to get to West Seattle (formerly High Point) Elementary, which is further south on 34th.

The traffic, meantime, is traveling a major route between west and east West Seattle, since Morgan goes from Fauntleroy to (with a name change along the way) Delridge. Miranda Taylor from the High Point Neighborhood Association acknowledges it’s a crazy-busy street:

She hopes they will put in a crosswalk. Crossing guard Lea Mortenson is there every morning, but as you will see again here, crossing is dicey even with a guard:

The citywide pedestrian-safety advocacy group Feet First has a program called Safe Routes to School. Its coordinator Jen Cole says the crossing-guard program itself has a big problem, citywide (and apparently has had, for years):

When crossing guards get sick or go on vacation, Jen says, there’s no replacement. And she says the application process is challenging for reasons including the fact it’s largely done online, and the retirees who might apply are not all Web-savvy. Meantime, crossing guard Lea suspects drivers might not stop for the kids if she wasn’t there:

Jen wants city leaders to pay more attention to the state of the crossing-guard program and the needs of dangerous crossing areas like this. She hopes we don’t follow the “example” set in another state:

You can read more about the Feet First Safe Routes to School program here. The High Point Neighborhood Association’s pedestrian-safety group is working on this and other safety issues around the area. For more information about the crossing-guard program, here’s the contact listed on the city website: Donald Smith at (206) 233-7200, or donald.smith@seattle.gov.

4 Replies to "A morning @ 34th/Morgan: Crossing-guard crunch, and more"

  • Ken January 18, 2008 (5:31 am)

    I use this intersection every day at school time. The crossing guard has her hands full.

    We are not using it because it is merely convenient, we are using it because, as bad and unsafe as it is, it is the only safe way for nearly 2000 people to get out of the Highpoint neighborhood south of Findley.

    The Seattle Housing Authority, Seattle DOT and the Design and Review board created this situation despite the voices of the residents who knew damn well what the increased density, on street parking and endless construction would bring.

    There is an intersection 100 ft away and one 500 ft away that have been closed since 2003. Both these intersections have been closed by simple movable barricades for more than a year.

    Several of the pedestrians going from Highpoint to West seattle Elementary, use the bus from Raymond to Holly and utilize the automated, signaled crosswalks that stop all traffic on 35th.

    Also note, the streets in the area no longer have any restrictions on parking close to the intersection and it is used as a defacto Park and Ride by those catching the last stop of the 21 express headed into the city, at the corner of 35th and Morgan/Sylvan Way/SW Orchard.

    Cars wishing to cross the above street of too many names, are required to take turns traversing the street itself since it is only wide enough for one car with parking on both sides, and it is used by nearly all the school buses in the area for the same reason everyone else uses it.

    There is no close way to take a left on 35th without using the intersection and light at 35th and Morgan…

    The SDOT in collusion with SHA also seem to be planning to narrow Morgan (etc) to the point that it will become useless as an arterial.

    Rest assured that the issues in this article were not a surprise to those of us in the neighborhood. They were imposed on us from above by people who thought they were doing it “for our own good”.

  • Al January 18, 2008 (10:12 am)

    I live near here and walk/drive/bike it regularly. As High Point was re-opened and has become more dense (a good thing), so has both pedestrian and auto traffic. This area that was hazardous is now dangerous due to construction barricades furher east – the narrow road doesn’t allow for bikes/autos travelling together. The intersection at 35th/Morgan is so clogged up and the red lights so short that often only one car at a time can turn left from Morgan onto 35th during rush hour – likely contributing to speeding traffic through that intersection and effecting 34th. Autos don’t want to yield to peds as they make right turns. Someone’s going to get hurt or worse here sometime soon. During heavy traffic times, I now head to Fauntlroy in spite of the horrible surface conditions there.

  • gregorywade January 18, 2008 (1:59 pm)

    Thanks for the great piece. Every time I’ve visited the West Seattle Blog, I’ve found something interesting; however, I’ve noticed more depth recently. I really liked how the content varied between print and video.
    Personally, I tend to avoid this area all together, along with the east-side of 35th Ave in general. Unfortunately, it means the dogs and I don’t get to jog or walk through Camp Long, or enjoy the beautiful work taking place along the Longfellow Creek waterway as much as I’d like (the area south of the beaver dam is a West Seattle all-time favorite). I simply don’t care for the frustration associated with crossing 35th, nor the anger I feel towards my neighbor who drive these areas.
    Jen Cole’s comments about the widespread nature of the problem strikes me as a reasonable representation. I escort my girlfriend’s ten year-old to school daily, and the manner in which drivers endanger us on a regular basis makes me fighting mad, and in many case, these are parents dropping their children off at the same school. So while I agree with the previous comments about the City’s culpability, I can’t blame the city for the behavior of individuals who are simply poor neighbors.

  • Tom Phillips January 18, 2008 (4:18 pm)

    Pedestrian safety and getting children safely to school are two very important elements of the redevelopment of High Point. The school crossing at 34th Ave SW and SW Morgan St. is a temporary solution created by the construction work in Phase 2. Yes, that area is a problem and hopefully SDOT will limit the parking on Morgan so that there is better visibility at that intersection.

    Once the rest of High Point is completed, there will be a new, safer route for children to get from north of Morgan to the West Seattle Elementary school. A new stop light is being installed on SW Morgan St., on a new street that is east of 34th Ave SW. Children will be able to walk on wide sidewalks, separated from the street by the planting strips all the way from their home to school. The stairs directly north of the school will be reopened and provide a safe and direct access to the school.

    If parents or others have questions they can call me at 206-615-3414.

    Tom Phillips

    High Point Redevelopment Manager

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