SW Roxbury Safety Project meeting, the sequel: What was asked last night

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.

12 Replies to "SW Roxbury Safety Project meeting, the sequel: What was asked last night"

  • Les August 5, 2014 (6:13 pm)

    Road diet and school zone cameras too I will be driving 35th and turning left on 106th more often if they decide to so slow down another West Seattle street.At lest no special bus or bicycle lanes there yet.The bus only lane on Alaska St. really needs to be removed.

  • flimflam August 5, 2014 (6:44 pm)

    road diets are wonderful – if you don’t drive. arterials are supposed to move traffic somewhat quickly; as far as I understand, they aren’t supposed to be congested messes (especially done on purpose).

    oh well, DOT will do whatever it is they have planned already anyway.

  • jwright August 5, 2014 (7:13 pm)

    No Les, that bus-only lane does not need to be removed. Moving people–not your car–is the objective.

  • Joe Szilagyi August 5, 2014 (7:14 pm)

    @Les, what if 35th is modified to force people to keep the legal speed limit there, too?

  • denis August 5, 2014 (7:15 pm)

    I don’t understand. Drove Roxbury this weekend trying to figure out what the problem is? Works fine

  • Chris August 5, 2014 (8:41 pm)

    If you take a look at the write-up on the meeting or the powerpoints from the presentation (http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/roxbury.htm), you’ll see that the traffic volumes on the western end of Roxbury are at an ideal level for rechannelization. Past projects like this in the city have proven highly effective at reducing speeding and improving safety for all users without impeding traffic flow.

  • Andi August 6, 2014 (7:32 am)

    “This is inconveniencing me, therefor it is bad and everything should always remain the same.”

    –West Seattlites unable to see past their rather long and skyward noses.

  • WSB August 6, 2014 (7:54 am)

    Actually, there was very little of that expressed at either meeting. But whatever the sentiment, pro/con/questions/suggestions, Jim Curtin is the person to e-mail or phone, and his contact info is provided for that purpose at the bottom of the project webpage: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/roxbury.htm

  • Chris August 6, 2014 (8:10 am)

    I agree with the above WSB comment: I attended both public meetings and the mood of the participants seemed much less critical of the proposed project than the criticisms voiced here in the comment sections.

  • Charity August 6, 2014 (2:34 pm)

    We badly need left-turn arrows at the Roxbury and 26th St intersection (not the ones that turn red, those should only be used at low visibility). Roxbury and 12th needs a left turn lane and the Olsen/4th intersection needs road re-surfacing and new lines painted. People spin out because the road is slick and you can barely see where the lanes are! Keep it safe, keep it moving.

  • Rational Thought August 7, 2014 (1:38 am)

    This is not a matter of “this is inconveniencing me so it must stop”. The simple fact is that there are no real arterials anymore that function to allow people to get in and out of WS at a speed above a fast walk. For example, I hear constant complaining about speed on 35th but the road was clearly intended as an arterial allowing for faster speeds to keep people moving through the area. If you are going to cross that street, then you need to use the crosswalks and pay attention to the cars around you. It is NOT a residential side street. I know there have been some accidents, and that is tragic, but the reality is that is what happens when you combine people walking with people driving. And before someone rants about me not understanding because I don’t live there – I DID live right on 35th for four years. I had to get out of a driveway and into traffic towards the top of a big hill. I walked my dog all over the streets surrounding my home. It required me paying attention and I survived, as did my roommate, my neighbors and my guests! I didn’t tell the City to slow down people who were using the road to get someplace. The apparent difference is that I know how to drive, so it didn’t scare me or bother me.

    Delridge is effectively useless anymore for getting in and out of WS between of the constant school zone slowdown, people who think that even when the school zone isn’t in effect they need to drive 20 mph and the fact that everyone is using the road and it is full from about 6:30 am until 9:30 to 10 pm. Oh yes – and then there are the people living in the new housing building across from the mini-mart gas station who all think it is appropriate to randomly run in front of cars in the middle of the street and insist that everyone stop for them instead of walking half a block to use the crosswalk. So, there goes arterial number two.

    Coming down the hill from the Admiral District has turned into a speed trap, in spite of the fact that that is a place where it absolutely makes sense to allow for faster speeds since there are only a few houses, virtually no foot traffic and it feeds onto a freeway. But nope – in Seattle we MUST insist upon preventing people from actually driving and we applaud when the police use it to churn out tickets for no good reason except revenue generation.

    Now SDOT – which absolutely cannot or refuses to time the lights downtown to keep track moving – has decided in its infinite wisdom to make it even more difficult to get in and out of WS, and the people who attend the meeting think they need to make it even worse for drivers?!? Clearly the people who attended that meeting do not commute in a car to and from work or they are the same people who think that they should be driving 15 mph lower than the speed limit at all times. Either way, they have no business being on the road since they don’t really want to drive and their opinion certainly doesn’t represent the viewpoint of the people who are actually trying to get someplace in less than an hour. Those people – like me – are busy working and stuck in traffic trying to get home so they cannot attend meetings with SDOT staff who have no idea how to even manage traffic.

    I’ve driven in many cities around this country, including all over Southern California (comprised of multiple counties) for years, and I have never encountered such poorly planned traffic strategies that are evident on a daily basis. As I referenced above, SDOT cannot even program traffic lights in a way that keeps traffic moving downtown. Why would I bother listening to or even trying to get those fools to understand that they don’t know what they are doing? They don’t ever listen and they aren’t interested in traffic planning. What a waste of time.

    If you don’t want to actually drive and get someplace in a reasonable period of time, then stay off the roads. The rest of us want to use them. And SDOT needs to either get some competent people who are concerned about keeping traffic moving or cease operations immediately.

  • Irrational and Proud of It August 7, 2014 (1:55 pm)

    It’s interesting…I commute in a car to work, drive 5 miles over the speed limit regularly, enjoy driving, and love being on time. I went to work downtown last Tuesday, drove (in traffic) straight to the meeting at the library, and walked in 1 minute late. And now I am a more informed individual who feels great about the choices SDOT is making and confident that Jim Curtain, a south-end West Seattleite, knows exactly what traffic needs are on Roxbury.
    I have been inches away from being hit while traveling Roxbury as a pedestrian, bicyclist, driver, and bus passenger. The improvements designed by SDOT keep the speed limit consistent throughout the corridor, add measures to allow more visibility of pedestrians, and create less chance of accidents caused by driver-error.
    Go, SDOT, go!

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