1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street

By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

(September 2006 reader photo, memorial at 35th/Graham)
Susanne Scaringi

Oswald Clement

Gregory Hampel

Andrew Seffernick

James St. Clair

Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35” had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.

“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”

What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.

(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.


(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.

Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:

Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:

(PDF version is here.)

Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:

(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.

(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)

The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).

Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.

(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.

In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.

One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.

But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)

Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.

Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.

That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.

After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.

The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.

WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:

(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (jim.curtin@seattle.gov) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”

What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.

62 Replies to "1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of 'I-35.' Safety project begins, to create a 'more forgiving' street"

  • alki resident October 23, 2014 (6:12 am)

    How difficult is it to lower speed limit to 20 r 25? I’ve never been in an accident on 35th, why? Because I pay attention and don’t speed. A road diet is not the answer. I guarantee you will see more accidents with a road diet.

  • WSEA October 23, 2014 (7:16 am)

    They should put up a barrier between north and south lanes. I see so many people crossing the double yellow in the middle of an intersection. crazy.

  • Bonnie October 23, 2014 (7:22 am)

    My husband was in an accident on 35th and he does pay attention and does not speed. Just lowering the speed limit won’t work for those who are driving along and have someone take a left hand turn into them. Luckily he was okay but the other driver spent some time in the hospital.

  • HappyOnAlki October 23, 2014 (7:47 am)

    Thanks, WSB, for your amazingly thorough coverage of events like this. You are such a valuable service to West Seattle.

  • JM October 23, 2014 (8:29 am)

    You’ll also see more speeders if you lower the limit to 20-25.

  • diane October 23, 2014 (8:49 am)

    I’m sitting on the side of the road right now on 35th in the “school zone” by OLG..cars are flying by. Makes me to upset..my kid’s attend OLG!!! These cars are driving so fast…my car literally shakes a bit as they fly by…I like when I see the cops hiding in the side street and pulls over some of these cars. Safety!!!!!

  • wb October 23, 2014 (8:56 am)

    What a fantastic write-up and recap. I was there–very hard to get “a place at the table”. Nonetheless, it was very informative and Jim handled the crowd with respect and understanding.

    Of course, this morning as I was leaving there was what appeared to be a three-car fender bender on 35th, near Edmunds/Alaska. Sigh.

  • Peter October 23, 2014 (9:08 am)

    Alki resident, your guarantee of more accidents after a road diet is highly questionable. There are actually volumes of data showing that road diets do reduce accidents.
    At the very least, lowering the speed limit and putting in more crosswalk stop lights (like those on Fauntleroy) are a must, and some bike lanes wouldn’t hurt, either. At any rate, I’m happy 35th is finally getting the attention it needs.

  • Seattle driver October 23, 2014 (9:28 am)

    Lowering the speed limit is not the solution. The problem is people do not obey the speed limit now.You will absolutely not see more accidents with a road diet. Look at all the other road diets in the city – safety improved after implementation. I love it how people predict horrible things after road diets and they never come to pass….

  • Dunno October 23, 2014 (9:37 am)

    Eliminate all parking on 35th. Make a middle lane down entire corridor, reduce speed to 30mph.
    Enforce, enforce, enforce. Give those without parking the parking strip. Might even be room for small bike lane?

  • Kathy October 23, 2014 (9:55 am)

    The data presented indicated there is an average of 1 accident every 3 days on this three mile stretch of 35th Ave SW. That has got to be slowing many drivers down more than any “road diet” would.

    I do hope they reduce 35th to two travel lanes and a center turn lane. The lanes can be increased again at the busier intersections, as was done in the Alaska Junction. However, I hope at the same time they put more traffic calming on 34th to discourage wannabe speeders from detouring to that street. Stop signs on the cross streets and more roundabout gardens.

  • Jeanine October 23, 2014 (10:01 am)

    I recently spent some time in Ireland, where there are many more roundabouts than traffic lights. Not just residential, but city centers, freeway interchanges and major intersections.

    It was so much more efficient. No one had to wait if there wasn’t traffic and it’s just not possible to speed around those things and make your exit. They were great for calming congestion. I really wish we could implement them here.

  • AIDM October 23, 2014 (10:01 am)

    It concerns me that Jim Curtain is running this project. He is the Delridge resident and DOT employee who warned us at last year’s crime prevention council meeting that if we complain about 35th too much, they will just put up dividers so that no one can turn left at the uncontrolled intersections. I wonder if that will be his solution to this. This is all while Delridge enjoyed the benefit of road diet and another pedestrian perished on 35th since that time.

    • WSB October 23, 2014 (10:08 am)

      AIDM, if you weren’t at last night’s meeting, that would be something you certainly should voice via e-mail. I’m not sure if it’s the same sort of thing you mention, but left turns are no longer allowed from Graham onto 35th, as of some months ago. Jim does not live in Delridge, by the way. He has said this publicly so I am not disclosing anything personal – we have written it here too – he lives in Arbor Heights – TR
      P.S. I am guessing you mean the meeting we recorded on video last November: https://westseattleblog.com/2013/11/video-crime-trends-transportation-safety-west-seattle-crime-prevention-council

  • PG October 23, 2014 (10:36 am)

    My understanding (having seen this stated several times) is that road diets work on streets with under a level of traffic. Isn’t that why the road diet on Roxbury is not for the entire stretch? 35th carries a lot of traffic. If there is one lane each direction, what will happen at bus stops? I agree there should be more pedestrian crossing lights, particularly in the long stretches between signals.

  • Joe Szilagyi October 23, 2014 (10:37 am)

    Whatever the solution is, there is no evidence — none — that a “road diet” either increases speeding or increases accidents. All they do is force you to stick closer to the assigned speed limit and limits merging by reducing a lane, so there is less opportunity for collisions. Even the massive fear and disinformation about the Fauntleroy road diet turned out to be much ado about nothing. Speeds are down and accidents are down, and travel times from the ferry to Morgan Junction barely increased. It’s almost certain that Roxbury west of White Center will also be road dieted, and there’s no probability of anything bad happening there but people having a much harder time of speeding.
    There is no justifiable opposition to speed limits or enforcing speed limits.
    I just want to emphasize that, because the undercurrent of many of the comments on these topics somehow seem to give the tone or vibe that speed limits ARE a problem. They’re not. If you think they’re wrong, sue the city. Others have tried nationwide. All have failed.

  • KT October 23, 2014 (10:59 am)

    SW Precinct Captain says they might be back on 35th. Might? It is a huge problem, why only ‘might’? How about taking some of those resources SPD has picking off the easy fruit on the Admiral Hill and the Spokane Street W/B viaduct and putting them on 35th? is that so hard? I think talk of a 20 or 25mph speed zone is just ridiculous. Yes, it is a ‘neighborhood’ but it is also a ‘neighborhood’ built on a major traffic corridor in West Seattle. Enforcement once a year has never worked for to solve any problem. Why do we need grants and property tax levies to get basic services?

  • schwaggy October 23, 2014 (11:01 am)

    @Dunno you clearly dunno as where would the resident’s of 35th without driveways park their vehicles if parking was eliminated?

  • jwright October 23, 2014 (11:49 am)

    The most discouraging thing to me is reading ignorant comments like “I guarantee you will see more accidents with a road diet” that are completely refuted by all the available data. People with closed minds and preconceived notions are the biggest obstacle to solving problems.

  • JeffK October 23, 2014 (11:51 am)

    I frequently am on Market Street in Kirkland, also a high-volume through-way. Landscape median, one lane each way, busses, bike lane, parking, and limited left turns – it seems to have about everything that 35th needs and it works well.

    Here’s a Google street view of Market Street:

  • Joe Szilagyi October 23, 2014 (12:05 pm)

    @schwaggy, can you show us on this this map where there are a number of homes on 35th with either no driveways or no alley access in back? The last time I looked at this I wasn’t able to find much.
    There seems to several houses between Thistle and Cloverdale on the west side 35th, but that’s it. Everyone else seems to have a driveway or alley access for the entire corridor.

  • DAW October 23, 2014 (12:09 pm)

    I live on 35th and see and here accidents all the time !!!I have seen drivers who go way over the speed limit or have been nearly run down walking across a cross walk with the pedestrians signal!!! I see pedestrians every day placing their lives at risk crosssing 35th without a crosswalk and to making things worse into oncoming traffic !!! Something must be done this is one of the worse roads for drivers and pedestrians!

  • trickycoolj October 23, 2014 (12:41 pm)

    I’d be all for a center median. People turning out of High Point are completely ignoring the No Left Turn signs at 35th/Graham. Nice little curb strip down the middle would do the trick. There’s no reason to even turn left off of Graham when you can just exit High Point on Morgan and use the light.

  • Rick October 23, 2014 (1:00 pm)

    @Joe-I can’t seem to recall when travel from the ferry to Morgan was more than one lane each way. Was that a recent change?

  • Joe Szilagyi October 23, 2014 (1:21 pm)

    Fauntleroy was I think 2009?

  • David October 23, 2014 (1:22 pm)

    How do you punish arrogant drivers who think the rules don’t apply to them and drive with complete disregard to others’ safety? Hit them where they’ll notice it – right in the pocketbook. Install several automatic ticketing speed limit signs (such as the school zone one near Gatewood Elementary on Fauntleroy, and similar to the red-light cams) in both directions along the length of 35th. For example, let’s say 5 in each direction, with a ticket cost of $100. Think the rules don’t apply to you and you blow by one of the signs? $100! Hey, want to speed along the whole length of 35th? $500! Imagine the revenue that would bring to the city. Existing technology, and no need to place officers along the road – they would be free to be off elsewhere dealing with other issues. Plus, the problem with having officers enforcing the speed limit is that an officer can only pull over one vehicle at a time, while meanwhile dozens of vehicles can pass by in that timeframe. With the automatic ticketing system, if, say, those dozens of cars are all speeding, then multiply the number of vehicles by the ticket cost… a lot more revenue than issuing one ticket to one pulled-over driver. This is existing technology and I was surprised to see this idea hadn’t even been mentioned yet, so I thought I should throw it out there. I’m even going to go a step further and send this idea to the SDOT contact listed at the end of the story.

  • Mat October 23, 2014 (1:28 pm)

    I went last night and I just wanted to say it was awesome seeing so many neighbors out because they care about West Seattle. It was great to meet and talk to some of you. Thank you for making this neighborhood great!

    And thank you WSB for the coverage!

  • zark00 October 23, 2014 (1:58 pm)

    KT – spot on! What are the accident stats on Admiral where the cops are EVERY DAY meeting their quotas?

    David – I agree – ticket them all – heavily.
    Speeders actually think speeding is getting them places faster which, as we all know, it’s not true.
    They don’t get it – they’ll only get it when we hit ’em where it counts like David said.

    I think distracted driving needs more attention here. I question the 1/3 stat as far too low, but even if it’s accurate, why is 100% of the focus on speeding when it’s less than 1/3 of the problem? – I don’t understand the logic.

    I suspect, they have no idea how to address distracted drivers, so they ignore it. The one day of cops pulling over 70 people was clearly a useless exercise. Texting drivers are worse than ever these days.

    I would increase the fine for texting/distracted driving to $500+ and a mandatory license suspension for 1 year on the first offense. There’s no reason not to, the people who do it care more about LOLing to their buddy than about murdering you with their car. Seems like a legit reason to pull their license. Same principal as drunk driving, except distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving as I’m sure everyone is now aware.

    I think everyone would agree there is no legitimate reason to be looking at your phone while you’re driving. So I don’t think there’s any legitimate reason to not suspend licenses and fine extremely heavily – if anyone gripes about it – they’re the problem. Nobody has a right to drive like that. Nobody is capable of doing it safely. And nobody can defend a texting drivers actions. They should lose their licenses.

  • schwaggy October 23, 2014 (2:06 pm)

    @Joe Szilagyi – fair enough – you win this round. Still seems unfair to force residents to use their alley (might not be developed, or feel safe, etc…), or if they have multiple vehicles, how would switching cars front to back in a narrow driveway not impose on them?

  • Chris October 23, 2014 (2:15 pm)

    zark00 – I agree that discouraging distracted drivers would be very helpful, on all roads. I’m sure that police would quickly become overwhelmed if they had to pull over every driver they observed on the phone or texting. (Ever notice how many drivers are looking at their laps, while the car is moving?)
    Perhaps increasing the fine would create more of a disincentive for drivers without requiring more police involvement. Drivers could even receive a verbal warning the first time, with the knowledge that the next time incurs a $500 fine.
    Maybe Seattle could become a leader in this type of discouragement toward distracted drivers.

  • I. Ponder October 23, 2014 (2:19 pm)

    Great article. I plan to go back and re-read it. Many if not most drivers do not think about safety. Their priority is WINNING THE COMMUTE. Driving brings out the competitive nature in many people. This is in opposition to a philosophy of EVERYONE getting home safely. Other drivers are the competition in the race. Drivers commonly misjudge their abilities to control their vehicles in various circumstances. Thus, these accidents aren’t really accidents at all, but side affects of the inability of humans to control their own bad instincts and competitive nature.

  • Thomas M. October 23, 2014 (2:32 pm)

    35th must be open to law abiding users. Ticket the daylights out of speeders and illegal lefts. Declare the whole stretch one of those double fine zones. Radar cameras would work just fine for me. I drive pretty sedately.
    I like the idea of landscaped dividers and limited left turns too. Dividers sure took the lethality out of Aurora “way back when”.
    35th is way too big and heavily traveled to put on a road diet. The way it is now is unacceptable– someone here once said we already have high speed rail “35th”.
    BTW ticket the heck out of illegal tints, exhausts and give out fixit tickets to people who don;t seem to notice that 80% of their lighting does not work.

  • mickey mouse October 23, 2014 (2:43 pm)

    Please please do not channel the street and put in more dang bike lanes, again they punish those of us who need to drive cars and follow the laws, we need some streets that one get get though in a reasonable amount of time, not being stuck behind buses etc
    Enforce the laws, put in more cameras to catch and fine those who breaks the laws.
    I need to drive a car and get thru my neighborhood!!!!!!!!!!

    • WSB October 23, 2014 (2:55 pm)

      Mickey: Please remember that the roads belong to everyone. It would make just as much sense (that is to say, not much) to turn it around and say that car lanes punish bicycle riders who need to get where they’re going without being at risk of getting killed by multi-ton pieces of metal. And as was pointed out last night by Jim Curtin in a quote I might unfortunately have cut out while moving my story components around before publishing early today, every one of those buses contains (especially the busy 21 and RapidRide on parts of 35th) at least 60 people who are not out there in the road with you in cars, or on bikes, or motorcycles, or forcing you to stop while they walk across the street, etc. But please everybody, thank you for continuing the dialogue here and also be sure to send official comments via Jim Curtin, whose e-mail address is toward the end of the story, and other contact info on the project page, linked at the start and end. – Tracy

  • George T October 23, 2014 (2:55 pm)

    I’ve been living on 35th for years, within the 3-mile stretch being studied, and the frequency of accidents near my house have increased in recent years. The reality is more people are moving to West Seattle, and a road diet similar to Fauntleroy seems to be the best solution. Enforcing the parking restrictions near the stop signs on the bisecting streets also would help traffic more safely turn off of 35th.

  • j October 23, 2014 (4:07 pm)

    Every time the subject of speeding on 35th comes up someone always post a comment about lack of enforcement. Since their inception the SPD ADRT has issued literally 100’s of citations to drivers on 35th. The SPD speed camera van parked on 35th has also resulted in 100’s of citations being issued. The enforcement has not taken place just once a year. The issue is an engineering problem that SDOT has ignored for years. The three E’s of traffic control: Engineering, Education and Enforcement. There has been plenty of education through enforcement. SDOT needs to move forward with the long overdue engineering solutions.

  • drahcir61 October 23, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    When we moved to Seattle 4 years ago we were thrilled that talking on a cellphone while driving was illegal, a progressive State!

    And it didn’t take long to figure out that most drivers just don’t care. Accidents happen to someone else!

    I’d be willing to bet that most “dangerous drivers” (texting, speeders, impairment) are perpetual offenders. These aren’t (always) hoodlums, many times it’s your neighbor shuttling her kids to/from school.

    Let everyone ELSE obey the law, I’m important & I’m a GOOD driver … oh wait, I need to call the nanny.

    Solve the problem of perpetual offenders by impacting their insurance premiums, known as “points” in some states … you ring up enough points & you will modify your driving.

    And yes, I realize some people drive around w/out insurance or they hit & run … make those penalties so severe no one would consider it.

    The solution to dangerous drivers in West Seattle will require a multi-faceted approach … complicated, yes … expensive, yes … but doing so just might save YOUR life.

  • Oakley34 October 23, 2014 (4:58 pm)

    Frankly ‘j’ 100s of tickets (the number I saw here at some point was 200) does not sound like a lot, especially when they occur over a short period of time of increased enforcement. I don’t doubt that there are over 100 speeders a day along this corridor. I’m glad sthe community is trying to determine a solution. I live on 35th, and to cross it is to take your life in your hands.

  • Trickycoolj October 23, 2014 (5:30 pm)

    There are speed based traffic signals with cameras in Germany. There are 3 sensors in the street, if you cross the first two too fast, the light turns red immediately and you have to stop. It could be 2AM and you stop it you get a red light ticket. Once you’ve come tons complete stop on the 3rd sensor at the stop line, the light turns green. The town my grandma lives in has 30 KPH zones that these work effectively on, requires one lane each direction. That would get speeders to stop, literally. And bonus they could be used as the pedestrian signals.

  • Frank October 23, 2014 (7:21 pm)

    First, Tracey/WSB…this might be the worst case of biased “journalism” I’ve seen in a long time. You’ve made it more than clear where you position lies and that’s unfortunate. Just report the news don’t create / over dramatize it.

    I was at last night’s meeting and felt Jim should have been wearing a stripped sport coat, bowtie, straw hat while wielding a stick to invite us to “step right up to the SDOT Road diet… take three lanes and it’ll magically cure what ails you”. Do you own research and ask tough questions, sitting in a line, cranking out fossil fuels is not a correct solution, just different.

    Curtain defending the ever-increasing Alaska-lane reduction backups by referring to the RapidRides passing by with “hundreds of people” (edited downward by WSB)is ridiculous and didn’t address the concern expressed by several in the audience about backups in the now single lane, especially during rush hour time frames. I’m pro bus and ride RapidRide 2x a week but it’s driving retailers crazy when cars can’t get in and out quickly… just ask them.

    Finally, I, myself was T-Boned at the intersection of Avalon and 35th 9 years ago and spun around once while the other car came to rest 10 feet from the entrance of KFC (they ran a red light). None of it would have been mitigated by lane “channelization”.

    I’m definitely excited about changes to 35th…but none of the fish oil diet for me.

  • wb October 23, 2014 (7:44 pm)

    Thanks for that info, Tricky. It’s fairly obvious (and sad) that some people can’t control themselves when it comes to commandeering 4,000 lbs of metal down a roadway.

    Figure out a new commute, mickey mouse. You might be interested to know also that a “greenway” or “greenbelt” that allows bikes is part of another project being considered–Jim alluded to this last night, and I got the impression it won’t include 35th. WSB did you catch the details or have a link for that? I’m a relatively new bike rider so am not up on all the plans.

    But the high-flying days of 35th will be OVER.

    And if you live on 35th (like I do), I hope the relief comes very, very soon.

  • L October 23, 2014 (9:04 pm)

    “One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example…”

    Protip: If you’re going to come to a halt in the middle of traffic on 35th, use your turn signal for a block beforehand to give the person behind you time to change lanes…

  • L October 23, 2014 (9:17 pm)

    “How difficult is it to lower speed limit to 20 r 25? – alki resident”

    Easy for an Alki resident to say. How about we add 15 minutes to your commute every day? People would just switch to Fauntleroy or Delridge if the limit were lowered so dramatically, and those streets would experience similar problems.

    I’d be really interested to see a breakdown of the accidents. I’ve never felt unsafe or had a close call on 35th, and I commute on it regularly. IMHO they should block off any intersection that is NOT controlled by a light (and maybe add some more lights); I’d bet drivers turning onto 35th without a stoplight make up most of the crashes.

  • miws October 23, 2014 (9:26 pm)

    Frank, here is a link with some information that you might find helpful:




    • WSB October 23, 2014 (9:52 pm)

      Frank – Yes, I am biased in favor of never having to cover another death on 35th. Should SDOT propose a “road diet” as a means toward that goal? Will they? I’m no engineer and we don’t editorialize, so we haven’t been and won’t be suggesting what they should do. There is no proposal on the table right now in any form, but SDOT says that it will propose something within a few months. If that proposal turns out to include any rechannelizing and you or others see specific flaws with it, do what others did with rechannelization proposals that have been canceled or changed in recent years once they were made public. The scrapped Admiral Way hill proposal of 2010 comes to mind:
      I’m assuming you were at last night’s meeting. Glad to hear that; I also am biased in favor of people going to meetings. E-mail, comments, phone calls are fine ways to speak up but in what I’ve seen in seven years of focusing on neighborhood-level journalism, none have the same weight, still, both in terms of the people involved in the process and the official decisionmakers, as being there in person. Some previous road changes have been carried out without as much opportunity for public participation and that was unfortunate IMO. The SW Alaska rechannelization – or at least part of it – happened without a single standalone public meeting. I asked SDOT repeatedly why. They said they’d been to enough community group meetings, they didn’t need a separate one. Nobody protested or pushed for one, and the rechannelization simply happened (with a little bit of change in how it dealt with parking).

  • WS Guy October 23, 2014 (10:17 pm)

    There is only one logical solution for I-35… Two-way with center turn lane. Solves the speed and left-hand turn issues, period. Only other option is to turn it into the freeway that people treat it as. Eminent Domain, tear down the houses and put in clover-leafs. We might as well become LA.

  • Cpeterson October 23, 2014 (10:43 pm)

    Honestly I am shocked to see that no one has posted about a huge issue I see daily on 35th- drivers not staying in their lanes. I am not sure if the lanes are narrower than other roadways, or if drivers are concerned about hitting parked cars or oncomig cars, but 100% of the time I am on 35, a vehicle swerves over the lanes into my lane. Literally every single time I am on the road, I see a major swerve on this 3 mile stretch. As a result, and thanks to countless near misses, I have adopted a driving style on 35th that is very defensive. I never drive directly next to a car in another lane- always ensure that I am ahead of or behind the car next to me. I have also stopped being afraid of using my horn when someone swerves close- I would rather get someone’s attention than side swipe me or worse- bump me into a parked car or oncoming traffic! This method does result in my speeding up sometimes…. The road feels a little like a gauntlet and I just bite down and try to get through it. I really do think the road is simply narrower- when you see busses and larger trucks (f250’s for example) just giving up and driving in the middle of two lanes instead if trying to stay in one, you know it is an issue. We live at the end of 35th and I cannot tell you how many people arrive at our home with the first comment being about how they saw a near miss accident, how a bus or car swerved into their lane, or other issues. I even had one person tell me that they don’t know how we drive that stretch everyday.

  • KM October 23, 2014 (11:24 pm)

    Enforce the current laws, and often. Everywhere.

  • Marge Evans October 24, 2014 (8:30 am)

    a big thank you WSB for covering this important story. Also I want to thank you for always being fair regarding who has the rights to the roads.

  • miws October 24, 2014 (8:36 am)

    Cpeterson, you may right on the road being narrower.


    Another part of it is, is the “seam”; that is in the left lane southbound(?). It’s been there for decades, and I always hated driving that lane.


    Apparently, it goes back to when the streetcar tracks were removed, and 35th was widened (I don’t recall if all that happened at the same time.)


    I was really hoping that issue would finally be dealt with, when there was a major repave of most of 35th, around 11 or 12 years ago. I apparently misunderstood the Project details, because it sure sounded like they were going to do that, and much more.


    I’m only familiar with the current condition of 35th, from what I read here on WSB, and hear from others, as I don’t travel 35th regularly, and even when I do, it’s on the bus or in the passenger seat of a car.



  • AJP October 24, 2014 (8:53 am)

    Road diet, yes! Bike lanes, YES PLEASE! Protected ones! A girl can dream, right? I went to the Roxbury presentation a few months back and found Mr. Curtin to be a great representative for the city. He let people have their say, but kept things from getting taken over by the wackadoos. He was very receptive to everyone’s comments.

  • zark00 October 24, 2014 (9:18 am)

    I see the swerving drivers every morning without fail as well. They’re usually staring at their phones.

  • marty October 24, 2014 (10:16 am)

    More enforcement!! A few tickets will help slow things down.

  • Wes C. Addle October 24, 2014 (11:08 am)

    I think the distracted driving will only get better as technology improves. People love their phones. When I wait at the crosswalks or when I’m sitting on the bus I’d guess that about 85% of vehicles are using their cell phone. It’s not even a specific demographic. I see all age groups doing it. Most are not going to change this habit. They know it’s basically unenforceable. It’s almost like jaywalking. Everyone knows it’s illegal, but it happens anyway. I think if it was illegal initially to use phones while driving when phones first became mainstream, our problem would be much smaller. Cell phones started becoming commonplace around 1997. Users have had about 15 years to drive “legally” using their phones. That’s a difficult habit to break. IMHO, driving while using your phone is less distracting than fiddling with my stereo, eating, & dealing with passengers/pets. I think the law almost makes it worse because drivers are trying to hide their use of the phone which is just adding another layer of distraction to this problem.

  • zark00 October 24, 2014 (12:08 pm)

    Driving while talking on a cell phone is 3 times more dangerous than being legally drunk. 4 independent studies have found the same results. According to same studies, fiddling with the radio takes your eyes off the road for about 1/10th the time as reading a 10 word text.
    Its full blown public safety crisis. It is entirely enforceable. Just like drunk driving. The fine now is ridiculously small. The police don’t enforce the laws. Jaywalking is also enforceable by the way. Its usually primarily the jaywalker putting themselves in danger. Distracted driving puts us all in danger. Even worse kids are hit by distracted drivers in disproportionate numbers because they’re harder to see. This part makes me sick, in a blatant texting driver murder there are often no skid marks leading to the scene. Meaning the driver didn’t see the person at all and hit them full speed. Its a nice new bonus we all get with the folks who feel their ‘lol’ is more important than your life – if they hit you they kill you.
    I implore you all, if you talk/text/Facebook or even wsb while you drive just stop. Put the phone down. There is no text or post important enough to kill a kid for. Every time you get in your car ask yourself if today is a good day for you commit vehicular homicide.

  • AJ October 24, 2014 (3:11 pm)

    Cpeterson, I completely agree with your experience driving 35th. I think the lanes really are too narrow. I am already an attentive, defensive driver – I don’t even use my cellphone hands-free unless it’s urgent – but I’m extra defensive on 35th and have incurred the swerving, and admittedly have done it myself on occasion when encountering a parked car sticking out too far. My vehicle isn’t huge, either. Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid an accident up to this point. It’s hard for me to avoid 35th since I live just two blocks to the east, but if taking Delridge isn’t a significant detour, that’s my choice.

  • j October 24, 2014 (3:52 pm)

    Frankly Oakley, if you had read my post correctly you would see that I was referring to citations issued since the inception of the SPD ADRT, which was formed in the summer of 2007. The officers have worked 35th extensively, issuing citations for speeding (including school zones) and cell phones. That has happened since 2007, which by the way, is mentioned by SDOT as the year the speed decrease was first noticed. It has not happened over a short period of time.
    The Speed van camera also was and is responsible for 100’s of citation being issued over the past several years. I did not say that the citations were issued in one day to 100 speeders.
    SPD ADRT has literally issued 100’s and 100’s of citation on 35th since their inception in the summer of 2007. SDOT knows the number of citations issued since 2007. SDOT needs to move forward with engineering solutions as well.

  • Kathy October 24, 2014 (5:48 pm)

    Mickey Mouse, if you need to drive and obey the law, then you won’t mind staying within the speed limit and yielding to buses. Both of which you can do now but a large percentage of the motorized vehicles on this stretch of 35th Ave SW do not. Buses pull over to the curb to load, when they signal to pull out, you must yield when they signal or you are breaking the law. Everyone needs to get to work/school/appointments, not just those driving their car, so we all must take our turn. Bus riders are already sacrificing their time by waiting for passengers to be loaded at each stop, plus they are doing you a favor by making more room for you on the road. So I hope you wouldn’t be so self centered as to think your your commute is any more important than theirs. As to more enforcement? That might work if the tickets were $2,000 instead of $100.

  • Thomas M. October 24, 2014 (6:47 pm)

    WSB is doing an awesome job on an obviously hot button issue. Every editor has a position. The fact that a specific article fails to feed your specific position is not grounds to call TR biased. I have had my posts removed, and asked TR about posting some things I was told do not belong on this blog on journalistic ethics grounds. This is TR’s show. It is a darn good show. When yours is better let us all know.
    That said I had to drive 35th four times in the last two days and every trip involved the pucker factor. People get on 35th and become Mr. Hyde. Ticketing these reckless people is better than clogging up the road by pinching capacity. I had to use a cross street twice today just to get off Fauntleroy which was not moving. Ouch.

  • StringCheese October 25, 2014 (11:25 am)

    Solutions for 35th must be made with the traffic patterns of ALL of WS in mind. There are only 2 comprehensive N/S corridors through WS – 35th and Delridge. How will the various options affect traffic on the peninsula as a whole? The capacity has to go somewhere. It doesn’t go away, it gets displaced, often into neighborhoods. Look at 25th and 26th that run parallel to Delridge. They had to install speed bumps to counter the increase in traffic trying to bypass Delridge backups.
    The traffic lights around 35th/Avalon/Fauntleroy are already a mess in the evenings, causing outrageous backups onto the WS bridge. Not much better in the other direction in the morning. It is a choke point that can have a ripple effect through the whole 3 mile stretch.
    Did the traffic on 35th increase when changes were made to Fauntleroy and Delridge?
    The question needs to be, “How do you increase safety while maintaining road capacity on a vital N/S corridor?” With a road diet, again, the cars are not going to go away, they will simply be displaced onto other roads. I hope that SDOT is taking an honest look at the big picture.

  • sam-c October 25, 2014 (7:38 pm)

    speaking of ‘improvements’ on 35th, can they at least clarify the lane markings? we were driving up 35th (Northbound) in the dusk, in the rain… and we COULDN’T TELL where the lanes were, between Morgan and Raymond. It is impossible. there were no reflective painted lines or reflective turtles. and the paving in that area is a mix of asphalt and concrete. I am sure someone who is more familiar with that street probably thought we were ‘inattentive’ but we honestly didn’t see where the lanes were. North of Raymond it is easier to tell…

  • Thomas M. October 27, 2014 (9:59 pm)

    Lane demarcators that are visible at night or in the rain are not really “improvements”. To me they would be required for the road to meet minimum safety standards.
    Maybe the fix is already in and we are going to get a road diet and the City just does not want to put down a bunch of markers they will only have to remove.

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