Roundabout (above) or signal, to ease the traffic woes at Highland Park Way and Holden? Not that the city has money for either, yet, but the concepts have been roughed out and we were there as SDOT’s neighborhood-traffic guru Jim Curtin talked about them at this week’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting:
Curtin first described in understatement that “there can be some congestion in the morning – sometimes, I hear, all the way up to 16th SW.”
HPAC leadership applied for the Large Projects Fund, and that got this as far as a conceptual design. It’s funded by the expiring-this-year Bridging the Gap levy, said Curtin.
Two possibilities (see them here): A roundabout, estimated to cost $2,140,000, or a signal option, estimated at $1,330,000. The roundabout would be the first in the city, “which adds a whole ‘nother level of cool,” as Curtin put it – not just a traffic circle (those, of course, abound). Hitches include “a massive amount of earth work … we would need to change the nature of the topography significantly.” He said that wouldn’t be a “project killer” but it “adds costs.”
A signal would be a lower-cost option, $1,330,000, but “from an efficiency standpoint, it’s not the best option,” Curtin observed.
The intersection’s “been on my list for a while,” he said, outlining what’s been/being done to try to advance it. They’ve been looking at “different grant-funding sources,” he explained, two sources – Transportation Improvement Board, and WSDOT – were explored last year, but their funds were finite, $8 million total for the entire state, so “$2 million for just one project in Seattle was not looked at favorably.”
The projected price tags are just estimates, since these are not fully studied/designed projects, but rather concepts, Curtin clarified. He said they hope to apply for grants again in hopes of getting this funded – possibly involving some matching funds. The project is one of West Seattle’s main entry points, so it has some urgency, he added.
“The light option (above) would be great until about 8 am,” HPAC co-chair Billy Stauffer observed. He and Curtin agreed it would stop vehicles even at times without much traffic, and people would try to ignore the light. With a roundabout, you would always feel like you’re moving.
From there, the discussion sidetracked into a discussion of some other transportation-safety challenges in Highland Park, including spots where signage might be helpful. “Sounds like there are a multitude of issues both around the intersection of Highland Park Way and Holden and (elsewhere) and might be a good time for a walking tour in the next few weeks,” Curtin suggested. That could help collect more about the challenges in the neighborhood, the way the streets are being used now, and other “characteristics” that could help SDOT understand the neighborhood better.
Overall, though, the problems all seem to be tied to the “uncertainty” of the HP Way/Holden intersection, as Kay Kirkpatrick said. A light wouldn’t fix that uncertainty, she said.
If you’re wondering about bicycle/pedestrian facilities, the thought is that a “wide sidewalk” running alongside the road on the hill could handle both.
And then the discussion swung further into hypotheticals. Maybe a trolley. Someone suggested a gondola. Came the call from one side of the room: “Zipline!” The word “gondola” even was heard.
Curtin’s part of the meeting wrapped up with him voicing hopes of “walking with you all” in the future. Observing that Curtin must have at least “100 other intersections around the city that are messed up” – he smiled and suggested that’s an underestimate. Among them, Kirkpatrick asked if HP is a big bird, a medium bird, or a baby bird. “Oh, you’re a big bird!” he insisted, but in the next breath, noted that the city didn’t get grants for anything last time around. So, building on past successes, they’ll apply again, and are likely to find out in the fall. The project could be under way as soon as summer of 2016, if the money can be found. (Other “big birds” right now include the 35th SW corridor project, he mentioned in passing.)
FUTURE PROJECTS: Not this year, but at some point in the future, co-chair Carolyn Stauffer said, they’re looking at seeking grants for trail improvements in the nearby greenbelt. Craig Rankin, who had Neighborhood Park/Street Fund success recently with the crosswalks near Boren, said he’s working with local historian Judy Bentley on the concept.
HPIC HONORED WITH SUSTAINABILITY AWARD: As reported here last weekend, Sustainable Seattle has announced HPIC as co-winner of its Transforming Spaces award. Carolyn Stauffer pointed out it was a citywide award – and Billy Stauffer pointed out that it was shared with two other local groups,
NEW LEADERSHIP: The Stauffers would like to hand over the baton to somebody else, and the field’s open.
NEW WESTCREST PARK CONSTRUCTION: It’s being unofficially used, some pointed out, but the reservoir retrofit isn’t done yet.
CAMPAIGN FORUM: HPIC will be the site of the first District 1 City Council candidates’ forum this Thursday (doors 6:30, forum 7, presented by WSB), it was noted. Be sure to come and ask questions, pointed out an attendee – the earlier you start talking about something, the better its chances of becoming a campaign issue.
Highland Park Action Committee meets on fourth Wednesdays, 7 pm (usually preceded by a 6:30 pm potluck), at HP Improvement Club, 12th/Holden.