Dangerous crossing: Westwood transit-hub crosswalk turns up trashed, days after WWRHAH discussion

Just two days after the Westwood transit hub took centerstage at the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting, a new illustration of a not-so-new concern presented itself:

(Thursday photo courtesy Joe Szilagyi)
On Thursday, WWRHAH secretary Joe Szilagyi took that photo in the middle of a very recognizable crosswalk on SW Barton between the Roxhill Park bus stop and Westwood Village. He sent the photos to city leaders with this note:

I am writing about the crosswalk from the Rapid Ride terminal site at Westwood Village in West Seattle. At some point overnight or today, a car plowed through the crosswalk and demolished it, while leaving debris all over.

We have asked repeatedly for nearly two years for assistance and budgetary relief to fund proper, full, and safe mitigation for pedestrians crossing here in the form of a controlled crosswalk if possible, and failing that at minimum a user-activated flashing visual beacon. As of yet we have only heard several variations on how this is not feasible, beyond current budget realities, or ‘not proper’ or appropriate for this location due to the nearby streetlights at Barton and 26th for the Westwood Village entrance.

There is a user-controlled full crosswalk one block south on Roxbury adjacent to the intersection of Roxbury and 26th, by the Safeway supermarket. Why is that location appropriate for these controls to service that Rapid Ride C stop, while the full end-of-line terminal a block away on another arterial is not? It’s a miracle that no one was in the crosswalk when this happened.

If this slows traffic down on Barton that is an irrelevant concern to the safety issues. Please advise us with a schedule as soon as possible of when this specific crosswalk’s dangerous conditions will be rectified to the satisfaction of the community.

Please note that we are not asking for assistance or guidance on applying for a grant on our own for this. We are asking for SDOT and the City of Seattle to immediately begin remediation of the dangerous conditions at this location.

We were CC’d on that note, and on several replies so far. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen told Szilagyi that he would ask SDOT to respond. SDOT director Scott Kubly said, “I will have my team work with King County to get the shelter repaired and to evaluate what we can do to improve safety at this location.” One of the people from whom he requested followup, city traffic engineer Dongho Chang, replied this morning that he would get it reviewed, then wrote again this afternoon:

The sign was repaired today. We’ll need to chip out the concrete and install a new post anchor. I had staff review our records and we didn’t have any specific concerns that I was able to find today for the crossing. However, I spent some time observing and walking the area and I have some thoughts that I’d like to have a quick conversation with the community.

We verified before sunset that the sign has indeed been repaired:

(WSB photo taken late today)
But that doesn’t address the ongoing issue. The e-mail chain continued late in the day with WWRHAH co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick pointing out that the safety issue had been discussed with SDOT’s new transit division director Paulo Nunes-Ueno at the last West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (WSB coverage here) and that she had a walkaround tour set with him for March 30th. All involved are now deciding whether that is soon enough for an assessment, or whether the timetable needs to be accelerated.

The transit-hub-related issues discussed at WWRHAH’s monthly meeting last Tuesday at the Southwest Branch Library involved more than safety. Helmick had already announced that Metro had committed to sidewalk and lighting improvements; Metro’s Paul Roybal was at the meeting to confirm all that, saying the sidewalk work will go from 26th to 29th on the south side of SW Barton, and ADA improvements will be included. Preliminary engineering work is under way, he said, and a survey crew will be out soon; if all goes well, work could start late in the year (which would be two years after WWRHAH’s original walking tour with Metro and other reps).

Also at the meeting, Metro’s Doug Johnson talked about Metro changes that will take effect June 1st as a result of Proposition 1 money. Area residents remain concerned that the 21 isn’t getting much and the previously slashed 22 isn’t getting anything, with Arbor Heights service still suffering as a result. Johnson said this isn’t the only round of improvements; there will be more in the future. Helmick is gathering comments on how the 21/22 reductions have affected riders.

With some other routes – particularly the RapidRide C Line – getting added service, Helmick asked the Metro reps if that meant more layovers and more buses stacking up at the Westwood hub, where the “Wall of Buses” along Roxhill Park has been notorious. Johnson said drivers will still have breaks there but the buses will be moving more frequently to keep up with schedules, so it won’t be that noticeable.

Also at the meeting, Andy Thompson from Westwood Village’s owners, Madison Marquette. WWRHAH told him the center isn’t as walkable as it could be. He said they’re continuing to look into pedestrian safety concerns and questions, but that overall safety has been improved since the Seattle Police bike patrols began.

WWRHAH also talked Tuesday night about Roxhill Bog, one year after its first big discussion; a new report about its issues – particularly, why the bog isn’t much of a bog any more – is out. We’ll publish that part of the March WWRHAH story this weekend.

The Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets first Tuesdays, 6:15 pm, SW Branch Library.

40 Replies to "Dangerous crossing: Westwood transit-hub crosswalk turns up trashed, days after WWRHAH discussion"

  • Bradley March 6, 2015 (7:35 pm)

    This concrete island/barrier is ridiculous. Vehicles heading eastbound back-up all the way to beyond the west Target entrance and often to 30th Ave SW when buses are loading and unloading there. On many occasions, I have heard cars honking when this happens and I have witnessed eastbound cars drive into the westbound lanes to go around the stopped traffic/buses. Some eastbound drivers also enter the WW Village parking lot to go around this Metro-caused traffic mess. This island is creating a very dangerous situation for all involved.

  • Payton March 6, 2015 (7:58 pm)

    The concrete barrier is there to prevent cars from using that turning lane as a passing lane, an action that would put any pedestrian crossing that highly used crosswalk at significant risk. The concrete is not the problem, rather (at least from the perspective of the letter writer (i think)) it is insufficient as a solution. It is safer with than without though.

  • McBride March 6, 2015 (7:59 pm)

    Amanda Kay Helmick, getting it done since before District elections were possible.

  • Bradley March 6, 2015 (8:15 pm)

    @Payton: I hardly think that vehicles stopped in one direction behind a large city bus and vehicles whizzing by at full speed in the other direction makes for a safe crosswalk situation. I have lived within a few hundred feet of where that crosswalk is for several years and we never saw the types of close-calls like we do now.

  • miws March 6, 2015 (8:44 pm)

    Bradley, have you contacted SPD to ask for enforcement of the law in that area, considering the highly dangerous and illegal behavior of those automobile drivers?



  • ChefJoe March 6, 2015 (8:49 pm)

    Interesting that Joe is actually asking for a “beg button”. The scuttlebutt I hear from cyclists is that by imposing a new “you must wait until the signal changes to cross” it introduces enough delay that users start to cross against the signal leading to more dangerous conditions with cars expecting users to obey the signal.

    Still think it’s a car-island collision with no people involved.

    I could make a similar argument about the busted, dangling side view mirrors I observed on Erskine way W of California this evening… the street is too narrow to permit parking on both sides and imagine if someone had been trying to get in/out of their car at the time.

  • Payton March 6, 2015 (8:53 pm)

    i never said it’s safe, and the whole point of the letter is also saying it is unsafe. my point is that without that barrier pedestrians are less safe than with it. i see turning lanes all over WS used as passing lanes much more frequently than for their intended purpose (i think many folks are plain ignorant of the way they are meant to be used -people using them as passing lanes, turning diagnolly through them, or plain ignoring their existance). pedestrians deserve protections out there, especially the “little old lady on the bus”. The barrier is insufficient, but not the issue. Those folks you describe who are impatient, honking, and grossly disregarding traffic laws and safety are (that and insufficent protections and enforcement against them).

  • kas March 6, 2015 (8:57 pm)

    This crosswalk is difficult to see clearly for drivers, with all the busses lined up right up to it,blocking vidibility. Being a “hub,” we should expect more for public safety.

  • Bradley March 6, 2015 (9:29 pm)

    @miws: we can’t even get SPD to enforce criminal codes of a more serious nature in our area (like felony drug-dealing, gang violence, etc) much less traffic laws. Why create a one-way road block that causes drivers to take their eyes off of pedestrians and fix them onto stopped buses and cars in the first place? Why rely on law enforcement to enforce something that shouldn’t be creating this problem(s) in the first place?

  • batgurrl March 6, 2015 (9:33 pm)

    So sad. We live in a world where a lot of drivers learned to drive on a video game where no one dies. I walk to WW and use this crosswalk and also brave the park. I have taken to waving and staring at drivers that might seem agressive but I finally get someone to stop. Not the way its suppoise to be. Can’t we just get along? R

  • miws March 6, 2015 (9:33 pm)

    Well put, Payton.



  • old timer March 6, 2015 (9:42 pm)

    Additional to the already long list of deficiencies, the crosswalk emerges directly behind a bus when it is loading passengers.
    This makes the visibility of people in the crosswalk almost impossible until one is almost upon them already crossing.
    How any civic leader or bureaucrat of responsibility could ignore this entire situation is incomprehensible to me.
    There is death lurking here folks, and the drive-thrus don’t really give a damn, they are racing to the next traffic light.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 6, 2015 (9:47 pm)

    + 1 Bradley

  • miws March 6, 2015 (10:14 pm)

    So, until a light is put in, and I don’t mean a pedestrian activated flashing light that drivers ignore anyway, so it would be better to remove the island, so drivers can pass the buses in the two-way left turn lane?


    Yeah, that’ssafe for pedestrians simply trying to cross legally…



  • Jeffrey March 6, 2015 (11:08 pm)

    Another good reason to stay away from Westwood Village.

  • Use It Daily March 6, 2015 (11:25 pm)

    Just to clarify that sign actually was down on Wednesday afternoon. It literally happened within an hour of me using it. I had used it around 3:30pm to catch the bus to pick up my child. When we came back to cross at the sane spot the sign was on the ground. Just thought I would clarify when the sign actually went down

    • WSB March 6, 2015 (11:43 pm)

      Thanks, UID. Joe pointed it out to us on Thursday as he was about to send his note and it was news to us at the time too. Crashes don’t necessarily hit our radar if no one’s hurt, roads aren’t blocked, etc. The only thing on the SFD log for Wednesday in that area was at 11:18 am, so couldn’t have been the same.

  • rocky raccoon March 7, 2015 (2:53 am)

    This is not the first time that sign has been run over. If you think there is an easy fix, a quick fix, or any SDOT-related fix to the problem, you are mistaken. The problem is the people behind the wheel. They are so often drunk, drugged, unlicensed, texting, yakking on their phone, or distracted in a hundred other ways that it is highly likely they will plow into something or someone sooner or later. All this on top of the fact that anyone with a pulse gets a driver license.

  • anonyme March 7, 2015 (6:22 am)

    Part of the problem with that crossing is that parked buses completely block the view of both vehicles and crossing pedestrians until it’s too late. Recently I’ve noticed more speeding vehicles blowing through that crosswalk, even with pedestrians in clear view. I was almost run down yesterday by some chick in a red car who gave me a dirty look as she sped through the crosswalk at 45 mph.

    I personally hate crosswalks with “beg buttons”. They not only take forever, but pedestrians frequently wait for long periods when there is no traffic; the light only changes when the traffic picks up, so it’s a lose/lose situation. I think that’s why many pedestrians just run across, although some do because they would anyway (stupid).

  • Eric March 7, 2015 (7:18 am)

    I live close to this intersection, and while I don’t like this whole Metro hub and the problems it has created in the neighborhood I live in; when I saw this while driving by, the first thing that came to mind was it was a drunk driver. Something that no matter what changes were brought to this intersection, probably wouldn’t have changed this indecent.

  • Rick March 7, 2015 (8:09 am)

    UID – I think it’s more of an “insane” spot.

  • Debra March 7, 2015 (8:10 am)

    It seams like there has been an overall increase in the aggressive driving through out west seattle
    Certainly on the bridge in the morning cars using the bus lane to get there sooner and faster
    As pointed out individuals are using turning lanes to pass traffic, and seems like speed has increased
    On streets that run parallel with major arterials those residential streets have become congested with fast cars wanted to bypass the major avenue
    Perhaps there is value in asking the question why.
    Could it be the over development and density?
    Seems clear that is part of the equation

  • Lifelong WS Resident March 7, 2015 (8:36 am)

    These Seattle, Metro & DOT traffic planners are definely operating on a different frequency. Look at Westwood, NB California at Morgan and various other bus stops where traffic has to stop and backup waiting for the bus to move. Low and behold what it would be like in case of an emergency.

  • Jennifer March 7, 2015 (8:46 am)

    I do hope they improve the lighting as well. Those cobra heads don’t cut it. Last night we were driving through that spot and a kid darted out into the crosswalk on his scooter. He was dressed in all dark clothes and we barely saw him.

  • X March 7, 2015 (8:58 am)

    A bridge would be nice, or a tunnel under the street to harbor the cretins who seem to stand around there all day with nothing to do…. Maybe build the cretins a cabana with heat so they are not so uncomfortable…

  • Bonnie March 7, 2015 (11:02 am)

    I try to avoid that area if possible. When I go to Westwood Village I try to drive down Trenton to get there.

    • WSB March 7, 2015 (11:21 am)

      Speaking of things run over at Westwood, we just heard about the missing dropoff box at the post office. A Facebook commenter says he saw it “mangled” and taken away. We’ve been over once to try to find out more but massive line and we don’t have the time to wait so we’re going to check again later. If anyone knows what actually happened, please comment, or e-mail us – editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

  • Oakley34 March 7, 2015 (11:31 am)

    “cretins who seem to stand around there all day with nothing to do”

    You mean “wait for a bus”? Thinly veiled classism here (at BEST)

  • Joeb March 7, 2015 (1:41 pm)

    Appreciate the letter that was sent. But, good luck.. I’ve sent plenty of kind emails with ideas on how to make things better.. Only go never hear back despite follow ups. And not see any action taken. Seems to be an absolute waste of time to try to make things better/be a part of the solution. Email addresses/phone numbers seem to just be provided for residents to vent or for the city to collect stats or be amused. Good luck.. If you get a response or action, let us know and how you did it.

  • Mo March 7, 2015 (9:30 pm)

    I would like to see a two lane driveway built that parallels SW Barton Street and is located on the Roxhill Park grounds adjacent to where the buses now park. The buses could park in one lane and use the other to exit. This would move the buses off of Barton Street and thus improve visibility at the crosswalk.

  • Joe Szilagyi March 7, 2015 (11:19 pm)

    @Mo where would that go without sacrificing the huge trees (unacceptable) or the new heavily used skate park (equally unacceptable)?

  • mark March 8, 2015 (7:55 am)

    I witnessed entire thing. I was right behind the car that hit the pole. It was Wed morning just after 11 am. I was pulling out of WWV parking lot by the Mcdonald’s (26th?) turning right onto Barton. Another car facing me at the light turned left onto Barton heading West. The car turned onto and continued to drive West on Barton on the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The driver then seemed to realize that she was in wrong lane and moved over slightly…….into the CENTER TURN LANE and continued to drive straight on it until she slammed into island and took the pole out. She didn’t even see it coming…..no brake lights or attempt to avoid and hit it at a good 30-35 miles per hour. Her car stopped about 50 0r 60 feet past crosswalk. I quickly pulled over and got out and ran to her door. Airbag had deployed and front end of car was demolished. Driver was elderly woman in her late 80s to early 90’s. She was conscious but obviously shaken and a little confused. I asked if she was ok and she said no. I told her not to move as I called 911. I waited till responders got there and gave my statement and pers. info.
    This was the most unbelievable accident I have ever seen. I’m sorry but this lady should not be driving…..EVER AGAIN!!!!!! If anyone had been in that cross-walk, they would have been killed. I’m 50 years old and I TOTALLY support the idea that people over the age of 70 should have to take a driving test every year. I’ll be the first in line myself. This had nothing to do with traffic…… the street…….busses…..design of island and sign…….She simply had no idea where she was and couldn’t see what was CLEARLY in front of her.

  • datamuse March 8, 2015 (10:04 am)

    Yikes, Mark. That’s scary. Really glad she didn’t hit anyone!

  • anonyme March 8, 2015 (1:59 pm)

    I wonder if she was a Daystar resident. Anyone know?

  • Bradley March 8, 2015 (7:38 pm)

    @Mark: how about the young people I see (daily)who smoke pot out of their bongs in the Roxhill park parking lot in their cars and drive away through our neighborhood streets? Don’t you think they pose more of a risk to public safety than a sober 71 year-old?

  • Dale March 8, 2015 (9:40 pm)

    I witnessed the same type accident last Fall although it was later at night, approx 10:30 PM while I was waiting for bus on the south side of Barton. Toyota Prius with a young female driver, alone and not intoxicated is going e/bound. Took out the sign. Punctured her oil pan, popped all 4 tires, duel air bag deployment. Totalled out her car basically. She was not texting either. Apparently, she was looking to go work out in Mall and was looking for the driveway oblivious that when she changed lanes that there was a concrete divider directly in front of her and a sign. Police arrived, wrote a report. We called Stans Mt View to come get her car and her roommate came to pick her up. Maybe some flashing lights could help–this has happened now at least two times.

  • wakeflood March 9, 2015 (12:09 pm)

    It seems pretty clear that we here in WS and likely numerous other neighborhoods are in transition. The transition from a 90% car, 8% bus, 2% ped/bike mix on the roads to something much less car-centric.

    Metro/SDOT are trying to reconfigure our limited Right of Way into something calmer and more ped-friendly but we are a long way both physically and – especially in the safety element – from what we’ll need to be in the coming years.

    Unfortunately, a lot of folks will likely be hurt as we learn how to coexist. But it’s going to take some education and some time before all of us in our cars slow down and accept the delay and the folks on foot or bikes stay on the alert at all times, even when given the right of way.

    This won’t be easy. I’d love to see some PSA’s on this so folks know that they need to change. Cuz right now, they don’t think they do.

    I’m reminded of something I experienced first hand in China a number of years ago. Driving on a major highway in Beijing suburb, we pulled off onto a side road slowing from 60+ down to 30ish mph and then within a few more feet down to below 10 mph AS WE TURNED DIRECTLY INTO A RIVER OF PEDESTRIANS AND BIKES TEN PERSONS WIDE! I shoved my feet into the floorboards expecting to see bodies flying up over the hood into my lap but the sea parted and we drove into our lot with nary a scratch. The only thing the driver could describe in English to me as the reason was, “slow down but don’t stop”. ;-) You’d need ambulances the sizes of buses if you did that here!

  • newesty March 9, 2015 (12:18 pm)

    Thought…why not just use the cross walk at the light that is 1 1/2 blocks down and solve the problem completely? Why do we need a cross walk in the middle of a high traffic road making it more dangerous for people and drivers? This issue is rampant across Seattle, cross-walks in places that are ridiculous! My personal favorite is the one on the bottom of the ramp getting off of 99N at Western, its total insanity! I can’t believe people want to cross there and the city thinks its ok to stop traffic there. There is a light 1 block down with a cross walk, better choice for all of us.

  • anonyme March 9, 2015 (3:44 pm)

    I find it SO amusing that driveaholics always think it’s perfectly acceptable for pedestrians to walk blocks out of their way so that drivers don’t ever have to slow down, or, God Forbid, pay attention. Yet if they have to park ANY distance from their destination, or are delayed in any way – they have a fit.

    It’s bad enough that Westwood Village itself is so pedestrian-unfriendly, but some would apparently like to see it virtually inaccessible to anyone not driving a vehicle.

Sorry, comment time is over.