UPDATE: New speed limit on Fairmount Avenue – 20 hours per mile? Signs quickly fixed

When SDOT announced the Vision Zero safety strategy earlier this year, the announcement included a map showing plans for several streets in the Admiral area to be slowed to 20 mph (see page 15). Some street painting pointing out the new maximum was done today – but, as you can see in the photo sent by Ramona, some of the new street markings came out backward – 20 HPM instead of 20 MPH. We went over to see for ourselves before reporting this, and indeed, two sets with “HPM” instead of “MPH” are on the northbound (downhill) side of Fairmount Avenue through the ravine, north of the bridge. Ramona noted that others are in the correct order, but as to why these two were left backward – or not even caught – we’ll be checking tomorrow with SDOT. (We asked Ramona if she was certain it was a city crew; she said her surveillance camera shows the truck was in the area from 12:43 pm to 1:33 pm today.)

MONDAY 12:52 PM UPDATE: While SDOT has yet to respond to our questions about this, Ramona let us know late this morning that crews were there to fix the mistakes; we subsequently traveled the length of Fairmount and confirmed that everything now reads MPH rather than HPM.

2:22 PM: Here’s the SDOT response, from spokesperson Rick Sheridan:

Over the weekend employees of the Seattle Department of Transportation applied roadway markings in eight locations to highlight neighborhood speed limits of 20 miles per hour. The employees incorrectly marked two locations. We are in the process of correcting these markings now and will complete the work by midday Monday. The department will reinforce with its markings crew members and supervisors the need for accuracy in completing this and other work.

53 Replies to "UPDATE: New speed limit on Fairmount Avenue - 20 hours per mile? Signs quickly fixed"

  • AIDM July 19, 2015 (10:00 pm)

    This is actually not a mistake… This area has been designated as a slug crossing for native species of banana slugs. Since the MPH designation of 1/20 = .05 MPH is difficult to read and understand, DOT decided to go with the inverse Hours per Mile. Please be respectful of slug crossing zones and obey the posted speed limits!!

  • onion July 19, 2015 (10:12 pm)

    Expect severe congestion if the new limit is 20 hours per mile.

  • ChefJoe July 19, 2015 (10:13 pm)

    Typical SDOT “charge ahead”. Think of all the hours they spent painting dedicated bus lanes on Aurora Ave N by Greenlake before someone reminded them “buses don’t go there”.

    The solution, in that case, involved thick patches of black paint/asphalt sealant. Based on how rough that road looks, maybe they should just cover the whole road with that and start over.

  • gina July 19, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    Yes, SDOT marked trucks. Painted between 44th and 45th on Lander a bit after 8a.m. this morning. And saw them on Walnut by Hiawatha around 9:30.

  • Matt S. July 19, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    Signage typos are the best. I can’t even imagine how awful it must be to scrape off road paint, assuming they don’t have a giant inverse white-out for this kind of thing.

  • miws July 19, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    Reminiscent of this….




  • Rick-WS July 19, 2015 (10:22 pm)

    I truely wish that the person managing this project could be held accountable for the labor and materials to fix the error, something like he or she should have to fix it on their own time (weekend) and pay for the paint. Alas that is illegal.

    I have to admit the two of the three earlier comments were my style of humor. Thanks for the chuckle.

  • AceMotel July 19, 2015 (10:24 pm)

    typical SDOT

  • David July 19, 2015 (10:25 pm)

    It will be the correct speed on 35th after the new proposed revisions.

  • WS Res July 19, 2015 (11:25 pm)

    I think this is kinda awesome and hope they leave it. “It’s a big ol’ goofy world” out there. Enjoy it:)

  • Phillip Tavel July 19, 2015 (11:32 pm)

    For a minute I thought it was the new rush hour speed limit for the West Seattle Bridge.

  • Most Interesting Man in the World July 20, 2015 (12:26 am)

    How did the 5 other workers standing around watching the one guy work miss this?

  • Jeanie July 20, 2015 (3:56 am)

    Not surprising, since this is part of the “Vision Zero” initiative. What a name! No vision at all, that’s for sure.

  • Mark N. July 20, 2015 (6:21 am)

    H P M … “Hiring Painters Monday”

  • Ken July 20, 2015 (6:39 am)

    Just a reminder to the entire “vision Zero” team that you can’t fix stupid. People will still cross this and any street while texting and drive down the middle of streets while glued to a cell phone. Bike riders will still run into parked cars while looking at their pedal clips or fitness readout on their iPhone. And if you think a dedicated left turn lane will stop people from turning in front of other cars or bikes, then I have to ask what evidence they have to support this? I don’t really think the project is a bad idea and I drive 35th every day, but I can’t figure out why it is so much more important than fixing the moronic patch jobs allowed for contractors or getting an actual geologist or civil engineer to fix some of the known sinkholes and underground/ overground streams that flow down some area streets.

  • Mike July 20, 2015 (7:02 am)

    But the P is not backwards so it could not have been an upside down template (an easy but careless mistake) someone had to have positioned the letters in that order purposefully. Whoa!

    Perhaps with the addition of some other characters it could be turned into emoticons expressing chagrin?

  • miws July 20, 2015 (7:22 am)

    Related to AIDM’s point; I also implore drivers to obey this speed limit. That slug you run over could easily be a child’s beloved pet….




  • Toni Reineke July 20, 2015 (7:23 am)

    Maybe it would be good to leave the letters as is–might actually do the job of slowing folks down better than the “correct” version!

  • Neighbor July 20, 2015 (7:31 am)

    AIDM. … LOL LOL LOL!!!

  • Robert July 20, 2015 (7:56 am)

    Will be curious if residents of the ravine notice more cars today looking at the goof.

  • datamuse July 20, 2015 (8:44 am)

    I’ve heard of slowing your roll, but that’s ridiculous.

  • Born on Alki 59 July 20, 2015 (9:48 am)

    They should leave it as is. That should stand for 20 Holes Per Mile.

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (10:00 am)

    Well done, Born on Alki 59!

  • w.s.maverick July 20, 2015 (10:05 am)

    is that for the bikes

    • WSB July 20, 2015 (10:13 am)

      Mav, the 20 mph speed limit is for everyone. Including those who can walk faster than 20 mph. BTW, we’ve had an inquiry out to SDOT since first thing this morning regarding how it happened and when it’ll be fixed, etc. – TR

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (10:16 am)

    @WSB: Has anyone in West Seattle ever been ticketed for running more than 20hpm? I’d be proud if I could run around that fast long enough to get noticed and ticketed!

  • ChefJoe July 20, 2015 (10:57 am)

    Like the Morgan/California intersection and the bus stop…. SDOT can publicly acknowledge that the design of 20 HPM is a mistake, but there is a real cost to modify so maybe just leave it until it needs to be replaced entirely in a few decades.

    • WSB July 20, 2015 (11:03 am)

      Tipster Ramona says SDOT crews – under the watchful eyes of all the TV people who saw this story – are over there now fixing it. We’re hoping to make it over in time.

  • rob July 20, 2015 (11:00 am)

    if a police officer saw someone running more than 20 mph, i imagine the response would be something like this:

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (11:06 am)

    Nobody bother them, they probably need to concentrate!

  • flynlo July 20, 2015 (11:12 am)

    Interesting that this “mistake” is being fixed almost instantly while the bus curb bulbs at California and Fauntleroy “mistakes” apparently are never going to be fixed!!

  • Born on Alki 59 July 20, 2015 (11:16 am)

    Lets give sdot a break on this snafu. Simple Monday am mistake. Great way to make a two hour job last all day while working in the shade.

  • AceMotel July 20, 2015 (11:20 am)

    Matt S: ha ha ha ha

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (11:35 am)

    @flynlo: Imagine scraping up those curb bulbs though, that’s considerably more work than paint. As an expert at making mistakes, I’m confident that some are easier fixed than others.

  • STB July 20, 2015 (11:48 am)

    Honestly, Pathetic, Morons.

    • WSB July 20, 2015 (12:41 pm)

      We did verify that all the signs on Fairmount are now correct.

  • flynlo July 20, 2015 (11:58 am)

    @Matt S. No question that fixing the curb bulbs would be more expensive, however, consider the ROI in terms improved traffic flow and “customer satisfaction”. When they did the “road diet” on Fauntleroy, they screwed up several curb ramps and promptly corrected those mistakes so they can do it if they want to! Regarding making mistakes, I’ve only made one, that was the time that I thought I had made a mistake!!… (and if you believe that, I’ve got some salt water property for sale in Colorado!)

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (12:12 pm)

    @flynlo: I didn’t know they corrected the problem so quickly on Fauntleroy, so I guess I can appreciate your frustration.
    With a dazzling display of critical thinking, I’ll pass on your Colorado property.

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (12:47 pm)

    If WSB doesn’t have a mascot, it should be an eagle with a laptop. Thanks for another story that’s been entertaining to follow!

    • WSB July 20, 2015 (2:24 pm)

      SDOT statement now added.

  • Matt S. July 20, 2015 (2:28 pm)

    Impressively timely, WSB and SDOT!

  • M July 20, 2015 (3:22 pm)

    Rick-WS, AceMotel, STB, et alia – I’ll never understand why so many commenters get all frothy and ‘off-with-their heads’-like whenever some public employee makes a mistake. This was probably some low level worker, out there painting asphalt on one of the most miserably hot days I can remember, a Sunday at that (so probably very little seniority), who made a simple, no doubt honest, mistake. Heat, asphalt and hard work can do that kind of thing to a person.

    I particularly like AceMotel’s idea: find the person responsible, make them pay for everything, including the paint, and send them out to fix it by themselves on a weekend with no pay. But as Ace pointed out, “alas that is illegal”. The only place I can really think of where that might be legal is North Korea, or maybe Myanmar. But yeah, it would be great fun to see that kind of thing on the news every night. And I couldn’t agree more with STB about “Pathetic, Morons”. Why is it that every mistake maker on the planet ends up working for SDOT? Every, Single, One.

    Except for the ones I’ve worked with over the years on a whole range of projects – from the downtown tunnel to the upper and lower WS bridges to thorny personal right-of-way issues. And every single person I’ve worked with over there, dozens, has been smart, on top of it and completely professional. And usually decent people, the kind that would make good neighbors, or maybe even are your neighbors. And as unlikely as this sounds (the odds against it must be astronomical), I haven’t met one single pathetic, moronic, mistake making, SDOT employee in the 25 or 30 years I’ve had occasion to work with them. And i certainly didn’t meet any that I wanted to see heavily fined, forced to do hard physical work and publicly humiliated because they made a simple mistake.

  • West Seattle Hipster July 20, 2015 (4:44 pm)

    First the Spokane Street Viaduct fiasco and now this. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t tax dollars being wasted.


    I hope this story goes national.

  • Mike July 20, 2015 (7:31 pm)

    M, it’s not illegal, it’s just government jobs allow for bigger mistakes with minimal if any penalty. Honest mistake? Maybe they’re annoyed they had to work on the hot day on a weekend and decided to ‘make something funny’.
    I have no doubt the work is not fun, been there, done that, on far hotter days and worse conditions with not as much glamour to the job. It grows character, incentive to get the hell out of a job like that and into a nicer higher paying cushy job.

  • AceMotel July 20, 2015 (11:11 pm)

    @M, the only thing I said is “typical SDOT.” I think you have me confused with someone else.

  • joel July 21, 2015 (8:47 am)

    i hear the mayor just put an initiative on the ballot to raise sales tax to fix the SDOT signage…oh and the governor is considering raising the gas tax to correct some other signs….oh and then there is the county raising property taxes to fix their errors. get your checkbooks out!

  • Matt S. July 21, 2015 (9:03 am)

    Citations needed, Joel.

    • WSB July 21, 2015 (9:08 am)

      You may have figured this out, Matt, and are being double-ironic-humorous, but I am 99.999999999999999999999999% sure Joel is being facetious. The county did send another levy off to the ballot yesterday, but it’s not transportation-related.

  • Matt S. July 21, 2015 (9:31 am)

    @WSB: Crap, I was being cranky and apparently Joel’s comment flew right over my head. While I aspire to double-irony, I’ve failed here as I don’t think I can succeed in that 1×10-24 margin of doubt.

  • jetcitydude July 21, 2015 (10:56 am)

    Does SDOT have an English requirement testing before hiring? Anyways, Vision Zero is about as dumb as to end the homeless plan in ten years.

  • STB July 21, 2015 (12:08 pm)

    Simple mistakes like that shouldn’t happen, and that is my point. And do you honestly think it was some noob working on a Sunday – a Sunday when it’s probably time plus or double time? Ok, it was hot, not–an–excuse.

    I’ve done manual labor/GC work in many different weather conditions – I prided myself in a quality job well done regardless. This is a relatively small mistake but small mistakes lead to bigger ones, and when we’re talking SDOT, at the expense of us tax payers.

    I’m not for fines or anything ridiculous like that but come on, get the job done right the first time. That’s all I/we ask, right?

    Then again, SDOT, maybe it is too much to ask…

  • joel July 21, 2015 (8:59 pm)

    I was kidding about the various new tax increases BUT we’ve yet to hit hump day so plenty of time left in the week for the think machines to dream up some new taxes –

  • au July 21, 2015 (9:58 pm)

    me wonders if this wasn’t a practical joke, someone switched up the letters to mess with the paint person, or maybe the painter felt it reflected more accurately the future of traffic flow speeds, who knows. And even if it was a mistake, so what. Its funny, plus no harm no foul :)

    I mean collectively as tax payers it was a nickle each ‘mistake’, not even that…plus it didn’t cause any damage like the time about four/five years ago sdot, after some road work on 4th S, painted two lanes into one, two lanes approached the intersection and only one was painted on the other side. It caused cars to crash into each other. That was a liability mistake, HPM not so much.

    It’s funny. We gotta laugh at ourselves sometimes

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