YOUR THOUGHTS? Early concept for Harbor/Spokane/Avalon intersection improvements

(SDOT map showing “early concept” for project)

Ready to provide feedback as another West Seattle transportation project gets going? Here comes your chance for semi-early comments on the project officially known as Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St Intersection Improvements – covering the often-snarled area beneath and on both sides of the bridge. It affects SW Avalon Way, too, though that’s not mentioned in the title.

This is a community-proposed project that made it through the Neighborhood Street Fund process. We reported back in October that it was voted to receive funding; the cost is estimated at $352,000. It’s being designed this year and will be built/installed next year. Here’s the description from the project “fact sheet,” followed by the questions the project team is asking you to answer now:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will improve safety for people walking, biking and driving at the intersection of Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane Street in West Seattle. In 2016, the Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane Street Intersection project was one of 12 selected by the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee to be funded through the SDOT’s Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program. The NSF program funds projects requested by the community.

■ Adding a signal to give people biking a protected crossing from the northeast to the southwest corner of the intersection
■ Adding a curb bulb to increase space to stand and visibility at the corner
■ Removing segments of a jersey barrier along the Alki Trail approaching Harbor Ave SW
■ Restriping the crosswalk
■ Trimming overgrown landscaping on the northeast corner
■ Adding bike ramps on SW Avalon Way
■ Painting a bike turn lane on SW Manning St

Maintaining transit and freight access to Harbor Ave SW and SW Avalon Way is a key element of the project.

Adding the protected bike signal will increase wait times at this intersection during some peak times of the day.

■ Increase visibility of and safety for people walking and biking across Harbor Ave SW and SW Spokane St
■ Clarify a bike-only turning movement at SW Manning St and SW Avalon Way

The project team is asking for your comments on the early concept – via e-mail, at Their questions are:

*What do you like about the design concept presented on our website? Do you have any concerns?

*Do the project elements address any problems you have at this intersection?

*What is your experience at this intersection when you are walking? Biking? Driving?

*Do you have recommendations for how to keep people up to date about the project?

If you’re interested in the original concept for the project – here’s the SDOT document summarizing it (in far more detail), prepared for last fall’s review/decisionmaking process.

49 Replies to "YOUR THOUGHTS? Early concept for Harbor/Spokane/Avalon intersection improvements"

  • Wendell March 16, 2017 (12:23 pm)

    How about a roundabout?

    • AJP March 16, 2017 (1:31 pm)


    • Claytone March 17, 2017 (8:22 am)

      How about a tunnel?

  • LA member March 16, 2017 (12:47 pm)

    Will these improvements still allow for a left turn onto Avalon from Manning.  Some argue that its right turn only now, are there any plans to clarify?

    • Dave March 16, 2017 (1:04 pm)

      It is a right turn only for vehicles. I checked with the city about a year ago. A fix for this is already in the works. 

      • Dave March 16, 2017 (1:07 pm)

        And by fix I am under the impression it will clarify (hopefully block) vehicles from turning left but allow bikes to turn left.

    • KM March 16, 2017 (1:06 pm)

      I’m interested on this as well. I thought that there was no left turn from Manning onto Avalon, except for cyclists. I only take this route a few times a year though, and never have a need to take a left, so I’m not sure I’m picturing it properly.

  • zark00 March 16, 2017 (12:58 pm)

    Seems like a no-brainer to fix the issue with people cheating in to take a right onto Spokane – that’s a complete nightmare and causes a ton of problems and, I would guess, a lot of accidents.

    Easy fix as well.  I think Seattle needs to observe these locations more closely, or for more time, or maybe get locals to tell them how the intersections actually function.

    Do they really need an improvement project to trim some bushes?  Shouldn’t that be just part of routine maintenance? 

    • Kathy March 16, 2017 (4:42 pm)


      The problem at “Kitty Corner” as we call it (Spokane/Harbor NE corner), is that the vegetation is on a steep slope of land, SDOT right of way, but behind a very high cyclone fence. Besides aggressive blackberry vines and trees, there is a large stand of invasive 12 foot high Japanese knotweed that comes back rapidly in the growing season, however often you cut it.  Trail user volunteers often have work parties to cut back blackberry vines and knotweed up to the fence, but they have no way to cut back vegetation behind the fence. SDOT has responded to requests to trim back the foliage, but normal maintenance crews can also only access the area on the trail side of the cyclone fence. This does not solve the problem that the heavy growth behind the fence is what blocks visibility and creates an unsafe blind corner. The work in the project should include taking down the fence to access the overgrown area, eradicating the invasive knotweed and other vegetation, and placing a treatment on the surface that eliminates the problem of regrowth blocking sight lines in the future. People walking and biking the Alki Trail in this area know the situation.

      • Kathy March 16, 2017 (4:58 pm)

        And then they have to reinstall the fence to prevent people from riding over the cliff and landing in Nucor’s train yard.

  • Chris March 16, 2017 (1:03 pm)

    Glad we are wasting that much money on bike ramps/crossings instead of fixing the thousands of pot holes in the area.  SDOT needs to come down to reality.   We are giving them way too much money to spend on minor projects when there are more pressing infrastructure problems that need to be addressed.  

    • sbre March 16, 2017 (1:33 pm)

      The more/better the bike lanes are the more people will feel comfortable using them.

      The more bikes who are using the them the less cars there are on the roads to tear-up the infrastructure.

      Personally, I’m on my 12th school year bike-commuting daily, year around. Plus 20-25 Mariners games a season and too numerous to count errands all done on one of my bikes, equaling thousands of miles of roads I haven’t added to the degradation of.

      Bike lanes can pay for themselves many times over if they’re done right and consciously-observed.  

    • alkistu March 16, 2017 (2:02 pm)

      Pot holes are being fixed everyday. This is necessary because of the physics of 2 tons minimum rumbling across a relatively thin foundation thousands of times a day.  This winter has had an especially bad effect on our roadways. That being said there is an even worse culprit damaging our roadways and making the Seattle taxpayer pay for it. This culprit, “the developer”  gets a very favorable response from our current mayor as they cut into our roadways in all parts of the city. The fill in repair work they are leaving behind is the first place a road will deteriorate. Keep your eyes open and you will see the areas that are most damaged are where new construction has occurred or is in progress. Often times this occurs after a repaving has been recently done. Since the developers do not pay any fees for the damage they create they can take the profits and not be concerned about the mess they leave behind.  You might ask then why do the Seattle taxpayers subsidize large development firms like the one from China that has had 800 new developments in our city this year.? You may also ask is it better to spend  4% of the total transportation budget to promote healthy, lightweight transportation that does not damage the road surface.?

      • DK March 16, 2017 (6:46 pm)

        Maybe we should consider getting rid of studded tires, and increase the standards that contractorsounds are up to when they cut into new concrete roadways and do work just to pave soft blacktop over the top. Look at 3rd and bell area (the absolute worst I can think of at the moment).

        It’s been proven that studded tires cause millions of damage to the roads and yet regular snow tires have just as much traction. Most states do not allow them.

        • DK March 16, 2017 (6:47 pm)


      • Nigel March 17, 2017 (2:55 pm)

        I have done some development in Seattle and I was required to pre-pay for any roadway that I needed to “cut into” for utilities. The city collected the money up front before issuing the permits. The City of Seattle then had up to 1 year to replace the cut road section; as the developer I was not allowed to patch or repair the street. What I learned was the city “sometimes forgot” to replace the street sections that I had pre-paid to have replaced. So after the one year period I requested a refund of the money that I had to pre-pay for the road section replacements. The city told me refunds were never given and some big story of a backlog of repairs, blah, blah blah, but after I complained to some city council members about paying for services that were not provided, SDOT magically found time to immediately replace the roadway sections.

      • Jim March 18, 2017 (12:04 pm)

        I have lived in West Seattle 50 yrs of my 55 yr old life. I am a remodeler by choice, I love fiscally taking the worst house and making it beautiful, a lot of them in my neighbor hood. I have a contractors license but I fiscally do most aspects of the remodel my self.  I bought a 2600 sq. ft. vacant building lot in 2008. I thought it would be a good learning experience to build a house from the ground up. kind of a bucket list thing. Because of the economy I did not build with the plans drawn up in 08  since then Seattle changed the regulations on lot under 3200 sq ft. and what you could put on them, so I had to start all over and have an architect  draw a whole new smaller house.   I have been pay property taxes on the property tax for all those years. I have finally started excavating two weeks ago after paying over $10,000 in permits on top of paying geotecks , surveyors, the city for a water meter for at $5300. and a required street repair permit @ $618. and then I have to pay for a whole  street panel to be replaced in cement, not just the little square they need to make the connection. There will be more fees for city light to drop I wire to the house and sewer connections.

        I have never been treated to badly by neighbors.  Old lady swearing at me because they where held up for a minute well the cement truck backing the driveway. Neighbors telling me that I am here to destroy there neighbor hood.  I have lived on pigeon point two and a  half blocks away , the other direction, from this lot since 1992 .  The uninformed might wonder why there is no affordable  housing in Seattle.  Don’t blame developers and contractors.  Should I not make any money on all that I have paid and had to go through?  I am creating a more energy affiant, better for the environment, house then most of theirs.  Get informed, stop blaming developers.        

  • M March 16, 2017 (1:06 pm)

    I live up 30th Ave SW. I would like to see a left hand turn signal installed for us who have to make a left at the intersection under the bridge at the light. I’ve almost been T boned so many times because you cannot see who is coming from Harbor Ave in the right hand lane going straight toward Avalon. Summertime is the WORST. 

  • lox March 16, 2017 (1:44 pm)

    I’m all for cyclist and pedestrian safety, but part of that depends on creating safer roadways. We need our streets fixed before we can truly improve them. All the markings and special lane assignments in the world won’t create safer roads when they are literally falling apart. Delridge and 35th are in deplorable condition, just to name a few.

    I also agree with the commenter regarding bush trimming. This should be basic maintenance, not something we need special “project” money set aside for.


    • Neighbor March 16, 2017 (7:20 pm)

      Your first statement is contradictory. Roadway safety done properly addresses safety for all users. That is pedestrians, cyclist and drivers as opposed to just drivers of car, trucks and other large motorized things. 

    • Jort Sandwich March 17, 2017 (1:49 pm)

      When you say, “safer roads,” are you implying that potholes are a leading contributor to traffic deaths and injuries?

      Because, actually, conflicts between vehicles and bicycles cause significantly more deaths and injuries than conflicts between cars and potholes…

  • Wsmom March 16, 2017 (1:44 pm)

    I would feel bad for Lunapark and the other businesses there if any more parking is taking away.  It’s hard enough as it is to get something to eat there since the parking was overtaken by rapid ride.

    And I would love to see some more round abouts installed especially with tricky intersections.

  • WSEA March 16, 2017 (1:49 pm)

    This is an awesome fix.   I bike from spokane (on the bike trail) and need to cross harbor to get up 30th or go left up avalone and have “almost” been hit many times by cars turning right off spokane.   Its not a safe location for drivers, bikers or pedestrians but this may change that. 

    Also, the graphic looks incorrect since spokane should go into 30th but the street looks to far north. 

  • alkistu March 16, 2017 (2:04 pm)

    This a very well thought out fix. We need to give some major credit to Don Brubeck and the West Seattle Bike Connections a partner project of Sustainable West Seattle.

    • sbre March 16, 2017 (8:38 pm)

      I’m raising my mug to WSBC!!!

  • Donna March 16, 2017 (2:17 pm)

    Seeing as the mayor has only one thing on his mind, BIKES, I don’t think they will spend any money on anything else, god forbid they repaired the roads or anything else useful. 

    • Jort Sandwich March 17, 2017 (1:52 pm)

      Cycling improvements consist of about 0.3 percent of the city’s annual transportation budget.

      If the mayor is waging a “war on cars” in favor of bikes, it doesn’t look like he’s doing a very good job…

      • Neighbor March 18, 2017 (10:00 am)

        Right on, Jort! Keeping it real. 

  • Donna March 16, 2017 (2:18 pm)

    Funny ever since they redid Admiral Way for all the bikers, I hardly see anyone ever going up it.  So much for spending the money to fix that

    • alkistu March 16, 2017 (5:06 pm)

      I ride the Admiral bike lane almost daily for over 20 years. I see many bikes a day riding up Admiral. Before the bike lane it was a tight squeeze between all the used cars for sale and the uphill car traffic most of which exceed 40 mph. I find it much safer now. You will see a lot more bicycle traffic as the weather gets better. If you don’t it is probably because you are driving 40-50 mph. (Oh yes it happens all the time) I don’t have a gym membership. I have the Admiral hill on my daily commute. It’s like “organic exercise”. 

    • Kathy March 16, 2017 (5:12 pm)

      OK, if you are going to hijack this thread, I’ll bite. Funny, I was just talking to someone at the Fauntleroy Boulevard Walk and Talk today (a fellow Alki Resident) who was saying how the changes on Admiral Way, have made it much easier to cross Admiral. Cars are actually starting to stop for pedestrians now where before the project,  they never stopped. I use the bike lane to do all my errands up on California. And I feel safer opening my car door when parked on Admiral because the bike lane keeps the cars closer to the center line. I watch out for bikes in the lane before opening my door, of course. Now I kind of forgot what your complaint was.

      • Kathy March 16, 2017 (5:17 pm)

        …Oh, yes, money. If people hadn’t fought the Admiral Way project tooth and nail, it would have been much less expensive. But that’s the famous “Seattle Process” so you have to pay for that.

        • JSRamels March 18, 2017 (6:38 am)

          This statement is just not true.  The cost of the Admiral Way construction was not a function of community involvement.  We live in an era when anyone can say anything.  If you would rather live in place with no opportunities for feedback by the communities most involved,  just wait a bit.

          • Kathy March 18, 2017 (1:32 pm)

            I attended 5 meetings about the Admiral Way West restriping project. Each meeting had paid SDOT staff present, not to mention all the re-design based on community feedback at each meeting. So yes, the Seattle process is more expensive than SDOT just configuring the street in the most efficient, safest way (which is the way many other cities approach street design). I am not arguing against the Seattle process, just stating the fact that it is more expensive. When people complain about the money spent on these projects, they need to keep this in mind.

    • Jort Sandwich March 17, 2017 (1:53 pm)

      Funny, I’m also not seeing the alleged 17-hour traffic backups that the lane eliminations were supposedly going to cause, either.

  • Mark March 16, 2017 (2:28 pm)

    As bike rider that rides this corridor frequently, no need for a bike signal.  Traffic backs up extensively already especially during the summer.  As a bike rider I simply make eye contact with the motorist and traverse with traffic, not too difficult.

    • Neighbor March 16, 2017 (4:35 pm)

      What!? It’s up to the cyclist to make eye contact with the driver!?  West or eastbound, it is difficult to make eye contact with the driver if they chose not  see you. This intersection needs a protected signal time for peds and cyclists  because of all the drivers who never stop and look, even while they have the red light. The only times I see someone stop westbound, here before 

      • Neighbor March 16, 2017 (4:36 pm)

        …is when they go straight. 

    • Kathy March 18, 2017 (1:45 pm)

      I am curious how you make eye contact with drivers in cars with illegally tinted windows who seem to love to cruise Alki.

  • misoginger March 16, 2017 (2:32 pm)

    Improving bike safety in that intersection is paramount! The crosswalk at Alki Trail across Harbor is dangerous even when the “walk” symbol is displayed due to vehicles turning right and not noticing crosswalk users. Also, it’s difficult for trail users to see ped/bike traffic coming/going around the corner there.

    Additionally, the amount of time for the “walk” symbol to travel across Spokane twice (the bridge exit and entrance roadways) between Harbor and Avalon (east side of street) is too short. I run that intersection and only make it half way before it begins to flash red. Vehicles RARELY yield to crosswalk users and I have nearly been taken out numerous times in that area.

  • Blinkyjoe March 16, 2017 (2:44 pm)

    12 year W Seattle to Downtown bike commuter. Looks like a fairly good solution. The classic left turn from the Alki bike lane to Avalon is partially solved. But will it be a push-button activated signal or what? I like the idea of a roundabout much better, but that would require re-engineering the whole intersection. 

  • Raye March 16, 2017 (3:11 pm)

    Improve signage – as in clarify and make more prominent. Signage in Seattle is the worst and most confusing I’ve seen in any city I’ve lived. And don’t get me started on parking signs!

  • dsa March 16, 2017 (5:40 pm)

    352k cannot be correct for a few ramps, stripes, loss of parking, etc.

  • Don Brubeck March 16, 2017 (6:58 pm)

    The most important part of this project for us is helping drivers of cars see people on foot and on bikes who are waiting to cross Harbor from the east side. Right now, if you are driving west down the Harbor/Avalon off-ramp in anything lower than a tall SUV, it is really hard to see people over the guardrail, especially because the crosswalk is far away from the corner. So, cutting back the barrier and replacing it with a transparent barrier will help everybody.  Changing the vegetation is to help people on foot and on bikes see each other coming around the tight corner from the Alki Trail to the West Seattle Bridge trail. The signal changes will help avoid car/bike and car/pedestrian conflicts.

    Also, after talking to Luna Park business owners, we modified the proposal so no parking will be removed on Avalon.  We talked with Nucor Steel, too, to make sure that nothing will interfere with turning the corner in their big trucks. 

  • Robin March 17, 2017 (6:18 pm)

     I would like to see the bike route go along terminal 5 property and come out at jack block park.  I recall using that route in the early 90’s. The existing route has a lot of hazards at the Avalon intersection that are not going to be fixed with paint and signals.

    • Neighbor March 18, 2017 (10:08 am)

      That would be perfect for those headed to Alki! Yet it does nothing for this intersection where cyclist and pedestrians have to come into conflict with many bad drivers. Drivers who don’t stop properly at the stop bar or look before turning right on red. What about closing that area off to cars and having them only exit at Admiral or Fauntleroy? If you can consider making a huge detour for cyclist why not for cars?

  • Junction Lady March 19, 2017 (10:30 am)

    Thank you!  Aesthetically, that intersection is lacklustre at best. Visual improvements and user friendliness are appreciated.

  • Perry W April 5, 2017 (8:56 am)

    A n”No Right on Red” would be a quick and somewhat effective stop gap until these needed improvements can be completed. 

  • Seabruce April 5, 2017 (2:37 pm)

    Wish they would reinstate the bus stop on the approach to West Seattle Bridge alongside Nucor (maybe as a Rapidride stop?) so people could use the park and ride under the bridge.

Sorry, comment time is over.