WHAT’S NEXT FOR 35TH SW: Phase 2 later this year, says city report

We’ve been trying to get an update on Phase 2 of SDOT‘s 35th Avenue SW project, which has gone without a public update for 9 months now, since an “open house” last August and a followup walking tour. Today, we found an update in the Vision Zero progress report published as part of the agenda for the City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee meeting Friday morning. The report includes summaries of several road-redesign projects around the city, including 35th, which was rechannelized south of SW Holly in fall 2015:

35th Ave SW

On 35th Ave SW, a 1.75 mile redesign and speed limit change has reduced collisions and speeds.

Left-turn collisions have been virtually eliminated. The street redesign has also allowed SDOT to mark new pedestrian crossings.

While we’ve successfully reduced speeds on this street, it took some tinkering with signal timing and public feedback to get operations dialed in.

After initial implementation, we nearly eliminated collision types like sideswipes and left turn crashes.

We did, however, see an increase in rear-end crashes, on Saturdays in particular (which is not uncommon with projects of this nature). We collected additional data and began tweaking signal timing on Saturdays. Since then, we’ve improved operations on 35th and rear-end crashes on the weekends are down by 72%.

To date, there have been zero serious or fatal collisions since redesigning the street.

We’ll release a before and after report in summer 2017 and our work on the northern segment of the corridor will begin in earnest shortly thereafter.

That’s the full text of what the new Vision Zero report says about 35th SW (you can find it on page 15 of the report). When the city held an open house last August, it had promised the next discussion of Phase 2 would be “early” this year.

40 Replies to "WHAT'S NEXT FOR 35TH SW: Phase 2 later this year, says city report"

  • WSeattleite May 10, 2017 (12:43 pm)

    Just don’t do it (phase 2).  If “safety” really is the end goal, then just plant grass over all of 35th, people can stay in bed, and then everyone is super safe.  Perceived safety needs to be balanced with the realities of living in a city that has transportation and mobility needs.

    • Jort Sandwich May 10, 2017 (2:43 pm)

      Oh no! It’s not “perceived” safety. It’s actual safety. 

      Do you want your child or loved one to be sacrificed in order to make sure we meet the “realities” of transportation? 

      I live near this street, and the 35th Ave road diet is a critical safety improvement. Drivers will adjust to the impacts, and me and my family will be safer when we use the street.

      There is no “right” to making your car trip as fast and obstacle-free as possible. But we all actually DO have the right to approach that street, whether on car or on foot, without fear of being killed or injured. 

      Road diets make streets safer, and this has been proven countless times in cities large and small, around the world, every time they happen. Seattle will adapt, just like everyone else.

  • Greystreet May 10, 2017 (1:12 pm)

    Counldn’t agree more WSeattlite

  • Mark May 10, 2017 (1:30 pm)

    Time to make 35th phase 2 5 lanes like Eastlake.  During off peak curb lane is parking

  • BJ May 10, 2017 (1:31 pm)

    I agree.  These numbers are misleading as some drivers have resorted to avoiding this part of 35th.  Also, I’ve noticed the road has rapidly deteriorated in the portion that has been minimized to one lane.  The city thinks they’re fixing a minor issue, but in reality they’re creating issues.  Wish they’d have left well enough alone. 

  • D Del Rio May 10, 2017 (1:33 pm)

    I’m not a fan of road diets, but if we must have them, could we repave the roads first? Also, whatever happened to the reflectors and botts dots that used to be placed on the painted lines? They sure helped with being able to see the lanes on our cloudy dark rainy days. Now that seems like a safety issue too! It seems we will end up wasting money doing it twice! 

    • KM May 10, 2017 (4:17 pm)

      I wonder if has something to do with the (lack of) longevity of these types of reflectors/bumps on the road. They appear to be easily chipped away by larger vehicles and when it happens, snowplows. Have you seen those below surface ones they have on WB I-90, just west of the pass? Absolutely the clearest markings/reflectors I’ve seen for night time driving. No clue the story behind them, cost, etc., but I’m thinking that’s the future.

  • Adr May 10, 2017 (1:33 pm)

    Thank you to the city for pursuing this. This project will make crossing 35th as a pedestrian and driver much safer. 

  • Paul May 10, 2017 (2:00 pm)

    As a driver, bus rider, and pedestrian on 35th, I look forward to Phase 2.  Hurry up!

  • Jack Sparra May 10, 2017 (2:01 pm)

    wonder how many of those accidents are now on 34th and 36th which is where everyone one I know travels to avoid 35th.  

    safer on the high seas!

    J Sparra

  • brian May 10, 2017 (2:01 pm)

    35th is way safer than it was before this project was undertaken. Ipso facto, this project is good and I support it continuing.

  • 35steve May 10, 2017 (2:44 pm)

    Happy w road diet so far. Look forward to more. 

  • Jort Sandwich May 10, 2017 (2:52 pm)

    Reduced collisions, reduced speeding, reduced sideswipes — and NO major collisions, NO fatalities since the road re-channelization on the southern half. This is a huge success for West Seattle! Just think of how fortunate we are that somebody’s family wasn’t torn apart by a completely preventable collision — all thanks to an improved road design that favors safety over speed.

    I am super excited for the road diet to come to the north side of 35th. This is a dangerous street, and people have died on it. Many years ago, old-timer traffic engineers believed that the “badge of honor” involved designing roadways that allowed as many cars as possible to get through as quickly as possible — which has led to disastrous results in terms of road safety.

    Kudos to forward-thinking engineers who are re-thinking the “old ways” of doing things, and instead prioritizing the safety of everyone who uses our streets.

  • Jort Sandwich May 10, 2017 (2:55 pm)

    Oh, I also have one more suggestion that I hope the traffic engineers will consider:

    You know those cool radar speed limit signs that flash when you’re going over the speed limit? The city of Los Angeles is testing a pilot program in which they use those signs to improve road safety in a different way.

    When the automated radar display sign registers that you’re going more than 5 mph over the speed limit, it triggers the next stoplight to turn red, forcing you to slow down and stop.

    I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it would be if we had a similar system for our signs here in West Seattle. The good news is that it’s super-duper easy to avoid getting stuck at a red light: don’t speed!

  • AA May 10, 2017 (3:14 pm)

    Let me get this straight. Before they repave it, which it desperately needs, they are going to spend probably a few hundred thousand dollars to repaint the lanes. After which they will tear it all up in 2 or 3 years at which point they will have to repaint the lanes again. Sound about right? And a stupid waste of money?

    • WSB May 10, 2017 (3:37 pm)

      Currently repaving 35th is not scheduled before 2023.

    • Ric May 10, 2017 (4:33 pm)

      Job security.

  • Mat May 10, 2017 (3:17 pm)

    Safer or not, shout out to the center turn lane! My anecdotal experience has been steadier speeds with a lot less of the stop and go of the past. 

    • PG May 10, 2017 (7:50 pm)

      That’s interesting.  I’ve actually felt the opposite (at least at my usual commute home at 4 pm).  It seems to me that the speed of traffic is much less consistent on the rechannelized section.   I find it rather stressful to drive.  If they are really going to rechannelize the rest, I hope they design a MUCH safer change from two lanes (at the bridge) to one lane.  The current section just south of Morgan feels very unsafe.  I am sorry to see Seattle going ahead with this.

  • KM May 10, 2017 (4:14 pm)

    I was neutral on the project at first, now I like it, both as a driver and pedestrian. I’m interested in how signal timing affected the Saturday rear-end crashes, this is intriguing.

  • flimflam May 10, 2017 (4:33 pm)

    of course it’s safer when nobody in a vehicle can actually move due to purposely constructed traffic jams.

  • Lynda May 10, 2017 (7:17 pm)

    Please add left turn only signals and timing as well. Morning traffic trying to turn left only allows one car which squeaks through the intersection as the light turns red. 

  • no more road diet nonsense May 10, 2017 (8:25 pm)

    Nooooooooooooooooo!  No more road diet!  Leave 35th the heck alone, WAY more than enough harm done!  

    • Jort May 10, 2017 (8:42 pm)

      Ever since the southern portion was re-striped, serious collisions were severely reduced and fatal accidents are at zero. The safety benefits are already apparent. “More than enough harm done?” To what? Your commute time? 

      The families who live in that area and use that street are objectively safer now than they were before. That’s an enormous step forward for our community. I’m sorry if that slows down your commute a little. Maybe you can take some joy in knowing that a child will grow to live a full life.

      • Christopher May 10, 2017 (11:39 pm)

        There once was a system where people owned rights over the roads in front of their houses, it is now referred to as feudalism.  The constant burden upon movers meant that commerce was very limited, and most people never travelled farther than 25 miles from their homes in an entire lifetime, causing them to live in dire poverty.  So in a modern society, just because you live on a road does not mean you should have the right to limit other people’s access to that road.

        • CAM May 11, 2017 (2:03 am)

          Nobody is limiting anyone’s access to a road. And just because roads are publicly owned does not give you the right to drive into someone else’s neighborhood and create a hazardous situation. 

  • TreeHouse May 10, 2017 (9:43 pm)

    I am really excited for this road diet! Thank you to our forward thinking city engineers. 

    The one thing I truly wish would start implementing on 35th is speed cameras. Automatic tickets to people speeding would turn that freeway back into a normal street.

  • New Thinking Needed May 10, 2017 (9:50 pm)

    Comment by BJ is spot on. “ I’ve noticed the road has rapidly deteriorated in the portion that has been minimized to one lane. “

    If you look at 35th where it remains 2 lanes, the pavement is in pretty good shape except for the right lane where the bus runs – that appears more worn. The section on 35th with the road diet has worn out the one lane. Same thing on Roxbury. The road diet section with one lane is a mess while the 2 lane section is not bad except for the  failing patch by the wetland park. 


  • Christopher May 10, 2017 (10:21 pm)

    Figures can liar, and Liars can figure.

    It is quite possible that accidents actually increased after the Road Diet was implemented.  Someone should ask them for full accident numbers.


    • dsa May 11, 2017 (12:17 am)

      Christopher, without looking if the crashes were exactly the same number as before, the frequency rate would be half what it was.  All the vehicles are in one lane instead of two.  So yes numbers don’t lie, but liars figure.

      • dsa May 11, 2017 (12:43 am)

        I meant frequency rate per lane, but they would leave that detail out too.

        • CAM May 11, 2017 (2:00 am)

          Frequency of accidents per lane if the number of accidents remains constant going from two lanes to one lane would actually make the number DOUBLE not be cut in half. Statistics don’t lie. The problem is people not understanding how statistics are calculated or what they mean. And I’m pretty sure the government is not lying to you about how many accidents there are, we are not living in a dystopian hellscape yet. 

          If the idea put forward is that the engineers should be considering total numbers of accidents within a 4 (just a random #) block range of 35th in the sections it was rechannelized than that seems like a reasonable and logical request, so long as you are measuring the same area before and after the road diet. But that doesn’t mean that a fender bender should be rated as equivalent to somebody spending time in the hospital.

          • dsa May 11, 2017 (11:24 am)

            I think we are both wrong.  Lets say in equal time periods there happen to be 50 incidents in two lanes.  That comes out to 25 each.  After a road diet you have 50 incidents in one lane but double the traffic assuming  no diversions as you pointed out.  That comes out to 50 halved because of twice the traffic.  

            Your last sentence is spot on the mark.

  • CAM May 11, 2017 (2:08 am)

    Interestingly, as a bus rider I expected there to be increased delays when waiting for the 21 after the road was rechannelized. Metro did not adjust the schedule and still had buses scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes most of the day. Amazingly, I have not noticed any increased waiting time or late arrivals (more than 1 or 2 minutes) on an average day. I have not observed the same thing everyone else has in terms of seeing this as significantly slowing traffic. Maybe that will be an observable consequence once the project is finished, or maybe not. 

  • Stop the Starvation Road Diet May 11, 2017 (9:00 am)

    Many readers have personally experienced that the road diet has dramatically increased road rage on 35th.  This actually endangers pedestrians trying to cross in front of drivers who have been waiting in line forever to turn right from the one diet lane onto a cross street.  

    Add street lights and crosswalks instead of further strangling 35th!

    Has anyone considered what this ill-considered road diet means for our exiting West Seattle in the case of an earthquake or other disaster? 

    • mcbride May 11, 2017 (12:39 pm)

      You mean, people who were previously inclined to drive angry and fast are now in an environment that causes them to drive angry and with the flow of traffic? I prefer this, but I would point out that the road is not the actual problem here.

      Crosswalks are not allowed on multi-lane streets such as northern 35th is currently. The good news is that the re-designed roadway will feature more of them. Another win.

      Your question, can emergency vehicles still utilize the roadway effectively, has been answered for both disaster and non-disaster scenarios. The answer is yes.

      • mcbride May 11, 2017 (1:03 pm)

        Whoops, apologies, misread your last statement.

        Exiting West Seattle during a disaster. This topic was covered by the WSTC and Lawrence “Eich” Eichorn (emergency planner for SDOT) over a year ago. First, totally disaster neutral, any mass egress of the peninsula will face the same choke points. Your disaster traffic problems are the same ones you experience every day.  The re-designed 35th roadway will not meaningfully influence this in any way, shape, or form. The only difference is that the earthquake we’re planning for will invalidate raised roadways (bridges, freeways, etc.). So, worse in that sense (you can only go south). A re-designed 35th won’t significantly factor into this scenario either.

        The more important distinction is that there are very few disasters that face the peninsula that are advisable to mass-evacuate from. Airborne hazard/contaminant being about the only one (Flooding/Tsunami, forest fire, and volcanic eruption/lahar are all out of scope). Even then, you’re better off with a shelter in place strategy. There’s many examples to choose from, the Red Cross is not a bad place to start: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/be-red-cross-ready.

    • Jort Sandwich May 11, 2017 (5:03 pm)

      If driving slower and safer is making drivers so angry that they’re becoming blinded by insatiable, bloodthirsty road rage, then maybe it’s time to hang up the keys. 

      We don’t design roads to accommodate people who want to drive like jerks. We design our roads so that people who want to be jerks are structurally prevented from causing damage and harming people. 

  • John Frog May 11, 2017 (1:58 pm)

    Safer? Not for all. As a motorcyclist, I ride the south section of I35 much less than before.  I have been tailgated too many times to count when I was traveling the speed limit, which apparently didn’t fit into other vehicles travel plans. While riding at the speed limit on my motorcycle on this section, I have been passed in both the parking lane and the turn lane. It’s scary braking for a yellow to red light when you can hear the car behind you accelerating .

  • j May 12, 2017 (1:47 am)

    Show me the numbers! 

    Last report (months ago) claimed huge success but numbers were nearly the same.

    Can’t leave proper following distance anymore cause of people slashing to turn in any sort of gap between train of cars.  Pedestrians crossing north/south at greater risk of being struck by vehicle due to changes and lack of visibility from car train. 

    Road way more dangerous now! 

Sorry, comment time is over.