4:37 PM: We reported Tuesday on Alki Elementary parents’ concerns about safety at the 59th SW/SW Admiral Way intersection since its conversion to an all-way stop. SDOT had told the parents, who formed a Traffic Safety Task Force for the school, that they would evaluate the intersection over a six-month period before deciding whether to make more changes or revert to the way it used to work, including a pedestrian-activated stoplight. The task-force parents met with SDOT reps at the intersection yesterday, including Safe Routes to School point person Brian Dougherty, and now SDOT has just sent this update from spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg:
I wrote to [the list who received this update] a couple of weeks ago sharing what we’d been hearing and were observing with the new all-way stop in at 59th Ave SW & SW Admiral Way. Since that time, the most common concern we’ve received is that people driving begin to roll through this large intersection before people walking start, or complete their crossing. We share your concerns and are dedicated to improving the intersection for pedestrians.
Since the all-way stop was installed in late August, we started collecting data. Our evaluation of the all-way stop will ultimately include an assessment of stop compliance, speeds, turning movement, and pedestrian counts. So far, we have collected speed data, turning movement counts, and pedestrian counts. Based on this data, we have seen pedestrian volumes comparable to pre-installation with a preference for crossing Admiral on the east leg, where the crosswalk is marked. We’ve also seen a decrease in speeds along SW Admiral Way since the street was restriped in late 2016. That being said, we’ve made the decision to accelerate some of the other proposed improvements, including:
• Relocating the stop sign on the west leg closer to the intersection for improved visibility
• Marking the crosswalks across 59th Ave SW to further alert people driving that pedestrians may be crossing
• Adding painted curb extensions (see design selected by the community below) on the northeast corner, southwest corner, and median island on 59th Ave SW to help reduce the size of the intersection
We expect these changes to be made by the end of the year. We’ll continue to evaluate operations at the intersection over a six-month period.
Schellenberg’s e-mail included this image to show the “design selected by the community”:
…but, checking WSB archives, we note that it’s not the one announced in August, nor was it among the three offered for a vote in June. We’ve asked a followup question for clarification. We’re also contacting the task-force parents to get their reaction to today’s announcement.
ADDED 6:39 PM: Regarding the design, SDOT’s Schellenberg replied, “Based on the design selected, we worked with the material fabricator and our Arts person to create a design as close as possible.”
ADDED 11:25 PM: Here’s the response from the Traffic Safety Task Force, via Merkys Gomez, who we contacted for comment:
We had sent an email to Dawn Schellenberg on 10.07.2017, and her email today was unresponsive to our questions, misses critical concerns raised by members of the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary, and continues to push through an agenda to continue with an all-way stop, to which we, and area residents, are opposed.
We met with Brian Dougherty of SDOT on 10.10.2017, and he was able to witness first hand the issues that we are experiencing on a daily basis with the intersection, including the near-misses which are not being captured by SDOT’s data. We agreed to
* adequately marking the school zone (per SDOT’s school signage),
* reactivating the light on Admiral, and
* painting and later raising with concrete the median on 59th that separates the north and south lanes on the south side.
Those changes are necessary for the immediate safety of this intersection while we work toward an ultimate goal to install an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated, with no turn on red arrows, and red light and speeding cameras to ticket violations, especially during the school commute. Given the nontypical nature of that intersection, this is the best solution to improve pedestrian to driver and driver to driver communication and safety. Dawn’s email today makes no mention of our agreement with Brian. We’re talking about an intersection where the primary users are children getting to and from school. Their safety is more important than meeting an exact numerical quota. One child lost is one death too many.