FOLLOWUP: SDOT says it will ‘accelerate’ additional changes at 59th/Admiral

(WSB photo from Monday morning)

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.

23 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: SDOT says it will 'accelerate' additional changes at 59th/Admiral"

  • V October 11, 2017 (4:59 pm)

    Someone blew through the intersection today and I had to slam on my brakes when turning left onto 59th. The current set up is not working great.

  • sgs October 11, 2017 (5:46 pm)

    I hope SDOT will also consider how this improves safety for the drivers crossing Admiral from the north or the south at this intersection.  Without the all stop, it was difficult to make that crossing.  Yes, the pedestrians are the top priority, but I’ve felt safer making those turns with the all stop.

  • wetone October 11, 2017 (8:40 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.”

     So this is not the one of the designs people were shown and voted on. Why then does SDOT spend money and time to give options they can’t produce ?   Would be curious to how much this art work and  59th & Admiral intersection project is costing the tax payers. So many streets and bridges need work and this is where SDOT is spending it’s money and resources. SDOT is out of control and needs new leadership that can hire and direct it’s workforce properly.

  • Don Brubeck October 11, 2017 (9:15 pm)

    To put this intersection in context, you might want to see a recent traffic safety study focusing on areas around schools.  Highlights: ” 88% of Americans use their phones while driving – definitely a contributor to the one in three drivers
    showing unsafe pickup or dropoff behavior in school zones. Since
    distracted driving is a major contributor to traffic deaths, it’s no
    wonder that last year’s spike in traffic deaths was the biggest in the last fifty years.
    As kids are increasingly getting to school on foot, bike, and bus, it’s
    on us to take responsibility for their safety when driving near

    • dsa October 12, 2017 (12:44 am)

      What is the collision history at this intersection anyway?

    • Guy Olson October 12, 2017 (11:38 am)

      Thank you Don!

  • alkistu October 11, 2017 (11:08 pm)

    Traffic fatalities, disabling injuries and property damage surpass gun fatalities and collective damage. We should keep this in mind every time we get behind the wheel. Put down the phone and for God’s sake drive the speed limit. If we need roving cameras to baby sit these adult drivers then so be it.

    • Guy Olson October 12, 2017 (11:39 am)

      Well said Stu!

  • Tim October 12, 2017 (1:21 am)

    The number one issue here is that none of this was an issue until the city and SDOT came in the middle of the night and made this change with little notice.  Alki isn’t immune to any of this, but we had a controlled intersection with 20 seconds of safe crossing time when the pedestrian crossing signal was activated. No public hearing, no engineering study was held, not a single public option. I live on one of the corners of that intersection and went out the last two nights and recorded video of motorists driving through the intersection and ignoring the lights. I even got a city employee in a marked SDOT vehicle ignoring the stop sign on 59th, making a left turn onto Admiral (west).

    Dawn’s responses are smoke and mirrors; I’ve also emailed her several times along with Lisa Herbold and have gotten no response. I’ll paraphrase her email above: “We are speeding up our 6 month review because we made things worse and are going to make a few minor changes that we hope will convince you have corrected the problem”. In reality, in another year or so they will spend more money to fix the mess they created the first time.

    • BKRDT October 12, 2017 (9:33 am)

      I agree that this intersection was reasonable before and it is horrible now. Can’t they make it back how it used to be?

    • Brad October 17, 2017 (4:00 pm)

      I agree completely…well said

  • Tim October 12, 2017 (1:28 am)

    Here’s more

    • gadams03 October 12, 2017 (9:33 am)


      Amazing footage. It’s what I’ve seen every day I drive from alki to grocery store through this intersection. Thanks!


  • Rico October 12, 2017 (11:31 am)

    SDOT means

    Stop Don’t Offer Thoughts


     Still Doesn’t Offer Transparency 

  • Mr. Obvious October 12, 2017 (12:42 pm)

    You people are not looking at the big BIG picture.  What we have here is a potential cash cow for the city if they put in a stop sign camera.  Make extra bank on the backs of the summer visitors plus a few locals who are not paying attention.  There you go, surely the money collected will be used to lower property taxes and car tab fees.  Think of the children.

  • Michael G October 12, 2017 (1:45 pm)

    That’s a good one Mr.Obvious. Thanks for the laugh!

  • Alkiliver October 12, 2017 (3:32 pm)

    A reporter from KING was on the news today at this intersection.  He was talking with the people that were showing what a mess this has become. The reply from the city was that they’d move the stop signs closer to the travel lanes and that would help thing’s. Lord help us.

    • WSB October 12, 2017 (3:42 pm)

      Yes, we heard TV had followed up on our story. The “reply from the city” is what’s in this story as published yesterday afternoon, and shown above, including the stop sign move. – TR

    • AdmiralWayResident October 12, 2017 (5:37 pm)

      Don’t forget the paint. Adding more paint to the intersection is totally going to solve all the problems. /sarcasm 

  • Jort October 12, 2017 (4:16 pm)

    I see the parents are asking for automated red light and speeding tickets! I support these parents!!

    Every person in Seattle should get an automatic ticket if they exceed the speed limit, no matter where they are, what time of day it is, or what they’re driving. The speed limit is the law — even when cops aren’t there to enforce it. 

  • AlkiDad October 12, 2017 (10:42 pm)

    I agree that the prior light set up was safer crossing Admiral with the activated crosswalk. However a return to the old system is not optimal at the other unmarked crosswalks that see plenty of pedestrians at peak periods of the day.  There is no marked cross walk across the south leg of 59th where the street is divided and has Handford emptying into the northbound lane of 59th.  The current setup is a mess for all the reasons already mentioned by the Alki Parents’ TSTF.  However, a return to the old system still leaves pedestrians quite vulnerable crossing 59th.  I frequently cross 59th with a walking schools bus of 5-8 kids. Cars frequently try to sneak infront of and behind the group due to the long length of the crossing I’ve seen cars do this even with the crossing guard waving the flags at the cars to wait for the kids to cross. Furthermore as others have pointed out, the old pedestrian activated light did little to assist cars turning onto Admiral from 59th in either direction – this has improved with the 4 way stop. This is why we need to support the recommendations from the Alki Parent’s TSTF which is currently the only solution that seems optimal for both pedestrians and motorists. Lastly, its entirely inconceivable why SDOT doesn’t have the large flashing yellow light school zone signs on Admiral that are around every other school I drive by.

  • Alki Res October 13, 2017 (12:54 pm)

    This is frustrating. Sounds like sdot plans on following through on their agenda rather than compromise. Why are they not responsive to we who live in the neighborhood AND pay their salaries? Also, let’s not forget about the summer foot and vehicle traffic and street parking. That will be another mess that they didn’t test. 

  • WSmom October 17, 2017 (3:37 pm)

    As someone who does not drive that way frequently, just the occasional trip to Alki, when they first put the signs up I found it really confusing.  And it seemed like many others were confused too.

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