FOLLOWUP: What’s next for 59th/Admiral after sudden predawn reversal of all-way-stop configuration

We took that photo this morning before 8 am at 59th/Admiral, where, after weeks of concern over the effects of SDOT changing it to an all-way stop, a crew showed up pre-dawn and changed it back without warning or even a “traffic revision” sign (as subsequently reported in our morning traffic coverage). Then at noontime, we got a tip that a crew was back to add signs and do some other work, so we went over and found this:

Before that, we had asked SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg this morning what’s next for the intersection now that it’s suddenly been “changed back” – which doesn’t answer all the safety concerns that parents at nearby Alki Elementary had voiced. Her reply just arrived in the form of a copy of the following e-mail to them and other concerned parties:

Many of you have followed the SDOT ‘Signal to All-way Stop’ pilot project at SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW, installed August 31. As part of our Vision Zero efforts, the Department is considering alternative crossing designs at various intersections throughout the city. The SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW location was selected for an All-Way Stop, curb bulbs and additional marked crosswalks based on community input received through the SW Admiral Way Safety Project during the SDOT Walk and Talk last August; and a review of traffic volumes, operations and crossing use.

Once installed, we committed to monitoring the crosswalk for up to six-months to determine whether the new All-Way Stop design was a good fit for the intersection. Over the past month and a half, we collected feedback from community members as well as the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary regarding their concerns on how drivers and pedestrians are adjusting. Through our evaluation of the new design we concluded that the benefits of the All-Way Stop are similar to the original Pedestrian Signal. With that in mind, coupled with some community members’ concern, we decided to revert to the original design.

Unfortunately, an internal snafu within in the Department resulted in the premature start of the work. The community should have been alerted prior to the installation and ‘traffic revision ahead’ signs placed. We deeply regret any inconvenience this caused drivers and pedestrians this morning. Signs are now in place.

Going forward, here’s what you should except as we install phase 2 (see graphic below):

· Two decorative paint and post curb bulbs
· One decorative paint and post median at 59th Ave SW
· Two new crosswalks
· Two Flashing ‘School, 20MPH’ signs

As promised, we’ll accelerate installation of the curb bulbs, median and crosswalks to get them installed within the next two months, weather permitting. The flashing signs are expected to be installed during first quarter 2018, once equipment has arrived.

Councilmember González (Citywide, Pos. 9) and Councilmember Herbold (District 1) have engaged with us on this matter, and both continue to advocate for pedestrian safety along SW Admiral Way. We have committed to maintaining good communication with both Councilmembers, their staff, and the community; and they have conveyed the expectation that we work towards implementing solutions in lockstep with community.

We can note firsthand that the change without warning was a little more than “inconvenience” – going through the intersection both ways on Admiral at noontime, we experienced near-collisions both ways involving people turning and expecting us to stop. Meantime, here’s the graphic Schellenberg mentioned:

The initial change to an all-way stop was also installed pre-dawn, but that was with four weeks of warning that the change was going to happen. It’s all a followup to the rechannelization of much of Admiral west of California, with initial work done a year-plus ago.

32 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What's next for 59th/Admiral after sudden predawn reversal of all-way-stop configuration"

  • Virginia Radel October 25, 2017 (4:18 pm)

    Why don’t tgey install 3 cycle lights. Traffic would flow better,  it would slow those drivers who choise to drive above the speed limit, and allow safe crossing for the children and adult pedestrians.

    • Tim October 25, 2017 (10:56 pm)

      All of us on the neighborhood task force have tried to convince SDOT and the city council many times over to install traffic lights controlling all 4 directions of travel but we’ve been told numerous times that the intersection does not meet federal guidelines for one consisting of traditional 3 cycle traffic lights. The short answer though, is that would make sense. Looking back at all of this, does any of it make sense?

  • sw October 25, 2017 (4:20 pm)

    An “internal snafu” is nowhere near a reasonable explanation for the dangerous situation that was created this morning.  I’d refer to it more as “negligence.”  Ms. Schellenberg and your Council Members need to hear this from the community.

    • Tim October 25, 2017 (10:58 pm)

      Oh they have, trust me. Extensively too and our criticism, feedback, and video footage has been relentless and that’s why they changed it back

  • Mark October 25, 2017 (4:29 pm)

    A traffic control signal is not warranted. 

    Instead of painted islands raised islands would be better, but SDoT squandered resources on the unwarranted all way stop. This money could have been spent for raised island bulbs!

  • JB October 25, 2017 (4:34 pm)

    I was almost just in an accident there as I was turning onto Admiral from 59th with the expectation that all had to stop.

    • BBB October 25, 2017 (5:52 pm)

      Yup…I just did the exact same thing!  The guy going through the green light (who had to stop and honk) was at least a good sport yelling they just changed it today.  

      Pleased with this being reverted…but good grief.

    • driver8 October 26, 2017 (2:08 pm)

      Geez, I know, me too. I was slowing down to prepare to stop, and was confused when I didn’t see any signs or anyone stopping coming westbound on Admiral. Then this car with a spoiler came flying right up on my tail and aggressively tailgated me through and past the intersection, and the person trying to turn left nearly t-boned me. THEN on the way home, I slowed, still a little unsure about what was going on and knowing it was almost time for school to end, but I was still going at least 20-25, and very nearly got creamed by a Benz SUV flying up on my tail again. I am so furious about them not providing any information about what they were doing, no signs, anything. Snafu comes from an acronym, SNAFU–situation normal, all f***ed up. I guess that describes SDOT to a T.

  • flimflam October 25, 2017 (4:41 pm)

    well that was fun. wonder what the total cost to taxpayers will be for this experience?

    • sb2780 October 26, 2017 (10:26 am)

      This is gross incompetence and bureaucracy at its worst. I shudder to think how the whole Fauntleroy Boulevard re-channelization will play out, especially if they decide to completely close Fauntleroy for over a year as suggested in SDOT’s plans. 

  • Craig October 25, 2017 (4:44 pm)

    I cant believe that no one has looked at moving the light so that it manages 4 way traffic instead of 2 way traffic.  Seems like an easy fix to me.  This setup falls right in line with the multitude of high volume 4 way intersections with no traffic controls in West Seattle.

  • wetone October 25, 2017 (5:19 pm)

    Wonder if the $970 mil move seattle levy would of failed would SDOT be spending this much time and money on a project such as this ?  Scott Kubly and much of his engineering group seem to be smart people ? But show no common sense and little experience. The road work SDOT is buying off  done by sub contractors is crazy. Spokane st viaduct recently rebuilt is in terrible shape and requires constant patchwork and 4th ave resurfacing project just finishing up is terrible.  I won’t even mention the tunnel project that is the most unpractical and expensive roadway in Wa. that will be a billion over by the time it’s all done . And people wonder why taxes keep going up…….

  • shufflerunner October 25, 2017 (5:22 pm)

    You’re not kidding about a sudden change. They changed it while I was entering the crosswalk and was almost hit by a car because of it. The two guys working on it didn’t provide any warning. 

  • katy October 25, 2017 (5:49 pm)

    Besides the sudden change this morning, I’m supportive of them switching it back to this light – and to the other proposed changes.  I think this will be so much better than the 4 way stop sign we have had over the past few months. 

  • michael October 25, 2017 (6:24 pm)

    If your hit admiral going south on 59th whats the protocol with the light? Is it right turn only? 

    • Alki Driver October 25, 2017 (8:33 pm)

      Great question! When on 59th at the stop sign, it’s hard to see if the light is green or red. So… should I just wait at the stop sign until there are no cars and book it, regardless of the light? The fact that I have to even ask is ridiculous. That being said, I am SO happy that there is a light again! That tells you just how bad it was.

      Perhaps the same reasoning was used when keeping my street a two way street despite the fact that when it fills up with cars on both sides, it becomes a crazy free for all game of chicken/who will back up first and will the person behind me also back up AND the person behind them. Oh, screw it (says frustrated driver) – I’ll just drive over the parking strip and on the SIDEWALK half a block towards Admiral while plowing over peoples landscaping. This has happened twice that I have seen – once when my daughter who was playing in our yard had to jump out of the way.

      Why are these obvious but seemingly disregarded traffic issues so difficult to correct?! 

      • Craig October 26, 2017 (7:57 am)

        Right…. this is exactly why tgey should just move the light 10 feet west so that it controls traffic on both 59th and Admiral.  I have never in my life seen a stop light/stop sign combo like this… of course there is confusion.

        • michael October 26, 2017 (9:05 am)

          Yes its the first I have seen like this. What would be your guess on how to approach it as it stands? I drive it every morning and can’t make sense of it again.  59th light needs to be added to the mix or a right turn only sign I am assuming. Its tricky.

          • KBear October 26, 2017 (12:10 pm)

            The traffic light is only for the traffic on Admiral. If you’re on 59th, you obey the stop sign. If there are no pedestrians in the crosswalk, it’s legal to turn onto Admiral even if the light is red. Think about how a 4-way traffic light works when you’re turning. The cross traffic’s light doesn’t suddenly apply to you in the middle of your turn.

  • KT October 25, 2017 (7:29 pm)


  • Anonymous October 25, 2017 (7:48 pm)

    This is very disappointing.  I felt safer crossing all parts of the intersection when drivers were forced to stop.  Drivers fly down admiral and it makes me very nervous with all the pedestrians around.  Sad to see that the need for speed has prevailed.  

    • Tim October 25, 2017 (11:05 pm)

      You were one of the few lucky ones. I took this yesterday while crossing the street after getting off the bus:

      And this one two nights ago. It’s a mashup from four hours of footage, and there was plenty more of it, there just wasn’t a need to add any more footage.

      I live on the SE corner there and watched collisions nearly happen daily, drivers blatantly disregard the stop sign, including Metro operators and city workers. With a 20 second walk signal, you are far better off, trust me.

  • JayDee October 25, 2017 (7:49 pm)

    I admit living on 56th uphill I would feint a right onto 59th then crank on to Hanford EB up the hill when there was little 59th traffic. I hope that can happen in the future. Hard to tell from the semi-scale drawing SDOT offers.

  • Norene Elysium October 25, 2017 (8:25 pm)

    “Vision Zero.” That sums it up.

  • Josh October 25, 2017 (8:34 pm)

    Seattle has messed up pretty much every major road and intersection in West Seattle over the past several years.  It started with cutting down the number of lanes on Fauntleroy and putting in bicycle lanes.  Lately, it has been cutting down the number of lanes on other major streets, installing bicycle lanes, and marking dual lanes at the intersection specifically for left turns, right turns, and straight traffic.  The result is that traffic everywhere backs up significantly as the number of lanes has been cut throughout the area and the intersections are bottle necked.   The only thing it is good for is promoting mass transit.   And, that appears to be the City’s intent, i.e.  to promote mass transit and discourage driving by making it so painful that no one wants to drive anywhere.  

    • Jort October 26, 2017 (9:42 am)

      Hi Josh,

      No city in the recorded history of human civilization has ever been able to “solve” traffic congestion. As Seattle continues to add more and more residents, it needs to adopt a transportation system that is scalable and sustainable. There is no feasible or possible way — whatsoever — for us to expect that every single citizen should rely on a private, personal automobile to meet their transportation needs. This is an issue of simple geometry: cars take up space, and we don’t have extra space to give.

      Downtown Seattle has seen explosive growth in the use of alternative transportation for commuters. I assure you this growth is not attributable to any concerted efforts to make it easier and easier for people to drive their own cars to downtown.

      So, in fewer words: Yeah. SDOT is going to make driving so painful that the choice to drive is more painful than the choice to use alternative transportation. Yeah, SDOT is going to prioritize transportation methods that are more efficient and better for the public good than the individualized needs of the private car driver. Yeah — driving will be extremely painful.

      I hate to break it to you, but in Seattle — just like every other major city on the planet Earth that has faced this problem — it will never, ever be “easier to drive.” And there is literally nothing you or anybody else can do, or will ever be able to do, to solve this. This is something you will need to learn to accept.

      I’ll save you a seat on the bus!!

  • Wsrez October 26, 2017 (12:29 am)

    WSB coverage showed a motorcycle officer waiting to catch stop sign runners when it was first implemented. Maybe just warnings were given but if any tickets were given, I wonder if refunds are possible given how this all turned out.

    • Kathleen October 26, 2017 (10:54 pm)

      I was one if the “lucky” recipients of a traffic ticket here despite fully stopping on Admiral going SB. Apparently I stopped too early in the intersection? I really am not sure and didn’t want to argue with the officer. I planned on requesting a hearing contesting the infraction but now my ticket cannot even be found in the system and there is no record of it so not sure if they are just vacating all the violations or what is happening.

  • UpperAlki October 26, 2017 (6:43 am)

    It’s a stop sign. We all should be able to figure this out. Drive slowly, be careful!

  • Dizzy October 26, 2017 (7:19 am)

    Drivers can barley understand how a regular four way stop works, what makes them think this would have worked out?

  • John H October 26, 2017 (10:17 pm)

    So the crew that showed up to make the changes just went ahead and did it anyways even though there were no traffic revision warning signs placed?  Whomever was in charge didn’t know that no traffic revision warning signs had been placed?    The crew was mistakenly given a job by someone who clearly didn’t know what was going on?   This is the kind of stuff that reinforces the negative views of public employees.  

    Also, why do we need the “painted curb bulbs” and median paint?  What purpose do those serve?  There’s enough confusing paint on the road as it is right now.

    The pedestrian-activated traffic light should be a yellow flashing light instead of green when it’s not red.

    This is not rocket science folks, it’s basic project management (or lack thereof in this case).

Sorry, comment time is over.