FOLLOWUP: Fact-finding visit in advance of mayor’s now-postponed Highland Park visit

(WSB photos. Foreground from left, HPAC vice chair Gunner Scott, mayor’s rep Kyla Blair, HPIC board member Kay Kirkpatrick, pas HPAC co-chair Michele Witzki, HPAC chair Charlie Omana, Dutchboy Coffee’s Jenni Watkins)

Mayor Jenny Durkan‘s promised visit to Highland Park has been postponed – Highland Park Action Committee still meets June 27th as usual, but will feature other guests. However, a member of her staff, Kyla Blair, kept her date to meet with HPAC leadership and other community advocates to scout out top concerns – particularly the SW Holden/Highland Park Way traffic mess.

We were invited to go along with the delegation as they walked Blair down from Highland Park Improvement Club (12th/Holden) to the problem-plagued intersection during the Wednesday morning outbound commute. They got to show her, firsthand, driver cut-throughs on side streets (above, SW Portland) to escape the logjam at the intersection.

And they told the story of the roundabout that has gone unfunded, despite a state grant application that had high-profile support plus more than 400 community members’ petition signatures. The mayor’s assistant got to see students and others crossing Highland Park Way without benefit of a crosswalk.

The roundabout saga is just the latest in 80 years of traffic concerns at the intersection, as shown in city records – and in WSB coverage (a few high-profile crashes were brought up). Overall, there’s long been a “lack of city investment” in Highland Park, as HPAC chair Charlie Omana described it. “It’s a historically redlined neighborhood,” vice chair Gunner Scott added. Durkan’s predecessor Ed Murray visited for one of his Find It, Fix It Walks last year, but little has resulted. Meantime, as noted along the way, both Highland Park Way and Holden are seeing redevelopment, further adding to traffic.

Though the actual walk on Wednesday morning had to be limited to the Highland Park Way/Holden visit, there was also discussion about the need for improvements at 16th/Holden; Jenni Watkins, in her second year of operating Dutchboy Coffee at that intersection, talked about seeing crashes and helping people who got hurt. Before long, Blair had to get back to City Hall, and promised she’d convey what she heard. Meantime, Omana will be booking a new date for the mayor’s visit.

6 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Fact-finding visit in advance of mayor's now-postponed Highland Park visit"

  • Melissa June 15, 2018 (10:15 am)

    Thanks West Seattle Blog for the coverage 

  • RC June 15, 2018 (11:10 am)

    Thanks for the updates. Glad to see these issues getting some coverage!

  • Truthteller June 15, 2018 (11:47 am)

    I drive this way most mornings and it’s always a mystery to me why the city hasn’t put in a green left turn signal and stop light.  On a rainy winter morning you take your life into your hands turning NE onto Highland Park Way. The people who cut into the side streets are people who have been sitting there forever. ‘It is such a simple fix to me…we need more green arrow turn lights at major arterial intersections. I’ve written to DOT, the Mayors office, Lisa Herbolds office and many more individual city employees and this is what I learned. DOT did a traffic study in 2016 for changes in 2019 and nothing else will be considered. When I inquired specifically about Fauntleroy and 35th. They said they base the green left turn arrow on the number of accidents. I asked them how many accidents and was unable to get the information. I had to email another department to get that. But here is my conundrum. If u do a study in 2016 slated for 2019. The work to be completed when? In the meantime we have unbridled permitting for additional apartments and townhouses, we never catch up. 5 green arrow turn lights in our community would go such a long way. If this city is such a boom town why are we not able to do this?

    • Michele June 15, 2018 (7:31 pm)

      Truthteller.  You are asking some really good questions.  I think the first study they did dated back to 2013 or 2014.  The roundabout became the preferred alternative because it would have a traffic calming effect.  With a red light, the traffic gets backed up and people become impatient and cut through the neighborhood.  With a roundabout people will still be moving.  For those coming down 9th, it will have a traffic calming effect.  This will be good because people won’t be going as fast on the top of the hill.I would address your concerns to the City’s customer service bureau.  They will monitor your email and make sure you get a response from SDOT.  They also keep records of how many complaints they get.

  • JW June 15, 2018 (11:51 am)

    Thanks for the coverage—I’m on one of those cut-through streets and it’s pretty insane here between about 7:30am and 9am. This has been a problem as long as I’ve lived here. 

  • Mflash June 18, 2018 (12:23 pm)

     The city needs to take steps…how about new street surface painting, new signage, new blinking light stating a high accident intersection? Just take a look at what cities in Europe do…..large stripes/bright colors and “pay attention” graphics….What is it going to take? The neighborhood has spoken and the accidents keep mounting up!

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