FOLLOWUP: State says no, again, to Highland Park roundabout funding

(From WSB files, rough concept of proposed Highland Park roundabout)

2:34 PM: Though the city had hopes that the state would say “yes” to funding the Highland Park Way/Holden roundabout proposal, the answer’s in, and it’s “no.” After we got a tip from neighborhood advocate Michele Witzki, SDOT’s Jim Curtin confirmed the rejection:

We did not receive funding for the roundabout at Highland Park Way and SW Holden St. We’re reaching out to the granting agency to learn why our project was selected for funding. As we currently understand the situation, the project did not meet collision thresholds that the granting agency was looking for and our local matching funds were insufficient relative to the project cost.

We have briefed Councilmember Herbold’s office on the news and we intend to discuss our options for this project soon. In the meantime, SDOT continues to advance design with existing funds (we have $500K for planning and design) and will continue to pursue funding to enhance this intersection.

We have a message out to the councilmember asking for comment. The roundabout also had previously drawn support for Mayor Jenny Durkan, who said during her Highland Park visit in September that a “Plan B” would be found if the state said no. And the topic came up in our recent conversation with State Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Eileen Codypublished here last night – that they might be able to pursue a funding request via legislative action, if the grant application was denied (which now it has been). The city had previously committed some funding, including design dollars discussed a year and a half ago. And SDOT heard about traffic-safety concerns again at a Highland Park meeting just a month ago. The roundabout idea goes back at least six years.

ADDED 5:48 PM: Comment from Councilmember Herbold, in response to our inquiry: “It’s definitely disappointing news. We’ve been told that a combination of a larger local match and reducing the size of the project will make the project more competitive. We’ve got $500,000 of the City of Seattle’s match so far. I’ll be looking at ways to increase what I’ve already got earmarked in the City CIP. I understand that the community may be pursuing a Your Voice Your Choice proposal as well.”

22 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: State says no, again, to Highland Park roundabout funding"

  • Mj January 10, 2019 (3:16 pm)

    I lived a stones throw from the Holden Way at Highland Park for close to 20 years.  Frankly enhancing the existing channelization is the appropriate answer, the State has limited resources and is correctly allocating rsourced to higher priority projects.  

    • KayK January 10, 2019 (3:39 pm)

      Very disappointing news. It’s always hard to second guess these decisions since we weren’t party to what other projects and needs were on the table. As another person who has lived within a “stones throw” of the intersection for 20 years I have to say that I disagree with the previous comment. We have been discussing a neighbor generated proposal to do at least a mini round about that may help smooth out and clarify the flow of traffic there quickly and for less money. As we ramp up to the HALA buildup west of this intersection SDOT needs to address this issue and FUND IT.

      • Mike January 10, 2019 (8:23 pm)

        First we need drivers that know how to use a roundabout and not cut left on them hitting oncoming traffic and pedestrians.  2 nearly hit me today as I was walking by roundabouts on Beacon Hill.  It’s ridiculous, people won’t magically be better at driving and the issues won’t disappear if we add in roundabouts when people don’t use them appropriately.

        • John Smith January 10, 2019 (9:59 pm)

          Mike, are you sure that you were at a roundabout? A traffic circle is not a roundabout. If a vehicle can’t go all the way around a traffic circle, it *is* legal to go to the left of a traffic circle.

          • Sky King January 11, 2019 (2:27 am)

            SPD has also said it is permissible to make a left turn to the left of a traffic circle, without going all the way around, provided you yield to any other vehicles first (you must still also yield to pedestrians).  That is not permitted at roundabouts, but roundabout design tends to discourage it, anyway, so it isn’t usually an issue.

  • Kimbee January 10, 2019 (3:27 pm)

    Such disappointing and frustrating news for the community. Here’s to Durkan stepping up…

  • M. Spichette January 10, 2019 (3:55 pm)

    Glad to see the state wisely declining to throw away funds at this boondoggle.Rechannelization would be fine, a roundabout would be a circus of horrific proportions.

  • Trickycoolj January 10, 2019 (4:28 pm)

    It’s time for our city leaders to step up and fix this mess and stop pretending we’re going to get money from the state. Figure out something better than half a paint job that will scrape off the next time a snow plow comes through.  

  • W L T January 10, 2019 (5:18 pm)

    Glad the state isn’t wasting tax money. Wish I could say the same for the city.

  • Paget January 10, 2019 (6:09 pm)

    When I first moved to the neighborhood in 1987, my original nextdoor neighbor told me there used to be a stop “light” on that street…. or maybe it was where the 4- way stop sign is. Does anyone else know? She was the original homeowner so it was a long time ago. 

  • Joel January 10, 2019 (6:30 pm)

    90 million a year on homeless…..payouts of hundreds of thousands to Murray’s victims….500k plus and counting to defend Sawant’s personal lawsuits but can’t put a roundabout in at an intersection with many accidents.they shouldn’t need state money for something this small.  

  • KM January 10, 2019 (6:33 pm)

    That’s disappointing as hell. Wondering what the threshold is–a certain number of deaths at the intersection? :-/

    • Morgan January 10, 2019 (7:53 pm)


  • My two cents ... January 10, 2019 (7:32 pm)

    Maybe if Councilmember Herbold wasn’t trying to raise her profile in New York railing against Amazon and spent more time doing something than spouting off platitudes more progress would have been made  on this. Wait – sorry. Since this actually involves people driving it doesn’t cross the threshold of something worthy to care about.

    • Mr J January 10, 2019 (8:25 pm)

      Maybe instead of rude WSB comments you could run for District 1? You seem to be the expert on a almost everything . 

  • TJ January 10, 2019 (8:16 pm)

    TJ It will cause bigger backups :)

  • Melissa January 10, 2019 (8:23 pm)

    It is really disappointing.  Something needs to be done in that intersection to calm traffic.  Hope the City steps up with a plan B.  

  • Bryan Hillerman January 11, 2019 (6:29 am)

    In addition to the safety of this intersection there are major traffic delays that occur here due to the lack of any traffic control. The visibility is quite poor so you need to be cautious when making a turn, the whole thing is a consistent bottleneck through the day. I have seen backups from Highland Park Way to SW 16th on many occasions. Why is this not an issue worth solving?

  • Cindy January 11, 2019 (8:52 am)

    I live right up the street on Highland Park Way…to say I’m disappointed is an understatement.  My car was totaled while parked in front of my house by some yahoo who didn’t understand this intersection.  Since I’ve lived her (4 years now), there have been countless accidents, including one where the neighborhood had to be evacuated because apparently…there is a gas main close to the intersection.  Does someone have to die here to get help?  Also, while I’m at it…why are there so many huge delivery trucks on this street?  They are tearing it up!

  • PATRICE January 11, 2019 (11:04 am)

    $500,000 for design and planning…why don’t they use that money and just downsize the project to make the intersection safer. Reconfigure the lanes make them well and call it good.

  • Scott Batson January 15, 2019 (4:33 pm)


      Mini-roundabouts are less
    common in North America, but frequently used in the UK. 
    Their footprint is smaller, making them
    suitable for retrofit situations with right of way constraints (and lower cost).
     They are also commonly used where truck
    U-turns are not needed, so achieve all the safety benefits of compact modern
    roundabouts at a much lower cost.  They are all truck apron, and in the UK are sometimes just
    paint on the road.



    432, Kelso, WA (5 days to build):

  • WildBlue January 16, 2019 (8:00 pm)

    I agree with Scott.  A mini-roundabout is the best traffic solution, and depending on how plain or fancy, it can be built within the existing $500,000 budget that SDOT now has allocated just for large roundabout planning and design.  That large roundabout, if you really look at how it impacts traffic, was not the best idea.  That design proposed to eliminate two existing lanes that now bypass and keep traffic out of the intersection (southbound (SB) Highland turn lane to westbound (WB) Holden, and northbound (NB) Highland through lane) and merge all that traffic into the one-lane roundabout.  Imagine the backups merging two lanes into one on SB Highland leading uphill to the roundabout, then queuing at the yield sign for a turn to go west or south, especially in low traction conditions.Also, one of the main problems now is the backup of eastbound (EB) Holden traffic at the stop sign resulting in traffic detouring through the surrounding neighborhood to bypass the backup.  The backup is caused in large part by poor visibility and driver uncertainty about whether the uncontrolled uphill Highland traffic is coming through the intersection SB or turning west onto Holden, so drivers sit there at the stop sign and wait an unnecessarily long time until it is unquestionably clear to go or they get tired of waiting and just go for it.  The large roundabout is not a solution to this problem because it channels all SB Highland through traffic and all WB Holden turning traffic into the circle, causing the directional intent of every vehicle to be considered by EB Holden drivers also wanting to enter the roundabout.  The mini-roundabout solves the problem because it channels only SB Highland traffic into the circle, not WB Holden turning traffic, so the number of vehicles for EB Holden drivers to consider is minimized and there is no question about directional intent.  With less traffic and less decision-making time, EB Holden drivers can move through the roundabout almost freely, only pausing to yield if there is a SB Highland vehicle already in the circle, so no more backups.The mini-roundabout, whether plain or fancy, performs the same function as the large roundabout, with the added benefit of retaining the two existing bypass lanes.  The more traffic kept out of the roundabout by the two existing bypass lanes, the better the intersection flow and safety.Attached is a rough sketch of what a mini-roundabout might look like at the Highland/Holden intersection.  Crosswalks are not shown, but would be located on Highland about mid-block between Holden and Portland, and on Holden west of the roundabout.

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