Shortly after the town-hall meeting about the West Seattle Bridge closure, HPAC – the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – met online with SDOT reps to talk about traffic effects. SDOT reps included Heather Marx and James Le (who was managing the Highland Park Traffic Safety Improvements Project even before the bridge closure).

Shortly after the bridge was shut down, the neighborhood got a rush-installed traffic signal at Highland Park Way/Holden, the intersection where HPAC and other community advocatess had fought for improvements for decades. But nothing of major note has followed.

HPAC was hoping to hear a plan from SDOT – but the hour-long meeting was more about participants offering questions/concerns, and SDOT listening. One voiced frustration that, a month into the closure, there wasn’t more of a traffic-action plan yet. Here’s how the meeting went:

Marx began with a slide deck whose opening section was the same as what was presented at the town hall – recapping why the bridge was closed, what’s being done now to work toward stabilizing it, etc.

After that, Le mentioned that in addition to posting speed-limit signage along detour routes – as noted in the town hall – they’re also working on some new speed humps to keep neighborhood speeds down.

Then, the questions/comments. First: Can they get a left arrow for the northbound turn at 9th/Highland Park/Holden, for people who need to turn onto Holden? And which streets are getting the speed humps? Portland Street is getting a lot of cut-through traffic. Le said they’ll look into it.

Next: How about road paint to prohibit intersection blocking, signage reinforcing that, and police enforcement? 11th/Holden is particularly bad.

The third person also commented that the feeding of small roads until mega-busier Holden is a problem. HPAC chair Gunner Scott echoed that the problem “is only going to get worse.”

What other traffic calming is in the works? They’re checking the grades on various spots to be sure they’re not installing speed humps any place too steep.

Another request for enforcement – that would be an SPD request; then, a concern that 16th SW needs more attention. SDOT’s Adiam Emery said dedicated signal engineers are looking at West Seattle; Scott pointed out that they have applied for grants for signal work for years.

City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, a Highland Park resident, returned to the issue of 9th/Holden and a potential conflict between pedestrians, drivers, and how the walk sign/right arrow seem in comflict.

Another question was about traffic management at Roxbury/Olson. Marx was not familiar with the intersection’s problems but asked Emery to look into it. Marx also admitted that there’s no overall traffic-management plan for Highland Park so far, but that they will be looking at it, and other affected neighborhoods. It was also pointed out that crossing Roxbury is impossible at a key point; Marx promised a traffic study will be done.

Other concerns included that the bicycle lane on West Marginal is in bad shape and that the railroad tracks have pavement deterioration too.

How about signage like “local traffic only” or even some one-way streets? Emery said they need to learn more about the patterns to “address those issues.” Timeline? asked Scott. Emery said they needed to study and identify the problems. The neighborhood has identified the issues already, countered Scott. “This is amplifying what has been the problem here for the last 20 to 30 years … and now this is going to be a major thoroughfare.”

11th and Kenyon needs a stop sign, anoher commenter said. And another: West Marginal south of the Highland Park Way hill is getting jammed.. Yet another person asked about the criteria for 4-way stops or traffic circles.

The Highland Park Way/Holden signal has solved a lot of problems but many new patterns have emerged, underscored Kay Kirkpatrick, stressing that quick action is needed – “loosen up the institutional thinking” – rather than studies. Marx said they have to follow the national standards before installing something because “a stop sign needs to mean the same thing, wherever you go.” She also implored HPAC participants to believe that the West Seattle situation is a priority – “we have like 8 SDOT people on this call” – and that so many are focused on the problems caused by the bridge closure.

The next commenter said SDOT seems to be focusing too much on the north-south detour routs; east-west monitoring is important too. They’re planning it, Marx said, “but it takes time to order the equipment.” “We’re five weeks in!” was the retort.

Last word, a reminder to give some attention to the bike routes to get people from Highland Park off/on the peninsula too.

Scott said the meeting was recorded, so you can watch for that via the HPAC website. They expect next month’s meeting to be virtual too – fourth Wednesday, so that’ll be May 27th.

12 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CLOSURE: HPAC talks traffic with SDOT"

  • dsa April 22, 2020 (9:01 pm)

    Marx gave a misinformed statement concerning what SDOT can and cannot do.  “… Marx said they have to follow the national standards before installing something…”  Seattle does not respect the use of the national MUTCD (manual of uniform control devices).  Here is a recent example citing crosswalks.  https://usa.streetsblog.org/2019/02/05/seattle-tosses-out-the-rulebook-to-protect-pedestrians/

  • hb April 22, 2020 (9:42 pm)

    I would like to see more signage and enforcement in school zones in the area.  The increase in traffic will surely have an impact on children walking to school and crossing these increasingly busy streets,

  • KB April 22, 2020 (10:15 pm)

    I can tell you now that I will be putting a barricade up on my street in HP to prevent cutters and speeders from tearing though the HPE school zone. I have also set up a camera and speedometer and have loads of time on my hands to video people breaking the law. If you drive through my neighborhood expect to have eggs thrown at your car. 

  • AdmiralBridge April 23, 2020 (6:14 am)

    It’s good to see/hear that the lack of action and concrete plans is starting to resonate.  Town Hall discussion was also a lot of rehash of facts (seemingly trying to justify the surprise) as well as a lot of “we’re looking at it”.  Less study, more action.

  • Bryan April 23, 2020 (7:36 am)

    How does having 8 people on a Zoom call show that you have an action plan in play? 5 weeks in other cities would be long enough to have hired a team and began work. 

  • Trickycoolj April 23, 2020 (10:48 am)

    The fact that they’re completely unfamiliar with the mess on Austin/16th/Holden/Fire station/Bike crossing and aren’t focusing on East-West routes says a lot. Why is SDOT only ever focused on North-South movement? We all have to go East-West and a whole bunch of us don’t even work downtown. 

    • datamuse May 4, 2020 (10:13 pm)

      That has mystified me for twenty-one years…which, oddly enough, is how long I’ve lived in Highland Park.

  • HP April 23, 2020 (10:54 am)

    Great Reporting WSB. I attempted to participate in this meeting but unfortunately as I had used the telephone call in method the *6 to unmute only resulted in a message of “you have been muted by the mtg host and cannot unmute yourself” .. so was unable to raise my hand or chat to get called on to participate. Tried repeatedly.Perhaps next mtg there will be a point where everyone is unmuted and there will be a chance to speak.There should be an emphasis on improving the traffic flow at the 16th Ave SW & SW Holden St intersection where Fire Station 11 is located. There are no traffic sensors at that intersection like there are at the 16th Ave SW & SW Austin St intersection.The “incredibly small sign” mounted overhead when facing westbound(with 7-11 on ones right) at that intersection that reads:  ARTERIAL TURNS with a right and left arrow is essentially unnoticeable and nearly 100% ignored. Ck it out by going to google maps and searching with 16th AVE SW & SW Holden St intersection. Drop the “person” into the intersection and rotate so 7-11 is on the right so you’ll be looking west.

    • Trickycoolj April 23, 2020 (12:34 pm)

      Those arterial turns signs were added when a large truck went sideways in the hairpin on Webster/20th.  A lot of GPS apps are telling people to go through the hairpin during the morning/evening commute to avoid the 16th backups on the Holden/Austin jog and the lack of left turn signal.  During the morning rush it can take 3-4 cycles to get through 16th  & holden if you’re making a left turn.

    • HPAC April 24, 2020 (7:25 pm)

      So sorry about the tech issue, with the mute. Please send this and any questions, comments and raise concerns to 206-684-762 or email 684-Road@seattle.gov and visit SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge Project page.

  • Marianne McCord April 23, 2020 (11:40 am)

    How will SDOT “tweak” the traffic flow to allow the 100,000 vehicles to flow on/ off the peninsula by way of the 2 access points at Highland Park Parkway and Olson Parkway? Heather Marx stated in her report to city council on Monday (and both zoom meetings last night) that neither access point can handle the re-routed bridge traffic- but they have to! So what is the solution? We want a comprehensive and detailed plan with a commitment to react to “real-time” problems for the neighborhoods of Highland Park, Riverview and South Delridge THROUGHOUT the duration of the bridge closure. We want more than the usual “community outreach”- we want a partnership with SDOT, city transit and city government. Spending FIVE weeks and not having a plan is totally unacceptable for us and for the whole peninsula. No one is talking about the bridge and its repairs here- the task at hand is to move traffic off the peninsula in the morning and on in the evening. This may be an unexpected and huge task but this is exactly what SDOT is suppose to do- move traffic quickly, efficiently and safely as possible under the present circumstances. Having tens of thousands of vehicles snake through neighborhoods on roads that are not built for that traffic flow requires out-of-the box thinking from SDOT. The narrowing of roads, lowering of speed limits and not clearly taking into consideration the traffic patterns throughout the peninsula will make traffic a nightmare once the stay-at-home is lifted! The eight SDOT employees on the call last night were constantly putting off suggestions, whether that be stop signs, light signals, requests for monitoring. This particular city department constantly talks about “community engagement” when in reality it is them lecturing to the community. I’m going to say this one more time….they have had FIVE WEEKS to look at this part of the problem!!! We need better answers/ solutions to our questions and concerns and WE NEED A COMPREHENSIVE PLAN PRESENTED TO THE PUBLIC NOW. If the current team is unable to come up with better responses than ride bikes, we’re in talks with Metro, and don’t speed through other people’s neighborhoods etc, etc.—-then get another team who can solve this issue!

  • sam-c April 24, 2020 (3:56 pm)

    I hope no-one at this meeting had a drinking game going on, “take a shot when the rep from SDOT says, ‘a traffic study will be done’ ” for issues (that have LONG been known and identified in the immediate area).  Their studies will be published by the time the new West Seattle Bridge is opened.  In an urgent situation like this, seems like they should be able to listen to the people that actually use these streets and see the traffic impacts day in, day out.

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