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.