VIDEO: Diverters, Stay Healthy Street, or something else? 26th SW options – and opinions – discussed

(SDOT recording of Wednesday’s meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Without grocery stores and other major services in Delridge, the area’s few east-west connections are lifelines.

But placing “diverters” at two spots along the 26th SW greenway would hamper residents’ access to two of those connections.

That’s a message SDOT heard repeatedly during Wednesday night’s meeting to explain, and hear opinions on, the revived proposal for installing the diverters, with two additional options – banning through traffic to make that section of 26th SW a “Stay Healthy Street,” or something else to be determined.

SDOT’s Madison Linkemeyer coordinated the meeting, noting that the early opposition to the diverters led SDOT to “halt construction” plans in mid-summer (as reported here). She said that they’re trying to improve safety on the greenway, with its importance enhanced by the fact that a bicycle lane is being removed on Delridge Way, and cut-through traffic is increasing because of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Project manager CJ Holt added that cut-through traffic from the ongoing Delridge road work – which will continue for the next year – also is a factor. That was “one of the intents of putting it in early.”

Both diverter options would keep motor vehicles from going straight on 26th at either intersection; #1 – as shown above – would require right turns, while #2 – below – would offer left- or right-turn options.

SDOT’s Summer Jawson noted that they could install one type of diverter at one of the intersections, the other at the other. But her major presentation point was the Stay Healthy Street option. This has different designs for the two intersections – with the traffic circle at Brandon.

Wrapping up the presentation, they noted that the online survey stays open through October 14th – more than 200 people have answered it already. Construction timing is TBA.

Public questions/comments:

The first person to speak didn’t support any of the options because there are already too few ways to get into/out of Delridge – better to wait until the bridge reopens and then evaluate. Holt said they did evaluate 25th to be sure they weren’t diverting too much traffic onto it. Next, a 25th resident: “It feels like what you’re doing is jamming this down our throats … we don’t want what SDOT is selling … it should be community-led. …. you tried to build this thing with two days’ notice. It seems that SDOT has already decided, without community feedback, what you want to do. No one wants this!” He suggested alternatives such as a traffic signal or 4-way stop. The third commenter also suggested options, maybe even “just local access signs” – a Stay Healthy Street would be her preference. But she also voiced concern that parking for Delridge Playfield would be lost under that option. “Maybe the Stay Healthy Street could start at 26th/Alaska.” But Jawson said some of those suggestions might make 26th an “even more attractive cut-through route.”

Another person noted that Camp Long and the golf course are huge obstacles for Delridge residents to have to get around, and she wondered what the need was that led to this. Linkemeyer again cited the cut-through traffic led to the idea; Holt said they checked traffic volumes on 26th for multiple times of day, and noted ‘they were higher than expected, higher than what we wanted them to be.” And again, removing the bicycle lane from Delridge meant the greenway needs an upgrade.

Yet another person, who identified herself as a bike commuter, said the diverters would be a bad idea, “not solving the problem.’ Maybe more speed bumps? Maybe a traffic circle at 26th/Alaska?

Another bike commuter mentioned two bicycle deaths, including one on 26th, and mentioned other crashes (citing WSB coverage) including a flipped car on SW Genesee near 26th. He said he’s OK with the “half-diverter” – he “would hate to see nothing happen.”

A High Point resident said 26th is often backed up and suggested “if you really want an effective diverter, it would have to stop people from going straight on Genesee AND going right on Genesee.”

A 26th resident said right-turn-only onto Genesee would lead to even worse backups. She thought the Stay Healthy Street would be a compromise. “We’re 10 minutes from everything (now – but) you take that away … we don’t have access to West Seattle any more.”

Next resident recommended a traffic circle at 26th and Alaska as the best solution. “People who live on 26th cannot be prevented from making.a left onto Genesee … it cuts us off … and unless you live on 26th, you dojn’t know what a hardship that would be.”

Next, another diverter opponent.”I’m really concerned about getting in and out of the neighborhood with my preschooler” in the car.

Then another voice of concern about 25th. He was undecided about Stay Healthy Streets but said the signage for those already implemented didn’t seem terribly effective. Have current SHS reduced volume? he asked. Jawson said yes, volume is down by 70 percent.

The next person echoed concern about access to points west such as The Junction because “we have no services on Delridge” – grocery, pharmacy, etc.

And another resident talked about problems caused by SDOT not referencing history or past projects. He noted that other accessways already have been closed off, such as the addition of turn restrictions from Avalon onto Yancy, and the closing of 30th. He also mentioned SDOT removing parking for a 24-hour bus lane, which will also bring more traffic and conflicts into the neighborhood.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: If you haven’t already answered the survey, you can do it here through next Wednesday.

4 Replies to "VIDEO: Diverters, Stay Healthy Street, or something else? 26th SW options - and opinions - discussed"

  • Cottage Grove Neighbor October 9, 2020 (4:29 pm)

    It’s really nice to see SDOT engaging with the community on this issue. The problems with cut-through traffic on 26th were well documented before the pandemic and bridge closure. It was dangerous and unsuitable as a greenway. I didn’t feel safe having my kid ride his own bike on that street. What kind of greenway is it if it’s not safe enough for children to use? That said, the original diverter design definitely placed too high of a burden on residents by limiting left turns from NB 26th Ave to WB Genessee. The half-diverter options seem like an elegant compromise, which I support as a neighborhood resident.

    • Delridge Cyclist October 12, 2020 (6:59 pm)

      I agree the Greenway designation is unsuitable and useless for 26th. I find 26th more dangerous than Delridge during the day especially now that the bridge is closed. There are dozens of driveways, cars parked all along both sides of the road, the speedbumps are brutal on a bike  (no suspension!), and the road is narrow enough that there is basically one lane of travel for most of the distance. It can be impossible to get across Genesse with the near constant traffic. It is terrible and unsafe on a bicycle.  I feel Delridge is safer, at least you really only have to deal with one direction of travelling cars, there are few driveways, functioning traffic lights at major intersections, and now with construction, speeds are slow enough just to “take a lane” and ride fast.   It take me a quarter of the time to ride Delridge opposed to 26th.The diverters are a seriously terrible idea. Know what else was a terrible idea? REMOVING THE BIKE LANES ON DELRIDGE WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA!

  • 1994 October 9, 2020 (8:52 pm)

    Put in a traffic signal at 26th and Genesee, allow right or left turns from 26th. A traffic signal has been needed for many years.

  • Jamie October 10, 2020 (1:17 am)

    I wonder if any of my neighbors would be fine with diverters instead being placed on delridge. That’s the source of the cut through traffic. Limiting the ability for cars to turn left from delridge toward 25th and 26th seems like it might reduce the cars and the neighborhood without locking us in so badly. For where I’m at my concern is increased traffic on Hudson due to no egress points from the neighborhood. Hudson has no sidewalks and it’s where one of the new plan bus stops is going. I’ve witnessed a lot of near misses on that street.

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