Delridge Way Q&A with SDOT, now that ‘major construction’ is over

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Metro‘s conversion of Route 120 to RapidRide H Line is still a year away, but “major construction” is complete on SDOT‘s share of the preparations along Delridge Way.

As the year-plus of work wraps up, many questions have arisen. So we spent an hour talking with SDOT reps CJ Holt – the project manager (with whom we talked multiple times during the planning phase) – and Madison Linkenmeyer from the communications team.

First, the backstory: The H Line plan has been in the works for 5+ years (our archives include this 2016 survey floating same early rechannelization concepts, and some street changes – like the medians – have been advocated by community leaders for even longer).

WHAT’S LEFT TO DO? They’re in the “punch list” phase right now, identifying whether there are issues to address. A little work remains on signals, streetlights, and signage. The biggest “body of work” still left to do involves the landscaping – 140 trees will be planted, in the medians and elsewhere.

ABOUT THE LANDSCAPING: They’re trying to get the 140 trees planted “in the next month or two,” but there’s no specific start date yet – they’re working right now on procuring the trees.

Regarding landscape maintenance:

“The contractor is required to have a year of landscape establishment,” ensuring everything survives and is kept in good condition, and for example if a tree fails to grow, they’re required to replace it. After that first year, it’s handed off to Urban Forestry, which is required to oversee two more years of “careful establishment.” The capital project’s budget pays for those three years of close monitoring, including ensuring the irrigation is working. Holt noted that irrigation is uncommon for a project like this but it was necessary “because of the amount of planting we’re doing.” It’s a matter of “protecting the investment.” As for regular maintenance after those first three years, Linkenmeyer said: “There is not a set schedule after the first three years. We regularly monitor city right-of-way, like medians, to prioritize for consistent management of landscaped areas citywide. Priorities include steps to address safety concerns related to sight distance, visibility of traffic signs and signals and pedestrian safety where planting is next to sidewalks.”

ISSUES WITH MEDIANS/HARDENED CENTER LINES: When we asked readers for project questions, some observed that the medians (or in some places, the hardened/raised center line, to thwart illegal passing, shown above) had hampered access to some important destinations along Delridge. We asked about the Refugee and Immigrant Family Center Preschool (6535 Delridge Way SW) surfacing issues with access as a result; Linkenmeyer said SDOT is “actively working on” that issue and planning to meet with the center. She also said they are “talking” with Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Seattle Parks and Recreation regarding access to those two facilities on both sides of Delridge south of Genesee.

BIKE LANES: A frequent question – why just the posts, instead of something sturdier? “We’d prefer concrete curbs or something more substantial,” said Holt, “but it’s just not reality.” Part of the problem is that “the cost would be outrageous” but he also listed space requirements and drainage as dealbreakers “In this case, we also have to think about what’s practical – we have those posts all over the city and it’s an effective way to protect” riders. Speaking of drainage, one reader mentioned a problem between Juneau and Croft during recent heavy rains. Holt said they’re evaluating unanticipated “drainage issues” and working with Seattle Public Utilities in case they need to add more “drainage facilities.” Other bike-lane issues that readers brought up: Solid-waste containers being left in the lane rather than on planting strips post-pickup; they told us today they’ve talked to SPU about that since our Friday interview, and “They are working with their teams to address any issues with pickup and dropoff near the bike lanes.” About sweeping the bike lane to keep it clear of leaves and other debris – “Delridge Way SW is on a weekly schedule for sweeping, typically on Wednesdays. However, at this time the sweeping machines are in the maintenance shop, so sweeping may be delayed.”

BUS LANES: The inconsistency puzzled some readers. Holt said that “when we designed the project, there was a lot of modeling – tracking speed and reliability, space requirements, turning, etc. – in a perfect world we’d have bus lanes the whole way but we (couldn’t) – we had to put them where we’d get the fastest speed for the buses – that’s why (we have) the north-end 24/7 bus lanes to get onto the bridge.”

DELRIDGE/HOLDEN: The southbound direction of this intersection moves the bus lane briefly to the left, and turned the right lane into a right-turn-only. Holt explained that they removed the southbound right-turn slip lane because it’s “really important for pedestrian and bike safety, crossing the west leg of the intersection. We saw and forecasted issues – the wide turn radius encourages higher speeds – so we tightened the intersection. Removing the slip lane makes the pedestrian crossing shorter, reduces speed.” The right-turn-only lane was intended to minimize delays. “We tried to make it long enough so folks can get over – we understand some early zippering (results), we tried to account for that in the length.” The southbound “queue jump” was added for the buses to get them past the cars, The signal there is triggered by GPS “so it knows a bus is coming.” This too is an unusual feature of the project, Holt said: “We don’t usually have a queue jump to the left lane – the standards allow it but there’s no way to put it on right lane (there). Bottom line is if you’re going south [in a car], there’s only one lane to be in – hoping we make it clear enough – hope people don’t try to cut – we’ll be watching,”

DELRIDGE TO OREGON: A question here was about removal of the flashing turn arrow, heading uphill onto Oregon. “We wanted that to be a protected left turn based on safety. Since we added that pedestrian crossing (above, NB view), we anticipate more pedestrian activity – it worked within our overall bus goals (and) any time the crosswalk is activated the left turn is too.”

ANY SIGNAL CHANGES LEFT TO MAKE? Everything’s installed but there’s one spot they’re still evaluating for a possible turn signal, at Trenton.

DELRIDGE/ORCHARD: The long left-turn pocket from northbound Delridge drew a question. Holt said it’s by design, explaining that “lengths of turn pockets are essentially based on modeling … volumes, safety, trying to maximize efficiency, trying to get vehicles through as safely as possible,” and this is what the modeling suggested would work best here.

DELRIDGE/BARTON: Separate from the RapidRide project, a Neighborhood Street Fund project here was supposed to improve crossing – whatever happened to that? Linkenmeyer said it’s been designed and is awaiting construction scheduling. Same for the crossing improvements further west on Barton at Westwood Village, “still moving forward.”

DAKOTA REOPENING? This street is still closed for staging, but it should reopen “soon,” Linkenmeyer said.

GOT AN UNANSWERED QUESTION, OR COMMENT? We did our best to ask everything we’d seen by the time of our interview, but you may still have unanswered questions and/or comments – send them to

AS FOR THE H LINE … originally proposed for 2019, it is currently on track to finally launch in fall 2022.

46 Replies to "Delridge Way Q&A with SDOT, now that 'major construction' is over"

  • RB October 6, 2021 (1:26 pm)

    First off, Thanks WSB! Even though I may not like the answers at least you asked the questions.

    Regarding the Delridge and Oregon left turn to go up the hill, It’s red even when the crosswalk isn’t active.  There also isn’t much pedestrian activity to speak of.  It’s frustrating that they make these decisions and site safety but the reality is they just make unilateral decisions that don’t have much basis in reality.  When there is a blinking yellow left turn you still need to check the crosswalk running parallel to you, hence the blinking yellow…

    • Jon Wright October 6, 2021 (4:48 pm)

      If someone pushes the beg button to activate the crossing signal, the left turn arrow from SB Delridge to EB Oregon could easily switch to red to avoid conflicts. Barring that, the turn arrow could blink yellow. I feel like SDOT doesn’t like to experiment and that they are incapable of nuanced approaches.

  • D October 6, 2021 (2:08 pm)

    Regarding the medians – what are SDOTs thoughts on U-turns. Are they accounted for in their models? Are they supposed to be allowed/illegal? 

    • D-Ridge October 7, 2021 (4:34 pm)

      I’d like to see the medians just be removed, bike lanes put in, and the driving lanes taken down to two, before it’s too late to undo.   People were immediately doing u-turns at the Youngstown median so SDOT put in flex posts, this just pushed people closer to the intersection to do the u-turn, which is more dangerous. Will never understand taking away left turns into the community center and Youngstown.

  • Left Turner October 6, 2021 (3:16 pm)

    I have a question, going north on Delridge, turning left onto Trenton, why couldn’t they add a turn lane instead of just putting a giant median in? I’m tired of almost getting my mirror blown off or car banged up while people are trying to pass me while I turn left. 

  • Jort October 6, 2021 (3:30 pm)

    About using more durable protection for cyclists instead of plastic “flex posts,” the SDOT employee said, “the cost would be outrageous.” Lies. The cost of a human life is far more “outrageous,” and actually tragic, than the cost of some concrete barriers. Without batting an eye, SDOT will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on infrastructure used almost exclusively for private automobiles and not once does a project manager ever say that the cost is “outrageous.” Additionally, the biggest reason SDOT and other cars-first transportation agencies prefer using flex posts is because they don’t damage cars as much. Drivers often hit the bike lane infrastructure, and when they hit concrete barriers, it damages their cars. For once I would love to see an SDOT rep say, “We’d do concrete barriers, but we’d rather sacrifice a few cyclists’ lives than have people complain about banging their cars up.” Instead we get PR-spin outright lies like, “[flex posts are] an effective way to protect” cyclists. But, this is what happens when your city’s department of transportation is staffed by people who see no further than their own automobile dashboards when it comes to transportation, who are in charge every day of designing and managing transportation and consciously and actively make decisions that prioritize vehicles and endanger cyclist and pedestrian lives, then have the gall to turn around and say that making choices to protect cyclists is “just not reality.” Insulting. 

    • Kevin on Delridge October 6, 2021 (4:08 pm)

      Well said. And of course, when people don’t flock to these bike lanes due to their lack of safety, that will be used to further slow progress. But, they’ll be sure to speed past you 40+MPH to help keep you away as well.

    • skeeter October 6, 2021 (4:27 pm)

      As usual, Jort is correct.  I bike the new Delridge  lane daily.  Within just a few days after the plastic posts went up, several were struck with so much force the base (held by four strong bolts) was sheered away from the concrete.  And within 2 weeks, the standing posts were basically all covered in road rash from being struck by car tires, car fenders, and car bumpers.  This should come as no surprise.  Drivers in West Seattle often fail to keep all four wheels of their cars on the ground, let alone stay in a marked lane.  As far as excessive cost of physical barriers that actually protect cyclists, that’s where things get gray.  SDOT has limited funds and has to balance competing demands.    There will always be a quality vs quantity decision to make.  Personally, I’d rather see lots of mediocre safety improvements as opposed to a handful of really comprehensive safety improvements.  Studies have shown that the more people there are biking the safer it is to ride a bike.  If bike lanes with plastic posts get more people pedaling that’s good for everyone – even if not an ideal facility.

      • Anne October 6, 2021 (6:53 pm)

        “As usual”-ha! Thanks for the chuckle.

    • Jon Wright October 6, 2021 (5:00 pm)

      I agree but sadly aren’t they just doing what the bulk of their constituency wants? Frankly I’m amazed that SDOT is able to make ANY safety improvements.  Whenever SDOT makes a change, aggrieved drivers howl in protest. 35th Ave NE is a perfect example. If SDOT tries to do too much, the Mayor decides it isn’t worth the political heat and steps in to kibosh things. I’m really amazed Dongho stuck around as long as he did.

    • My two cents … October 6, 2021 (5:12 pm)

      Jort – How do you propose paying for these improvements?

      • Jort October 6, 2021 (6:08 pm)

        Not complicated. Take the money away from the car-focused projects and divert it elsewhere. Very simple, sorry not sorry that cars won’t get a multi-million dollar bridge that helps enable them to continue being Seattle’s largest source of carbon emissions. Hope they can get by with 95% of the budget instead of 99.7%.

    • Tactical Urbanism October 6, 2021 (5:53 pm)

      Maybe some fun souls out there can fill the flexposts with concrete :-)

      • momosmom October 6, 2021 (8:09 pm)

        Tactical—and the 1st time a bicyclist hits one or falls onto one you will pay their doctor/hospital bill?

    • A Fan October 6, 2021 (8:18 pm)

      Jort, have you been on the pedestrian / bike path along Beacon Avenue?  I grew up on Beacon Hill but don’t know the history behind it.  The path is pretty simple, grass and trees, a few benches here and there.  It seems like great foresight for whatever reason in building it.  I don’t think something like Beacon Ave would fly in any neighborhood these days.  Beacon Hill is lucky to have it.  Also Jort, have you biked along Green River to Foothills Trail?  You probably have.  If not, I recommend. 

  • Stacy October 6, 2021 (4:25 pm)

    I will contact the team at the email address, but if you are a cyclist be careful at the green bike light going southbound at Delridge and Holden.  I’ve seen so many cars ignore the red arrow light and just take a free right without stopping or looking for bikes. So be careful out there!

    • Foop October 6, 2021 (9:14 pm)

      This is why I now have front and rear cameras on my bike. Hit me once, shame on me, but hit me again, and I’m coming for all you have to spare now. Drivers here have become downright malicious to cyclists.

      • Jay October 8, 2021 (8:07 am)

        This isn’t hyperbole. I was riding up a hill to go to California Ave on Monday and someone driving a black pickup came within a few inches and tried to push me off the road. They had plenty of space. A camera might be a good investment.

    • David October 9, 2021 (2:23 pm)

      I ignore the no right turn light on southbound Delridge at Holden all the time at this intersection, and will continue to do so between the months of October and May, and between the hours of 8:00p and 6:00a.  There are simply no bikes using the lane, so it’s absurd to keep cars idling at this stop for 90 seconds for absolutely no bikes to go by.  They should activate the no right turn signal during seasons and times of day when there are actually bikes using the bike lane.

  • skeeter October 6, 2021 (4:31 pm)

    Hello WSB.  Two of my three concerns were addressed.  Thank you so much!  My concern that was not addressed – would SDOT be willing to replace the broken flexible posts marking bike lanes on a periodic schedule?  It is a waste of time for users to have to report each broken post on a find-it-fix-it.  It’s so much more efficient for SDOT to just come out once a month or once a quarter and replace all the broken posts at once.  Thank you!! 

  • bill October 6, 2021 (5:00 pm)

    SDOT prioritized landscaping over bike safety. Every place there is a median there could have been a bike lane. So we get a bike lane in only one direction. Going the other way the lane is too narrow to share with cars, although that does not deter Seattle’s sociopathic drivers who pass anyway. If you don’t care about cyclists how about this: those planters are a continuing maintenence headache. Once or twice a year a lane has to shut down for landscaping crews to work. 

    • A Fan October 6, 2021 (8:02 pm)

      I have to maintain similar median landscapes.  Maintaining those medians aren’t fun.  In order to do it safely, we have to close a lane, and you kinda hope for the best with cones and signage.  I’m betting those medians will get maintained less and less as years go by.  And then plants will start to die from over watering or lack of watering.  There will be cattle trails from people cutting through.  Those medians will collect cigarette butts and trash.  There looks like some nice soil that got added, but before it looked like concrete as the subgrade.  So I hope they’re installing plants that don’t like well drained soil.  I don’t know the planting plan.  I’m already cringing at the possible plant choices, something trendy like natives.  One guess is, salal, that doesn’t like hot baking sun.  I’m hoping they don’t install plants that that are incompatible, like lavender and salal.  Cringe.  There’s nothing more fun than, doing median work, while cars are going by 40mph, despite the 25 speed limit.  Nothing like air brakes and buses whizzing by to put me in the zen gardening mood.  That’s why I’m looking for another job.  So if you see those medians looking bad, its most likely unsafe for the workers who are responsible for maintaining it.  Wait there’s always over time…….government worker ~ signing out.

      • bolo October 7, 2021 (11:39 pm)

        I watched the construction progress. The concrete base did not extend into the median. Soil there.

    • D-Ridge October 7, 2021 (8:14 am)

      I will never understand how south of Holden it was deemed possible to have a bike lane, two car lanes, and one parking lane, but north of Juneau where it’s wider SDOT said “sorry no room for bikes” but managed to put in two parking lanes, two car lanes, and then landscaped the center lane as if to spite cyclists specifically.It’s crazy making.

  • JB October 6, 2021 (5:30 pm)

    I really like the new bike lane heading south! Feels really safe and beats the hills i use to take to my roxhill home.  Had to move a couple garbage cans out of the way but no big deal.  Well done. 

    • skeeter October 6, 2021 (7:03 pm)

      I’m with you JB.  My daily bike commute has been adjusted as a result of the improvements.  I now take the southbound protected bike lane to make my commute more pleasant.  

      • sam-c October 7, 2021 (8:18 am)

        What do you recommend taking northbound?  There are a lot of stretches that  it’s only a driving lane and parking at the curb.  I’d like to switch up my commute, but seeing buses squeeze through, in the lane between the median and the parked cars makes me nervous.  I’d like to switch up my commute too, but southbound seems much safer than northbound.

        • Kevin on Delridge October 7, 2021 (10:08 am)

          Based on the city maps, a left at Juneau and right onto 26th (Greenway) to continue Northbound. If you’re trying to get to the low bridge, you’d take that all the way up to Andover and get back on Delridge.

          I wouldn’t recommend biking NB on Delridge once you get past Juneau. It is doable, but until the trees are in place this is not a 25MPH street (and may not be unless further revisions are made).

        • skeeter October 7, 2021 (11:10 am)

          SAM-C Agreed.  Southbound is great with the new protected bike lane.  Northbound is awful.  I wouldn’t recommend anyone bike Delridge northbound.  Without knowing where you are coming from it’s hard to make a recommendation on specific route.  Maybe some combination of the greenway on 26th Ave SW and the greenway that runs along 21st Ave SW?

          • Foop October 7, 2021 (2:57 pm)

            Depending on where you are 16th -> 21st is … fine, for getting Northbound. It’s a steep hill to get to it but if you can handle that you’ll be fine most of the way. The lack of a NB PBL feels like a sad missed opportunity.

          • Sam-c October 7, 2021 (7:56 pm)

            Thank you all for the tips. I’d be heading north from the 26th / Roxbury vicinity (and would like to stay west of Delridge if possible.(as far as the suggestion to go from 16th to 21st, I know I can’t do the hill at Dawson)) 

  • Auntie October 6, 2021 (5:50 pm)

    Well, let’s hope when all is said and done and the maintenance period is over, the medians on Delridge don’t end up looking like the ones on Sylvan Way in Highpoint. They have been left to go to weeds and dying shrubs and apparently nobody is in charge of that – not SDOT, not Parks, nobody …

    • trickycoolj October 7, 2021 (2:42 pm)

      High Point outdoor association has been paying for it. Or at least they go out and trim things back when it’s impossible to see safely to turn off our neighborhood streets into the detour traffic.  

  • Graciano October 6, 2021 (6:21 pm)

    Bus lane sign headed south bound by Boren middle school… Something like bus only 3pm -7pm?Dose this mean we can use the bus lane outside those hours?

    • skeeter October 6, 2021 (7:02 pm)

      I thought the Delridge bus lanes were now 24/7 but I could be mistaken.  Maybe some are 24/7 and others are certain hours.  I do know that bikes are always allowed to use the bus lane.  That is clearly marked on all the signage.

    • Auntie October 6, 2021 (7:47 pm)

      And if it can be used outside those hours – is it a driving lane or a parking lane? It is unclear, to say the least!

      • Sam-c October 7, 2021 (6:23 am)

        I’ve wondered that as well. The signs say “no parking, 3pm-7pm’  does that mean people can park in the bus lane at other hours? Is it a driving lane? Who knows? There’s a pretty long stretch of that.

    • sam-c October 7, 2021 (9:57 am)

      Graciano, great question, I’ve wondered too.  IIRC, it doesn’t say bus only 3pm-7pm, it says ‘No Parking 3pm-7pm,’ which leads me to believe that bus lane can be used for parking outside those hours?  Seems very unclear, though.      It’s a pretty long stretch too, isn’t it?  From STEM/ Boren almost all the way to Orchard (maybe the light before Orchard).  

  • Jerrold October 6, 2021 (10:47 pm)

    No better way to reduce traffick then placing trees in the middle of the road… maybe they can build me a ped. Bridge over them to get across???

  • RD October 7, 2021 (7:50 am)

    I would like to know when the Dakota St. between Andover and Genesse will be reopen? that spot is basically only being used as a parking spot for the construction workers and it would be nice to have that access into my neighborhood again.

  • Dakota Resident October 7, 2021 (8:15 am)

    SW Dakota street is the only street between the bridge and Roxbury that is still closed.  What sits there are two lifts, a van (not a company van) a container and a bunch of garbage parts.  It has been this way for months, and they tell us it will be open “soon”?  How about come and clean up the mess now!

  • Jeepney October 7, 2021 (8:28 am)

    Very informative article.  However, one question, what does this mean?  “  hope people don’t try to cut – we’ll be watching,”

    • Jay October 8, 2021 (9:58 am)

      Cutters are ignored everywhere else in the city. If they aren’t monitoring and enforcing cutting at the 5-way by the lower bridge there’s no way they’ll do it here. I think it’s an empty threat. I really hope that intersection doesn’t become one of those aggressive problem intersections with line cutters.

  • ceejay October 8, 2021 (11:19 pm)

    What about the lane shift near the Arco, it’s odd that the lane going straight is to the left?

  • David October 9, 2021 (2:28 pm)

    I wish that the signals that favor bike lanes over cars would be time and date sensitive.  I’d be happy to obey the no-right-turn-on-red signals when bikes are around and using the lanes (i.e. June to September, 6:00a-8:00p).  In the other nine months of the year, and at night, when there are simply no bikes, cars should have priority.

  • Lizabeth October 10, 2021 (2:19 am)

    Delridge is now a bizarre lane-changing slalom course, plus one garbage truck simply working their route blocks traffic for as long as the job takes. Doesn’t seem well thought out (spoken as a 35 year resident who needs my car since have many stops per day, & mass transit isn’t up to snuff. Let alone my downtown – 3rd & Pine – shooting gallery bus-stop is a deterrent).

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