By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
SDOT has proposed a permanent route for the Delridge/Highland Park “Stay Healthy Streets,” with some current blocks to be dropped – but keeping the stretch that’s been the source of the loudest community concerns. They’re nonetheless asking for opinions, and hosting an outdoor “open house” today on 11th SW by Highland Park Elementary, 2-4 pm. In advance of that, SDOT reps were at Wednesday night’s HPAC meeting to talk about the Stay Healthy Streets as well as traffic-mitigation/calming events elsewhere.
STAY HEALTHY STREETS: first, a little backstory. These streets are closed to through-traffic, open to drivers who live, work, study, or otherwise have business on them, and open to people walking/running/riding/rolling in the street. The city launched the SHS concept early in the pandemic as a way to get around with more social distancing, but has expanded the mission beyond the pandemic, and is now making many of them permanent. The Delridge-Highland Park SHS network (designated in May of last year) would be the second in the city (after Greenwood) to be made permanent, SDOT’s Madison Linkenmeyer told HPAC.
She recapped what they’ve heard from the community:
SDOT’s Brittany Quan brought slides showing what they found about usage:
They want to keep the much-discussed SW Trenton section because, in part, they say neighbors there support it.
What would the gateway to a permanent SHS be? Linkenmeyer showed some concepts:
She mentioned this afternoon’s “open house” on 11th SW – they’ll bring some of those concepts so you can get a firsthand look. They’ll also bring candy.
Discussion ensued, first with an attendee telling her story. Resident Barbara talked about a day in which she was heading to Westcrest Park with her son in a jogging stroller – she can’t use it on the sidewalks because they’re in bad condition. So she used a Stay Healthy Street. She said a woman in an SUV yelled at her to “get out of the f—ing street.” Going home on Trenton, eight car drivers harassed her. She said she polled area residents on social media and they all aid it’s not safe at all. So she asked SDOT to redesign the street “so one else (can) violently threaten” people like her using it as an SHS. Either choose an alternate street or find designs to make it safer.
HPAC co-chair Kay Kirkpatrick noted that the choice of Trenton as an SHS has confused drivers because it’s long been a “main arterial” for the neighborhood. Attendee Marianne observed that the street was closed just as the bridge closure brought tens of thousands more drivers to Highland Park and South Delridge. “At the very very least, between 17th and 16th (on Trenton), that has to be taken down because nobody pays attention to it. … That’s where our biggest problem in our neighborhood is.” People in the neighborhood use Trenton to go shopping, to go to the post office, elsewhere. Pushing traffic to Henderson with all the other drivers does not make sense.
Attendee Katherine said the SHS designation for Trenton makes it more dangerous, and affirmed that the neighborhood uses it as a “minor arterial.”
It was suggested that SDOT come observe/evaluate 16th/Trenton and 17th/Trenton. Others chimed in that the Trenton stretch should go.
Besides gathering feedback now, what’s next? No specific date other than that a permanent route would be finalized early next year. Linkenmeyer promised to return to HPAC early in the new year (this is the group’s last meeting this year). If you weren’t there and can’t get to this afternoon’s event, contact info for sharing your opinion on the Stay Healthy Streets’ future is here.
Earlier in the meeting, another SDOT team had updates on a different area:
OTHER SDOT UPDATES: Sara Zora and David Burgesser brought updates on traffic-calming and traffic-mitigation work, including Reconnect West Seattle projects. 10 RWS projects are still ahead for 2022, before the bridge reopens, two of them in HPAC’s jurisdiction. They’re also continuing to pitch the Flip Your Trip program to encourage people to try transit or biking as alternatives to single-occupancy-vehicle travel.
Burgesser said remaining speed cushions for 9th SW got SFD approval but some proposed for non-arterial routes are “still in evaluation,” including one on SW Cloverdale.
He also had an update on traffic calming for 16th SW:
A rapid-flashing-beacon crosswalk at 16th and Myrtle is planned, too. This is a followup to last month’s announcement of backpedaling on plans for some speed cushions (which have breaks in the middle, unlike speed humps) on the south section, due to SFD concerns. Why were the 16th/Holly cushions approved but others to the south rejected? asked an attendee. Zora wasn’t sure. But Burgesser said that after the newly planned changes are made, the results will be evaluated by midyear. they’ll also watch pedestrian usage, to see if crossing improvements are needed.
Regarding the newly planned “refuge islands,” one attendee who rides a bicycle voiced concern that they will cause drivers to veer toward the edge of the road, where people are riding. Zora said the intent is to maximize safety.
Burgesser also had Home Zone updates, including an upcoming meeting with neighbors on 14th and repair of “sidewalk upheaval” on the west side of Henderson Place SW. Throughout the Home Zone areas, they’re collecting more traffic data now.
One attendee pointed out that many streetlights are out along Delridge and that’s a safety concern. Followup was promised.
HPAC’s next scheduled meeting is in January; watch for updates at hpacws.org.