From White Center Now: Big changes ahead for part of 16th SW

Immediately south of the heart of the downtown White Center business district, 16th Avenue SW widens to four lanes, and it’s been precarious for pedestrians, with more than 20 injured over the past decade, and at least two killed. So King County is planning a rechannelization project for 16th SW between 100th and 107th, and brought early word of it to last night’s North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting, which we covered for partner site White Center Now. This stretch is of extra interest to West Seattleites, as 107th is a much-used route between WS and WC. King County Roads has launched a survey asking for opinions on two options, both of which would narrow that stretch to one travel lane each way, while adding parking:

As shown above, one option adds parking on the east side and bike lanes, while the other adds parking on both sides. You can tell King County what you think via this survey. The project website has even more details – including, at the bottom, the project budget (about $1 million) and a construction timeline – 2024.

77 Replies to "From <i>White Center Now</i>: Big changes ahead for part of 16th SW"

  • Beto February 4, 2022 (9:55 pm)

    I think that either one sounds like a good idea. I walk in the area several times a week and I see cars speeding quite often.  Both options should prevent speeding and safer for pedestrians.

  • Pat Paulsen February 4, 2022 (10:49 pm)

    I think it is more important to consider bike lanes since they are also commuter options.  Overall, I  think the concept of narrowing the area to slow down traffic is a great idea.

  • Arash R Sarraf February 5, 2022 (12:50 am)

    Sounds like terrible ideas. That area already flows pretty good. There is no reason for parking as most businesses in this area have parking lots. Please do NOT give more lines to bicycles that make up a small % of vehicles on the road. 2 lanes both directions is working just fine. Focus on ROXBURY please. 

    • Shepherd February 5, 2022 (5:45 am)

      Couldn’t have said it any better!

    • Reed February 5, 2022 (6:59 am)

      Drive like a jerk, get treated like a jerk. As long as bikes and peds continue to be put at risk by dangerous drivers, the more infrastructure they will get.

      • Dara February 6, 2022 (4:07 am)

        Totally agree with you.  I WAS a cyclist until I was hit two years ago

    • KM February 5, 2022 (7:31 am)

      You’re highlighting the exact problem they are trying to fix. It’s like a highway through a commercial and residential area. I wouldn’t dare bike on it as designed, and driving it sucks with aggressively weaving drivers. Using the crosswalks is an enormous leap of faith that 5 lanes across of drivers are going to stop. People are dying and becoming injured due to this design. Roads with protected bike lanes calm traffic for everyone. Though I have only driven this corridor, I would like less people to die or get injured, regardless of their mode of transportation. 

      • K February 5, 2022 (8:46 pm)

        Hmm. It seems if you want to fix pedestrian crossing, you improve that… say better crosswalks maybe with dedicated lights.Adding unused bike lanes and unneeded parking is an expensive way to fix the wrong problems.The ‘traffic calming’ I’ve seen is just a euphemism for fixed that make traffic worse and cause more aggressive driving :(

    • Marianne February 5, 2022 (8:48 am)

      I agree that there is no need for parking on 16th and that two lanes for cars, both directions, works well.  If the bikes lanes will be well used, they they should be added.

    • Ant February 5, 2022 (8:58 am)

      “flows pretty good” unless you happened to be one of the 20 injured or 2 that were killed. So yeah, its working great.

    • Alki resident February 5, 2022 (9:24 am)

      I fully agree. In my 35 yrs of driving this stretch, I can’t even recall seeing a bike much less a need to get bike lanes. I already voted NO on this on the idea. For once just leave a good thing alone. 

    • JR February 5, 2022 (10:22 am)

      Agree that it’s insane to take away traffic lanes when this area is experiencing widespread growth and more growth is being planned. If there are too many people speeding or driving dangerously, then do something to enforce the law. Don’t punish all drivers because some people are bad drivers. 

  • Harv February 5, 2022 (12:56 am)

    I know this is King County Roads, so a different organization……but can we please just fix the bridge first?  

    • WSB February 5, 2022 (1:05 am)

      As noted at the end, this isn’t expected to go into construction until 2024.

    • rocket February 5, 2022 (5:38 am)

      So we cant do anything until the bridge is fixed?

    • David February 6, 2022 (9:13 am)

      A spending budget for WC should be spent locally.  There is a dedicated budget for the WSB.  Stop the hogging.

  • Bus February 5, 2022 (5:34 am)

    This is so exciting!  Bike lanes would be super welcome for the increasing number of people who are choosing to bike around the neighborhood.  Traffic isn’t heavy enough to need two lanes in each direction as it is, and going down to one lane each with a turn will make it easier to see and judge when to cross (for pedestrians) or turn out of parking lots (for cars).  Excited to see some White Center streets get some rechannelization love!

  • Over it February 5, 2022 (7:32 am)

    Only in the Puget Sound is the “solution” to an expanding population and increased traffic flow to reduce viable driving lanes. People speed incessantly on Roxbury, 35th, Delridge, all of which have had lane reductions in the past, not to mention they speed through the 2 lane sections, and 4 way stops on the rest of 16th to get to the stretch in question… so clearly the amount of lanes has no effect on people’s traffic violations, only enforcement will do that.A speed trap would be a lot more affordable, less interruptive, and bring an influx of much needed $$$ to King County unincorporated.

    • Rocket February 5, 2022 (8:48 pm)

      I live on 35th very close to where it goes down to one lane each direction. The amount of speeding north of Holden is drastically higher than south of there.  For those people concerned about how traffic calming affects people wanting to live here I would not have consider buying the house we bought last year if there were 4 lanes of traffic running in front of it.Also to whoever said they don’t see bikes there so why create infrastructure for it, the fact it’s not safe for them may have something to do with it. 

  • Why February 5, 2022 (8:13 am)

    Why a tiny section of bike lane there? After the 7 blocks end the bikes would just be dumped into traffic again. I’ve tried biking to stores in Burien… it’s not so straightforward. This doesn’t seem coordinated with any other bike corridors.

    • Mark Flanders February 5, 2022 (10:44 am)

      This is actually an “open sky” area special to WC. The road is smooth driving, and too fast, it’s true. I tried bike on 16th. It’s suicidal.  4th Ave should be the N -S bike way.  Turn lanes are a pain though I get the idea of slowing down. I don’t really like either option. Drivers need to really look for peds and abide by crosswalk laws. Can we start giving out tickets again?

      • Andy February 5, 2022 (11:52 am)

        Great Idea.  If speeding is the problem – inforce it.  Install one of the auto ticket machines.

    • 1994 February 5, 2022 (11:00 pm)

      There are a number of lower traffic volume streets with lower speed limits to the east of 16th and Ambaum for biking to Burien. 4th Ave SW is probably your best biking street.

      • CMT February 7, 2022 (10:17 am)

        Exactly – there are a lot of side streets that make it easy and pleasant to bike from WC to Burien.

  • Richard Shaven February 5, 2022 (8:37 am)

    This is really stupid. Invest in better crosswalk lights and color the street so drivers see the crosswalks. There is nothing wrong with that stretch besides unexpected crosswalks that aren’t marked well for a 4 lane street. There are parking lots all over the place in that area. Whoever comes up with this stuff needs to be fired, good lord. 

    • JR February 5, 2022 (10:23 am)

      Richard, you are so right.
      Just like government to screw things up further and call it “improvement.”

    • Bus February 5, 2022 (11:01 am)

      There are literally flashing lights at the crosswalks and people still speed through them  when people are trying to cross.  Drivers refuse to accommodate pedestrians with the current infrastructure, so they need to be restricted until they do.

  • Empm February 5, 2022 (8:51 am)

    Frankly any improvement in this area would be welcome. Anything that will make it more inviting to visit the businesses in the area. I hope their budget includes some landscaping and trees. A long time ago we were hearing plans for improvements to 16th between Roxbury and 100th to improve walkability, provide shade trees, and remove the horrible traffic snarling center barrier. Hoping this is still in the works. 

  • Jsm February 5, 2022 (9:11 am)

    Some of the most needed bummer lanes in the region. Rat City is not always the most bike aware.

    • Biker February 8, 2022 (10:02 am)

      Neither is the rest of West Seattle

  • Chuck Jacobs February 5, 2022 (9:11 am)

    Reducing another major arterial from four lanes into two.  #WarOnCars

    • Rocket February 5, 2022 (8:50 pm)


    • KM February 6, 2022 (1:36 pm)

      GREAT podcast, glad to now there are other fans out there.

  • Don Brubeck February 5, 2022 (9:14 am)

    Option 1 has a better chance of reducing speeding and hazards for pedestrians and drivers, as well as making the street safer for biking. Option 2 eliminates the hazard for pedestrian crossings of two lanes of traffic each way, but the design is not going to do much to make the street safer.  A buffered parking lane is simply creating a 16 foot wide travel lane — a recipe for speeding.    For either option, it would help if the County could work with property owners and businesses to improve the access to the off-street parking so curb cuts would be narrower, and fewer drivers would need to back out into traffic or bike lanes from parking spaces.

  • Graciano February 5, 2022 (9:21 am)

    Why can’t they leave well enough alone.., Money spent better elsewhere. 

    • D-Ridge February 5, 2022 (4:30 pm)

      “Well enough” = people dying?

    • Daisy February 8, 2022 (2:18 pm)

      we live near 12th ave sw with 3 schools in the area.  Speed limit is 30 mph  Would also be money well spent for sidewalk on the east side of 12th SW that runs between 107th to 120th

  • Andy February 5, 2022 (9:37 am)

    I agree not a good idea.  The coridor has to deal with a certain number of cars.  If it is changed to one lane in each direction the density of cars doubles.  The left turn lane is a nice idea but if the road is going to be narrowed down to two lanes anyone wanting to make a left turn is going to have to wait 2  times longer for an open space to make a left turn.  It would be the same situation for anyone wanting to cross the street –  pedestrian or car – you have to wait at least twice as long.  I am a biker – I ride on the side streets if the main streets are too busy.   This will cause cars to be waiting in line longer – burning up more fuel.  Also when we slow the speed limit that has a significant impact of fuel effiencey.  Changing from 35 MPH to 25 MPH can reduce gas milelage by 20%.  This has a significant impact on the quantity of fossil fuel be burned – slower is less effiecent.

  • Andy February 5, 2022 (9:47 am)

    I agree not a good idea.  The coridor has to deal with a certain number of cars.  If it is changed to one lane in each direction the density of cars doubles.  The left turn lane is a nice idea but if the road is going to be narrowed down to two lanes anyone wanting to make a left turn is going to have to wait 2  times longer for an open space to make a left turn.  It would be the same situation for anyone wanting to cross the street –  pedestrian or car – you have to wait at least twice as long.  I am a biker – I ride on the side streets if the main streets are too busy.   This will cause cars to be waiting in line longer – burning up more fuel.  Also when we slow the speed limit that has a significant impact of fuel effiencey.  Changing from 35 MPH to 25 MPH can reduce gas milelage by 20%.  This has a significant impact on the quantity of fossil fuel be burned – slower is less effiecent.

  • Phoenix February 5, 2022 (11:15 am)

    “We don’t need bike lanes. I haven’t seen bikes there.” has the same energy as “We don’t need a bridge. I haven’t seen anyone swimming across there.” 

  • Kathy February 5, 2022 (11:25 am)

    Thanks to double jeopardy, no street that is two general traffic lanes each direction is safe for pedestrians to cross without a red light signal for cars with a leading pedestrian interval cycle. Putting bike lanes on this stretch will increase patronage of the businesses along it. I am glad to see a great community like White Center planned to get some safer infrastructure for people walking and biking. Wish it could be sooner.

  • spooled February 5, 2022 (11:25 am)

    A terrible idea.  Upgrade the flashing crosswalk beacons to actual red stoplights (like in front of Roxbury Safeway) to help peds cross and then leave the rest of it alone.   If this becomes one lane each way it will be as slow and useless as trying to drive down 16th from 100th to Roxbury and a sizeable percentage of traffic will simply divert to side streets.   Expect more traffic on 26th and any east-west neighborhood street that connects to 16th.

    • Andy February 5, 2022 (12:05 pm)

      I agree with Spooled.  More people will drive down side streets.  They are not controlled – this could lead to more injuries on side streets.

      • Bus February 5, 2022 (3:01 pm)

        Nobody that knows the neighborhood is going to choose 15th and get stuck behind the 120/H Line.  Fourteenth doesn’t go through.  Seventeenth is a labyrinth.  Anyone who thinks they’re going to get somewhere faster using an alternative to 16th doesn’t know the neighborhood AT ALL and will definitely only try that once.  If they do want to go all the way down to 26th, great!  It’s also one lane in either direction so I’m not sure what the upgrade is there, but it’s a good road, with plenty of capacity.  The east-west streets won’t see much increase in traffic because they don’t take you to any north-south streets worth travelling on.

        • CMT February 7, 2022 (10:21 am)

          Respectfully, if you think that people do not go down to 26th (and through Shorewood) speeding, in order to avoid Ambaum and 16th I would say that YOU are the one that doesn’t know the neighborhood AT ALL.  And there are no sidewalks on many of the side streets that angry drivers fly down to avoid Ambaum/16th.

    • DH February 6, 2022 (9:53 am)

      This, this, this! The added parking is a unnecessary. The bike lanes don’t seem like a good idea either. I usually go down 16th/Ambaum when I want to get to Burien but I might have to move over to 1st or even 509 with this change.  

  • AmandaK February 5, 2022 (12:02 pm)

    I think this is a great idea!  More improvements in White Center please.  I really like option 2 as there are other alternatives for biking .  I would never ride on 16th, when 15th or 17th, or any other street will be less congested.    This will give that area a real community feel as opposed to a thoroughfare for travel between West Seattle and Burien.  Huzzah King County! 

  • Mj February 5, 2022 (2:13 pm)

    Did the County identify the average daily trips that use the road corridor?  

  • Stephen February 5, 2022 (3:32 pm)

    No more bike lanes or bike parking areas please!  The ones we already have are hardly being used and take up valuable space.  I think we’ve proven that, if we build it, they will NOT come.  

    • Rocket February 5, 2022 (8:53 pm)

      I love it:  this street is barely used so be sure to keep it structured for way more cars than are necessary and don’t try to be welcoming to any other modality.

  • Juan February 5, 2022 (3:45 pm)

    Why can’t the bike lane be moved to 17th Ave SW? I don’t understand why the bikes need to be near the traffic. The drivers and biker riders are both aggressive and don’t follow the rules of the road.

    • Andy February 5, 2022 (8:10 pm)

      Great Idea Juan.  I am a bike rider.  I find some of the new bike lane arrangements more dangerous than the regular street.  All of post sticking up are hazards.  They have put bike lanes between parked cars and the side walk.  I wonder how many bikes run into car doors that were opened up by the people in parked cars……When it comes to biking danger I am much more likely to be hurt by the pot holes and uneven roads.

    • Bus February 5, 2022 (11:08 pm)

      Juan, 17th Ave doesn’t have sidewalks most of the way through White Center so the cars park irregularly along the street.  Makes it more difficult to place a bike lane, or have any kind of predictable car movement to protect bicyclists.

  • Gill & Alex February 5, 2022 (3:46 pm)

    Good meeting Thursday evening. Some important issues discussed.One was: “16TH SW RECHANNELIZATION PROJECT”. We do have some concerns as this is likely to redirect traffic onto 15th & 17th. Already many vehicles go straight ahead south on 17th just before reaching Chase Bank. This has been going on for some time. Much of the traffic goes all the way south to 106th/107th before turning back onto 16th south. However, the positive side is, hopefully, it will slow traffic on 16th as we often see cars going 50+ mph. Some even use the turn lane to zoom around other cars. So, please register your input to KC.The second was the: “NORTH HIGHLINE SUBAREA PLAN” particularly the upzoning of Residential R-6 properties. Looking forward to promised maps that will allow us to better see what is proposed. But remember this is your community so make sure to let KC know what you think.Finally, was the “FIREWORKS BAN”. Enforcement will be complicated but it looks like fewer fireworks in the future which will make us safer. Bet, our cats and dogs will be happier as well.

  • Robert February 5, 2022 (8:52 pm)

    Ambaum 116 and south is being reduced from 4 lanes to 2. Result- greater back ups and more side road usage with drivers speeding in residential places to make up most time.I fear doing the same on the north end will just create more agitation.  Have reckless and careless drivers removed from the roads.  Cycling in automotive shared pavement sounds good in theory- or more a death trap.choke holding traffic is like watching a pot full of boiling water spill over.

  • Tom February 6, 2022 (5:07 am)

    So the response to speeding and violating crosswalks is to clog the street and put in unnecessary parking of bike lanes?How about enforcing the laws? Get some KCSO units out there and start harassing the speeders and dangerous drivers. They’ll get the message.My concern also is that I live on 19th SW and the stretch between 107th and 112th becomes a high-speed bypass of 16th. This will make it worse

    • Bus February 6, 2022 (1:38 pm)

      That stretch of 19th is only two blocks and the light at 112th is terrible.  It is also not parallel to anything that is being rechannelized, so I’m not sure why there would be an impact at all.  KCSO (as you probably know if you live on 19th in White Center) has never been a department that sets up speed traps or does much in the way of routine enforcement of anything.  They have gone years and years with only a few officers to serve the entirety of White Center and they haven’t at any point that I’ve lived in the area (nor do they now) have the resources to do nuisance enforcement.  This comes up in the conversation about annexation every time.  There is a way to slow people down without paying for extra police to babysit people.  White Center already has one of the highest tax rates in the county.  Why not just fix the road?

      • CMT February 7, 2022 (8:55 pm)

        Because the road isn’t the problem that needs to be “fixed.”

  • Nuclear Marc February 6, 2022 (5:29 am)

    With 2 injuries per year, how does this stack up with local, State and National averages?I know the concept of zero traffic accidents is ideal, but I don’t think fiscally achievable.Any thought to making the intersections along Roxbury, Delridge, and 16th Arterials “All Walk”?My experience has been, pedestrians and autos having access to the same space, at the same time.Separation by time and dedicated turn lane lighting will reduce urgent drivers and jack rabbit starts.I hope the city chooses to act smarter, instead of more expensive.         

    • Look Both Ways February 7, 2022 (8:45 pm)

      100% with Nuclear Marc here. 2 incidents per year across multiple intersections of an arterial is not cause to spend ~$1M on redesigning multiple intersections. Think of the effects that will have on adjacent, quieter streets which will experience increased redirected & impatient traffic.

  • Gary February 6, 2022 (8:05 am)

    They need to fill in the big pothole/dip in the road at 107th/16th on the south side of 107th

  • David February 6, 2022 (9:38 am)

    Maybe adding a raised speed-bump type crosswalk like the one in the WS junction will help make it safer for pedestrians.  Start issuing tickets to speeders again and they should get double fined in that high pedestrian area as a deterrent while helping to pay for the policing.

  • NotOnHolden February 6, 2022 (9:55 am)

    Just because you may not personally ride a bike does not mean you don’t know or care about someone that does, same with pedestrians.  Making this area safer for pedestrians and having dedicated bike lanes is a fantastic idea!

  • Kathy February 6, 2022 (11:26 am)

    Cars: burning down the planet using fossil fuels (EVs mostly excepted). Biking and walking are the cleanest modes of transportation. So what justification is there for the outcry against bike infrastructure?  Every street in the city should include infrastructure for safe bicycle commuting. Reducing general traffic lanes reduces car speeding which reduces fossil fuel burning. 

    • Auntie February 6, 2022 (1:19 pm)

      While I agree with you for the most part, I have to disagree with the “reducing general traffic lanes reduces car speeding which reduces fossil fuel burning.” Cars sitting, idling in stalled traffic aren’t saving anything.

    • Andy February 8, 2022 (8:40 pm)

      To  minimize burning of fossil fuels you should drive a car to maximise it’s miles per gallon fuel consumptions.  Most cars get the best gas mileage at around 40-45 miles per hour.  Slower and you will burn more gallons of fuel per mile.

  • snowskier February 7, 2022 (9:57 am)

    My number one question about where to put a bike lane is ‘Would I ride it with a kid’?  The greenways and other side streets that have been updated with bike infrastructure receive a yes.  Biking in a bike lane on an arterial always gets a strong No vote.  Keep bikes on quiet side streets parallel to arterials like the do in Vancouver, safer for the side streets and safer for the bicycles.  Keep the arterials for cars, buses, delivery trucks, etc.  

    • Don Brubeck February 7, 2022 (3:41 pm)

      Snowskier, are you talking in generalities, or do you have a specific street in mind?  Have you tried riding with kids on 17th, 15th, or another nearby street that goes through?  Is one of those really great?  I don’t see one that meets your criteria in White Center.

      • snowskier February 8, 2022 (12:58 pm)

        I’d put people on 14th or 18th to get through.  14th is pretty flat with connections to residential streets at the north and south.  You’d need a jog onto 15th to get around the park but it wouldn’t interfere with the major traffic flow on 16th/17th.  Some curb bulbs on 16th with crossing signals would make it a safe and easy crossing for pedestrians.

  • Look Both Ways February 7, 2022 (9:16 pm)

    This is a commercial zone with a 25mph speed limit. It deserves a continuation of 4 lanes. This project cites 22 incidents in the area (7 blocks) over 10 years….so only 2.2 incidents per year. Does anyone really think there won’t be 2 incidents/year by adding congestion? Lastly, people shouldn’t always presume that pedestrian or bicycle incidents are automatically the fault of an auto driver. Often it’s the other way around. Enforce the traffic laws better (which results in more revenue) if issues worsen. There are much better ways to spend this ~$1M in funding, such as on bridges, road maintenance, highway improvements, etc.

    • WSB February 7, 2022 (9:58 pm)

      I don’t have specifics on the 20 other crashes. But if you follow the link in the story, you’ll see the two crashes that killed people were most definitely the drivers’ fault.

      • Look Both Ways February 8, 2022 (9:34 am)

        And those two, both terribly sad incidents from 6 & 7 years ago, were not caused by an unsafe road/intersection. Both victims were in  crosswalks with flashing beacons activated. One driver was a drunk, unlicensed multiple DUI offender.

  • Dr. Steiner February 8, 2022 (10:03 am)

    The absence of traffic enforcement will only lead to increasing accident rates, regardless of how many millions of dollars are spent on road revisions.   Hire more police, and provide to them the support they need to revive public safety, instead of finding ways to create new public work projects.   I have seen no traffic enforcement on Ambaum Boulevard in over six years.  From my office window, I can see drivers violating red lights all day while they average 45 mph.

  • Dr. Steiner February 8, 2022 (11:21 am)

    I have to add to my previous reply.  I have been a cyclist for decades.  While I was a licensed bicycle racer, I would enjoy long training rides on various terrain around the Northwest.  Today, I am afraid to ride on any arterial.  Drivers are simply less careful and less respectful than in the past.   Building bicycle lanes on busy roads is the wrong strategy.  The number of working citizens who commute by bicycle remains quite small, and inviting them onto arterial roadways only invites disaster.  Better to build those bicycle lanes on lesser traveled roadways.  Only by doing so will we provide a safer experience for the bicyclists and a more effective means for integrating bicycles into our transportation system.

  • Frustrated Driver February 10, 2022 (8:47 am)

    The entire SDOT needs to be fired.  Typical SDOT strategy that doesn’t improve the roads for drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.  All based on statistics that don’t  show significant enough danger to warrant their aggressive war on cars.  Seattle’s next plan is to ban driving.

    • WSB February 10, 2022 (4:43 pm)

      Guess it’s not clear enough above. This is NOT in the city and SDOT is NOT involved. I mention it because there are a fair number of people from West Seattle who travel in this area.

  • Grouchy Gato February 12, 2022 (9:20 pm)

    Both of these are terrible ideas.  Really makes me good and mad that the people who make these decisions about things that directly effect our lives do not live in or commute through our neighborhood.   I am a night shift worker at a hospital and the bus biking and walking are not a safe option for me or any of the other thousands of other shift workers that live here and commute to Seattle for work.  We have already had to suffer through endless construction and huge traffic increases through our neighborhood because of the bridge closure and bus lanes and other construction “upgrades”.  I am working 12 hour shifts on my feet all night and getting less than 5 hours of sleep because or all this BS.  I have to wonder if they actually have any idea what the demographics in this neighborhood are.  We are not Monday through Friday 9-5 office workers. We are shift workers.  Asking someone (especially women alone)  to spend 3 hours and three transfers and a long wait in pioneer square after dark is effing rude and stupid.  My job is already hard enough.  I see crap like this that aims to snarl traffic even more and wonder why I am continuing to be punished in the name of other peoples idea of progress.  Really frosts my cookies.  

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