LANE CHANGE: What’s planned on 16th SW near SW Holden

Maybe you’ve noticed the new, roughed-in lane markings on 16th SW near SW Austin and SW Holden [map]; Jimmy did, and emailed us about it:

We just drove south on 16th to go to the 1st Ave Bridge and when you drive up to 16th and Austin (intersection right before left turn to Holden) noticed some new lane markings in the southbound lanes. This divides up the road right before the light with the left side going straight and the right side right turn only. Previously everyone had been lane-splitting there anyway and used the right side for going straight as well, as to continue south on 16th, as the left-turn line onto Holden is almost always backed up. Additionally, on 16th just south of Austin there are white lane markings to indicate no one should be in the right side there.

We asked SDOT about it; here’s the explanation:

We do have a traffic improvement scheduled for that location. The layout marks were put down on Friday in advance of the permanent paint line striping.

The reason for this intersection project is to simplify the operations for SB traffic and address some complaints that we’ve received about drivers changing lanes just south of the 16th and Austin intersection. Southbound drivers trying to get around the tail end of the southbound left turn queue to Holden inadvertently change lanes. They change lanes without awareness that there is a second SB lane that they are cutting off.

No date set yet for the permanent restriping – it’s weather-dependent.

47 Replies to "LANE CHANGE: What's planned on 16th SW near SW Holden"

  • Delridge420 March 1, 2022 (11:39 am)

    How is this going to help anything? The “traffic improvement” will just bottleneck traffic trying to go straight through on 16th and Holden behind everyone trying to turn left on to Holden. The real problem is drivers turning right on Austin blocking 16th trying to get into the left turn lane for Holden.  This does nothing to address that. 

  • Phil Hansen March 1, 2022 (11:49 am)

    Sdot saying they are making a traffic Improvement that’s a funny one!

  • sam-c March 1, 2022 (12:06 pm)

    That’s weird.  For people that actually use that stretch, it really makes more sense for the SB right lane to be straight/ right turn only, and the left lane for people queuing up to turn left on Holden to head out of West Seattle. As Jimmy mentioned, the left turners are usually backed up to that intersection.    Now people and buses (125) wanting to go straight will get stuck behind those queued up to turn left. 

    • Jort March 1, 2022 (12:59 pm)

      You should feel fortunate that they’re retaining the right-turn only lane. Just because drivers have been inventing an imaginary two lane road where only one lane exists doesn’t mean it’s OK or legal. Southbound 16th Ave SW, south of Austin, is a one lane road and just because people have been illegally squeezing two cars into that one lane doesn’t mean it was correct or legal. If this causes backups and people don’t like them, I encourage them to ride the bus or get on a bike. 

      • StopCuttingDownTrees March 1, 2022 (3:06 pm)

        Buses are physically dangerous to passengers, as fentanyl and meth users are smoking those substances on board. The roads belong to all of us and we can all adapt them as we see fit.

        • Jort March 1, 2022 (3:54 pm)

          Oh please. The percentage of people injured or killed on buses is infinitesimal compared to automobile casualties, and it’s not even close. Give me a break. Thousands of Seattle residents ride the bus every day despite fringe, reactionary garbage about “fentanyl and meth” scaremongering from people who are too afraid of sharing space with a poor person to step on public transportation.

          • M. Viney March 1, 2022 (8:17 pm)

            The only “reactionary garbage” here is from you Jort, as usual.  Public transit in Seattle is a dangerous drug-filled disgrace, as reported here by transit workers just two weeks ago.

          • Canton March 1, 2022 (9:42 pm)

            If you ever use your anti-car sentiment with the same passion to improve public transit, you may get somewhere. The only viable historic public transportation was conducted in the early 1900’s with the street car/trolley. You could travel from WS to Ballard/Greenwood in one seat. Once they instituted fares, ridership went down, especially with the modernization of autos. The busses today are unlike the airlines, you pay up for a non stop flight. The only way to increase transit is to privatize it with charter busses with amenities. Have smaller busses for the addicted and mentally ill, of course all subsidized, with bullet proof cabs, to facilitate their traveling needs. Oh wait, they got rid of that, the downtown free ride zone.

        • rocket March 1, 2022 (8:40 pm)

          Stop it.  Like you have actually been on a bus recently.  Buses are buses.  Lots of people do things that most others wouldnt on the bus and have for a long time.  They have always been places where you might come across someone being gross but are a great way to get around even with the occasional scofflaw.  There is not rampant smoking of drugs on buses anymore than there is rampant aggressive driving which is actually dangerous and harmful not just unsettling like seeing the after effects of hopelessness and despair, SMH.

      • Mike March 1, 2022 (3:45 pm)

        I’m sorry, Jort, but you are wrong regarding this point.Per Seattle Municipal Code 11.14.375 Multiple Lane Street. “Multiple lane street” means any street the roadway of which is of sufficient width to accommodate reasonably two (2) or more separate lanes of vehicular traffic in the same direction, each lane of which shall be not less than eight (8) feet in width, and whether or not such lanes are marked. (RCW 46.04.350)This means that the approach is a two-lane approach.

      • spooled March 1, 2022 (5:25 pm)

        jort:  Next time you drive through there, notice the TWO sets of loop detectors for the traffic signal.  That means they anticipated two lanes of travel.

      • 1994 March 1, 2022 (9:03 pm)

        Doesn’t the Sdot explanation for improvement say there are 2 lanes now? Not 1 lane as the jort says?The reason for this intersection project is to simplify the operations for SB traffic and address some complaints that we’ve received about drivers changing lanes just south of the 16th and Austin intersection. Southbound drivers trying to get around the tail end of the southbound left turn queue to Holden inadvertently change lanes. They change lanes without awareness that there is a second SB lane that they are cutting off.

  • Helga March 1, 2022 (12:13 pm)

    So… based on their ‘research’ their goal is to make that intersection worse?  Way to do SDOT please slow down traffic movement and create more bottlenecks.

    • SadAboutBridge March 1, 2022 (1:19 pm)

      Since the bridge closure I’ve yet to find traffic alterations (tagged as “improvements” by SDOT) that actually improve the flow of traffic. It is actually mind boggling and I have no clue who these engineers are. I’ve been driving a vehicle for 15 years now and a few weeks of the same route is all it takes to understand how traffic should be routed. It’s almost as if none of these “researchers” actually drive on the roads. 

      • The King March 1, 2022 (4:31 pm)

        Up in Vancouver they have been doing exact “improvements” as seattle. At least up there they can be honest and do actually say that the modifications are to get drivers off the road and take a bus, walk or bicycle. Here in Seattle they are acting like people don’t see what’s going on, what’s shocking is that most don’t. Speed bumps, safe streets (closures) roundabouts with stop signs, road diets, more stop lights etc. I am going the opposite way if traffic during the week and yes this is anecdotal but over the last two years things are only getting worse traffic wise. More idling time, more frustration. People are losing it 

        • Canton March 1, 2022 (7:44 pm)

          Spot on, that’s exactly how it’s going down. The stop peeing on my foot, and telling me it’s raining analogy. I’m sure the majority of cars heading east up dumar way, are going to get to holden to head west again. 

      • rocket March 1, 2022 (8:43 pm)

        BS.  The intersection of West Marginal and Highland Park is so much more efficient than at the outset of the closure its not even close.  I think the data says they have improved wait time from certain directions of that intersection by up to 40% and I  dont need a table to tell me that: I have noticed all the improvements and the way they helped.  Alot of you just have a negative attitude towards anything you dont think of or understand the benefit of right away and have short if not selective memory.

  • RB March 1, 2022 (12:18 pm)

    I find this very confusing.  If you are traveling South on 16th and want to continue South rather than turn East onto Holden you stay to the right and avoid the left turn line.  Is this restriping going to make everyone funnel into one lane?  If so it seems ridiculous.  

    • sam-c March 1, 2022 (12:25 pm)

      Yes, that’s what will happen.

  • sw March 1, 2022 (12:44 pm)

    Agree that this is likely to add more confusion and delay to the current situation.  The real issue is that this intersection simply cannot handle the volume of traffic that currently flows through.  No amount of striping or other traffic calming measures will fix this and it will be an issue until the bridge reopens.

  • Jort March 1, 2022 (12:44 pm)

    Yet another example of motorists choosing to invent and make up their own traffic lanes wherever they “feel” it is most convenient for them. For perhaps one of the most egregious examples of this, visit the intersection of Morgan and 35th. Did you know that this is a one lane road on Morgan? Yet people pull up next to each other, side-by-side, illegally, as though somehow there is an imaginary, special curb lane meant for turning right. This is a substantial danger to pedestrians and encourages further lawlessness among motorists. Don’t believe me? Look at the city’s road markings map:The city, through its automobile advocacy organization “SDOT,” should be narrowing Morgan and installing curb bulbs at this intersection to limit this illegal driving behavior and protect vulnerable road users.

    • Wseattleite March 1, 2022 (3:12 pm)

      Yes, common sense will often overtake unenforceable and illogical blunders that are for a time illegal.  BTW, in Seattle one only has to follow the laws one agrees with. Did you not get the memo?

    • Municipal Code strikes again March 1, 2022 (5:21 pm)

      Thanks for the helpful example JORT of what MIKE was explaining in another response. 8 + 8 = 16.  Based on the map you provide Morgan has 17′ feet available in each directions making it a multiple lane street.  I have added language about right turns also from the Municipal Code for your reference. .  Multiple
      lane street” means any street the roadway of which is of sufficient width to accommodate reasonably two (2) or more separate lanes of vehicular traffic in the same direction, each lane of which shall be not less than eight (8) feet in width, and whether or not such lanes are marked. (RCW 46.04.350)  

      Right Turns: The operator of a vehicle intending to turn right at an intersection shall make both the approach for a right turn and a right turn as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway. (RCW 46.61.290(1))

      • Jort March 2, 2022 (11:13 am)

        Thank you for these citations. I am not above admitting that I erred in my assertion about Morgan, though I do not have a measurement for the portion of 16th. While I believe this is an unacceptable safety risk, it appears codified. I will take this as an opportunity to lobby our city’s automobile advocacy organization, SDOT, to have this code changed to improve non-motorist safety at intersections, as well as changes to curb distance. It is an unfortunate reminder that so many dangerous pro-motorist accommodations, which put vulnerable road users at direct risk, are entrenched in our planning documents. The future of road safety requires confronting these outdated design standards. I appreciate the correction and the reminder.

    • rocket March 1, 2022 (8:45 pm)

      As noted above you are legally required to turn right from as far right as safely possible which will often result in two columns of traffic approaching intersections just as this one.  Stand down Jort.  You are plain old wrong.

  • Lionel March 1, 2022 (12:55 pm)

    I have beyond zero confidence in SDOT or anyone within the Seattle government to fix any road or traffic issues in West Seattle. The work they have done the past couple years has made traffic way worse and created so many safety hazards it is mind blowing. Not to mention that with the increased traffic idling times increased creating more green house gases.  The Delridge Way changes have made a mess. So obviously those who made these choices do not drive these roads &  did not talk to our community. Just pushing their transit/bike only agenda that is not realistic to lower income or middle income families that have no other choice but to drive. Council person Herbold needs to go and get someone that will work FOR US and push for us not just play the City Council political games. If you don’t agree then I ask “where is our bridge been?” could have replaced it with a new one by now.

    • bill March 1, 2022 (8:52 pm)

      Please explain where this bike only agenda is manifested. Implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan is so far behind schedule it is basically abandoned.

  • Sparky March 1, 2022 (1:00 pm)

    SDOT proving that after 2 years that they can still make their failure to keep the West Seattle Bridge open even worse.  

  • StopCuttingDownTrees March 1, 2022 (1:03 pm)

    If this causes a worse traffic jam situation drivers should stage a mass-honking campaign while stuck in traffic until SDOT changes it back. It’s just paint.

    • miws March 1, 2022 (3:09 pm)

      Oh, I’m sure dozens of horns blasting will sit *real* well with the people who live and work nearby… —Mike

      • sam-c March 1, 2022 (4:22 pm)

        There already is lots of honking on Tuesday / Thursday afternoons, for a good reason.   Maybe people throughout the area are used to it.  (Of course honking for this added headache might not be as friendly).   

  • Jeepney March 1, 2022 (1:11 pm)

    At least SDOT is consistent.

  • Eric B March 1, 2022 (1:29 pm)

    This is indeed a case of SDOT making things worse at this significant bottleneck.   It will help some –  people that want to turn right but get backed up behind people going straight.  But yesterday only 1-3 cars going straight were able to get through each light cycle (I waited through half a dozen) because people turning left had to wait until all the oncoming traffic was done and then race through on the yellow.  It caused a lot of rapid lane changes.

  • trickycoolj March 1, 2022 (1:41 pm)

    And what about the rest of us approaching from Austin needing to jog over to Holden to continue eastbound? We have to cross all the lanes no matter what.  Gets even more exciting when someone northbound on 16th wants to turn left into the alley behind 7-11 and  clogs up both sides. 

  • fed up with SDOT March 1, 2022 (1:43 pm)

    ” They change lanes without awareness that there is a second SB lane that they are cutting off.”…So rather than CLEARLY painting the lane markings north of SW Austin, SDOT will just take away that right lane and create MORE congestion and probably increased road rage there. Seems to fall completely in line with SDOT’s irrational thinking….

  • uncle loco March 1, 2022 (2:59 pm)

    This will force more traffic onto the Highland Park side streets. Might as well get rid of those useless “safe street” barricades.

    • sam-c March 1, 2022 (4:20 pm)

      Hmmm… in my mind, this impacts Riverview/ Puget Ridge area more.  Highland Park is to the SE of the area being reconfigured.

      • uncle loco March 1, 2022 (9:05 pm)

        Drivers trying to get to the 1st ave bridge will cut through HP. There’s no route to Highland Park Way through Riverview or Puget Ridge that I’m aware of.

  • KD March 1, 2022 (4:01 pm)

    You really should call or email SDOT and let them know your thoughts on this clearly stupid change. I just did. If they don’t hear from you, the won’t know anything is wrong. Here’s their contact info.

  • Kort March 1, 2022 (4:05 pm)

    What the F is SDOT smoking these days?  People trying to go straight (south) on 16th now have to wait in (and needlessly congest) the constantly backed-up left turn lane?  WTF?!? I encourage everyone to ignore the right-turn only lane and continue to use it to go straight.  Most people wanting to turn right there would have just gone down Orchard anyway.  Come on SDOT get your heads out of your asses.

  • ktrapp March 1, 2022 (4:25 pm)

    That intersection is horrible from any direction.  As someone who takes a left onto 16th from WB Holden, I can’t believe they haven’t put a left-turn light there.  With as bad as the backup gets from people coming up Austin, a lot of people use 20th to go up that hill eastbound.  Meaning those of us turning left onto SB 16th (the way the arterial continues) sit and wait, while traffic trying to go straight backs up behind us.   That intersection would be substantially better if people trying to make left turns in any direction didn’t feel like they had to thread a needle between oncoming cars.

  • Mj March 1, 2022 (5:43 pm)

    Mike – thank you for posting the SMC that clearly identifies Jort’s false statement regarding the number of street lanes.

    Regarding the intersection channelization the typical configuration is to have a LT pocket with a thru/RT adjacent to it that operates safer than what SDoT has planned.  

  • Toussaint Charbonneau March 1, 2022 (6:41 pm)

    I have a secret route from Lincoln Park to the First Avenue Bridge that takes less than 10 minutes both ways.  I can’t tell anyone as everyone else would take it.  I even turn off my phone so Google and Waze don’t figure it out!

    • rocket March 1, 2022 (8:49 pm)

      Surely your secret route has you using arterials to travel rather than residential streets.  Otherwise you are just a rude unclever person endangering the safety of those on the side streets.

      Anyone taking Othello to California to Thistle to 16th to Cloverdale to 14th to Thistle to 9th should be ashamed of themselves.

      • rocket March 1, 2022 (8:56 pm)

        Same goes for anyone taking barton 35th to trenton to 9th even that isnt much faster than just taking the recommended routes and isnt that much more impactful on non arterial areas.The main point stands that whichever one of the “secret” routes you are taking increases your likelihood of interfacing with a pedestrian and can only be made in faster time by speeding anyway.

  • Craig March 1, 2022 (7:36 pm)

    Wow,  this appears to make no sense at at, especially considering that they are creating a right turn only lane onto “non arterial” Holden(find the designation here     and that a small minority of drivers  heading east  from sb 16th will be taking  Holden over SW Austin.   I agree with others that the right lane should support through traffic and that this new lane change will cause more congestion and pollution. My guess is that this is a step that SDOT is taking to see what happens when southbound and east bound traffic are merged into one lane so that they might eventually do away with the silly (soon to be)right turn lane and install a SB bike lane on 16th.   There has been an ongoing debate regarding bike lanes here  and this is the only explanation that I can fathom because it makes zero sense otherwise.   

  • Craig March 2, 2022 (5:04 pm)

    It would be helpful to see a design to fully understand what is in the works.  This statement “ Additionally, on 16th just south of Austin there are white lane markings to indicate no one should be in the right side there.”    leads me to believe that there will be only one southbound lane on 16th S of Austin and no more dedicated left turn lane,  is that the case?  Are there drawings available?  I believe the design that Sdot (very briefly mixed into a large presentation) showed HPAC  attendees last fall depicted the right turn only at Austin st with a new bike box  next to the triangle, then the existing left turn lane and a combined through lane/right turn lane at southbound 16th at Holden. 

Sorry, comment time is over.