After a driver hit and killed 30-year-old Nicholas Wolf on California Avenue SW just north of SW Findlay, much discussion ensued about pedestrian safety in the area. But neighbors have been working on it for a long time.
Today, neighbors received word that SDOT plans to upgrade the California/Findlay intersection to a pedestrian-activated half-signal. Here’s the letter they got from interim SDOT director Kristen Simpson:
… I am following up on my previous email to let you know that we recently completed our engineering evaluation of this location, and to share with you our plan for making improvements.
In our study, we considered several factors including traffic volumes along both California Avenue SW and SW Findlay Street, turning movement counts, numbers of people walking and biking, transit ridership, travel speeds, roadway geometry, adjacent land uses, proximity of neighborhood greenway connections, potential school crossings, nearby signalized crossing opportunities, existing intersection traffic control, and the collision history of the intersection. Based on our analysis, we plan to upgrade the existing yellow flashing beacons at the intersection to a pedestrian half signal. The pedestrian half signal can be activated by push buttons and will stop traffic on California Avenue SW with a red signal indication. This pedestrian half signal design and operation will be similar to that of the traffic control at the nearby Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Findlay Street intersection. We will be funding this upgrade through our existing programs – including the Levy to Move Seattle – and intend to deliver this improvement by the end of this year, barring unforeseen issues.
In addition, we will be implementing a painted curb bulb in the southeast and northwest quadrants to improve sightlines for pedestrians crossing at the intersection, and installing a median island on the south leg of California Ave SW, in close proximity to the intersection to reduce the open feel of California Avenue SW, prevent the use of the center turn lane as a through lane, and potentially reduce vehicle speeds. We anticipate implementing these improvements by the end of this year as well.
The intersection has two RapidRide C Line stations, southbound just south of the crosswalk, northbound just to the north.
As for the deadly crash – the investigation continues but the initial police narrative was obtained by independent journalist Ryan Packer and provided to WSB. In it, police say the 16-year-old driver who hit Mr. Wolf returned to the scene, with his father, about an hour after the crash. The narrative says he told officers that he was driving “50 to 55 miles per hour” northbound at the time of the crash. Mr. Wolf and his wife had just been dropped off by a friend on the west side of the street and were crossing to get to their residence on the east side of the street.