The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is spending millions of dollars to repave 25th Ave NE in 2017, but isn’t planning to make any significant safety improvements despite numerous problems along the street. In addition to that, University Village is currently proposing to build additional parking garages to create 572 new parking stalls, which will encourage even more people to bring their cars to this dangerous street. The proposed parking garage will make the walking environment along 25th Ave NE significantly worse. We need to stop designing 25th Ave NE as a car sewer, and start planning it as a safe, welcoming space for people.

Where SDOT plans to focus the repaving effort on 25th Ave NE. (City if Seattle)
Where SDOT plans to focus the repaving effort on 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle)

According to the City’s website, the repaving project of 25th Ave NE will cost $3.6 million dollars and span 1.1 miles of road. The only safety improvement being made is the addition of a pedestrian crossing at NE 49th St (in front of a University Village entrance). This stretch of roadway is four to five lanes wide, and sees numerous speed-related collisions and injuries each year.

In just the past three years alone, there were 140 reported collisions on the part of 25th Ave NE that’s being repaved. Those crashes sent 56 people to the hospital. Seven of those people who were injured were walking, and another seven were biking. The remaining 42 injured people were in cars. The most serious of those injuries involved crashes with only a single vehicle; in other words, people were driving way too fast and crashed. Click here to view a map with collision data.

Three years of collision data on 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle / Google)
Three years of collision data on 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle / Google)
Three years of collision data on 25th Ave NE involving people walking and biking. (City of Seattle / Google)
Three years of collision data on 25th Ave NE involving people walking and biking. (City of Seattle / Google)

Looking at the traffic volumes for the section of 25th Ave NE being repaved, it’s clear that safety improvements could easily be made through a standard road diet. Road diets generally work with traffic volumes of less than 25,000 vehicles per day, and 25th Ave NE has less than 12,000 vehicles per day north of NE 49th St. For comparison, NE 75th St has around 22,000 vehicles per day and was successfully transitioned to three lanes with collisions and speeding drastically reduced, while average speed actually increased. As a result, the roadway became more efficient for drivers, while also becoming safer for everyone.

Average daily traffic volumes for streets in Northeast Seattle. (City of Seattle)
Average daily traffic volumes for streets in Northeast Seattle. (City of Seattle)

25th Ave NE has numerous destinations that people want to walk and bike to. The Burke-Gilman Trail crosses it (and was even detoured onto it for a period of time), and it is a major transit corridor. People taking the bus need to safely get across the street. Along with University Village, there are many stores, restaurants, homes, and businesses along 25th Ave NE. Ravenna Park is right there. The area around 25th Ave NE also has one of the highest instances of car-free households in Seattle.

Density for zero-motor vehicle households for Northeast Seattle. (City of Seattle)
Density for zero-motor vehicle households for Northeast Seattle. (City of Seattle)
Detours and trail repairs in and around the Burke-Gilman Trail.
Detours and trail repairs in and around the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Despite all of this, University Village is planning on creating an eight-story parking garage with a blank wall facing 25th Ave NE. Aside from this blank wall having a negative effect on the pedestrian experience, the creation of two garage entrances on 25th Ave NE will pose a danger to people on the sidewalk. These garage entrances will also result in more cars stopping and turning onto and off of 25th Ave NE, which is likely to result in additional crashes given the already dangerous nature of the street.

Rendering of University Village's expansion plans near 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle)
Rendering of University Village’s expansion plans near 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle)
Proposed garage and access layout of expansion building next to 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle)
Proposed garage and access layout of expansion building next to 25th Ave NE. (City of Seattle)
Alternative massings and layouts for garage access to 25th Ave NE from proposed expansion building. (City of Seattle)
Alternative massings and layouts for garage access to 25th Ave NE from proposed expansion building. (City of Seattle)

University Village’s full design plans can be found here.

25th Ave NE suffers from a classic “stroad” design. The roadway is designed to move cars through the corridor as quickly as possible, while the adjacent destinations and walking and biking environment encourage lots of turning movements, stopping, and crossing. This combination results in crashes and injuries. Adding a parking garage on 25th Ave NE will only make things worse.

We need to let the City know that this is unacceptable. Please email and call your Councilmembers, the Mayor, and SDOT to let them know that safety improvements must be part of next year’s repaving project. Show up to the design review board meeting tonight (Monday, December 19th) and let them know that a blank wall facing the sidewalk is not okay, nor are additional garage entrances on 25th Ave NE.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. I’d strongly be in favor of a “road diet” or similar fix on 65th. That E-W arterial is similar to 75th, but even more dangerous. But 25th Ave is not at all really similar to 75th St. 75th was improved for everyone (cars, transit, bikes) by adding a dedicated center turn lane, which, while resulting in the loss of one part-time lane each way, now makes vehicle traffic much more predicable and allows it to overall flow better even with less lanes. Most of the portion of 25th that is being repaved (other than from 55th up the hill to 65th) largely has a turn lane already. The only big improvement that could be made would be to add a dedicated turn lane/light at 55th. which is a consistent choke point with dangerous weaving as folks try to get around a stuck left turning car. Removing street parking and adding a turn lane and bike lines from 55th-65th might be useful, but that area is less congested and it’s unclear how many people would really use a bike lane up that grade (as opposed to using the greenway on 39th or the new lanes up on Roosevelt and 15th which already exist).

    And the statement that “[25th] is a major transit corridor” is a complete joke that shows a lack of familiarity with the area and inability to read the Metro service maps. The only bus service on that stretch of 25th is the 372X from Bothel to the UW, which is a limited service commuter line. You’ll often see them while driving home and getting stuck behind it in the right lane while trying to do the aforementioned weave around 55th, but overall that is a tough area to get by on just transit unless you’re a young and fit UW student who only ever has to walk up the viaduct or over to the U Village.

  2. Thanks for bringing this to the readers attention! U VIllage has been turning its back on the surrounding context/ city for so long, its hard to imagine something better & different. But with any other development, the community would balk at a giant above-ground parking garage. Why haven’t they made some connections to the BGT?! Why is there no retail fronting city streets?! Gotta fight the U Village behemoth.

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