On Tuesday night, as Seattle awaited the first results in the primary election, the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee selected which projects across the city would receive around $8 million in grants for street improvements.
The projects were submitted by Seattle residents earlier this year, then prioritized via online survey, and finally the most popular projects were put to a vote earlier this spring. After more than 6,500 online votes as well as some in-person voting opportunities that the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods created to hear from a broader segment of the city, the top projects were forwarded over to the dozen or so members of the oversight committee to make the final choices.
The levy oversight committee was encouraged to focus on projects that would disproportionally serve communities in Seattle that have historically been underrepresented in transportation spending. That suggests focusing on projects that were higher-rated by the more widely representative in-person voting events which stood in contrast with the online voting, where respondents skewed older and whiter and District 6-er.
This is the second round of locally prioritized grants that has been paid for via the Move Seattle levy, with many of the projects selected in 2016 now completed. One notable exception, however, is the safety project at Mercer Middle School in Beacon Hill that was essentially cancelled after neighbors pushed back against traffic calming.
Because the first round of grants ran over budget, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) had reduced the amount available in this round of grants, but ended up allowing the board to pick almost $8 million, or just under $2 million more than had been allocated, by taking the money from the last round of street fund grants in 2022. This makes a certain amount of sense, as there were projects that were worthy of getting funding and projects will cost more in three years as a result of inflation.
Here are the winning projects that were selected Tuesday night:
Safe Pedestrian Crossing in South Delridge at SW Barton Street
Delridge at Barton is currently an unsignaled, unmarked intersection that’s a fair distance from nearby marked crossings. The $160,000 project here would add marked crosswalks on three sides of the intersection, add a rapid flashing beacon to improve visibility, and install new curb ramps for accessibility.
Pedestrian Improvements at Westwood Village Transit Center
In early July, a woman was hit and killed by a motorist while crossing the street at a mid-block crosswalk adjacent to the Westwood Village shopping center. This $453,000 project would attempt to improve safety directly to the east of where that incident occurred, by converting a signalized intersection at 26th Ave SW to an all-way pedestrian scramble and adding flashing beacons and marked crosswalks on all sides of the intersection at 25th Ave SW where there are currently none. Another smaller crosswalk along Barton at 24th Ave SW on the north side of the street would also be painted.
Improved Connection between 26th Ave SW Greenway and West Seattle Bridge Trail
This project, on the other end of Delridge Way, would spend $387,000 to connect the heavily used West Seattle bridge trail to the 26th Ave SW greenway with two separate projects: a (door zone) bike lane on SW Andover St between 26th Ave SW and Delridge Way, with a diagonal bike crossing for users to cross to the shared use path (sidewalk) on Delridge Way, and a new railing alongside the street on a segment of that sidewalk so that riders feel more comfortable alongside the 30-mph street.
New Signal at Roxbury St and Renton Ave S
This was originally proposed as a roundabout but changed to a full traffic signal through the SDOT evaluation process. Renton Ave S/S Roxbury/51st Ave is a massive intersection created by angled streets meeting. Insanely, there is not a traffic signal currently, just a flashing red light and stop signs.
This $1.3 million project would add signals, square off several legs of the intersection, mark bicycle zones at intersections, and create a median for pedestrians to utilize when crossing. Flashing beacons would also be added.
On a segment of Renton Ave S where there is currently a painted bike lane, the sidewalk would instead be widened to create a mixed-use path.
Georgetown to South Park Connection Improvement
E Marginal Way is a segment of the connection between Georgetown and South Park that currently has painted bike lanes. E Marginal Way is envisioned to have a multi-use trail, and this $400,000 project would increase visibility for pedestrians and cyclists using the intersection at 16th Ave S.
Beacon Ave Mobility Improvements
This $480,000 project would improve crossings near Beacon Hill Station on top of a full signal that was finally added to Lander Street outside the station entrance last year. Curb bulbs would reduce crossing distances.
S Stevens St doesn’t have any marked crosswalks, they would be added with flashing beacons in addition to curb extensions.
38th Ave S Traffic Circles
This project was submitted as the simple installation of four-way stops at two intersections near Hawthorne Elementary, but was changed to traffic circles by SDOT. They will cost $178,000.
Broadway and John Turn Signals
Broadway and Olive Way/John Street, directly in front of Capitol Hill Station, will get left turn signals to protected crossing pedestrians from turning vehicles. SDOT had previously said they would fund this but announced a lack of funds last year would mean they only painted new lane lines. Broadway and John Street is one of the busiest intersections in the city for pedestrians: the project page lists 1,000 people on foot per hour during peak times. The project cost is $945,000.
NE 65th Street Crossing Improvements
NE 65th St just received a Vision Zero corridor treatment but at the time, additional marked crosswalks were ruled out (counterintuitively) by low pedestrian crossing volumes. This project would spend $850,000 to add marked crosswalks at Brooklyn Ave NE, 14th, 21st, and 28th Avenues, as well as flashing beacons at the latter two intersections.
125th Street Safer Crossings
This project will spend $400,000 to create three additional crosswalks across NE 125th St at 35th Ave NE, 28th Ave NE, and 12th Ave NE, and add flashing beacons there.
Safe Walks to School in D5
This project will add additional crosswalks near several schools in District 5: Lakeside, Ingraham, Broadview Thompson, and Northgate. In several locations there are already existing crosswalks that the project will make more striking and noticeable through the use of community crosswalk design. The project cost is $200,000.
Little Brook Pedestrian Improvements
This would spend $1.1 million to construct new permanent concrete sidewalks on 32nd Ave NE between NE 135th St and NE 140th St with landscaping.
Crosswalk and Signal at 15th Ave NW and NW 83rd St
15th Ave NW has a cut-out median for people utilizing the unmarked crosswalk at NW 83rd St but compliance is low. This would spend $450,000 to add a pedestrian half-signal and a marked crosswalk on the north side of the intersection.
Sidewalk Repair at 3rd Ave S and Yesler Way
The sidewalk in front of the Frye low-income apartments is damaged, and because it is located above an “areaway” of old Pioneer Square street will be expensive to fix. This will spend $110,000 to repair the sidewalk and its supports.
Denny & Stewart Crossing Improvements
This is Seattle’s worst intersection, according to our readers–twice. This would spend $250,000 to improve the bus island for the eastbound Route 8, add a crosswalk directly parallel to Denny (currently people on foot have to detour on Yale to Stewart), and improve lighting. The project also lists creating dedicated space for cyclists, but it’s not at all clear how that would work.
The project also doesn’t address the segment of Denny crossing Stewart, which was the entire point of the submitted project request.
All of these projects should get to 100% design next year and hit the streets in 2021. Meanwhile, the unfunded needs that can’t be met by this program continues to grow.
Ryan Packer lives in the Summit Slope neighborhood of Capitol Hill and has been writing for the The Urbanist since 2015. They report on multimodal transportation issues, #VisionZero, preservation, and local politics. They believe in using Seattle's history to help attain the vibrant, diverse city that we all wish to inhabit. Ryan's writing has appeared in Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, Bike Portland, and Seattle Bike Blog, where they also did a four-month stint as temporary editor.