One of the busier, more dangerous pedestrian crossings between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle is hopefully a little bit safer after a series of improvements made at the Olive Way onramp to I-5. Changes include renewed markings, new signs, moving the crosswalk closer to Olive Way to improve visibility of pedestrians to oncoming drivers and a new flashing signal to indicate when a crossing is taking place. Details on the changes from the state and the city are below. Olive Way has seen a series of pedestrian upgrades in recent years to improve crossings of the increasingly busy corridor. So far, nobody has made the Olive Way transit station a reality — yet.
Added visibility comes to Olive Way crosswalk
People walking up and down the hill on Olive Way between Capitol Hill and downtown Seattle – and that’s a lot of you – know that crossing in front of the on-ramp to northbound I-5 was a bit dicey. We recognized that too, and took some action.
Recently, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Seattle Department of Transportation collaborated on a project that improved the Olive Way crosswalk at the I-5 ramp. The crosswalk is one of the busiest we have at freeway interchanges in King County and the work brings more visibility to people crossing with the addition of new pavement markings, curbs and a bright flashing light indicating someone is waiting to cross.
Previously, the crosswalk was tucked a bit off the main street towards the ramp and the sidewalk on the east side of the crosswalk wasn’t a great landing platform. Pavement markings were starting to wear down and while there were signs indicating the crosswalk, we felt more visibility would help.
The first step was moving the crosswalk closer to Olive, giving pedestrians more visibility to drivers looking to turn onto the I-5 ramp. Taking away a little parking on the eastside of the crosswalk, we installed a new sidewalk landing platform and two new pedestrian signs, making the walk across shorter and more direct with a more pronounced area to go to and from. The new sidewalk layout improves the views between pedestrians and drivers.
To add even more visibility to pedestrians, we’ve installed a warning light on both sides of the ramp to call attention to people waiting to cross. Pedestrians can push a button and emit a bright flashing light easily visible to oncoming vehicles. This is the first time this type of beacon has been used in Seattle. It sits next to an improved ramp installed for wheelchairs so that the light is accessible to all pedestrians.
Of course, it’s still up to drivers to be aware of pedestrians at crosswalks, and it’s up to pedestrians to exercise caution when moving through a crosswalk. Marked and signalized crosswalks improve awareness to those waiting to cross a street but ultimately it’s up to all of us to look out for each other.