Why there are new beige markings on 12th Ave

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 3.51.03 PMCapitol Hill — where the pavement is nearly as colorful as the community. Or something like that.

Now we can add a new color to the rainbow crossings, raceway green bikeway, and the various other street, sidewalk, streetcar, bike, pedestrian, car, bus, truck, etc. markings that decorate the city streets…

Beige.

These new beige sections of street at 12th and Mercer are intended to help kids “be seen better” on the route to school at nearby Lowell Elementary. The feature is temporary, a Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson tells CHS, while “permanent solutions” are being evaluated. Enjoy the beige while you can.

The project is part of some small changes coming to 12th Ave by fall in an effort to make the increasingly busy street easier to cross.

map12thBeginning the week of September 21st (SDOT has announced a slight delay) September 28th, a six-week project to create a set of curb bulbs on 12th Ave will begin at E Howell and E Olive St:

The goal of these improvements is to allow safer crossings for pedestrians and improve mobility for all users. Curb bulbs help reduce crossing lengths and improve visibility between people walking and people driving. The work will include:

  • Curb extensions to facilitate safer, shorter crossings for people crossing the street

  • ADA-compliant curb ramps for smoother and better access

  • New striped crosswalks that cross 12th Ave at both intersections

  • Drainage improvements at both intersections

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 3.44.19 PM

The 12th Ave project is one of 12 selected by the Bridging the Gap Oversight Committee to be completed as part of the Neighborhood Street Fund program. The program is funded by the Bridging the Gap (BTG) transportation levy at expires at the end of this year. This fall, Seattle voters will decide the fate of a proposed $930 million transportation levy to replace it.

New crosswalks and a bulb at Harrison were added to the street in 2013.

UPDATE 9/29/2015: Work has started!

Work on Twelfth Avenue pedestrian improvements

at East Howell and East Olive streets starts this week

SEATTLE – Today the Seattle Department of Transportation began to build safety improvements on Twelfth Avenue at East Howell and East Olive streets. Construction will last for approximately six weeks, weather permitting.

 

This work will require temporary closures of East Howell and East Olive streets to all traffic at Twelfth Avenue beginning tomorrow, Sept. 30 and will be in place 24-hours a day throughout the project. During the first three weeks of construction, the east side of the intersection of East Howell Street and Twelfth Avenue and the west side of the intersection of East Olive Street and Twelfth Avenue will be closed. During the last three weeks of construction, the west side of the intersection of East Howell Street and Twelfth Avenue and the east side of the intersection of East Olive Street and Twelfth Avenue will be closed. See the construction map for details.

 

Bike lanes on Twelfth Avenue between East Pine Street and East Denny Way will also be closed and people riding bikes will need to merge with vehicle traffic.

 

During construction you can expect:

  • Construction activity from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.
  • Parking and lane restrictions on Twelfth Avenue between East Pine Street and East Denny Way. A flagger will be present to maintain two-way traffic.
  • Temporary closures on E Howell and E Olive streets at Twelfth Avenue. Local access will be maintained at all times.
  • Pedestrian and bicycle detours around the work areas.
  • Temporary closure of the US Postal Service collection box at the corner of Twelfth Avenue and East Howell Street.
  • Noise, dust and vibration associated with concrete removal and paving.

 

The goal of these improvements is to allow safer crossings for pedestrians and improve mobility for all users. Curb bulbs help reduce crossing lengths and improve visibility between people walking and people driving. The work will include:

  • Curb extensions to facilitate safer, shorter crossings for people crossing the street
  • ADA-compliant curb ramps for smoother and better access
  • New striped crosswalks that cross Twelfth Avenue at both intersections
  • Drainage improvements at both intersections

This project is funded by the Bridging the Gap transportation levy, through the Neighborhood Street Fund Program.

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7 thoughts on “Why there are new beige markings on 12th Ave

  1. I’m a huge fan of what they have done at 12th and Mercer. Previously, it was common for people to use those buffers as waiting bays and they were popular for delivery vehicles to park.

    This is a very popular intersection for pedestrians and those blocked sight lines made it difficult to see people and vehicles to see each other.

    The beige is very helpful at night and the posts keep the spaces free for good visibility. This also has to be much cheaper than the curb bulbs.

  2. Does anyone know why the city installed bulb-outs rather than a median island?

    The primary problem crossing the street at these intersections is that the traffic volume and speeds are excessive to cross unassisted.

    Because the speeds are excessive, the cars do not slow down. And because the volumes are excessive, it’s rare that there is a 2-way gap to cross.

    While the benefits mentioned of the bulb out are correct, it nevertheless does nothing to solve the underlying problem at these intersections.

    And from the schematics, it may shrink the intersection geometry to an extent in which a median island can no longer fit – basically making these bad intersections in perpetuity (short of spending ANOTHER $110K+ each one for an RRFB to tell cars to yield.)

    • I’m no traffic engineer, but I believe the narrowing of the road with these bulbs will slow traffic through these intersections. Additionally the bulb removes a parking spot which pushes parked cars away from the intersection improving pedestrian/driver visibility.

      A median would also remove the left hand turn lane, forcing cars turning left to stop the main lane of traffic while waiting for an opening.

      Yes, there is no refuge median, but I think these bulbs have more benefits that the medians.

  3. What are the pros/cons of buildings bulbs vs. what appears to be a new approach (at 12th & Mercer)? They both seem to increase safety. I suppose the cost is quite different.

    I think the City should stick to one or the other, and I personally
    favor the bulbs, as the painted beige areas are very unattractive for the streetscape, and are bound to become more so as they get dirty.

    • I’d go with the cheaper option if it means more money in the kitty to amend more intersections and repair crumbling sidewalks elsewhere. Our sidewalks are a disaster in many places.

      I drive 12th Ave daily. The beige and bollards are much more eye-catching to drivers than curb bulbs are.

  4. Did they give any consideration to making that a four way stop? Drivers seem confused with the flashing yellows, either stop or speed through, as a pedestrian I’m never sure which it will be.