The massive overhaul of 23rd Ave, and all the near-term traffic headaches therein, are coming to the E Madison intersection this weekend. The intersection will close and the 11 and 48 busses will be rerouted along with car traffic as crews will work around the clock until Monday morning.
23rd Ave is a workhorse of a road, running along the backside of Capitol Hill and through the Central District connecting neighborhoods and commercial areas. The $46 million overhaul of 23rd between S Jackson and E John will transform the artery into a much more efficient, much safer route for cars, transit, pedestrians, and — thanks to an adjacent greenway — bicyclists. But like so many massive transportation construction projects, while the long road may bring promise, the first few miles of the process are pure pain for local merchants. The city’s Department of Transportation and Office of Economic Development have pitched in with extra signage and communicating work plans, but some owners are saying it’s not enough.
701 Coffee opened on the corner of 23rd and Cherry in April, just a few months before the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project kicked off. Shortly after opening, owner Sara Mae said the coffee shop was seeing 70 or more customers a day. After the construction started, Mae said she’s lucky to get 20 people inside the door with traffic reduced to one lane and sidewalks under construction.
“My wife works full time, that’s only reason why we’re still open,” she said.
Mae told CHS she is starting to organize nearby businesses to approach the City about getting construction mitigation funds made available. While such funds were not offered for 23rd Ave businesses, it’s something that has been done in the past.
In 2014, the City of Seattle made up to $15 million available to small businesses that had to close due to seawall construction. Sound Transit similarly compensated businesses that dealt with years of construction along the light rail line in South Seattle.
Mae said she has approached the offices of Mayor Ed Murray and District 3 representative Kshama Sawant, but nothing has come of it. Representatives from SDOT did not return our requests for comment on Wednesday.
UPDATE: According to a City Council spokesperson, Sawant’s office scheduled a meeting with SDOT and the Office of Economic Development after Mae reached out Wednesday.
@MWells101 Thanks for the heads up. My office talked to one yesterday and we are speaking to SDOT and OED tomorrow. We'll see what we learn.
— Kshama Sawant (@cmkshama) January 14, 2016
UPDATE: SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah tells CHS that the City has a policy not to provide direct compensation to businesses affected by construction.
While we recognize that construction creates challenges for local businesses, SDOT focuses on maintaining customer access to businesses throughout our work. We support businesses by delivering construction notices door-to-door, meeting one-on-one with owners to discuss concerns, sharing regular project updates on our website and project listserv, and staffing a 24-hour project hotline to respond to questions and concerns. We also help local businesses stay accessible and minimize some of the impacts by placing “Businesses Are Open” and detour signage throughout the construction area.
The 20-month project started in June and is expected to be complete
late early next year. The project will transform the street into a new configuration with a center left-turn lane and improve the pedestrian and sidewalk experience. The new layout will also allow buses to pull completely out of the traffic lane at stops.
Phase 1 will entail work on 23rd Ave from between S Jackson and E John. Phase 2 covers the work south of Jackson and Phase 3 will handle 23rd/24th from E John to E Roanoke in Montlake.
Here are the details about this weekend’s street closure:
Full intersection closure at East Madison Street and 23rd Avenue, Jan. 15 – 18
Beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 through 6 a.m. Monday, Jan. 18, travelers can expect:
- The East Madison Street and 23rd Avenue intersection will be closed to traffic in all directions.
- East Madison Street between 19th Avenue and 23rd Avenue will be open for local access only.
- 23rd Avenue between East John Street and East Union Street will be open for local access only.
Detours around the intersection of East Madison Street and 23rd Avenue include:
- For southbound 23rd Avenue traffic, drivers will follow a detour via East John Street to 19th Avenue. To return to 23rd Avenue, use East Union Street.
- Northbound 23rd Avenue remains closed between South Jackson Street and East Union Street. Drivers will follow the regular construction detour on Martin Luther King Jr Way, continuing on Martin Luther King Jr Way to East John Street where they can return to 23rd Avenue.
- For westbound East Madison Street traffic, drivers will take East John Street. To return to East Madison Street, use 19th Avenue.
- For eastbound East Madison Street traffic, drivers will take 19th Avenue to East John Street before returning to East Madison Street.
Pedestrian crossings will be maintained and businesses will remain open and accessible. SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is completed as some travel delays are anticipated along with Metro Bus service route changes. Please visit the website for more information and maps showing the detour routes.