Plans for safer 10th/John crossing to Capitol Hill Station, Melrose enhancements make street fund cut

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Some of the crosswalk design concepts being kicked around by the Melrose Promenade group

Two important pedestrian areas of Capitol Hill should be on a faster track to safer streets after proposals for Neighborhood Park and Street Fund projects to build a raised intersection at 10th and John and new curb bulbs and colorful crosswalks on Melrose between Pike and Pine came out on top of a 2016 community ranking process, it was announced this week.

The East District Council in a meeting Monday ranked the proposals as the top choices for funding in the area. The $90,000 continuation of improvements from the group organizing the Melrose Promenade project and the Central Greenways-championed 10th and John project must be approved by the Seattle Department of Transportation before implementation. SDOT will also provide a more complete estimate on what the department expects the cost of implementation will be.

10th and John has long been a challenging crossing for pedestrians and drivers and the situation is even more critical with the increased activity in the area with the opening of Capitol Hill Station. The raised intersection could help make it easier to cross and help make the intersection safer for travelers of all types. Another project to create a safer approach to the station from the streets around 12th and Denny is also in the works. The group working on the 10th/John crossing say raised intersections in other cities “have costs ranging from $12,500 to $114,150” — expectations are this one would come in on the higher end of that range.

10th and John as it appears today (Image: Central Area Greenways)

10th and John as it appears today (Image: Central Area Greenways)

A diagram of a raised intersection from the National Association of City Transportation Officials -- Here's how Central Area Greenways describes it: "Raised intersections create a safe, slow-speed crossing and public space at minor intersections. Similar to speed humps, they reinforce slow speeds and encourage motorists to yield to people walking in the crosswalk. Raised intersections are flush with the sidewalk and ensure that drivers traverse the crossing slowly. Crosswalks do not need to be marked unless they are not at grade with the sidewalk. ADA-compliant ramps and detector strips are always required. Bollards along corners keep motorists from crossing into the pedestrian space. Bollards protect pedestrians from errant vehicles."

A diagram of a raised intersection from the National Association of City Transportation Officials — Here’s how Central Area Greenways describes it: “Raised intersections create a safe, slow-speed crossing and public space at minor intersections. Similar to speed humps, they reinforce slow speeds and encourage motorists to yield to people walking in the crosswalk.
Raised intersections are flush with the sidewalk and ensure that drivers traverse the crossing slowly. Crosswalks do not need to be marked unless they are not at grade with the sidewalk. ADA-compliant ramps and detector strips are always required.
Bollards along corners keep motorists from crossing into the pedestrian space. Bollards protect pedestrians from errant vehicles.”

Meanwhile, in November, CHS reported on the Melrose Promenade group’s success in driving an initiative to create a safer crosswalk across Pike at Melrose that was boosted by the presence of the Starbucks Roastery. In that project, “high pedestrian demand” — read: Starbucks and the nearby Melrose Market — pushed SDOT to move up the schedule for a previously awarded project “using funds made available through construction savings on 2015 projects,” SDOT officials told CHS. Melrose’s community crosswalk plans will be part of the Pike/Pine rainbow-inspired program being rolled out across the city. The paint work had been planned to take place this summer. The street was also due to get a new streatery parklet in front of Mamnoon.

You might expect SDOT to take a while before implementing the more complicated projects around the city. 12th Ave’s grant-driven pedestrian improvements have taken years to deploy.

Late winter and early spring is prime time for city grant announcements. Earlier this month, the Volunteer Park Trust was awarded $25,000 to boost its project to design and construct a new amphitheater in Volunteer Park.

You can learn more about the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund process here.

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22 thoughts on “Plans for safer 10th/John crossing to Capitol Hill Station, Melrose enhancements make street fund cut

  1. The best part of the streetcar is the new signals make it easier for pedestrians to cross Broadway. If the light rail gets us even more safe crossings, that will be favorite part of that project too.

  2. I cross the 10th/John intersection frequently and have never had a problem. Have others experienced trouble there? What is the history of car/pedestrian accidents there, if any?

    • Wasting your time Bob. The fact is that pedestrians can utilize intersections controlled by traffic lights on either side of this intersection at Broadway and 12th for greater safety. This project is not needed to increase safety, but its just 100k so who cares?

    • Late night crossings at 10th and John can be a little scary. During the sidewalk closures on John for light rail I used the 10th & John intersection and wasn’t entirely comfortable. As a pedestrian I’ll always use a stoplight intersection if possible but, when it wasn’t, John & 10th was my go to. Glad to see some improvements.

    • I used to go through there frequently and rarely saw cars stop for people walking. The number of parents with strollers and seniors who were poking their heads around the parked cars only to have drivers wiz by is infuriating. Clearly other people think so as well.

    • Depends on the time of day and also the weather–you can feel a bit invisible on a dark, rainy winter evening (5 pm) at this crosswalk.

    • Glenn on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 – 9:02 am said:

      Wasting your time Bob. The fact is that pedestrians can utilize intersections controlled by traffic lights on either side of this intersection at Broadway and 12th for greater safety. This project is not needed to increase safety, but its just 100k so who cares?


      Glenn, it’s a bit unreasonable to expect people in a densely-populated, pedestrian-centric neighborhood to have to go up to 12th or down to Broadway to cross this street.

    • Yeah, I’ve personally had some trouble at this intersection.

      When stepping in to an intersection to let semi-distant cars know they will have to slow down for you, there is a fine line between being assertive and feeling as if you are actually playing chicken with cars. Too often at 10th and John it feels that being assertive means forcing a car that has no intention of slowing down to slam on its breaks.

      I live on 12th, where cars also drive fast through intersections, but the visibility is better so cars tend not to ignore me when I step off the curb.

      As someone else mentioned, I also see cars speed by at 10th and John when parents when strollers attempt to cross, which is a benchmark in my mind for an unsafe intersections.

    • If you all think this is unnecessary you clearly drive and never walk and if you do, you’ve never crossed John on 10th. It’s a DEATH trap. There’s not even a basic crosswalk and cars zoom by with no regard for pedestrians. If you’re against pedestrian crosswalks like this on capitol hill go back to kirkland or slu or whatever california city you came from. If you are from any of those places and like it then xoxo. :)

  3. Is there any word about relocating the trash cans on Melrose near Pine? Finding a better location for those would do even more to enhance pedestrian access and make the area more pleasant.

  4. If this prevents even one pedestrian from being hit, it’ll be worth it. My only concern is that the increased focus around serving the Light rail station could be creating a sort of tunnel vision (forgive the pun) diverting attention away from other high traffic areas that need improvement to be as safe as possible.

  5. What are the actual accident rates at these intersections? Because you’d think if safety were the issue, we’d take into consideration how dangerous the intersections are. However, I found it difficult to find this info (if anyone else can find it, that would certainly add to this discussion). I did find a list put out by a law firm of the most dangerous intersections in Seattle — there are CH intersections on the list, but not these. FWIW, here’s the link: http://www.injurytriallawyer.com/library/washington-state-and-seattle-worst-intersections-declared-dangerous-for-motorists–cyclists-and-.cfm

    Meanwhile, it looks like the Bway-John project is more about promoting the light rail station than any existing safety issue. This intersection has become a big bottleneck for cars. Traffic on John going west could be improved by simply getting rid of parking spaces near the intersection, but SDOT does not seem to care about traffic flow much at this point. If you think forcing people to take light rail is a good idea, however, maybe worse traffic at the intersection would be a good idea.

    The posting above seems to suggest that lobbying by Starbucks and the Melrose Place merchants has been effective so we’ll get a street facelift to support those businesses. But calling this a “safety” upgrade seems really a stretch, when SDOT is prioritizing this project above much more dangerous intersections on Capitol Hill.

    One side comment — what’s meant by “You might SDOT to take a while before implementing the more complicated projects around the city. ” in the posting above?

    • re: side comment, left a word out. Should be “You might *expect* SDOT to take a while before implementing the more complicated projects around the city”

  6. In a perfect world, nothing more than the existing painted crosswalk on John Street would be enough for pedestrians. In fact, even without the crosswalk, cars should be stopping for pedestrians at that intersection. Guess what? It’s not a perfect world, and crossing John at that spot is dangerous! It seems most drivers have next to no respect for anyone trying to cross the street. The improvements can’t come quickly enough…

  7. Just curious but has anyone ever thought about also including continuing education in the mix or instead of? Something like reminders in our cell phone bills, utility bills, cable bills, or even direct mailings? It always seems that we go to the hard stuff, the expensive stuff like street improvements and so forth first. Yeah, the first is probably slower but maybe in conjunction.

    The biggest problem is that the traffic light at Broadway and John/Olive is in plain view and people are focused on that. If anything would help at 10th & John would be the flashing crosswalk signs. As a driver those are very effective.

  8. Yes! Great news for the intersection at 10th and John. I run and bike along this route to and from Cal Anderson on a regular basis and this is the only intersection I cross where I’m consistently stuck for minutes because cars won’t stop, even when I step into the crosswalk. Given that more folks will be crossing here now that the light rail station is open, I’m excited to see how we can transform this intersection to improve safety all around.

  9. Good News for 10th & John. I cross there often. Truth be told though I’ve had more trouble at 10th & Thomas than I ever have at 10th & John.

    • You’re right, Lorn. I live near 10th/Thomas and frequently observe “near misses.” It’s a very awkward intersection, made more dangerous by cars driving too fast, especially on Thomas.

  10. I drive through there several times a day. I always stop when there are people and almost always see others doing the same. I guess I’ve just been lucky the past 18 years and when I’m not around, everyone else blasts through ignoring pedestrians.

    Due to the slope down at 10th and John, the intersection has good site lines from far away – there is no reason people can’t be seen for vehicles to stop.

    That being said, I’m always for making intersections safer and honestly, John needs a total revamp up to 15th. 11th is very difficult to cross and people drive that stretch way to fast. I’d love to see it do away with parking all together, have center turn lanes so people don’t whiz around and room for buses to comfortably make stops.

  11. I’d be happy if they painted regular crosswalk markings on all the probably thousands of unmarked crosswalks throughout the city.

  12. On the topic of crosswalks – and I think I’ve brought this up on another post related to this topic – why is it that there is not one marked crosswalk on all of Bellevue Ave E, north of Denny? It’s a crapshoot crossing Bellevue during rush hour, since it’s an arterial people go way too fast on it. It’s also a very densely populated, largely residential street.