The new, post road-diet 23rd Ave is now open.
The Seattle Department of Transportation began construction on the first phase of the three-phase project in June 2015, closing the road to northbound traffic between Jackson and John streets.
The newly designed road has gone from two lanes in each direction to one lane in each direction, with a center turn lane. It’s also been widened near bus stops, to allow cars to get past buses as they load and unload passengers.
Road improvements weren’t all. Since the street was being torn up anyway, the city took the opportunity to replace a 100-year-old water main, widened sidewalks, added a piece of street art, installed new streetlights and traffic lights, and completed a new greenway for bikes and pedestrians along parallel streets.
During construction, Metro re-routed the northbound 48 bus. SDOT expects this bus to return to its more traditional route when Metro makes seasonal changes March 11. Meanwhile, work has also been underway to electrify the corridor with an eye toward switching to electricity-powered coaches on 23rd Ave in 2018. UPDATE: Metro says the 48 will be back on 23rd starting Thursday morning.
All work along the road is not complete. Workers will continue to complete smaller tasks, such as landscaping and installing street signs.
With this section mostly complete, SDOT now turns its attention to Phase 2 of the project, which will stretch from Jackson to Rainier Ave. An eventual Phase 3 will reconfigure the road from John to Roanoke.
The start of construction for Phases 2 and 3 is undetermined. SDOT has $43 million to spend on 23rd Avenue, and Phase 1 used $31 million of that. The money left over should allow for the design of the other phases, but construction funding has not been identified. SDOT expects to release information about the design and schedule for Phase 2 in the late spring or summer of this year.
The project so far has not been free of controversy. The city opened its wallet to help businesses impacted by construction, upending usual city protocols during construction projects.
But now that traffic is flowing again, you can start to tell if the road diet worked. Let us know.