This morning, CHS reported on some major progress in making a vital east-west stretch of Capitol Hill roadway connection to Capitol Hill Station safer for everybody — especially pedestrians.
But a major component of recent City of Seattle planning won’t be part of this summer’s project. Already one of the busiest spots for pedestrian traffic in the city, the intersection of Broadway and E Olive Way/John just outside the station’s main entrance is more crowded with foot traffic than ever. But the city isn’t including planned signal changes at the intersection to cut down on collisions — and near misses — in this summer’s work.
Seattle Department of Transportation officials haven’t responded to our multiple inquiries about the decision so we’ll turn it over to The Urbanist’s Ryan Packer who revealed the big non-action on SDOT’s part in his recent report on the intersection:
But the issue of conflicts between left-turning vehicles and pedestrians using the crosswalk remains a huge problem at this intersection, and after responding to community concerns around pedestrian safety here, SDOT made the decision to install left-turn signals to the traffic lanes heading east/west, on E Olive Way and E John St. This improvement was to be included in a comprehensive corridor improvement to the E John Street corridor east of Broadway that was awarded a Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) grant in 2016 from a proposal submitted by Central Seattle Greenways volunteer (and current Pedestrian Advisory Board chair) David Seater: it was not funded by the NSF grant but would be treated as part of it.
“Now the department is scaling back plans for the signal replacement needed to add left turn arrows, saying that adding them would be cost prohibitive,” Packer writes. “Instead they propose simply rechannelizing the lanes on the roadway, which are poorly defined currently.”
UPDATE: Here’s what SDOT tells us about the “rechannelizing” work:
We’re planning to install left turn pockets on the east and west legs of Olive Way and John St, respectively. This change is expected to treat a driver collision pattern (14 east west left turn collisions in 3 years). Work is scheduled to happen in the Q4 2018, after the NSF project is completed and the Route 8 project shifts bus stop locations.
9 year study of pedestrian safety: hey, protecting lefts would have an oversized impact.
— Ryan Packer (@typewriteralley) June 26, 2018
CHS first reported on the latest plans to make the intersection safer back in February 2017 as SDOT considered options including an “all-walk” crossing and signal change. What was implemented instead was this rather limp change at Broadway and Denny. Meanwhile, Broadway/E Olive Way/John zooms along.
It’s said to be a cost issue — a new signal setup would come in around $250,000, Packer says, $235,000 more than the current plan to “rechannel.” We’ll continue to ask SDOT about the decision at Capitol Hill Station.
Meanwhile, the department has also gone back to City Hall to work out changes around Broadway between Madison and Pine to improve the service speed of the First Hill Streetcar as it also tries to balance increasing concerns from the area’s business community. Given how things are working out farther north on Broadway, get ready for an underwhelming compromise.
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