Work ready to begin on Montlake end of 23rd Ave corridor road diet

With work in the middle complete and crews still busy south of Jackson, construction is now ready to begin on the Montlake end of the 23rd Ave E corridor to give the road a diet, improve the area for transit, and make the streets in the area safer for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.

“We’re designing 23rd Ave E/24th Ave E between E John St and Boyer Ave E by changing the 2 northbound lanes to 1 northbound lane and 1 center turn lane,” the Seattle Department of Transportation cheerily reminded residents in its recent construction bulletin mailed to area residences notifying that work was expected to begin this month.

In April, CHS reported on the start of work on the much more intensive construction and overhaul of the street in the Central District south of Jackson. The first phase of the project between John and Jackson streets took 21 months to complete.

Montlake is in for an easier ride. Transportation officials have backed off more aggressive plans for new bus lanes in the northern stretch of the overhaul and have also responded to the neighborhood’s business community by maintaining street parking along the road — though funding is not available to complete the full Montlake Community Business District Improvement Project vision championed by local merchants.

In an effort to reduce collisions and make streets safer, the redesigned road was to have one lane going northbound (downhill), a center turn lane, and two lanes going southbound (uphill). The lane closest to the curb was planned to be bus only to help keep transit travel time reliable, and in advance of potentially placing a rapid ride bus on the road in the future. The bus-only lane was to continue to 23rd and Madison.

But SDOT said the community driven process for a new design for 24th Ave E would instead maintain two southbound travel lanes, and add a center turn lane, while going from two northbound lanes to one.

It should be a relatively quickly completed project, SDOT says:

Work will proceed in 3 phases and take at least 10 days and includes: crews marking changes, removing existing road markings, with noisy work from 9 AM – 7 PM, and installing signs and new markings from 7 AM – 7 PM

Later this year, SDOT plans to install “skid-resistant surface treatments” in some areas of high collision rates and is “conducting additional analyses to determine where we might enhance bus stops, install a new traffic signal, modify parking, and add new curb ramps within the project area.”

Montlake and northern Capitol Hill residents will also enjoy the fruits of a transit program of a different ilk. The area is benefitting from work this summer on a new staircase and ramp to Interlaken Park:

The project features a bicycle runnel, guard rails, and a switchback. Access should be facilitated for all. The E Howe St crossing will be well integrated with the park and the 23rd/central greenway. The planned construction period is Summer-Fall 2018. The trail and sidewalk will be closed for the entire period.

“Noise and loss of parking in front of the project site are anticipated,” residents are warned.

The trail project is paid for by a Seattle Parks program in partnership with SDOT.

As for the changes to the pavement, officials say they are coordinating with WSDOT to make sure the 23rd Ave corridor changes mesh with plans for a new Montlake lid and interchange that are slated to be part of the next phases of the 520 replacement project. This phase of SDOT’s work will be funded by the 2015 Levy to Move Seattle at a cost of about $3.5 million.

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16 thoughts on “Work ready to begin on Montlake end of 23rd Ave corridor road diet

  1. Thanks for posting the update.

    I’ll hope the renovations can address the mess for southbound traffic due to cars turning left onto John and the resulting scramble a block south at Madison.

    I’m a little concerned about the practice of driving down the center-turn lane on these new streets. It’s not legal, but it’s assumed that we’ll all do it when there’s a backup in the right lane. Then there’s folks who act like emergency vehicles and drive for blocks in the center lane, which is tempting, but clearly dangerous.

    • No, all the “transplant do-gooder liberals” *don’t* think it’s great. Tell me, will it ruin your day just a little to know that you agree with liberals on some things?
      Yes?
      Oh, good.

  2. Not sure how pushing a ton more cars onto 24th/23rd by closing the Arboretum ramps… and then doing a lane diet that will shunt more of that traffic through Seattle’s steepest residential streets… makes us safer. Not to mention all of the aggressive drivers who will zip in and out of the turn lane every time the 48 bus makes a stop.

    Yes people fly down 24th/23rd and its a big safety hazard. But it seems like they are making the situation even worse. I know that 23rd/24th is somewhere I need to be really careful as a pedestrian or motorist. It is a main arteriole that leads to one of only 3 residential crossings of the cut in Seattle, so it’s always going to be a high volume thoroughfare.

    But what really scares me is the people who fly through the neighborhood streets down the hills through 4 way intersections (without stopping) on roads that accommodate only 1 car at a time. To many people are already using the neighborhood as a giant cut through to get to Madison Park or beyond. Now it seems like SDOT is going out of there way to make things worse by doubling the traffic on 23rd/24th and then creating and artificial bottleneck. Yes, cars will move slower on the main road… at the expense of having the most aggressive drivers flying through the side streets.

    These are the same people who were speeding on 23rd/24th and Arboretum Drive in the first place. How is pushing them onto the steepest/blindest residential streets in Seattle making our neighborhood more safe?

    • You don’t have to wonder how this will turn out. Just drive between Madison and Jackson on 23rd Ave anytime after 3:30 or 4:00. Even before the construction at Jackson blocked it off, this supposed “road diet” has destroyed throughout through the Central District. All it has succeeded in doing was creating a bumper to bumper parking lot, and pushing even more traffic east to MLK. Now MLK is a parking with nonstop traffic too. Along with tons of neighborhood cut-through traffic. (How is THAT safer?). And the increased gridlock on MLK has now pushed southbound traffic even *farther*east into residential neighborhoods and through Mt Baker on 31st Ave S. SeattleDOT seems to think drivers are clueless and won’t respond with ways around the obstacles that get thrown at them. They’re very wrong about that, and the formerly quiet neighborhoods again are the ones that suffer, while the busier roads are no safer for it all.

      • Well it is safer to walk across a street that is completely gridlocked (or moving but “dieted.” But it’s not worth the trade off of making all of the surrounding residential streets a greater hazard.

  3. Center turn lanes soon become parking for trucks to load and unload as well as for city worker trucks to stop and eat lunch, don’t believe me? I have f-ing pictures! How does that make anything safer? How safe is it to cross the street when you can’t see traffic due to all the parked trucks in the center turn lane? Seattle is so stupid, I can’t even believe some of the crap they pull! I also have NOT forgotten the ‘pavement to park’ at Union of Cap Hill that spent very little time being a park before it was handed over to a construction co for staging and parking. Seattle govt/ Seattle SDOT sucks!

  4. Oh where to start ?

    – money to build a huge staircase to nowhere but not to fix roads ?
    – still no plan for montlake bridge once 520 is done
    – arboretum is already traffic hell, then close the 520 on ramps and push it all into montlake
    – knock down the only gas station and retail in the neighborhood and build more road
    – promise to build a lid over 520, then run out of money so leave a huge hole in the middle
    – still no plan for the rest of portage bay

    • do you read nothing? the plan to finish 520 and all encompassing projects is listed on the WSDOT website. this is funded and construction will start later this year. simply do a search for “rest of the west” and there will be plenty of information that will knock back at least 3 of your uninformed comments.

      it’s called phasing…..

  5. All-in-all, I like the road diet on 23rd between Jackson and Madison. The whole corridor is much safer to cross and feels more pedestrian and business friendly. I commute a bit on 23rd and haven’t run into any real traffic problems other than the slowdown at the southbound approach to Madison (which hasn’t been renovated yet). My only complaint is that the giant new lamp posts feels vaguely Canadian.

    I can’t speak to concerns about cars diverting along 22nd or 24th, but nobody can drive too fast on our streets- it’s just too tight. Of course there will be a few jerks that scare us, but the reality is that pedestrians were dying at an alarming rate on 23rd. That’s never been the case on the side streets. The road-diet will likely save lives on 23rd.

    • Wait for the 520 plan to kick in – when everything has to go down 23rd from Madison and arboretum to on ramps. Going to be utter grid lock at each intersection.

      If you get stuck in Boyer and 23rd you can wonder at the giant staircase they are building on to interlaken

      • Didn’t you hear? Everyone’s just supposed to take the bus or commute by bicycle, no matter if that is feasible or desirable to them. This is how SDOT plans for traffic impacts: wishful thinking and self-delusion.

    • I walk down the residential part of 24th a few days a week (Madison-Ward.) Each time there are at least 5 cars speeding over 30MPH down the steepest hills in the city (I assume to try and cut through to Madison Park) without a thought of stopping at 4 way intersections… let alone looking for pedestrians. I guess we will have to wait for the accidents for “proof.”

      I’d recommend speed bumps, but on these cliff like intersections it would likely lead more than one car to flip over.

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