(Images: Hewitt Architects)
Earlier this month, Sound Transit and Capitol Hill Station celebrated one year of service carrying thousands of riders every day on the light rail line connecting downtown to Montlake by way of Broadway. The two acres of so of pavement around the station, you might have noticed, remain empty but there are big plans. Here is what comes next after December’s first design review — and why the one-year celebration didn’t include a ribbon cutting from the project’s developer Gerding Edlen for the some 400 affordable and market-rate apartment units and 59,000 square feet of commercial and community space planned to rise around the station.
Destined to begin construction in 2018 and open for new residents late the following year, the architects behind the largest buildings and the key central plaza above Capitol Hill Station are refining plans following the project’s first step in the special streamlined design review process set up for the community-guided “transit oriented development.” As part of its application for the critical land use permit, Hewitt Architects submitted a roster of planned design changes based on feedback from the design review board for the project’s main Site A building along Broadway and the pedestrian plaza that will sit above the busy light rail station below and is hoped to create a central gathering place, a home for the Capitol Hill farmers market, and a new gateway for the adjacent Cal Anderson Park.
Here are some of the changes being planned for the next and final round of design review expected to take place this summer:
- Parking: The developer’s rep told the crowd at the December design review that there was likely to be fewer parking spots than included in the design plan. True… kind of. The big lot is down to 158 spaces: Site A was previously showing 183 parking spaces on 3 below grade parking levels. This has been reduced to 158 spaces.
- Broadway pass-through: The plan for a passageway through the development to connect Broadway through to the internal plaza will be de-cluttered and the quasi-public space will hopefully be more inviting and provide small retailers with a more active environment: The pass-through for Site A has remained at 15’-0” minimum width and all bicycle racks have been removed. The residential lobby no longer lines the entire south side of the pass-through allowing for further activation of the retail spaces. Retail is now visible at both the west and east. Continue reading
We gave the coming Broadway “all way walk” the headline but one of the safety improvements coming to the busy area around Capitol Hill Station will be part of a simple but hopefully effective change to pedestrian crossing signals across Seattle:
At intersections where the city knows accidents are likely, SDOT will preemptively add what Murray called “pedestrian-friendly signals” — walk signs that allow pedestrians into an intersection before drivers’ light turns green, giving walkers greater visibility — and traffic lights with left turn signals, which reduces conflicts between left-turning cars and pedestrians (or trucks) heading straight through an intersection. By adding leading pedestrian signals at 40 intersections citywide, Kubly said, the city expected to reduce crashes by 50 percent at those intersections.
After SDOT analysis, the re-timed signaling will be deployed at the busy Broadway/John/E Olive Way intersection to give pedestrians an advance walk signal before drivers get a green light. SDOT is also planning to add left turn lanes on John and E Olive Way to help better control vehicular traffic flow.
Dongho Chang, city traffic engineer, said pedestrian collision reports including near misses contributed to the decision. “Pedestrian-wise we hear about a lot of close misses,” Chang said.
The department found the majority of collisions were left-turn related from east and westbound drivers on Olive and John. Drivers heading north or south on Broadway didn’t experience many left turn collisions but did have a few rear-ending incidents.
SDOT is planning to implement the changes before summer.
One person had to be cut from a crashed vehicle and police were investigating after a two-vehicle collision at John and 10th tied up rush hour traffic and added to street safety concerns on the increasingly busy streets around Capitol Hill Station. There was also a report of a pedestrian possibly injured in the crash.
UPDATE: SFD says patient removed from the crashed car was a female in her 30s. Her injuries were reported as not life threatening. The report of a pedestrian injured in the crash was apparently a mistake in the early confusion at the crash scene.
Seattle Fire was called to the scene around 5:20 PM to a report of the collision. One victim was removed from a car involved in the crash by a fire crew that sliced through the vehicle’s roof.
Police were at the scene to close off John to traffic and begin the investigation of the collision. UPDATE 3/23/2017 9:00 AM: A department spokesperson tells CHS the initial response to the scene was quickly downgraded after the situation as sorted out and a full traffic collision investigation was not necessary due in part to the lack of any serious injuries. There did not appear to be any citations issued to drivers of either of the two vehicles involved in the crash.
The intersection is part of an area identified for pedestrian and street safety improvements. SDOT began gathering feedback on proposed improvements including curb bulbs and plastic posts for the John Thomas corridor this week. Meanwhile, CHS reported that the city has also decided to add left turn lanes on John and E Olive Way at Broadway as well as add an all-way crosswalk at Broadway and Denny after a car struck a pedestrian and other near misses were reported near the busy transit station.
The all way walk at Westlake and 7th (Image: SDOT)
Some wanted an all-walk intersection, which would only let pedestrians through and then only allow motorists to go, at Broadway/John/E Olive Way, but they’re not getting one — at least not there.
Instead, after analyzing the intersection, Seattle Department of Transportation plans to give pedestrians an advance walk signal before concurrent drivers get a green light, put in left turn lanes on John and E Olive, and turn the intersection at Broadway and E Denny Way, a festival street, one block south into an all-walk.
The announcements are wins for organizations like Seattle Central Greenways and the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce who have been pushing SDOT to do more to address safety issues around Broadway’s increasingly busy core.
Around 7,000 riders utilize Capitol Hill Station on any given weekday. As expected, it has become a new center of the neighborhood — and a high speed portal connecting us to a new spine through Seattle. You may have found yourself at the University of Washington or in Pioneer Square more often since the service started in March 2016. Friday, Sound Transit, perhaps shy after some of the negative reaction to its launch celebration of the U-Link line, perhaps busy with larger concerns, will hold a small, few-hour party across the Broadway light rail station and its sister UW Station.
Capitol Hill Station 1st Birthday Celebration
We visited the other CHS and joined its riders this week to capture the line as it looks and feels today and as a kind of thank you. It’s a good train. With worries about what comes next for big projects like it, we should celebrate it.
CHS ARCHIVES: Capitol Hill Station Opening Coverage — March 2016
On Saturday, March 19th, 2016, public transit on Capitol Hill changed in a big way. The Sound Transit light rail U-Link extension connecting the downtown transit tunnel to Husky Stadium and the University of Washington via Broadway opened. Capitol Hill Station has been the Seattle Subway-level success most predicted. To celebrate, Sound Transit is planing a little fun this Friday:
Friday from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. we’ll have ST staff greeting riders for U-Link’s Happy 1st birthday at the UW and Capitol Hill Stations. Folks will see/hear staff passing out Happy 1st birthday stickers and birthday cards, live music by street performers, and, at Capitol Hill, a Sounders FC pop-up tent with giveaways.
It is a pretty modest celebration. We suggest you hold a light rail party or two of your own this week. Send us pictures.
The scale of success has been much larger. Continue reading
More Capitol Hill commuters are traveling by public transportation — and they’re ditching buses in favor of light rail and the First Hill Streetcar in droves. The new numbers come from the Seattle Transit Blog’s analysis of the first release of systemwide ridership data following the opening of Capitol Hill Station, UW Station, and the U-Link restructure that optimized Metro’s lines around the opening of light rail service between downtown and the University of Washington via Broadway.
While Capitol Hill-area riders are less likely to be hopping on a bus, the data comparing Fall 2015 with Fall 2016 activity show Metro’s restructure apparently paid off by putting the county system to work serving areas away from the light rail circuit and feeding riders to the stations. “Despite an aggressive ULink restructure, Metro ridership stayed flat, declining by just 0.2%,” the STB wonks write. Continue reading
Call it an all-walk, a scramble intersection, or a diagonal crossing, some community members say the intersection at Broadway, John, and E Olive Way needs one. But the Seattle Department of Transportation isn’t quick to OK an intersection that would stop cars in all directions and allow all pedestrians to cross.
Dongho Chang, a city traffic engineer, said those kinds of crosswalks can have unintended consequences and increase delays for everyone. But Chang said the increase in foot traffic in the last year since Capitol Hill Station opened in March does warrant additional analysis of the intersection.
“We definitely want to look at how to improve conditions for them,” Chang said of the increasing number of pedestrians traveling through the intersection.
Chang said a new analysis was planned to begin this week. Continue reading
A woman crossing one of the busiest intersections on Capitol Hill was struck by a driver witnesses said appeared to be rushing to make the light in a Friday noontime collision at Broadway and E Olive Way.
Seattle Fire rushed to the scene of the collision after callers reported the woman down in the crosswalk in front of the Rite Aid. She was conscious and received treatment at the scene before being taken to the hospital with what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries. One witness said the woman appeared to have stepped into the crosswalk as her signal turned green
Police were interviewing the driver at the scene. E Olive Way just west of Broadway was closed for westbound traffic for around 30 minutes during the response.
Already one of the busiest Capitol Hill areas for pedestrians, the Broadway/John/E Olive way crossings have become even more active with the opening of Capitol Hill Station on the intersection’s southeast corner. Last summer, CHS reported on a study showing street and crossing dangers around the station. Late last year, intersections from Capitol Hill Station to Miller Park were selected for major pedestrian improvements though the project does not seem to include the western edge of the intersection across E Olive Way where Friday’s collision took place.
Ongoing maintenance issues have Sound Transit considering doing away with escalators altogether — in future stations. At Capitol Hill Station, however, the one-year warranty has expired and the frequently out of service moving stairways will continue to be an ongoing nuisance on the 65-foot journey to and from the light rail platform. Continue reading