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Reminder: Work to change 23rd Ave from four-lane mess to three-lane transit paradise* begins

SDOT writes: "23rd Avenue is a narrow street. Maintaining two-way traffic request 22 feet, or 11-foot-wide lanes, at a minimum. Construction activities and equipment require approximately 30 feet of the roadway. The graphic below (above, here on CHS) illustrates why there is not enough space in the road to accommodate more than one lane of traffic during construction."

SDOT writes: “23rd Avenue is a narrow street. Maintaining two-way traffic request 22 feet, or 11-foot-wide lanes, at a minimum. Construction activities and equipment require approximately 30 feet of the roadway. The graphic below (above, here on CHS) illustrates why there is not enough space in the road to accommodate more than one lane of traffic during construction.”

Starting today, you’ll probably want to do everything you can to plan your travel to avoid 23rd Ave as 20 months of construction begins to rebuild the Central District artery in a three-lane configuration, with wider sidewalk, and safer crossings — *a modest version of transit paradise.

CHS wrote here about the $46 million overhaul of 23rd between S Jackson and E John — Starting June 8th, you’ll only have 20 months to wait for a much-improved 23rd Ave

An announcement from SDOT about the start of construction and detours in the area is below. Visit the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project page for more.

Much needed 23rd Avenue improvements start today
Construction means travel delays for Southeast Seattle commuters and neighbors

SEATTLE –The Seattle Department of Transportation started today rebuilding 23rd Avenue in the heart of the Central Area. This construction marks the start of a larger set of investments to improve safety and mobility for people who drive, walk, bike and take transit in the area. Commuters and neighbors are advised to plan ahead to avoid major travel delays.

SDOT will rebuild this stretch of 23rd Avenue from four lanes to three wider lanes, resulting in one lane in each direction plus a center turn lane. The project also includes widening and repairing sidewalks, improving transit speed and reliability, replacing the 100-year-old water main under the street and installing new street lights and public art. While a bike lane will not be included on 23rd Avenue, SDOT is currently installing the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway on residential streets adjacent to 23rd Avenue as a calmer route for people walking or riding bikes.

This project design resulted from nearly two years of traffic analysis, engineering, and community outreach. The improvements are designed to reduce collisions in accordance with the city’s Vision Zero campaign to end traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030. Funding for this phase of project includes federal, state and local funding, including $10 million from the Bridging the Gap levy passed by Seattle voters in 2006.

“Due to a high number of collisions on 23rd Avenue over the last 10 years, we sought grant funding so we could turn a repaving project into an opportunity to create a safer street for people who use it to connect to work, schools, and homes in the Central Area and beyond,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly

The 20-month construction project extends between South Jackson and East John streets, split into three zones to minimize the impacts on businesses, residents and the traveling public. For the first eight months, crews will work in the zone located between South Jackson and East Cherry streets. Travel in the active work zone will be impacted by construction with northbound traffic detoured to Martin Luther King Jr Way and southbound traffic reduced to one lane. This detour is required because 23rd Avenue is not wide enough to safely accommodate construction crews and traffic in both directions.

“We have a lot of work to do in a very tight space,” said SDOT Capital Projects and Roadway Structures Director Mike Terrell. “We’re doing everything we can to keep traffic moving while maintaining access to businesses and homes. Drivers in the Central Area should plan ahead, allow extra travel time, and follow signed detours to avoid cutting through neighborhood streets.”

Upcoming traffic changes and detours

Beginning today, through early 2016, travelers can expect the following changes:

  • Northbound lanes on 23rd Avenue will remain fully closed to traffic between South Jackson and East Cherry streets. Northbound traffic will be detoured at South Jackson Street to Martin Luther King Jr Way and connect with 23rd Avenue at East Cherry Street.
  • Southbound travel on 23rd Avenue will be maintained at all times between South Jackson and East Cherry streets, though reduced to one lane (except at key intersections). Drivers should expect delays.
  • Access to some side streets from 23rd Avenue may be restricted intermittently to accommodate necessary water main replacement work.
  • Metro bus route detours and changes:

o   Northbound Route 48 will follow the detour on Martin Luther King Jr Way around the construction zone.

o   Southbound Route 48 will continue to operate along 23rd Avenue but may be delayed during construction due to traffic congestion.

o   On weekdays, Route 4 will only operate as far south as 21st Avenue and East James Street. On weekends, Metro will operate a revised Route 4 using a diesel bus that does not require a trolley wire.

o   Route 8 will stay on Martin Luther King Jr Way in both directions.

o   For more information about Metro changes and detours during construction visit

  • Police officers will be stationed at key locations along 23rd Avenue and the detour route to help manage traffic.
  • Pedestrian access will be maintained and all businesses will be open and accessible.

Please visit the website for more project information and to view detour maps at

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5 years ago

Several years ago they did the same thing on Fauntleroy way in West Seattle (went from two narrow lanes in each direction, down to one with center turn lane). This route has heavy use especially from Vashon commuters. It’s been great! If anything it seems faster, and definitely safer. I’m looking forward to this improvement on 23rd.

Adam Robins
Adam Robins
5 years ago

The backhoe needs more spikes on it, and the War Rig is not nearly big enough nor menacing enough in this drawing. Also, there weren’t any buses in Mad Max: Fury Road. Get it right.

5 years ago
Reply to  Adam Robins

The backhoe also needs some kind of modifications to make it faster, otherwise the war rig is going to leave it in the dust.

And put skulls on everything.

5 years ago

NOOoooo – 23rd ave is the only way to get anywhere efficiently, even with adding a center lane this is going to reduce traffic capacity by a LOT. Ridiculous. Is the DOT and Seattle trying to make the entire city a gridlocked clusterf**k?

5 years ago
Reply to  Kristen

Except that’s not what’s happened any of the other streets that converted from 4 to 3 lanes. Traffic throughput was the same before-and-after, with fewer accidents.