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23rd Ave Vision Zero work ready to move into fifth year of construction — including 23rd and John overhaul

We’re still almost a year away from the start of construction on the northern segment of 23rd Ave. When it’s done, expect some big changes to the intersection at John Street, and lots of other little upgrades scattered about.

If it feels like some kind of construction has been happening on 23rd Ave for a long time, that’s because it has. Major roadwork began on 23rd back in 2015, with the section between Madison and Jackson streets. That phase wrapped up in 2017, and then work started on the stretch between Jackson and Rainier. While the work is largely done there, there are still some bits left such as intersections and sidewalk ramps.

The stretch from John to Roanoke is next in line for a series of upgrades. In 2018, the city put that stretch of 23rd (which is actually 24th for most of its length) on a road diet, leaving two southbound lanes, but changing one of the northbound lanes into a turn lane.

But the project is far from over. In the next couple of weeks, the city plans to install High Friction Surface Treatments at Lousia, Lynn and Helen streets. The treatments, a layer of a rough, granular coating, should provide some extra grip to help cars navigate the road without skidding. The hope is that crews will be able to install the treatments over a weekend, probably the weekend after Labor Day, if the weather cooperates.

That’s about all in the immediate future, but it’s far from all that will be happening. A series of other safety upgrades is planned, but the Seattle Department of Transportation is at about the 60% mark in the design phase of the project, said, Bill Clark of SDOT.

Perhaps the biggest planned changes will come at 23rd and John.

“That intersection is one of the most dangerous,” Clark said.

Much to the relief of pretty much anyone who’s driven through it, the city will be installing dedicated left turn lanes complete with turn arrows on the lights. Left turn lanes will be put in place in both direction on 23rd for turning onto John Street. Eastbound John Street will also get a left turn lane for people going onto 23rd. Along with the lanes, the city has plans for other upgrades, including new traffic lights, poles, and loop detectors.

Other plans along 23rd call for installing a protected pedestrian crossing at East Lynn Street, curb bulbs at Louisa and Ward streets, and improvements to 12 bus stops along 23rd/24th.

The project is a part of Seattle’s Vision Zero Program, which seeks to reduce pedestrian deaths to zero by 2030. The changes are likely to make the road safer for motorists, but also for pedestrians. For example, the curb bulbs will slow drivers down, but will also narrow the road, making it easier for pedestrians to cross. Clark acknowledged that some facets of the program may reduce vehicle speeds in the corridor. Reduced speeds dovetail with Vision Zero, since pedestrians are more likely to survive accidents when the cars are moving more slowly.

Design work on the project is proceeding. Right now, the plans, which may yet increase in scope, are being vetted by other city departments, Clark said. Then SDOT will go back to address concerns of other departments, and continue its work. There will be another round of comments from other departments at the 90% design milestone. Somewhere in the design phase, there will be another community meeting, likely with the Montlake Community Council. Clark said he expects design work to be complete in February or March 2020. Constriction should begin in the summer of 2020 and continue through the spring of 2021.

And that won’t mark the end of the changes for 23rd Avenue. The city still has plans to open a RapidRide line along 23rd. According to the city’s website, that line is not in active development, bit it is slated to open in 2023. Plans for the RapidRide line along Madison are also proceeding, with construction planned to start next year, and service in 2022.

But wait, there’s more. At the northern end of the corridor, the state’s plans to completely change the intersection of Montlake Boulevard and 520 are in the first stages of construction, for a project expected to last through 2023. Once that one wraps up, the state will then replace the stretch of 520 over Portage Bay connecting Montlake Boulevard to I-5, with a target for construction beginning in 2023 and ending in 2029.

You can learn more at

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18 thoughts on “23rd Ave Vision Zero work ready to move into fifth year of construction — including 23rd and John overhaul

      • 23rd and John is Central District.

        CD starts at 17th and goes until you’re at bottom of the hill on 23rd

        Most of “Montlake” was always the CD until realtors were scared to mention Central district and started using different neighborhood names.

      • Wut????

        I thought it was pretty universally agreed that Madison was the boundary. After all, that’s where the red line was. 23rd and John is on the Capitol Hill side of Madison. 19th and John is Meany Middle School and Miller CC. 17th and John is where SASG and the Christmas Tree sale used to be. Def Capitol Hill.

    • Yeah what a bummer. Nothing worse than left turn lanes making things safer at an intersection. This is the worst of gentrification. The absolute worst.

      • He’s a fake. A fraud. He NEVER even lived in the Central Area to begin with so BOO on that guy. An opportunist. Let me make a video in the cd for clicks and likes and then I can be in the paper, on the news! Yep doin it. Lol. But hey he ‘speaks the truth’. yeahh ok. *cough cough FAKE*

      • You are very wrong…. he lived off Union and so did his family growing up.

        He’s not an opportunist. Draze rejects major labels trying to sign him.

        You don’t know shit about what you’re saying

    • Always felt this has been a good video/lyrics that helps provide perspective to the sense of a disappearing culture that many of those in our district are feeling. With that said, it’s straight dumb to use this video to imply that putting in safety improving left turn lanes is ruining our neighborhood.

      And no, the Montlake neighborhood was never apart of the CD.

  1. I seriously do not understand that intersection.

    This isn’t a “Seattle Traffic” thing. It’s a problem with THAT INTERSECTION. Something about the sight lines or close-together lights or something.

    People drive right through Red lights there. It’s insane.

  2. I was excited to read they are putting in a left arrow on john/23rd. Then I realized it’s only Eastbound on John. They really need one going North on 23rd, a single car trying to turn left there will block easily 20+ cars behind them. There’s nowhere to turn left past there either because left turns aren’t allowed at Madison.

    • Yes, I had the same thought when I read it, then looked at the detailed pictures and saw it indicates a left turn arrow from eastbound John to 23rd Ave northbound. But the odd thing is, there is already a left turn arrow there as it is, so don’t understand what is changing. The left turn arrow does only stay on for about half of the overall light cycle through and then the westbound traffic light turns green.

      But the real pain points are no protected left turns from 23rd Ave to either westbound or eastbound John St. THAT is what should really be getting corrected.

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