Rest of Seattle set to join Capitol Hill with 25 MPH speed limits as traffic deaths rise

The rest of the city is about to join Capitol Hill’s core and downtown with 25 MPH speed limits on arterial streets. The lower speeds were implemented here in 2016. They have not done enough.

Citing a troublesome rise in dangerous collisions, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced plans Tuesday for the expanded citywide limits plus more crossings that give pedestrians a head start, more red light traffic cameras, and a new Major Crash Review Task Force “which will convene a panel of experts to analyze every serious and fatal collision” in Seattle. Continue reading

Mayor’s ‘Fare Share’ plan would add minimum wage for drivers and 51 cent fee to every Uber and Lyft ride in Seattle to pay for streetcar, housing, and industry regulation

(Image: CHS)

Seattle is preparing to target one of the most lucrative — and easily the most traffic-bloating — corners of the city’s “app” economy to raise more money for public transit, affordable housing, and, yes, further regulating and monitoring the industry.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has rolled out a 2020 “Fare Start” budget proposal calling for new legislation that would add 51 cents to the cost of every Uber and Lyft ride in the city and set new minimum wage requirements for the industry’s freelance drivers.

“Economic models really vary from app to app,” Mayor Durkan said Wednesday in a media briefing outlining the new proposal and explaining why the “transportation network company” industry tax and regulation ended up in Seattle’s fast lane. Continue reading

Busted: SDOT to remove rogue North Capitol Hill ‘PHOTO ENFORCED’ stop sign

Nope, the city says, this Capitol Hill traffic circle is definitely not home to Seattle’s first and only photo enforced stop sign.

“As you probably suspected, we did not put up this sign. We do not photo-enforce stop signs,” a Seattle Department of Transportation spokesperson tells CHS about the peculiar signage that appeared a few weeks back after a sign was wiped out in the traffic circle at 20th Ave E and E Crescent during Seattle’s bout of February snow. Continue reading

Ready for ‘period of maximum constraint,’ Seattle rolls out Rapid Response Team to keep streets clear — UPDATE


Seattle may need some guidance on making faster, smarter street investments but Mayor Jenny Durkan’s new team is set to clean up some of the messes along the way.

Set to be unveiled by the mayor Wednesday in South Lake Union, the city’s new Rapid Response Team is planned to “help quickly clear debris and vehicles” from the city’s streets “so people and goods can keep moving, and help ensure that Seattle can make the most of its existing streets as we grow.”

The new squad is powered by five “Response Team trucks” dedicated to the cause and armed with “tools needed to clear debris and vehicles, help stranded drivers, and to guide traffic around incidents, using sirens, red lights, variable message and bright pink ‘Emergency Scene Ahead’ signs.”

While it’s a bit like buying Liquid Plumr when you need new pipes, the team is coming together as Seattle enters its “period of maximum constraint” with major projects like the Washington State Convention Center expansion, the closure of the Viaduct, waterfront construction, and the end of bus service in the Transit Tunnel conspire to further clog Seattle streets.

A full announcement from the mayor’s office on the new team is below. Continue reading

Seattle’s bid to cut emissions and traffic includes downtown tolling by 2021, Pike and Pine protected bike lanes ‘ASAP’

City Hall is putting together a plan to toll downtown Seattle streets before the end of her first term in 2021, Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Tuesday.

Meanwhile, City Council transportation committee head Mike O’Brien is pushing for a more immediate effort to complete new protected bike lanes on Pike and Pine with money from the Washington State Convention Center expansion.

Both efforts come as Seattle seeks to ease congestion in its core and cut the some 6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions created every year in the city. Continue reading

Citywide speed limit reductions are coming to Seattle streets — UPDATE

Council member Mike O'Brien announces the speed change proposal on First Hill. (Image: CHS)

Council member Mike O’Brien announces the speed change proposal on First Hill. (Image: CHS)

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-9-33-57-amUPDATE: Some of Capitol Hill’s busiest streets are poised to get a 5 MPH speed limit reduction as part of a larger speed reduction proposal announced by city officials Tuesday. Speed limits on Capitol Hill’s arterial streets would be reduced from 30 MPH to 25 MPH, which includes E Pike, E Pine, Broadway, Madison, E Union, 15th, 12th, and Bellevue among others.

Seattle officials announced speeds on all residential streets would be reduced from 25 MPH to 20 MPH — the same speed limit as school zones, which will remain unchanged. Officials said that slowing vehicles down by even 5 MPH can be significant in improving survival rates in collisions.

“Speed kills,” said Council member Tim Burgess during a media event outside the Horizon House on First Hill. The City Council’s transportation committee is slated to take up the legislation on September 20th.

Council member Mike O’Brien, who chairs the City Council’s transportation committee, said he was confident the speed change legislation would be approved by City Council within a month. Once the legislation is passed, around 500 new speed limit signs will be installed at $200-$300 per sign. The city would then enter a warning period before police officers begin enforcing the new speeds. The move is part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths by 2030Continue reading

Department of Homeland Security and SPD training ties up Madison

Boren_Madison (1)If you’re wondering why traffic on Madison was a nightmare Thursday, blame a Department of Homeland Security-led training exercise involving Seattle Police near 6th and Madison.

SPD confirmed the training Thursday morning but referred CHS to the federal agency for more information. We’ve asked DHS for more on the nature of the training and the planned duration. The federal agency offers local law enforcement agencies a wide variety of “training opportunities,” according to its website.

Thursday morning, traffic backed-up to Boren and beyond as vehicles were re-routed around the training area for access to I-5. There were no local announcements of the training session.

You can check out the latest conditions on the CHS Traffic Cameras page.

23rd Ave small business owners say corridor overhaul is putting them on the ropes

701 coffee trying to make the best out of a difficult situation with deals for road workers. (Image: 701 Coffee)

701 coffee tries to make the best out of a difficult situation with deals for road workers. (Image: 701 Coffee)

The massive overhaul of 23rd Ave, and all the near-term traffic headaches therein, are coming to the E Madison intersection this weekend. The intersection will close and the 11 and 48 busses will be rerouted along with car traffic as crews will work around the clock until Monday morning.

23rd Ave is a workhorse of a road, running along the backside of Capitol Hill and through the Central District connecting neighborhoods and commercial areas. The $46 million overhaul of 23rd between S Jackson and E John will transform the artery into a much more efficient, much safer route for cars, transit, pedestrians, and — thanks to an adjacent greenway — bicyclists. But like so many massive transportation construction projects, while the long road may bring promise, the first few miles of the process are pure pain for local merchants. The city’s Department of Transportation and Office of Economic Development have pitched in with extra signage and communicating work plans, but some owners are saying it’s not enough. Continue reading

City warns of traffic issues during President Xi visit

Cal Anderson Boughs

We don’t think China’s President Xi Jinping will make a stop by the Chinese Scholar Tree on the north edge of Cal Anderson Park but it has been — also — carefully protected should he decide to make a quick swing through Capitol Hill to visit the future light rail station.

Xi will, however, be all over downtown this week creating three days of even crazier traffic than usual and “limiting” vehicle traffic in the area “bounded by Olive St., 7th Ave, Lenora St and 4th Ave” to provide the leader a secure corridor of operations around his hotel. Details on the traffic impacts from the City of Seattle, below.

Seattle plans for traffic during visit of Chinese delegation

SEATTLE (Sept. 18, 2015) The City of Seattle is working with local and federal agencies to manage traffic on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week during the visit of a large Chinese delegation. Seattle officials are working to support U.S. Secret Service efforts to provide security.

“Seattle is honored to host President Xi and his delegation during his visit to the United States,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “With an international visit of this stature and the accompanying federal security requirements, we want all travelers to be advised of the impacts to business as usual. Everyone needs to be patient, reevaluate their commute plans, add in extra travel time, and monitor traffic alerts for the latest information.”

Intermittent closures of freeways, regional arterials and downtown streets are expected. The flow of buses and cars in downtown Seattle and around the region will be disrupted.

Travelers in Seattle are advised to plan ahead and expect traffic delays on all three days. Those who can postpone trips downtown or work from home are encouraged to do so. Continue reading

Capitol Hill 2035 — Seattle’s next 20-year plan

The most interesting parts of the planning are the facts, figures, and datasets used to create the forecasts and predictions. Here's  a look at various predicted metrics for the four alternatives under consideration in the Seattle 2035 plan. The full report is at the end of this post.

The most interesting parts of the planning are the facts, figures, and datasets used to create the forecasts and predictions. Here’s a look at various predicted metrics for the four alternatives under consideration in the Seattle 2035 plan. The full report is at the end of this post.

The report is also full of tables and figures illustrating how Central Seattle neighborhoods stack up with the rest of the city

The report is also full of tables and figures illustrating how Central Seattle neighborhoods stack up with the rest of the city

If CHS understands the way this works correctly, back in 1995, City of Seattle planners predicted $15 cocktails, drones, the demolition of Piecora’s, and Anarchists. And they did nothing to stop it. The good news is there is a chance to help influence the next 20-year plan and what place Capitol Hill, First Hill, and the Central District play in Seattle 2035… and beyond.

If you’d like the “too long, didn’t skim” version, ready about Alternative 2 which is forecast to create the most new housing and jobs for Capitol Hill out of the four models under consideration. Meanwhile, housing affordability is brought up as a problem under all of the options, but for different reasons. Alternative 2 would likely lead to lots of new, tall buildings. These tend to be expensive to build, and end up with higher rents and higher priced condos. Alternatives 3 and 4, which spread the development to more areas, could see people who currently live near light rail stations (in particular lower-income people in south Seattle) displaced as their neighborhoods are rebuilt with shiny, new buildings. The proposal recommends developing “strategies” to help lessen the problem.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 2.23.13 PM Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 2.22.10 PMLast fall, CHS reported on some of the growth analysis underway as the city drafts a re-written Comprehensive Plan, the document that will shape growth and development through 2035. City planner expect there will be 70,000 new housing units over that time (housing 120,000 people) and 115,000 new jobs.

“It’s not a matter of if we’re going to grow, it’s how we’re going to grow.”

“It’s not a matter of if we’re going to grow, it’s how we’re going to grow,” said Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas at Wednesday’s May 27 public hearing on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the process. “Where do we want to channel that growth?”

To understand the possible changes, it’s best to understand how things work now. The city is divided up into different areas, and growth is channeled, in different amounts, into these villages.

There are six Urban Centers: Downtown, First/Capitol Hill, South Lake Union, Uptown (you might call it Lower Queen Anne), University District and Northgate. The first four of these are next to each other, creating what looks on a map like one big Urban Center.

Then there are Hub Urban Villages: Ballard, Bitter Lake, Fremont, Lake City, West Seattle Junction and Mount Baker.

Finally, there 18 Residential Urban Villages such as 23rd and Union-Jackson, Madison-Miller, Eastlake, Green Lake, Othello, Wallingford and Columbia City.

Other parts of town are either industrial, like the ports or Interbay, or none of the above, just low-density residential — the north part of Capitol Hill, Montlake or Phinney Ridge, for example.

Under the current plan, most of the growth is channeled to the Urban Centers (keep in mind, Capitol Hill is considered an urban Center) while a lot of the residential goes to the Hub villages and residential villages.

Seattle is considering four different options going forward, each of which mean a very different feel for the city as a whole, and for the Hill.

The City has identified four alternatives for consideration in this EIS. The alternatives assume the same level of total growth, but evaluate differing levels of growth emphases that may occur in various areas of the city, and with differing levels of resulting land use intensities. Each alternative emphasizes different patterns of projected future growth amount and intensity among the urban centers, urban villages and transit-related areas.

Alternative 1, Continue Current Trends (No Action), would plan for a continuation of current growth policies associated with the Urban Village Strategy along with a continuation of assumed trends that distribute growth among all of the urban centers and urban villages.

Alternative 2, Guide Growth to Urban Centers, prioritizes greater growth concentrations into the six existing urban centers—Downtown, First/Capitol Hill, University District, Northgate, South Lake Union and Uptown.

The emphasis in alternatives 3 and 4 is on providing opportunity for more housing and employment growth in areas closest to existing and planned transit service. Specifically:

Alternative 3, Guide Growth to Urban Villages near Light Rail, prioritizes greater growth concentrations around existing and planned light rail transit stations.

Alternative 4, Guide Growth to Urban Villages near Transit, prioritizes greater growth concentrations around light rail stations and in specific areas along priority bus transit routes. The boundaries of the existing urban villages would remain unchanged under both alterna- tives 1 and 2. alternatives 3 and 4 would result in expansions to some urban village bound- aries and the designation of one new urban village (at NE 130th Street/Interstate 5) in order to encompass a 10-minute walkshed around existing/planned future light rail stations and priority transit routes.

Alternative 1 means to basically keep doing what we have been doing. Under this scenario, the Urban Centers get 42% of the new housing and 61% of the new jobs. Continue reading