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Walking to Transit on Capitol Hill

Note from SNG Executive Director Gordon Padelford: People who live on Capitol Hill love to walk and they love to take transit. Thanks to the hard work of Central Seattle Greenways, it’s going to soon be easier to do both. Creating safe routes so that people can walk and bike to transit lines and hubs is a strategy that we’re working on with our local groups across the city.

By David Seater, co-leader of Central Seattle Greenways:

The East-West John/Thomas Street corridor across Capitol Hill is a key street for accessing transit, hosting Metro’s frequent routes 8 and 10, and providing a direct connection to Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill Station. Unfortunately, today the corridor is difficult and dangerous for people on foot to cross at the many intersections lacking traffic lights. Along the corridor parked cars near intersections make visibility poor so many people driving fail to yield to people walking across the unmarked crosswalks. John and Thomas are wide streets, leading to high vehicle speeds and long crossing distances. This makes it hard to access bus stops along the corridor and to travel north-south across the corridor to the many parks, businesses, and homes on Capitol Hill.

Trying to Walk Across E John St

In 2016, we proposed installing curb bulbs at the unsignalized intersections along the corridor in order to reduce crossing distances, improve visibility for people attempting to cross, and lower vehicle speeds. We won funding for these improvements when the Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee selected this project through SDOT’s Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) program, noting that the corridor had the highest collision rate of all the projects being considered. The NSF program operates on a three year cycle. Projects were selected in 2016, continue through the design process in 2017, and will be constructed in 2018.

Working collaboratively with SDOT, we arrived at a design that fit within the $1 million scope of NSF project while still providing safety improvements at every unsignalized intersection along the one mile corridor from Broadway to 23rd Ave E. In general, the design provides concrete curb bulbs at all four corners of every intersection that includes a bus stop, while using less expensive flex-posts and paint to create curb bulbs at the other intersections. Early in the process, a separate Neighborhood Park & Street Fund project was folded into the design to include a flashing crosswalk beacon at E John St & 10th Ave E.

image of improvements

SDOT also coordinated with King County Metro, which was planning improvements in the corridor for route 8. Metro joined the project as a funding partner, increasing the scope of the project to relocate the westbound bus stop at Broadway to be nearer the light rail station entrance and adding large bus bulbs at E Olive Way & Summit Ave E, E John St & 10th Ave E, and E Thomas St at 16th Ave E and 19th Ave E. As the design process continues, the team is hopeful that there will be sufficient funding to include concrete curb bulbs at E Thomas St & 18th Ave E, proposed as a crossing for the future Central Ridge Neighborhood Greenway.

Most recently, SDOT announced that they’ll be installing a left-turn signal at the busy intersections of E Olive Way / E John St & Broadway E. This is a fantastic development that will help make this dangerous and confusing intersection a safer place for people walking, biking, taking transit, or driving, and supports the 2017 SNG priority for District 3, addressing some of the difficulties that Central Seattle Greenways identified in our 2016 audit of the station area.
We look forward to continuing to work with SDOT as the design for this corridor is finalized and construction begins next year.

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