North Beacon Hill getting much-needed safety upgrades, new trail connection

2014_NorthBeaconSafetyConnectionsMapRevisedWork is set to begin next month on a slate of road safety improvements in North Beacon Hill, mostly focused around Beacon Ave S between 14th Ave S and the Mountains to Sound Trail end point just east of I-5.

The project consists of two extremely-needed improvements and a bunch of smaller ones. The largest change will be the addition of a sidewalk to finally connect the neighborhood, the S College Street stairway and the Mountains to Sound Trail endpoint.

The city will also add a bike lane up the steep climb from the trail to the neighborhood center. While this won’t flatten the monster hill, at least people biking up from the trail (or Sodo via the Holgate overpass) will have some extra dedicated space to take their time.

This could be built in 2015, pending funding

This could be built in 2015, pending funding

The city also notes that a future project could build a continuous sidewalk ramp down to Holgate in place of the current staircase. That project could be built in conjunction with a Seattle Public Utilities waterline project next year if funding is found to make it happen. See this post for more about the Holgate overpass stairway problem.

But perhaps the best part of the whole project will be the changes to the huge intersection at 14th Ave S. Today, it looks like this:

Image from Google Street View

Image from Google Street View

Beacon_DropIn_Boards_0909-14thIs that a highway on-ramp? Nope! It’s actually the way to Beacon Hill International School.

Note that if you want to walk from the southeast corner of the intersection (the gas station in this south-facing image) to the northeast corner, you have to walk across three crosswalks including one monster crosswalk that is about 70-feet wide. This is no way to build streets where families live.

The new and greatly-improved intersection would tighten-up all the corners and remove that highway-style “slip lane” that currently encourages high-speed right turns across the wide crosswalk from Beacon Ave to northbound 14th Ave. This will also create some extra sidewalk space.

The project also includes a raised crosswalk and traffic diverter on 14th Ave south of the intersection. This diverter allows people driving to exit but not to enter, a measure that should prevent southbound cut-through traffic on this residential stretch of 14th Ave S. People biking will be able to continue south on 14th, which sets the stage for a potential neighborhood greenway connection.

Speaking of which, the city is working through the design for a trail connection around the west edge of Jefferson Park (running next to the food forest!) following a gravel service road that will offer a less hilly and more direct connection in the middle of the Beacon Hill neighborhood greenway. Put this together with a new neighborhood greenway connection up 14th, and you can see that the totally awesome Beacon Hill Family Bicycle and Pedestrian Circulation Plan is really starting to take form.

This is what happens when engaged supporters of safe and fun neighborhood streets get support from their city.

More on the planned Beacon Ave changes:

Beacon September Factsheet by tfooq

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6 Responses to North Beacon Hill getting much-needed safety upgrades, new trail connection

  1. Aaron says:

    Yes! Getting from Beacon Hill to SoDo and back sucks, and even just this little bit will help a lot. Props to the city for working on this!

  2. Don Brubeck says:

    Those are great projects! Most welcome, especially the Holgate ramp. That is one of the connections from West Seattle to Beacon Hill, miserable now for the uphill route.
    But it is not really the end point of the Mountain to Sound Trail. It is not called the “Mountain to Beacon Hill Trail”. The Sound is over here in Alki! That intersection at Holgate is just the end point of a missing link. The original Seattle Mountain to Sound Trail route included a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over I-5 that connects the trail to 4th Avenue South & South Royal Brougham Way, and would make it an easy ride over to the Alki Trail, where you can find a nice marker at Duwamish Head by the Anchor Park marking the west end of the Mountain to Sound Greenway, on the Sound.
    Wouldn’t it be great to have a decent connection on Holgate to the Busway Trail, to Lander and the SODO light rail station, and from there via a separated bike path on East Marginal to the Portside Trail, West Seattle Bridge Trail, Duwamish Trail and Alki Trail?

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      I know that it’s not the permanent end of the trail, but I did not know that they actually have a marker by Anchor Park noting the end of the MTS! How cool.

      Yes, they need to make that connection.

  3. Kirk says:

    These are all great projects. But every time I read about improved bicycle facilities, I wonder how does SDOT prioritize projects? SDOT’s own poll came to the following conclusion:

    PROBLEM locations
    Other barriers to riding a bike exist where the current bicycle network is inadequate, missing, or lacking connectivity. SDOT heard comments from people who live all over the city about the most problematic locations in their neighborhood or bicycling experience. The online mapping tool asked people to show exactly where they think the worst places to ride a bike are – both along the roadway and at specific intersections and crossings.
    The top locations identified in the online mapping tool are shown on page 28. The top crossing location barrier was the Ballard Bridge.

    The Ballard Bridge was identified as the top problem location in Seattle, the worst place to ride a bike. Yet two years later, nothing has been done. Not one thing. No plans for the future have been announced. Why? If the citizens of Seattle have made it known that this is the location that most needs to be improved, then why hasn’t SDOT done anything to improve it?

    • Al Dimond says:

      I don’t think SDOT is really prioritizing, it’s in reaction mode. It reacts to maintenance and construction projects by tacking on bike elements (Dexter, Linden, Broadway), and occasionally reacts to notorious collisions or safety issues by doing quick safety projects (75th, Spokane/Marginal, the Missing Link patch). The 2nd Ave cycletrack was largely a reaction to bike share.

      This is better than a reaction of ignoring these problems, but it often ignores our stated priorities, and network considerations like connectivity (both ends of the 75th project are just short of important bike routes) and coverage (some areas have seen reactive projects while tragedies in the south end, mostly on highway-style roads without such easy fixes, have largely been ignored).

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