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After big community walk, McGinn announces NE 75th St safety improvements

Screen Shot 2013-04-02 at 10.07.36 AMHundreds of family, friends, city officials and community members took to the streets Monday, just a week since a devastating collision at 33rd Ave NE and NE 75th St took the lives of Judy and Dennis Schulte and sent Karina and Elias Ulriksen-Schulte to the hospital in critical condition.

People were there to memorialize those killed and support those still struggling in the hospital. They were also there to make sure no family has to go through this again.

To that end, Mayor Mike McGinn—who was among those at the community walk, which was organized by Seattle Neighborhood Greenwaysannounced a series of road safety changes in the area and said the city is looking at ways to improve DUI laws:

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One week ago today, a Seattle family and a Seattle community were shattered by tragedy after an allegedly impaired driver collided with them as they were out enjoying a walk in their own neighborhood. We mourn the dead and wish for the speedy recovery of the survivors.

We have also heard from the community about concerns regarding road safety on Northeast 75th Street near Nathan Eckstein Middle School.

We are going to work with the community to look at physical changes to the design and layout of Northeast 75th Street to bring down speeds and make it safer for students and neighbors. Some changes were already in the planning process. But we will work with the community in the coming weeks to determine further specific design changes.

This collision has also raised good questions about our state’s DUI laws and their enforcement. We are taking a close look at ways to improve enforcement of DUI laws here in Seattle. We will also evaluate existing impaired driving laws to determine what improvements to make or to advocate for at the state level.

SDOT will be implementing the following improvements in 2013:

• Installing a flashing school zone beacon on Northeast 75th Street in front of the school

• SDOT will begin the process of evaluating and potentially installing a school zone speed camera on Northeast 75th Street

• The crosswalk at Northeast 68th Street and 25th Avenue Northeast will be remarked with fresh and highly visible paint

• The intersection of Northeast 68th Street and 25th Ave Northeast will be evaluated for a traffic signal

• SDOT will install new pedestrian countdown heads at 75th Street Northeast and Northeast 31st Street

• SDOT has already installed pedestrian countdown heads at 75th Street Northeast and Northeast 35th Street

The Seattle Police Department will enforce traffic laws at this location, including:

• Use of the mobile speed van to monitor and cite speeders, in response to requests from the Eckstein school community

• Temporary use of a speed reader board to warn drivers of their speed

• Assignment of traffic officers to monitor that corridor (since January 16th)

You can also see the info sheet describing our work at this location.

We look forward to working with the community to make our streets safer. In August 2012 I launched a new road safety campaign titled “Be Super Safe,” which brings community partners together with the City to undertake education, enforcement, and engineering actions with the goal of zero serious injuries and fatalities on our streets. You can learn more about that campaign at http://www.seattle.gov/BeSuperSafe. In my State of the City address in February 2013, I also announced a new school road safety analysis and action plan that will look at ways to improve road safety near schools across Seattle. We will have more to announce on that program next week.

There will be another chance to discuss the incident today (Tuesday) at the Ravenna-Bryant Neighborhood Association community meeting at the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center’s gymnasium (7–9 p.m.).

For more from the walk, KIRO TV has a good report and the Seattle PI has some good photos.

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13 responses to “After big community walk, McGinn announces NE 75th St safety improvements”

  1. Shawn

    I guess that SDOT has finally answered the question ‘what’s the body count required for safety improvements on 75th St?’ I wonder what the body count is for safety improvements at Fremont & 43rd St… I’ll confess to being a bit cynical about this stuff…

    1. As to Fremont/43rd… some merchants in the area have expressed interest in improving pedestrian crossings of Fremont Ave at 43rd, and Fremont Greenways is interested in improving crossings at 42nd. Both groups have some contact with SDOT; it might take a few years, but I’d be surprised if something didn’t happen in the area. If you’re interested Fremont Greenways might be a good group to get involved with.

      In addition to the pedestrian crossings 43rd is where the #5 bus turns. The current arrangement prioritizing N-S traffic on Fremont Ave doesn’t serve that particularly well either (in particular the conflict between turning traffic and pedestrians).

      1. Shawn

        I’m already involved on the issue, as a board member of the Fremont Neighborhood Council. When this issue was raised during the ‘Safe Routes to School’ process, SDOT recognized the problem but felt that ‘do nothing’ was their preferred course of action. Thus, the cynicism.

    2. Not only that, but these are pretty lame “improvements”. 75th street needs to be redesigned, not temporarily policed.

  2. GA

    It is an incredibly sad state of affairs that SDOT requires a body count to implement safety improvements to begin with. At the crosswalk across Admiral near 47th, even the violent death of a city council staff member was not enough to get SDOT to put in a signaled crosswalk. We have not reached this critical body count at that location in Admiral yet.

  3. Gene

    Like the other commenters, I just want to express how tragic and depressing it is that it takes people being killed for street improvements to be made. There are dangerous intersections I ride through on a daily basis and I often think that one day this will be improved — because someone was killed here.

  4. bill

    The Seattle Police Department will enforce traffic laws at this location

    That traffic enforcement is so remarkable as to be worthy of a mayoral announcement speaks volumes about our driving and policing cultures. I guess we get a free pass to speed in the rest of the city for the short time the cops will patrol this area.

  5. Anthony

    It is an election year, cynicism is a requirement since we all know we’re getting bullshitted from top to bottom.

    This city still has a enormous large gap to fill before I even get close to saying its a “bike city”. McGinn is hard to read, and I think unfortunately not completely straight up with the public.

    So, we get a lot of silly pro-bike statements, but few tangible results. It is still a car culture out there and still this City Council panders to that segment like they are the cats-meow. A sick bunch of people inhabit that council I tell you….

    1. Leif Espelund

      I would guess that, given the power, McGinn would be fully in favor of raising the revenue to make Seattle a very pedestrian and cyclist friendly city. The problem is that he doesn’t have power to do much about that. He can propose stuff, but it is up to the council to pass and fund. And even the council (city as well as county) have their hands tied to a certain extent in regards to funding.

      Now I’m not saying that McGinn has done everything he can to make this stuff happen. He certainly has been a dividing force with the council. But I would argue that his heart and policy proposals are in the right place, even if they do just add up to lip service at this point.

  6. The effects of alcohol addiction are creeping into more and more people’s lives. Safe

    Absent the factor of a drunk driver, there’s some engineering and enforcement that needs to happen. Crossing medians are helpful. Citing failure to yield to a pedestrian in the right of way, reckless driving, overdriving conditions (like when it’s dark and wet), failure to yield to a bus, – we need enforcement of those and more. The number of failure to yield citations compared to jaywalking tickets was sad when we looked at that with the Pedestrian Master Plan Advisory Group. The cops said something about needing 2 cops to cite failure to yield. Enforcement has a way of encouraging the right behavior. Sometimes the city doesn’t enforce because they wind up ticketing “nice neighbors” who come unglued about it which is too bad. I thought they should have to be crossing guards for their community service if ticketed for speeding in a school zone.

    It’s not universally accessible to have a crossing on an arterial with cars traveling killing speeds in multiple lanes and no on-demand ped signal to help make it across. 40 mph combined with a truck hitting a body up high compared to a small car hitting between the knee and hip – that’s going to kill you nearly every time.

    I look forward to way more aggressive pedestrian safety interventions in the future. And Safe Routes to Schools needs more money to say the least.

  7. […] the collision. It was lovely and heartbreaking and Mayor McGinn attended and later announced some safety improvements for the […]

  8. Dan

    One major issue with 75th is that it is supposedly a 2-lane road (according to the mayor’s info sheet on the page linked to above) but it acts like a 4-lane road. The roadway is wide enough to be two lanes each direction, and there are even peak hour parking restrictions, suggesting that two lanes are intended to be used each way. But there are no lane markings, so it’s a hazy situation at best. It turns the road into a free for all, with some folks zooming past (in the right “lane”) slower drivers. I certainly don’t understand the peak hour parking restrictions if it is in fact a two-lane road. Seems to me removing those restrictions would act like free bulb-outs and help to calm the traffic along that stretch.

  9. […] options for redesigning the notoriously dangerous NE 75th Street recently. Prompted by the devastating drunk driving collision that took the lives of Dennis and Judy Schulte and critically injured their step-daughter and […]

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