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City nearly finished with Olympic Hills Greenway plans, open house Thursday

Map of planned improvements (those blurry red things are STOP signs for cross streets). Image from SDOT.

The city is nearly finished designing the Olympic Hills Neighborhood Greenway, and the community is invited to an open house Thursday to discuss the plans.

The meetings runs from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at the Lake City Library.

Planned to open in late 2014, the Olympic Hills Greenway will be the northernmost neighborhood greenway in the city. Perhaps more notably it will also be the city’s first neighborhood greenway where the majority of blocks do not have sidewalks.

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Many neighborhoods in the north and south ends of the city were built without sidewalks, a huge oversight during a crazy era when the walking environment was not considered a priority. When Seattle annexed these areas, the city inherited many miles of sidewalk-free streets, and the cost to add them after the fact is high.

There is a hope that neighborhood greenways can be one way of making these residential streets safer in the short term while the city slowly builds out the sidewalks. At current funding levels, the city will not finish the sidewalks within any of our lives. Even if the city dramatically increased its sidewalk budget, it will take decades to build all the missing sidewalks. So finding less expensive ways to improve safety in the immediate term is vital.

Details from SDOT:

Seattleites continue to demand safer, calmer residential streets. Streets where families and neighbors walk, ride a bike and drive at low speeds on their way home, to stores, to schools and to parks. Seattle calls these streets neighborhood greenways and our goal is to create a network of 250 miles of them.

This Thursday, March 13 at the Lake City Library, SDOT is meeting with the community to talk about the most promising neighborhood greenway route for the Olympic Hills neighborhood. The recommendation is based on public outreach and technical analysis. Last summer, we hosted a public meeting, met with the City of Shoreline and Lake City Greenways, offered briefings to other neighborhood groups, made site visits and collected traffic data.  The improvements shown on the map below reflect this work.

These safety enhancements complement the new green space being built at NE 133rd Street with the help of the community, Lake City Greenways, the Parks Foundation, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and SDOT.  It also supports the new sidewalk being installed along the south side of NE 130th Street as part of our Safe Routes to School program.

We recognize this part of town lacks sidewalks. One of our project goals is reducing speeds on this street to make it safer and more comfortable for people walking to share the street with moving traffic.  While ultimately SDOT is committed to building sidewalks, it is a costly, long-term effort and beyond the scope and budget of the current greenway project.  We are able to add about one speed hump a block. Traffic calming evaluations indicate that speed humps are a successful tool for slowing vehicle speeds. The City of Portland has a nice traffic calming evaluation web page that shows the value of adding them. We’ve also found favorable results on past Safe Route to Schools projects in Seattle. Reducing vehicle speed is one of the best tools for improving pedestrian safety until sidewalks can be built.

Greenway construction is planned for late 2014. Be Super Safe and we’ll see you on Thursday!

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2 responses to “City nearly finished with Olympic Hills Greenway plans, open house Thursday”

  1. Gary



    Just paint pictures of people walking along the street! That will make it safer! It works for bicycles, it should work just as well for pedestrians.

    And of course “Pedlanes”
    We can paint a curb line and a middle of the lane line so people will know where it’s safe to walk!

  2. RTK

    I stopped by the meeting last night. Seemed more of a presentation than the open format that was used for BMP meetings. I like the open format better. Nothing substantial, some local concerns about the lowered speed limit pushing cars onto adjacent streets.

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