The city of Seattle wants to put Wallingford's Stone Way North on a diet. The plan would trim the four-lane street to two lanes and add a center turn lane and bike routes.
The city of Seattle wants to put Wallingford’s Stone Way North on a diet.
Seattle’s Department of Transportation wants to convert the four-lane street to two lanes and add bike lanes — a process it has dubbed a “road diet.”
The city says the street would be safer for pedestrians as a two-lane route than a four-lane one, because they would be crossing just two lanes of traffic. Fewer lanes also would eliminate car-pedestrian accidents that occur when a motorist in one lane stops for a pedestrian and the motorist in the adjacent lane does not.
Already the plan has drawn fire from local business owners who say Stone Way is a vital arterial and shouldn’t be changed.
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“We need the road. We need to move traffic, particularly trucks,” said Suzie Burke, a Fremont business owner who owns property on Stone Way. “It’s not a good idea to narrow the street down because traffic will overflow on other streets. This is our arterial. We want the four lanes of traffic to be.”
But the city argues that capacity can be maintained with just two lanes of traffic and a center turn lane.
The proposal, now out for public comment, would convert Stone Way from four lanes to two from North 34th Street to North 50th Street near Green Lake.
The city says if it doesn’t complete the road diet, it will remove four unsafe crosswalks on Stone Way, at North 38th Street, North 41st Street, North 47th Street and North 48th Street.
Desire Douglass, whose son Dominick was struck in the North 41st Street crosswalk last year, said it’s premature to talk about removing crosswalks, although she wished the one where her son crossed had lights.
“There is no cost to saving lives,” she said. “We want people to live and not have their lives altered by dangerous crosswalks.”
This is not the first time neighborhood residents have been up in arms about lane reductions.
About two years ago, some South Seattle residents balked when a stretch of Rainier Avenue South was reduced from four lanes to two with a center turn lane between South Seattle and Renton, saying the action impedes traffic flow on the busy arterial, leads to erratic driving and entices some drivers to try to pass slowed traffic by using the center turn lane. It’s the most recent road diet the city has imposed.
The city is considering one other new road diet, on 24th Avenue Northwest between Northwest 56th Street and Northwest 65th Street in Ballard. One crosswalk would be removed at Northwest 58th Street. A meeting on this proposal will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ballard Library, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W.
Peter Lagerwey, head of bicycle programs for the city, said the city already has imposed road diets on 19 city streets, including Greenwood Avenue North and California Avenue Southwest. The first ones were on North 45th Street in Wallingford and California Avenue Southwest in West Seattle in 1972.
He said the road diet wouldn’t cost the city additional money because it planned to repave Stone Way anyway. The only additional costs would be the cost of repainting the lanes and adding two new bike lanes. The city is expected to make a decision in the next month, and the work is scheduled to be done within the next two years.
“This won’t hinder truck traffic,” Lagerwey said. “The center turn lane will make it easier to turn.”
According to the city, 14,817 vehicles travel Stone Way each day between North 34th and North 50th streets.
David Hiller, with the Cascade Bicycle Club, said he supports the road diet on Stone Way.
“This serves everyone’s interest better,” he said. “It will be safer for everyone. Traffic will flow better, but some people are just afraid of change.”
David Levinger, executive director of Feet First, a pedestrian advocacy group, said he also supports the change and opposes the removal of the four cross walks.
“We’re not talking about the Alaskan Way Viaduct. We’re talking about some paint on the road,” he said. “We want to be willing to do the safe thing for children and the community.”
But Karen Ceriello, co-president of the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce, said her organization opposes the road diet because of what it might to do to businesses.
“The pedestrian-safety issue is huge, and this won’t help,” she said. “Stone Way is not a pedestrian or bike roadway.”
The Stone Way crosswalks are among a dozen the city plans to eliminate to improve pedestrian safety. Some don’t meet current federal standards.
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or firstname.lastname@example.org