People with disabilities can still drive the Seattle Arboretum's upper loop road, and so can others like parents with young children, people who have injuries that are healing, and seniors, whether they have a state disabilities permit or not.
Q: Lake Washington Boulevard East, the two-lane urban road with a country feel, gets lots of traffic. It snakes along the western edge of the Washington Park Arboretum, and it’s a scenic shortcut between Seattle’s Madison Valley and the Montlake neighborhood to the north, with easy access to the University of Washington and eastbound Highway 520 across Lake Washington. It’s also easy access to the 230-acre Arboretum just off Lake Washington.
However, there’s another road, known to some as the upper loop road, that cuts through the Arboretum, too. Jesse Winter was accustomed to using that road when visiting the Arboretum. But that road was closed to vehicles more than a year ago.
“This is unfair to handicapped people who are unable to walk up the hill and through the terrain,” said Winter, of Seattle. “The lower road [Lake Washington Boulevard East] is not a quality nature experience because of the congestion, so the upper road is what I want access to.”
A: Unlike Lake Washington Boulevard, which is a city street, the Arboretum’s upper road falls under Seattle Parks jurisdiction, and was sanctioned by the city’s Parks Board for closure to general traffic after a public hearing in mid-2008. It’s part of a health initiative to lure more people out of their cars to walk, jog, or bicycle through the park.
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“Eliminating the through traffic, a good part of which was for driver convenience, was a major goal of the closure, in order to open it up for pedestrians and cyclists,” said Seattle Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter.
Roads also were closed at that time through Volunteer Park on north Capitol Hill, and Seward Park along Lake Washington in South Seattle.
But people with disabilities can still drive the park roads, and so can others like parents with young children, people who have injuries that are healing, and seniors, whether they have a state disabilities permit or not.
“We sort of use the honor system for people who legitimately have a need to drive through,” Potter said.
Q: Janis Landon, of SeaTac, says she’s often wondered why temporary lane lines along freeways under construction aren’t painted orange, like traffic cones and barrels and other construction markers. That way, motorists would know the lane markings are just temporary. They could be painted black when a project is finished.
She was responding to an item in Bumper on Jan. 18 about visible temporary lane striping and hard-to-see permanent lines in southbound Interstate 405 between downtown Bellevue and the Interstate 90 interchange, as a result of lanes being shifted to and fro during widening of that stretch of freeway not long ago.
After a number of drivers complained to the state transportation department about difficulty determining the actual lane lines, causing traffic to wander between lanes dangerously, WSDOT announced plans to use black tape to make lane lines more visible.
Tim Fry, of Bellingham, questions whether that’s the best the state can do.
A: WSDOT didn’t use tape, but black stripes recently were painted on both sides of the white lane markings on southbound I-405 between downtown Bellevue and I-90. WSDOT says that further defines the permanent lanes.
“If we hear or experience that it doesn’t, we’ll look at alternatives,” said transportation-department spokesman Patrick Conrad.
WSDOT has posted a photo of the black-and-white striping on its Web blog — http://wsdotblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/update-southbound-striping-in-bellevue.html.
What about orange temporary lane markings? WSDOT spokeswoman Bronlea Mishler said the color orange is already used in highway road work “to designate areas where vehicles are not supposed to go.
“Our orange barrels and cones basically tell drivers ‘stay out of here,’ and our orange signs give warning messages to drivers in construction work zones,” she said.
The Federal Highway Administration has standards for the color of road markings: Yellow for left edge lines, white for right edge lines, and white for lines between road lanes.
Mishler said experience has shown that lane lines cannot be painted over to hide the color beneath. “With so many vehicles on the road, the top layer of paint quickly wears away and exposes the color below it. In the long run, this could be equally confusing to drivers.”
WSDOT tried to remove temporary lane lines in the freeway by grinding them down to remove the paint. But, “ghost” lines are sometimes still visible.
Over time, she said, the volume of traffic should turn the old ghost stripes dark gray, like the rest of the roadway.