About 18 months after a hit-and-run driver fatally injured a 77-year-old woman in Lake City, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has installed crossing signals and markings to improve pedestrian safety where the collision occurred.
A white-striped crosswalk, traffic signals for vehicles and a push-to-walk pedestrian signal will now allow people to more safely cross Northeast 125th Street at the intersection with 28th Avenue Northeast.
The $400,000 project was proposed by community members in 2019 as part of the Neighborhood Street Fund and was initially slated to be completed at the end of this year. But the death of Maria Banda in September that year prompted SDOT to put the improvements “on a faster timeline,” said Ethan Bergerson, a spokesperson for the department.
The new signals began operating Tuesday following final inspections. Crews also painted the striped crosswalk.
Drivers traveling along 28th Avenue Northeast also are now required to stop at a new stop sign before turning onto Northeast 125th Street.
Previously the intersection, near a King County Metro bus stop, had no marked crosswalk or pedestrian signals. People heading to the Lake City branch of the Seattle Public Library or the Lake City Community Center had to walk to either 27th Avenue Northeast or 30th Avenue Northeast to cross 125th Street in a marked crosswalk.
Banda and her husband, Agustin, also 77, got off a Metro bus and were crossing the street toward the community center when they both were hit. She died about a week later from internal injuries.
Seniors, particularly those who are Latino and other people of color, are a big reason the project came together, said Peggy Hernandez. Along with her husband Cesar Garcia, Hernandez co-leads the Lake City Collective, a group that engages with Latino, East African, South Asian, East Asian, Native, and other multicultural populations about public issues.
Many of the seniors voted for the project through the Neighborhood Street Fund program, which allows community members to propose and prioritize transportation projects. However, Garcia argued that a project this vital to the community shouldn’t have been subject to a vote.
“This project is going to be helpful, but it’s coming 18 months too late,” he said. “The city should really pay attention to these communities.”
The community center and library are especially important for older people in the area, Garcia added.
Akira Ohiso, a social worker with Sound Generations, an organization that provides activities for seniors, said the new crosswalk will support the group’s work of serving older people and promoting movement and social connections, as well as improving safety and walkability.
Still, Ohiso said, “more needs to be done. I hope to see more support from the city to make our communities safer for older pedestrians.”
The city reports five serious injury or fatal crashes along Northeast 125th Street since 2015.
“It’s a busy street. There are a lot of cars going fast, so this crosswalk is a great idea,” said Paula King, 73, who lives in the Meadowbrook area. King said she visits the Lake City library at least once a week by car and by foot, and said left turns from 28th Avenue Northeast to Northeast 125th Street can be dangerous.
In addition to the new signal and crossings along Northeast 125th Street, SDOT is also working with the Washington State Department of Transportation to repave Lake City Way and add other safety improvements.
Depending on the weather, repaving work is scheduled to resume in April. New sidewalks and curb ramps have been installed at Northeast 135th and Northeast 137th streets. Sidewalks and curb ramps will also be constructed at Northeast 82nd and Northeast 95th streets.
The entire paving project and intersection work is expected to be finished by October.