Seattle’s three-day parking limit has a reader concerned about leaving his car parked on the street and finding a ticket when he comes back.
The end of summer is near and some folks are trying to squeeze in one last vacation before the weather turns.
But Seattle’s three-day parking limit has Felix Andrew concerned about leaving his car parked on the street and finding a ticket when he comes back. He turned to Traffic Lab for help.
In this week’s Q&A, we answer his question and a few others about light rail and ongoing road work.
Some questions have been lightly edited for clarity.
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Q: What are drivers [who park on the street] supposed to do when they go on vacation for a week?
— Felix Andrew, Bryant
Authorized vehicles, such as police cars or medics, are exempt.
The city doesn’t make exceptions to the street-parking rule for folks going on vacation.
“If you are going on vacation, find off street parking or leave your keys with a trusted neighbor to check your vehicle and move it as needed,” the Seattle Department of Transportation says on its website.
Q: What is happening on 23rd Avenue south of Jackson Street down to about South Massachusetts Street?
— Frank Baker, Central District
A: Between 2015 and 2017, crews installed new concrete roadbed, sidewalks, street trees and lighting along with a new storm-drainage system on 23rd Avenue between South Jackson Street and East John Street.
Two-way traffic reopened on 23rd Avenue, a major arterial, early last year.
Work includes repaving the street, reducing the number of lanes from four to three — one each way and a turn lane in the middle — and upgrading pedestrian crossing signals, among other changes.
Crews are replacing a water main under 23rd Avenue from South Jackson Street to South Normal Street. Through traffic is detoured at South Jackson to Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, then back at South Massachusetts Street.
Beginning Monday, crews will grind off the top layer of pavement and prepare the road for new asphalt from South Massachusetts to Rainier Avenue South. That process will take a couple of days, and driving conditions will be bumpy, SDOT warns.
Crews plan to apply the new asphalt Sept. 22, weather permitting. That work will require the closing of 23rd Avenue from Massachusetts to Rainier for 24 hours.
The third phase of the project, on 23rd Avenue East between East John Street and East Roanoke Street, will redesign the road to align it with Vision Zero, the ongoing effort to reduce traffic deaths and serious injuries to zero by 2030. A preliminary design is available on SDOT’s website.
Construction is planned to begin this fall and wrap up by 2020.
Q: Where does light rail have the right of way? Passing through Othello and Rainier Valley, I noticed that Link light-rail trains had to stop at major intersections and let car traffic cross the road. Although, in Sodo, at each intersection with the train, railroad crossings are indicated and those red and white bars go down, allowing the train to pass through without stopping.
— Theo Shouse, Ravenna
A: The at-grade section of the Rainier Valley light-rail segment has a traffic-signal system that gives priority to approaching trains.
“This prioritization means that, in the vast majority of instances, trains are able to pass through intersections without stopping,” wrote Geoff Patrick, a spokesman for Sound Transit.
Sometimes, trains arrive at an intersection at the same time a signal changes or pedestrians are waiting to cross, requiring trains to stop.
In Sodo, light rail has only three at-grade street crossings. Traffic at those intersections is stopped with crossing arms activated when a train is coming through.
In Rainier Valley, the number of street crossings, along with the amount of traffic, is higher than in Sodo. That makes the use of crossing arms infeasible, Patrick said.
Q: Can you find out why there is an extra set of rails installed along much of the Link light-rail line? They are easily noticed at the Angle Lake station.
— Joe Nyderek, Covington
A: Some of the light-rail track has guard rails installed to keep trains on the trackway structure in the event of a derailment, Patrick wrote.
“These guard rails are located inside the tracks the trains run on and, in the event of a derailment, would come into contact with the wheels of the train,” he wrote. That would keep the train from traveling farther off the tracks.
Got a question?
Do you have a question about transportation for Traffic Lab? We’d like to try to answer it. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us at @STtrafficlab, and we may feature them in an upcoming column.