by Kirby Lindsay, posted 26 February 2014
The agenda of the Fremont Neighborhood Council February meeting focused on roadway issues, a rather common occurrence. However, this meeting, held at Doric Temple #92, had a lot more witnesses than usual (in the form of television cameras,) and a lot more emotion.
The RapidRide E Line Update
Jonathan Dong, of the Seattle Department of Transporation (SDOT), and David Cantey, of METRO, began with their update on the Aurora RapidRide E Line, which started February 15th even though the City has not completed the BAT lanes (Business Access and Transit.) Parking issues, particularly between N 41st & N 38th on Aurora, delayed dedicating the lanes for transit service.
Neighbors insisted removing parking from Aurora would over-burden the side streets. An SDOT survey has shown that the additional use will be accommodated. However, surveys also showed that the demand by Argent Fabrication to maintain a loading zone on Aurora was valid – the side streets won’t accommodate their trucks – and they will retain rights to load and unload, except during morning rush hour.
More infrastructure improvements are planned for the future along this corridor, including a transit priority light for the N 46th merge lane and more transit signal priority through busy intersections.
The E Line has 54 stops, Cantey explained, more than most RapidRide lines. Unlike other cities, Cantey said, our RapidRide does not have an underlying local service and removing stops would leave too many riders with service. He also acknowledged requests for bus stops at Woodland Park Zoo and Bridge Way. Due to ADA accessibility requirements, these two locations will not currently be built. When a less expensive way can be found to modify the locations, METRO will reevaluate, Cantey said.
The Westlake Trolley Stop Shelter
In addition to the Aurora update, Dong also distributed notification about a workshop scheduled March 6th at History House, to discuss rehabilitation of the ‘historic’ bus shelter on Westlake Ave N, near the Fremont Bridge.
Originally the structure sheltered riders waiting to ride trolleys. Today, METRO riders use it for routes 40 and 62. The notice said that 54 passengers board busses at this location every day.
From 6p – 8p, SDOT will host an open, public roundtable discussion on rehabilitating the aged structure (discussion will begin at 6:30p.) Neighbors with a strong interest in the future of this structure are encouraged to attend and give input.
The Pedestrian Crossing At N 41st On Stone
By the time the FNC heard an update on SDOT improvements planned for the pedestrian crossing at N 41st St on Stone Way, three cameras (KOMO 4, KIRO 7, and one unmarked) were recording. The cameras most often were aimed at Desiree Douglass, an outspoken, and emotional, advocate for creating a safer crossing for this intersection.
Mike Morris-Lent, of SDOT, gave a report on work SDOT has done so far, and plans for more improvements, in response to a letter sent by the FNC Board requesting a traffic signal. The tree trimming, parking removal, markings, and lighting changes will help make pedestrians more visible, he explained, but signals must wait for evaluation and surveys.
So far, the site does not qualify for a full signal under nationally established guidelines, Morris-Lent stated. The intersection is off-set, meaning that N 41st St meets Stone Way at two different places, which makes it difficult, he explained. However, under questioning he also agreed that the fact that this is a school route for children attending Hamilton Middle School has made more evaluation – for a rapid flashing signal perhaps – possible to fund.
Douglass questioned the numbers SDOT requires, of traffic and pedestrians, and the guidelines they use in evaluating whether to make this intersection safer. She grew quite emotional, particularly when relating the number of pedestrians struck – and their brain injuries – at this site. Douglass’ son suffered a serious injury at this intersection in 2005. She said they have moved on, although she also said her son has never been the same since his brain injury. She made a passionate pledge that, “I will not stop until a light is installed.”
Others also spoke about the difficulty, as drivers, to see pedestrians in this crosswalk, particularly on a night like that of the meeting – dark and rainy. The lighting is bad. “It’s a danger zone,” Deedee Footer stated, “I moved away for four years, and I come back, and it is still an issue!”
Curb bulbs and a pedestrian island installed up the street at N 43rd and Stone have greatly improved safety there, according to a few other residents. These improvements came as part of creating the Wallingford Greenway. Morris-Lent spoke strongly in favor of curb bulbs for N 41st, although, he said, “it would be a very big ticket item,” requiring other funding. Jessica Vets, of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, asked if a neighborhood ask for Neighborhood Street Fund monies would help. He agreed, although the Street Fund request period may have ended for 2014.
An Annual Topic Search
Morris-Lent agreed to continue looking for solutions, and the cameras followed Douglass out to the Doric lobby. The FNC then went into a brief discussion on topics and/or speakers that members might want to hear at the Annual Membership Meeting on April 28th. Intended as a draw for members, and potential members, the Board considered inviting City Councilmembers to talk about districts, or pedestrian safety. A request for a deep discussion about METRO service, from METRO representatives or King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, was considered although a ballot measure on funding will have gone to voters on April 22nd.
The Board President Stephanie Pure noted all the suggestions. Invitations will be sent out, and hopefully the program will be announced at the next FNC monthly meeting on March 24th at 7p at Doric Temple #92.
After all these heavy agenda items, FNC members broke into groups to fold and stuff membership mailer requests, effectively ending any further public discussion of committee reports or other FNC business.
- FNC Highlight Reel: Pedestrian Concerns
- by Kirby Lindsay, February 5, 2014
- LUDC Improves All Lake Union
- by Kirby Lindsay, April 10, 2013
©2014 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.