HPAC requests a feasibility study of a mini-roundabout intersection control solution at Highland Park Way SW / SW Holden St.

Sam Zimbabwe, Director    
Seattle Department of Transportation 
700 5th Ave Suite 3800     
Seattle, WA 98104                                                                      

June 30, 2019

CC: Mayor Jenny Durkin; CM Lisa Herbold; CM Mike O’Brien; Jim Curtain; Adonis Ducksworth; Brian Dougherty; James Le

RE: Request for a feasibility study of a mini-roundabout intersection control solution at Highland Park Way SW / SW Holden St.

Dear Mr. Zimbabwe,

On May 22, 2019, HPAC learned that cost estimate for a compact roundabout at Highland Park Way and SW Holden St. went from approximately 2.5 million to 7.3 million – a 192% increase. Over the last 6 years that HPAC members have been advocating through Neighborhood Street Fund for something to be done at this intersection, the cost estimate has gone from 1.2 million now to 7.3 million, 460% increase. Even at its lowest estimate, it seemed like an impossible amount to raise, particularly after being turned down for WA state grants, twice.

We are concerned that SDOT will now only consider a traffic light as our only option, because of cost. A traffic light will not address one of the main complaints, which is cars cutting through residential streets at a high volume and often over the 20 mph speed limit in order to avoid the backed up intersection. Additionally, this may only increase speeding up the hill, in order to “make the light.”

Therefore, HPAC requests that SDOT conduct or contract a study to determine the feasibility of a mini-roundabout intersection control solution at Highland Park Way SW / SW Holden St., with concept drawing and report findings and conclusions addressing capacity, traffic flow benefits, road engineering and construction aspects, vehicle and pedestrian safety, estimated costs, and project timeline. We also request that SDOT provide ongoing communication with HPAC during the study. 

Essential elements of the mini-roundabout intersection design include:

  1. Retention of the existing southbound Highland Park Way right-turn lane to westbound Holden St. (roundabout bypass lane),
  2. Retention of the existing northbound Highland Park Way through-lane (roundabout bypass lane),
  3. Sizing and locating the mini-roundabout circle to minimize regrading of Highland Park Way while accommodating the design vehicle,
  4. A new east-west crosswalk across Highland Park Way proposed to be located south of the SW Holden Street tee-intersection on the east side of Highland Park Way, crossing just north of the bus stop on the west side of Highland Park Way, south of the alley between Holden and Portland streets,
  5. A new north-south crosswalk across SW Holden Street located west of the roundabout,
  6. Provision for left turns to eastbound Holden St. from southbound Highland Park Way, just north of the alley between Holden and Portland streets, and,
  7. Highland Park neighborhood monumentation on the roundabout center island using thermoplastic markings, colored concrete, or other traversable material.

West Seattle is physically isolated from the rest of the city, and Highland Park Way SW serves as one of only three egresses off the peninsula. As West Seattle continues to densify, there will be greater pressure placed on this intersection which was not built to sustain the wear and tear of a main arterial. Additionally, increasing traffic, lack of adequate crosswalks, and awkward channelization make this intersection extremely perilous for the residents of Highland Park, including the many young children who must cross the dangerous road to catch their bus.

The Highland Park neighborhood has been advocating for over 70 years for infrastructure improvements for the intersection of Highland Park Way and SW Holden, because of consistent accidents that could have been avoided and increasing traffic backups. Since 2015, we have heard that addressing this intersection is a “priority” from SDOT and yet, we are still in the same place we have been since the 1940s, nothing moving forward and no clear timeline for anything to happen.

We would also like to extend an invitation for you to join us at our September 25, 2019 HPAC meeting to present the constituents of Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, and the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, your vision and plans for infrastructure improvements in our area as well as an update on the progress of this project.

The Highland Park Way/ SW Holden St intersection is not our neighborhood’s only infrastructural need. For example, we have been asking for a protected southbound left-turn signal at 16th Ave SW and SW Holden Street—our second-most problematic intersection—but have been told by SDOT that there is currently no project that will implement this improvement. Other needed infrastructural improvements include crosswalks and traffic calming measures.

Additionally, there are continuous accidents that occur in the vicinity of 9405 Olson Pl SW. The streetlight (Pole #2496214) is hit at least 2-3x a year, the mailbox at that location has had to be replaced several times a year from also being hit. Many of the accidents witnessed by the neighbor in that area have involved vehicles crossing the center line. A large amount of accidents occur from drivers speeding UP the hill and hitting the curb and up onto the sidewalk and into the rock retaining walls. The last incident of the pole being hit was sent to SDOT in July of 2018 and it was not addressed in February of 2019.

We hope that our neighborhood can continue to work with the City of Seattle to bring needed infrastructural improvements online. Our needs are many, and they will not be fulfilled entirely through a single program or grant fund. It would be helpful, therefore, if the City could work with us to develop a broader neighborhood street infrastructure plan.

We look forward to your speedy reply to our requests. If you have any questions, please reach out to me at hpacchair@gmail.com or at (253) 245-9387

Sincerely,

Gunner Scott
Chair, HPAC

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