15th Ave NE and the Scramble – Local Road Work for 2011

The NE 45th Avenue viaduct project is almost done. Huzzah! Construction is due to be completed on September 10th, just in time for the first Husky football game the next day.

There are a few more viaduct projects to finish in October and November — lighting installation, finalizing the line striping and pedestrian markings, and replanting the surrounding area — but the detour will be no more, and life will return to normal…

…until January of next year, when two new construction projects are headed our way.

The Big One: 15th Avenue NE Reconstruction – NE Pacific Street to NE 55th Street

I’m sure we can all agree that the surface of 15th Avenue NE is a pothole-riddled disaster, and the increased traffic from the viaduct detour route isn’t doing it any favors.

Happily for us, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has plans in the works to reconstruct most of 15th Avenue between NE Pacific Street and NE 55th Street between January and October of 2011.

Project area for the 15th Ave NE reconstruction, courtesy SDOT

This popular arterial will be FULLY RECONSTRUCTED between NE Pacific Street and NE 50th Street between January and September, while the stretch between NE 50th Street and NE 55th Street will just get a repaving. Intersections at NE Pacific Street, NE 45th Street, and NE 50th Street will not be repaved as this was done more recently.

And there’s more!  From the SDOT’s 15th Avenue Reconstruction Project website:

Other improvements include:

  • New curb ramps and curb bulbs to improve pedestrian mobility
  • Sidewalk widening at bus zones (bus bulbs)
  • Drainage upgrades
  • Installation of a new marked crosswalk at NE 41st St
  • New northbound left turn lane at NE 42nd St
  • Upgraded street lighting system
  • New electrical infrastructure for future transit improvements
  • Transit improvements including
    • North to west turn restriction from 15th NE to NE 45th during some or all of the day
    • Expanded bus stop waiting areas (bus bulbs) at two locations
    • Bus stop consolidation where stops are too close together

All great stuff. But the area is going to be a general mess during the construction. Trolley wires will be turned off on weekends to accommodate construction needs. This means diesel buses will be traveling through the area instead. There will always be access to residences and businesses for pedestrians, but rerouting and/or detours could spring up. Vehicles will definitely be affected: No street = no street parking, and access to parking lots and garages will be affected as well.

The Wee One: The 22nd/Ravenna Ave/Ravenna Pl/54th/55th “Scramble”

Just like with the viaduct and the 22nd avenue NE repaving project, it seems as though the SDOT can fund another, smaller, nearby project through the bidding process for the 15th Avenue NE project. And this one should make pedestrians breathe a sigh of relief.

Here’s what the area in question looks like now:

The "Scramble," with street names

Street names removed, pedestrian "no-man's land" highlighted

And here are the current construction plans for the area (click image to open a larger version in a separate window):

Current "Scramble" construction project plans, courtesy SDOT

Two items of particular note in this graphic:

  1. The BIG NEW CURB on the south side: To me, this piece is the key to the whole project. Pedestrians will now have a solid place to stand and be seen as they prepare to cross the intersection.  Cars will have a very distinct turn to and from Ravenna Pl NE. This is SO MUCH SAFER than the microscopic gravel no-man’s land that sits at that spot right now.
  2. The “Pending Funding” area on the north side: Project Manager Jessica Murphy did not have high hopes that the funding would come through on this part, unfortunately.


I am very excited about both of these projects, but speaking both as a pedestrian and a driver, I really look forward to unscrambling the “Scramble.”

For More Information

For more information on these projects, visit the main 15th Avenue NE Reconstruction page and the accompanying FAQ page.

An open house thrown by the SDOT detailing these projects and their effects on the community will happen sometime this November or December.

Funding for these projects comes from the Bridging the Gap levy passed by Seattle voters in 2006.

You can see a specially-crafted Google Map of the “Scramble,” and scroll around all you please, right here.

Many thanks to Project Manager Jessica Murphy at the Seattle Department of Transportation and Kristine Edens from EnviroIssues for stopping by the August Ravenna-Bryant Community Association meeting and sharing this information.

UPDATE: Email update from the SDOT says that the projects will be advertised for competitive bids this month (September). Schedule remains unchanged.

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