Road safety improvements coming to NE Blakeley Street / Union Bay Place NE

Some well-known traffic trouble spots near University Village are getting some overdue attention next month.

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is in the process of designing the following safety improvements to the Union Bay Place NE/NE Blakeley Street area (projected to begin construction as early as August 2014):

  • 25th Ave NE & NE Blakeley Street: Modified signal timing and intersection design. New bicycle leaning rails* (allow cyclists to wait for light change without dismounting, placing one foot on the rail).
  • 30th Ave NE & the Burke-Gilman Trail: Raised pedestrian crosswalk and repaired sidewalks approaching this crosswalk along 30th Ave NE between NE 50th Street and Union Bay Place NE.
  • Union Bay Place NE between NE 45th St & 30th Ave NE: New paved and painted pedestrian pathway along both sides.


View Safety Improvements to NE Blakeley St and Union Bay Place NE in a larger map

This work is funded by mitigation from the University Village and the Village QFC as well as Pedestrian Master Plan improvements. You can read more about the mitigation funding of this project on page 17 of this SDOT analysis of QFC’s 2012 land use application (208 KB PDF) to expand the store and build a parking garage.

The pedestrian improvements are part of SDOT’s Sidewalk Development Program and funded by the voter-approved Bridging the Gap levy. The Program’s 2014 projects include these new sidewalk connections:

Questions?  Contact Maribel Cruz with SDOT at 206-684-7963 or maribel.cruz@seattle.gov.

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*We are looking into the bicycle leaning rails to find out more about them (and see if these will be the first ones installed in Seattle).  We will update the post as we learn more!

Dennis and Judy Schulte Memorial Walk & Rally (PHOTOS)

On Monday, March 25, 2013, a family crossing NE 75th Street at 33rd Avenue NE was struck by a drunk driver. Grandparents Judy and Dennis Schulte were killed instantly. New mother Karina Ulriksen-Schulte and her ten-day-old baby boy, Elias, were both critically injured.

A year later, Karina and Elias, along with other family members, community members, safe streets advocates, and local community and state representatives returned to the site together. And then continued on to a rally for more action to prevent driving while intoxicated.

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The weather seemed to echo the emotions of the walkers: Blazing bright sunlight one moment — matching the smiles of those on the walk — followed by dark skies, heavy rains, and heavy hearts.

Our goal during the walk and rally was to capture as many images as we could. For more on the story of the walk and rally, we’ve collected links below:

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The starting point of the anniversary memorial walk was the same as it was almost a year ago: Top Pot Doughnuts, on the corner of NE 70th St and 35th Ave NE.

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Before joining the main group of walkers across the street, members of the Schulte family met with some of the staff of Fire Station 40. Their engine was one of the first emergency vehicles to arrive at the collision scene a year ago.

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Dan Schulte and one of the fire fighters of Station 40.

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Back over at Top Pot, local media had some time to talk to Dan Schulte before the walk.

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Here’s the same scene from another angle.

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Per Johnson of the Wedgwood Community Council speaks to the gathered walkers. Purple shirts were given to participants to wear during the walk and rally, and also to the other events during Safe Roads Awareness Week.

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Dan Schulte with his sister, Marilyn.

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Seattle Police Department officers prepare to guide those on the memorial walk down the route to the crash.

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Dan Schulte pushes his wife, Karina Ulriksen-Schulte, at the beginning of the memorial walk. Their son, Elias, is in the stroller on Karina’s right.

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Former Mayor Mike McGinn (center, with blue cap) at the start of the walk.

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State Representative Gerry Pollet (teal jacket, in front of yellow umbrella).

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Madi Carlson, Family Ride, walks her wheels and brood down NE 35th Avenue.

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The first round of heavy rain begins as the group nears the intersection of 35th Avenue NE and NE 75th Street. State Representative Jessyn Farrell (tan trenchcoat) walks with her two children.

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The group begins to cross the intersection of 35th Avenue NE and NE 75th Street. As they walk up the hill towards 33th Avenue NE, the walkers take the same route (west up NE 75th Street) as Mark Mullan did in his large black pick-up truck one year ago.

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Dan and Karina, and family.

 

At the NW corner of where 33rd Avenue NE meets NE 75th Street, the group pauses for a few moments, in silence. (We returned to the corner a few hours later to take the video above.)

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Schulte family members moving on after a pause at the crash site.

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One woman watches the family walk on as the main group of walkers continues to linger for a quiet moment at the site of the crash.

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Main group now moving toward the site of the rally on the lawn of nearly Eckstein Middle School.

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Battalion 6 Chief Mike Milam (white shirt, black tie) speaks with Fire Station 40 staff near the crash site. Chief Milam was also at the scene a year ago.

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News crews film the crowd and the memorial site while some Eckstein students look on.

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By the time the group arrives at the rally site, the rain was coming down hard.

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Ravenna-Bryant Community Association board member Sarah Swanberg.

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Dan Schulte thanks the first responders in attendance, and the crowd applauds.

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Karina Ulkisen-Schulte (center with brown cap) listens to husband Dan speak.

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Per Johnson (green), Cathy Tuttle (teal), and the crowd.

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SDOT’s Chief Traffic Engineer, Dongho Chang, was easy to spot in the crowd.

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Lacia Lynn Bailey keeps Judy’s Truffle dry at the rally. Lacia and a much smaller Judy’s Truffle were the last to speak with Judy, Dennis, Karina and Elias before they continued down 33rd Avenue NE to cross the street. She would also be one of the first people at the collision scene moments later.

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SDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator Jim Curtin stands under his yellow umbrella during downpour number three of the event.

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Sergeant Dave Fitzgerald of the Seattle Police Department, listening to speakers at the rally.

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Mayor McGinn (in red) stands next to Cathy Tuttle, executive director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.

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Virginia Gunby (burgundy coat), Transportation Chair of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, and her husband listen to rally speaker Darrin Grondel, Director of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.

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State Senator David Frockt speaking at the rally. Courtney Popp, an attorney who volunteers with MADD, also spoke.

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Elias, having a snack.

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During a shift between pouring rain and pouring sunlight, we did get a rainbow near the crash site.

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Marilyn Schulte addresses the crowd, thanking neighborhood residents for their support of her family.

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After the rally concluded, Senator Frockt and a staffer (facing the camera) listened to Lacia Bailey describe the events of a year ago. Frockt’s own grandparents were killed in a collision by a suspected intoxicated driver in Tennessee.

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Natural flowers at the rally site.

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Hand-made flowers on Lacia’s fence across from the crash site.

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The afternoon before the walk and rally, Lacia invited the community to come paint her fence, just across the street from the crash site, with bright flowers and positive messages to “DRIVE SOBER.” Judy’s Truffle was on hand, offering suggestions and reprising her position last year of comfort goat to those who needed a nuzzle.

Memorial walk and rally planned for March 25; part of “Safe Roads” week

Tuesday, March 25, marks one year since the drunk driving crash that killed Judy and Dennis Schulte and severely injured Karina Ulriksen-Schulte and her newborn baby boy, Elias.

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To commemorate the day, the Wedgwood Community Council and the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association have organized a memorial walk and rally, starting at Top Pot Doughnuts (6855 35th Ave NE), and ending on the front lawn of Eckstein Middle School (3003 NE 75th St). A moment of silence will be held at the crash site at approximately 4 PM.


View Wedgwood DUI crash memorial walk and rally in a larger map

NE 75th Street will close to traffic from 31st Ave NE to 35th Ave NE during the walk (3:15-4:15 PM).

The rally at Eckstein will include speakers representing the Seattle Department of Transportation, Prevention Works in Seattle (WINS), Wedgwood Community Council, Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways Group, as well as:

  • Dan Schulte, Father, Husband and Son of Wedgwood crash victims
  • Marilyn Schulte, Daughter of Judy and Dennis Schulte, Aunt to Elias and Sister-in-law to Karina
  • Darrin Grondel, Director, Washington Traffic Safety Commission
  • Senator David Frockt, (D) 46th Legislative District
  • Courtney Popp, Mothers Against Drunk Driving

This event on March 25 is the first in a week-long series of events promoting “Safe Roads Awareness Week,” and focuses on raising awareness of the need for DUI prevention and stricter DUI laws.

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A summarized schedule of events for the rest of the week includes:

Wednesday, March 26th, Distracted Driving Day
The Wedgwood Community Council (WCC) and volunteers will be holding signs during the morning/evening commute to remind folks that the phone call or text can wait.

Thursday, March 27th, Slowdown Day
Again, the WCC and volunteers will be holding signs at a busy intersection during morning/evening commutes.

Friday, March 28th, Share the Road
Again, the WCC and volunteers will be holding signs at a busy intersection during morning/evening commutes. SDOT will make a major traffic safety project announcement.

Water main breaks between University Village and the NE 45th Street viaduct (UPDATE)

Updates appear at the bottom of the Storify window — hit the blue “Read next page” button below to view them.

Are you ready to huddle up? Husky Football traffic is coming. (UPDATE)

After nearly a two year absence (and $280 million dollars), University of Washington Football is back with us in Northeast Seattle.

The countdown to the first game on Saturday night has a motto: “Retake Montlake.” But residents in the path of 70,000+ spectators leaving the stadium area may take that slogan to mean “Retake Montlake, and 25th, and 45th, and 520, and residential streets used as a shortcut and…” etc.

The traffic plan for game days this year is similar to the one used in the past. But additional restrictions on parking in certain areas may be new to you.

Traffic Plan for Game Days

From the Seattle Department of Transportation’s Husky Game Day page:

  • The Washington State Department of Transportation will operate the Montlake Bridge under a modified schedule which will keep the bridge in the down position (open to vehicles and pedestrians) approximately two hours and thirty minutes before the start of the game and up to three hours after the game concludes.
  • Seattle Police officers will staff intersections before and after the event in the immediate area to help facilitate safe vehicle and pedestrian flow.
  • Lane and traffic restrictions to help control traffic flow will also be implemented throughout the area.
  • At the conclusion of the game, Montlake Boulevard NE will be closed to through traffic between NE Pacific Street and NE 45th Street until the traffic volumes exiting the stadium parking lots subsides.
  • All northbound traffic crossing the Montlake Bridge, excluding emergency and permit holding vehicles, will be re-routed westbound on NE Pacific Street.
  • Southbound traffic traveling toward Husky Stadium will also be detoured away from the stadium.
  • All traffic exiting stadium parking lots along Montlake Boulevard NE will be routed northbound.
  • Pedestrian traffic is given precedence for the first 20 minutes after the conclusion of the game by Seattle Police officers to help move the crowds safely away from the stadium.
  • At the conclusion of the game, NE 25th Street between Montlake Blvd NE and NE 75th Street becomes one-way northbound for approximately two hours.

Astute observers may note that there is no new traffic plan component for the newly redesigned NE 75th Street itself.

Reminder: NE 75th Street’s rechannelization was designed for the other 358 or so days of the year. As were all the other streets leading to and from Husky Stadium. We should all expect congestion on local roads when those other seven or so days of the year roll around, and 70,000 people all try to go home at once.

But having said that, should residents have comments/observations for SDOT about the massive traffic exodus (on NE 75th Street or elsewhere), we can leave them at this number: 684-ROAD.

Additional Restrictions on Parking

To ease parking congestion in popular areas of the city, SDOT has set up Restricted Parking Zones (RPZs) that allow residents to park for longer periods of time than visitors.

New to you, however, may be the RPZs around Husky Stadium: the Game Day RPZs  –  set up in Zones A, B, 1, 6 and 20 to specifically maintain parking for residents in the area on game days.

Zone A: Montlake / Husky Game Days

Zone B: Ravenna/Laurelhurst Husky Game Days

Zone 1: Montlake

Zone 6: University Park (NEW)

Zone 20: Ravenna/Bryant

This year, SDOT added Game Day restrictions to RPZ 6 (University Park). This area is directly south of Ravenna Park to NE 50th St, and between 15th Avenue NE and Ravenna Ave NE (down Ravenna all the way to NE 45th Street)

SDOT map of RPZ 6. Click to see the map in color (PDF)

SDOT map of Restricted Parking Zone 6 (University Park). Click to see the map larger and in color (4 KB PDF).

Below is a picture of a couple parking signs posted in RPZ 6. The green one on the top is probably familiar to you. The red one on the bottom, however, is new.

Pair of RPZ signs near NE 51st Street and Ravenna Ave NE. Photo by Jef Jaisun.

Pair of RPZ signs near NE 51st Street and Ravenna Ave NE in the University park (RPZ 6). Photo by University Park resident.

What this means for Saturday, for example, is that vehicles without a RPZ 6 decal or guest pass are NOT ALLOWED TO PARK in this area between 4 PM and 11 PM (three hours before the 7 PM game, and two hours after).

That’s seven straight hours of no parking for any vehicles without a RPZ 6 decal (or guest pass).

And this restriction does include those cute little Car2Go vehicles (answers apply to all Game Day RPZs):

The new restrictions have at least one resident of RPZ 6 very concerned. This individual lives in an area of the zone known as the Ravenna Springs neighborhood. Via email (name withheld until we get permission to use it):

These new restrictions were pushed through by several members of UPCC. Those of us who live on Ravenna Ave below 55th and have been following the “process” are extremely unhappy with it. We happen to live on the last street in Zone 6, and have pretty much nothing to do with the UPCC neighborhood up the hill. In fact, we’re the independent Ravenna Springs neighborhood.

On the Friday morning following Thanksgiving night, when friends and family are visiting and there is normally no parking enforcement, restrictions will begin at 9am! The only way you won’t get a $50 ticket is to have a Zone 6 permit or a guest pass. Problematic because guest passes cost an additional $30 and are limited to one per household.

UPDATE (10:41 AM): For more information on the city’s Restricted Parking Zones and how to obtain RPZ decals and guest passes, visit SDOT’s Restricted Parking Zone Program Online Permitting page.

Let the games begin.

NE 75th Street Makeover Update: It’s DONE (UPDATES, PHOTOS)

The Seattle Department of Transportation crew that had been laying down “proto-lanes” on NE 75th Street finished up their work today. And it was not long after they’d put away their paint can that the SDOT Painting Truck Convoy rolled in to finish the job*.

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Above is a picture of NE 75th Street at about 23rd Avenue NE, taken at 10:15 PM on Friday night. It’s done.

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Here we’re looking west down NE 75th Street, from the same location.

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Additionally, the no-parking-during-commutes parking signs were replaced with these no parking signs.

The “Wild West” has been tamed…or has it?

Drive around/Walk around/Bike around on it a bit, everyone, then let’s meet back here in the comments to talk about our experiences.

*UPDATE (Saturday morning): The roadway improvements are not *completely* finished, but the new lanes had been laid down as of last night. The era of driving two-by-two is over. This morning, a crew was spotted adding reflectors to the sides of the new left turn lane.

Early Saturday morning, an SDOT crew walks down NE 75th Street placing reflectors  along the sides of the new left turn lane. Photo by Adelina Starace.

Early Saturday morning, an SDOT crew walks down NE 75th Street placing reflectors along the sides of the new left turn lane. Photo by Adelina Starace.

UPDATE (Saturday afternoon): A truck/machine/thing was seen grinding the old yellow stripes off the middle of the road, east of 25th Avenue NE. Did not continue west of 25th, however. Monday’s job, perhaps.

UPDATE (Saturday evening): Valarie Bunn, Wedgwood historian extraordinaire, sent us some photos of the old lane lines being ground off the road earlier today.

Grinder erases dashes at 75th and 25th.8.24.2013

We’ll know for sure when the rest of the lane erasing is done in a couple days (and I’ll be sure to run out there with my camera and get some video), but it looks like the work is done by HAND.   Grinding out center line on 75th at 25th

The only female SDOT worker I’ve seen working on the improvements, and this is the job she’s doing. As my ancestors would say, “Uff da.”

Grind then smooth on 75th at 33rd with Schulte memorial

  And I believe the machine pictured above cleans up after the grinding equipment has done its job.

Grinding the dashes on 75th near 25th on 8.24.2013

UPDATE (Sunday morning): OMG they’re back at it again already.

Workers, cones, and signs were spotted near 20th Avenue NE around 7 AM. And around 9 AM, the grinding gear was spotted in the same location:

Makeover time is here: New NE 75th St lanes taking shape (PHOTOS)

With a goal of getting the new road configuration for NE 75th Street in by the first day of school (two weeks from today), it’s no surprise that the Seattle Department of Transportation has started preparing the Northeast Seattle arterial so quickly.

Some pictures from today (Wednesday):

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View down NE 75th Street, looking west towards the signaled intersection with 20th Avenue NE. Truck with moving lighted arrow signage telling motorists to move to the right.

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View from the west side of the SDOT crew’s spot in the middle of NE 75th Street, as they stop to look at the plans for a moment.

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Worker on the right watches the NE 75th Street plans, while the worker on the left paints the lane plans onto the road surface.

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Above picture taken a few seconds after the previous one, showing the lane painting occurring.

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A look down the hill towards 20th Avenue NE. As the crew worked in the center of the arterial, vehicles parted around them, already driving in the new configuration.

We’ll add more photos here when we have them!

Driven the new NE 75th Street configuration yet? What do you think so far? Tell us in the comments.

Meet your new improved NE 75th Street roadway design (PHOTOS)

Residents living near NE 75th Street between 15th Avenue NE and 35th Avenue NE are coming home today to a postcard from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) outlining the changes that the department has chosen to make to the arterial.

additionally, at about 2:30 PM this afternoon, the NE 75th St project email listserv received an email also outlining the changes (excerpt below):

After five public meetings, numerous on-site observations, and a review of traffic data, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) reached a final recommendation for the corridor, involving the following changes to Northeast 75th Street between 15th Avenue Northeast and 35th Avenue Northeast:

  • Providing one general purpose travel lane in each direction
  • Installing a two-way center left turn lane
  • Adding a new marked crosswalk at 28th Avenue Northeast
  • Striping bicycle lanes in both directions
  • Removing on-street parking on Northeast 75th Street, except at Nathan Eckstein Middle School where parking will be maintained for school buses and general parking
  • Adding photo enforcement cameras for the Nathan Eckstein school zone

To summarize, the above is essentially Proposal 4 with some adjustments made to accommodate buses and event parking in front of Eckstein Middle school.

Meet your new NE 75th St configuration -- Proposal 4 (with some Eckstein Middle School adjustments).

Meet your new NE 75th St configuration — Proposal 4 (with some Eckstein Middle School adjustments).

SDOT will begin the rechannelization of the street the week of August 26, with the goal of completing striping before the school year starts on Wednesday, September 4.

Jim Curtin at SDOT was kind enough to send us the plans for the new-and-improved NE 75th Street (783 KB PDF), which include the following bits we’d like to highlight (red lines and figures indicate features to be ADDED, green lines and figures represent current conditions that will be REMOVED):

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NE 75th Street at 15th Avenue NE (north at the top).

Where NE 75th Street meets 15th Avenue NE, the new, separate bicycle lanes start/end on the east side of the intersection. Left turns are now made from a separate left turn lane.

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NE 75th Street at 20th Avenue NE.

At NE 75th Street and 20th Avenue NE (a long established bicycle north-south route), the bicycle lanes continue. Left turns are made from the dedicated left turn lane from 75th to 20th.

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NE 75th Street at 25th Avenue NE (north at the top).

At NE 75th Street at 25th Avenue NE, the bicycle lanes continue, and left turns from 75th to 25th have their own lane.

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NE 75th Street at 30th and 31st Avenues NE — West front of Eckstein Middle School (north at the top).

Here’s where things change up a bit: Eckstein Middle School. To make room for a school bus zone/event parking in front of the school, the dedicated left turn lane disappears, tapering away as the eastbound travel lanes and the bicycle lane move toward the north/center of the roadway.

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NE 75th Street at 33rd Avenue NE — East front of Eckstein Middle School (north at the top).

Then, on the east side of the front of the school, at 33rd Avenue NE, eastbound travel lane and bicycle land move to the right/south as the left turn lane becomes available again.

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NE 75th Street at 35th Avenue NE (north at the top).

The new left turn lane continues through the intersection with 35th Avenue NE (the green lines on the plans above are removed). The separate eastbound bike lane ends at this point (but may continue to connect with the 39th Avenue NE Greenway in the future).

For a look at the before and after of a similar project, SDOT recommends we check out the changes that were made to Nickerson Street in 2010. A study on the roadway before and after rechannelization was released in March 2012, and can be viewed here (429 KB PDF).

Green Lake Way North Safety Improvements Open House

If you’re a regular reader of the Ravenna Blog these days, you’re into road safety improvements. (Seems to be all we post about on here lately, anyway.)

This next project is a bit out of our normal coverage area, but that doesn’t mean we don’t ever drive there.

On Tuesday, August 20, from 6:30-7:45 PM, the Seattle Department of Transportation is holding an open house about proposed safety improvements on Green Lake Way North (between N 50th and N 55th Streets) at the Green Lake Branch of the Seattle Public Library (7364 E Green Lake Dr N). The presentation portion begins at 6:45 PM.

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More details (via email):

Green Lake Way North is currently a four-lane street that borders the east side of the Woodland Park Playfields and provides access to Green Lake from the south. The Seattle Department of Transportation is proposing changes to make the street safer and more comfortable for people of all ages and abilities to walk and ride bikes, as well as safer for drivers. The changes will reduce speeds, and improve pedestrian and bicycle access.

The proposal includes installing a new center turn lane, reconfiguring the street to provide one travel lane in each direction with bicycle lanes on both sides of the street, and improving pedestrian crossings. A new stop sign will be installed at West Green Lake Way North. Traffic signal operations at Green Lake Way North and North 50th Street will be improved by removing one block of parking on the north side of North 50th Street.

For more information on the project, visit SDOT’s Green Lake Way Safety Improvements page.

NE 65th St Town Hall at Ravenna-Eckstein CC (LIVE COVERAGE; UPDATE)

On Monday, August 12, from 6:45-8 PM, Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Department of Transportation will hold a town hall-style meeting at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Ave NE).

City officials will be on hand to to address residents’ and area business owners’ concerns about the Bicycle Master Plan Draft Update and the potential role NE 65th Street may play in it.

Our live coverage of the meeting will begin below, around 6:45 PM.

UPDATE (Thursday, August 15): The Seattle Channel has posted their video of the event, and you can watch it right here (Flash required):