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*.

NE75th_done

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

NE75th_done_2

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

NE75th_no_parking

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:

Comments

  1. Jo Braun says

    The veiw from 1609: Bright yellow lines and no parking signs are now the backdrop to cars still speeding by my front door just as fast as they were a week ago, when my street only had one faded dotted line down the middle. They aren’t going any slower. Perhaps this is because even though the lines demarcate a narrower driving lane, the empty bike lane on one side and the empty mile-long stretch of left turn lane on the other do not provide enough of a visual deterrent to slow them down.

    There are two differences, however: 1) these speeding cars are about five feet closer to my house, and 2) there’s nothing between us but paint. Qualitatively speaking, that “highway feeling” is much more intense now.

    We tried to stop it. I regret not organizing sooner, after the 25 July “community meeting” when I became fully aware of the fact that Dongho Chang and Mayor McGinn had made up their minds to implement Proposal 4 regardless of what residents and homeowners of NE 75th Street thought about it.

    Those of you concerned about proposed changes to NE 65th Street, I urge you, if you think what you want is not aligned with the Mayor, City Council, and SDOT, get organized now. I sincerely hope nothing as unpleasant as the NE 75th Street process happens to any other neighbors in our community.

    Be Well, Jo

    • Andres Salomon says

      I’ll wait to hear from someone with a radar gun before we conclude that cars haven’t slowed down.

      As far as the process, many people in the area (including members of various community councils) requested improvements to NE 75th. A road diet was the obvious solution to many people who felt that 75th was unsafe to cross and to walk on, myself included. 4 proposals were provided to the community at large (with the full knowledge that parking would be removed for the last option), and the majority of people overwhelmingly supported option #4 (both online at this blog, and at the first meeting that I went to). I’m sorry that you were in the minority who felt that option #4 was substandard. I hope that as time goes on, you reconsider.

      Also note that there are plenty of things that can be done to further improve NE 75th; this was simply the quickest and cheapest option. I’d be more than happy to help you apply for funding to install pedestrian islands/rain gardens/greenery along that mile-long stretch of turn lanes in appropriate locations. Bollards could be provided to provide a little more separation for you from moving traffic, or perhaps something even more permanent. There are plenty of options.

      • Jo Braun says

        Respectfully Anrdreas, as I have been stating since attending the first meeting of which I was informed, the 24 July meeting (I also attended the 25th July meeting):

        SDOT never presented four true proposals. They presented three “mirage proposals” (my term) that they had no intention of implementing, plus the one that they had already decided upon. I and three other NE 75th Street residents discovered this when talking to Dongho Chang afterward. I raised a red flag about transparency in an e-mail to the Mayor, City Council, and SDOT by 26 July, and received stall tactics. When we documented 55 voices of actual NE 75th Street residents who opposed “Proposal” 4, they ignored us.

        I will note that if 55 individuals doesn’t seem like many compared to SDOT’s popular claim that they “collected 300 comments”, here’s the context:

        Residents in the 102 homes that NE 75th Street passes, plus a few houses into each side street, received fliers inviting them to contact SDOT and city officials to voice their opposition, and to sign a petition. At most, we leafleted 180 houses. (Actual count may be closer to 150, we weren’t keeping careful track at that point.) Within 3 days, we had documented 55 individuals–those of us who would have to live 24/7 with the changes–state that they were opposed to Proposal 4. I know from my canvassing that many additional residents were also opposed to Proposal 4. Many of the residents whose opposition we documented suggested cost effective, reasonable compromises that addressed all the safety issues SDOT enumerated.

        That’s an overwhelming response from people who have been accused of being apathetic about community happenings. For the city and SDOT not to hit the pause button, step back a moment, consider whether maybe we hadn’t “accidentally” been left out of the loop, and meet us halfway to engineer some compromises seems unconscionable. But instead of hitting the pause button, they seem to have sped up operations such that their changes which were supposed to be “coming in September” were in fact a done deal by 23 August.

        I challenge those of you who do not have to live with the brunt of these changes, and who did not experience the frustration of being left out of the process until it was too late, and who you’re now accusing of not proactively participating in community processes, to extend a little empathy to us your neighbors, and a little more critical attention to how your elected officials and their appointees operate.

        If the City and SDOT railroaded us, they could railroad you on other issues down the line (Hello NE 65th Street!), and you’ll find you have nowhere to turn (except perhaps to your neighbors?!). At this point, it would be immensely cool if instead of criticizing us on this blog and elsewhere, if you met us half way with genuine concern to look at the problem from our perspective. I’m not holding my breath, but that would be the cool thing to do…and we’d all benefit, you included, if we had a unified Ravenna community as opposed to a divided one.

        As I’ve said to Per and others, I sincerely hope something like this never happens to you, because it isn’t pleasant.

        Kind Regards, Jo

          • Andres Salomon says

            I appreciate your concern, and the fact that you have to live on the street. However, you were not the only ones affected by it. I’ve had to cross NE 75th many times on foot, and it’s harrowing.

            Trust me, regarding frustration with process and calling out city officials… I’m quite familiar with it. I know how much it sucks to not have your voices heard, especially when you feel really strongly about something. What you’re not considering, though, is the voices of the rest (the majority) of us. The city had to make a choice, and sided with the majority as far as I can tell (I’m not privy to the comments that were submitted to SDOT, but the majority of folks that I’ve talked to liked the plan). You’re admitting that you heard back from 50 out of 150-180 people, which is a distinct minority. I’m assuming your petition didn’t ask how many were in favor of the plan, which means we don’t know how many of the 150-180 are in favor.

            I think you’re being short-sighted about this. No one is denying that this plan was rushed through. The reason why the city was able to do this quickly was because they’ve done road diets before (from http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/11septoct/05.cfm , “Since 1972, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has installed 29 road diets.”). The data is clear on road diets. Furthermore, it’s simply paint. If it turns out to be a disaster, and neighbors organize, the city could redo it cheaply. However, a rallying cry must be around safety, not around the loss of parking spaces. I suspect you won’t find much empathy for the latter.

            I wouldn’t bring NE 65th into this, either. That’s a completely separate circus that isn’t the least bit related.

          • Jo Braun says

            Well you won, Andres, you don’t have to accuse me of being shortsighted. It’s ungracious as well as untrue. And as far as the 55 signatures goes, that’s an overwhelming response from a leaflet in 150-180 a doorknobs, and those 55 are only the ones who cc-ed me. There are others, I know.

            Ultimately, if Dongho had wanted to, he could have figured out a creative way to taper the center turn-lane-to-nowhere in front of my house (come see it, I invite you) into a little pocket of parking. Eliminating existing residential parking on a street that is increasingly renting to college students with 4+ cars per house is what’s shortsighted…unless the city’s plan is to make my street unlivable so it first becomes a rental slum, then a solid wall of condos, like 85th. Then that wouldn’t be shortsighted, would it? It would just be sinister.

            And please don’t cite their parking study that shows NE 75th Street is “underutilized”. They did it over summer months when the hood is most depopulated due to vacations and weekend getaways. AND it didn’t account for the restrictions that kick in every day from 6-9 am and 4-6 pm and which discourage parking there for any length of time, e.g. to bike to work. Sadly for us, the cars they did record were parked on our block and the two adjacent. Our issues between 15th and 20th are very different from the issues up by Eckstein, but McGinn via Dongho had no political motivation to address ours.

            Re: 65th, it sure would have been nice if, when the anti-bike lane 65th Street tavern owner suggested they put the bike lanes on 75th, if you would have told him to leave 75th Street out of it. Go to your 65th Street meetings now and listen to everyone who doesn’t want bike lanes there argue that there are already bike lanes on 75th. I triple dog dare you to stand up and tell each person who makes that point to leave 75th out of it. Actually, I don’t triple dog dare you, but I would buy you a beer if you demonstrate that you have the guts to do that.

            We lost, ok? You got your road diet. Now if you sincerly want us to have the best possible experience with it, get on SDOT and tell them to put up some 30 mph speed limit signs, and tell the SPD to get some enforement out here. (Don’t tell me to do it, because they’re sick of hearing from me, and besides, I was against this mess.) I’ll buy you a whole keg of beer if you can pull it off. I have owned this house for 12 years and don’t need a cop with a radar gun to tell me what speeding looks and sounds like.

            Still trying my best to best to be neighborly, Jo

          • Andres Salomon says

            I’m sorry that you see this as a “you won” issue. I sincerely want what’s best for the neighborhood as a whole. If there are problems with the road diet, it’s in everyone’s best interest to identify and fix them. 30mph signs? I will happily hassle SDOT about that.

            The reason why I specifically didn’t speak at the NE 65th meeting was because the whole uproar was silly on both sides. There’s no plan for putting cycle tracks on NE 65th. I’ve called the current proposal “just lines on a map” before, and I stand by that. I do believe that NE 65th *also* needs safety improvements, but that’s a different discussion.

          • Jo Braun says

            I have noticed over the years that those whom institutionalized power favors like to use versions of “I’m sorry you feel that way”. You did win. We did lose…for now anyway.

            You’re still invited to come see our fancy turn lane to nowhere.

        • Anonymous says

          If I might ask…

          Lets say they did 1 parking lane, 2 bike lanes and two travel lanes, but the parking lane wasn’t on your side of the street.

          Would you be just as upset, or would that be ok with you?

    • jeff burgess says

      Now the speeding vehicles will use all quasi-four-lanes on 65th to rush to the East and West; particularly when traffic gets bad and people rush home after work. And I am concerned about what will happen when the buses pull over into the bike lane. This rush to accommodate bikers over vehicle traffic is foolish and quite shortsighted rather than vision oriented. Regards.

      • Deirdre Brownlow says

        Not necessarily speeding vehicle, but drivers that don’t want to sit in back ups will, and they’ll be using the center turn lane off 75th and driving South to 65th through neighborhood streets.

      • Michael Hooning says

        Bicycles ARE traffic! If we encourage more people to ride bicycles, there will be less congestion on the roads.

      • josh says

        Bike lanes are not only for bikes. Cyclists should know and be prepared for buses pulling to the curb for stops, and cars merging into the bike lane to make right turns.

        When the bike lane is blocked, cyclists can either merge left into the general travel lane or wait for the bus or car to move.

        Bicycles are vehicles, they have to share the road just like cars… Drive at a safe speed, yield right of way when required, and change lanes when necessary to safely pass a slower or stopped vehicle.

    • Kelly says

      Hi Jo. It was a fast process and I’m sorry to hear that you and others feel your voices were not heard (sorry I have to use the “I’m sorry you feel” line, but I can’t do any better because I don’t have first hand knowledge of what happened). Could you tell us what is the traffic revision that you would have preferred (one of the proposals or another alternative), and what impact do you think it would have had on all users of 75th?
      – homes on 75th
      – drivers
      – bicyclists
      – pedestrians crossing

      They can repaint again if it’s not working and the community as a whole decides something else would be better.

      I drove home on 75th during rush hour yesterday. Speed seemed about the same to me, but I’ll reserve judgment until there’s a bigger sample size than 1. I saw a woman with gray hair riding eastbound in the bike lane, and she moved into the turn lane to make a left turn onto 23rd or thereabouts, which seemed to work well. I turn south onto 25th and I can’t say how that’s working yet because there was an SDOT truck parked at the corner then. I would like to see more signage at 75th and 25th – in all 4 directions – to alert drivers to look for bikes and pedestrians. I frequently cross there as a pedestrian, with baby in stroller, and I think of the Schultes while eyeing the cars to see if they’re paying attention to us. My husband doesn’t want us to cross there at all, but the alternative is to wait a long time at nearby cross streets for a gap in traffic, which can be hard to see due to hills. Although cars are supposed to stop for pedestrians at all intersections, only about 1 in 20 do so in my experience. At the busy intersection, at least you get a walk signal.

      • Kelly says

        What would you think of one lane in each direction, center turn lane, and permanent parking on one side of the street? Perhaps with 70th as a greenway for bikes. Just throwing that out there. Would you prefer it? And what if the permanent parking was on the opposite side of the street from you? Then cars driving by would be even close to your house, right at the curb, and parking is hardly more convenient for you. Or did you want NO traffic revision? In which case, what do you say to the overwhelming desire of the community at large to improve safety?

  2. says

    It’s amazing and so much safer. Bike lanes AND turn lanes! And one lane for cars. I am very happy with the results. For the majority of users it is a vast improvement. The new markings are much safer for all using the road vs the quasi two lane, no turn lane, weaving traffic mixed with intermittent parking, buses, and bikes. Well done!

  3. Andres Salomon says

    Just rode the bike lanes. They’re great! I think westbound from 39th Ave is actually less steep than the alternatives (68th or 65th). Eastbound is definitely still a get-off-and-walk-your-bike ordeal in at least two spots, though. Some other lady in spandex managed to do it without walking, which was impressive.

    Some tire-grabbing potholes in the bike lane, though, so be careful and keep your speeds low. Actually, keep your speeds low regardless. ;)

    I took pics and will report to SDOT. I also think bollards would be really helpful, especially near Eckstein where the lane switches for the bus drop-off zone. With some minor effort, we could achieve a more comfortable feeling for peds and bikes.

    Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be able to walk the route to see how it feels. I tried today, but the baby decided to take a poorly-timed nap and we had to head home..

  4. Willis Tuttle says

    The worst thing in the world was having to merge left because a car was parked on the Busiest Street in the World.

  5. Deirdre Brownlow says

    I’m not sure they lane widths are correct. The eastbound car lane seems right, the turn lane appears too wide and the westbound car lane appears to be really narrow. I’m going to measure. I’m interested to see what happens when there is a right turning car, a pedestrian crossing the street and a bucycle coming down the hill at any of the main streets that intersect 75th. Be careful everyone. Especially fast moving bicycles. Also. 20 MPH speed limit through school zone at Eckstein goes 1/2 way down hill west of Eckstein, speed limit increases RIGHT WHERE crosswalk will be at 28th, and bicycle s in lane need to be prepared to STOP, and pedestrians need to look up, up the hill and cross WHEN clear. It is pedestrian responsibility to step off curb ONLY when safe to do so. Parents, please teach your kids to be aware, put away the phone and be safe there. These changes have created new, very dangerous intersections.

    • josh says

      ” I’m interested to see what happens when there is a right turning car, a pedestrian crossing the street and a bucycle coming down the hill…”

      Good question. Few motorists seem to understand that they’re required to merge right into a bike lane before making a right turn, and many bicyclists seem to think motorists aren’t supposed to merge into the bike lane for turns.

      But that’s what the law says, and it says it for a good reason — cyclists going straight should never be to the right of right-turning vehicles. When a car is turning right, the car should merge into the bike lane — that’s why the bike lane stripe is dashed before the intersection. And cyclists coming up behind that right-turning car should either merge left into the traffic lane or wait for the car to turn right.

      Personally, I won’t be in that narrow bike lane going down hill at speed anyway, it’s just not safe. But I suspect many cyclists will stay in the bike lane when going down hill at 25+ mph, and they’ll try to squeeze to the right of motorists who are making illegal turns without first merging into the bike lane, and someone will get killed.

  6. Deirdre Brownlow says

    Also, My husband has already seen someone turn left from main traffic lane across two lanes of traffic. Drive extra aware as drivers get used to the changes.

  7. Ulysses Hillard says

    I have driven it three times now since the change and once since being able to use the center lane. So far so good. According to my speedometer, average speeds are about the same. It was a great relief not having people creep up on the right beyond the transition adjacent to the reservoir. It was also nice having people wait to start their right turn into 25th approach until 24th.

  8. Julie Offer says

    I find it really disingenuous that people who do not live on, and own property on, NE 75th made decisions that affect the lives and property values of those who do. If the goal is safer roads for all, then lets reroute some of this bad traffic on to the streets where you live and remove your parking and put in bike lanes for the good of community.

    • Anonymous says

      I’m all about being local, but…. seriously? You’re going to suggest that only the people who live on a street can decide on the traffic rules/design of the street?

      Fine.

      You can pay for it then and not use any of my tax money.

    • Anonymous says

      Sorry Julie – I didn’t know that people who aren’t rich enough to own property aren’t real citizens and deserve no input into city policy. My bad.

    • Anonymous says

      Julie, I think you mean absurd, not disingenuous, no? But that’s neither here nor there.

      Let’s be real here, Julie. You are concerned about yourself and your property value and NOT the greater safety of the community in which you live, which will, ultimately, increase your property values. I get why you’re upset. You’re losing some parking. Forgive me for being blunt, but this is city living and you are free to move if you’re that unhappy with these changes – changes that will improve safety for more people.

      By the way, have you checked out the MLS listings for recent sales in our neighborhood? The inventory is quite limited and houses are going fast. In fact, many are going for above asking price. That’s right, bidding wars have begun. Your value is not going to come down to the road. People who live in the city are used to city living and parking.

      I also live on 75th and I feel like my property value will increase because of these safety revisions.

      Speak your mind, Julie, but be real about it. This is about you being inconvenienced, not about the way the decision was made.

      • Anonymous says

        Whoever thinks that someone can just pick up and move in the City of Seattle is an idiot. The number of affordable neighborhoods is dwindling faster than parking. This response was rude. What if you had kids and a car seat? You just walk everything a block or two to your car because the city couldn’t figure out a plan to maintain the quality of life for these homeowners? I’d be upset if I lived there too.

  9. Josh says

    Jo, isn’t that “fancy turn lane to nowhere” what someone driving west who wanted to turn into your driveway would use?

  10. Clint says

    Speaking as a neighbor living just a block or so away, I love the improvements. I’ve driven it a couple of times, and biked along it and walked along and across it. I think it’s much better than before for all of those travel modes. Full disclosure is I mostly travel by bike (including along NE 75th for short distances at least once a week). For biking it is not a complete game changer, as there are better east-west routes available. But at least now it is marginally safe to ride on the street, whereas formerly I was often reluctant to ride anywhere but the very narrow sidewalk, especially uphill. That wasn’t so secure feeling either. While I still won’t go out of my way to ride on NE 75th that often, for some trips it really is the most direct street to use, and having some space on the roadway is very helpful. But the redesign really is a game changer for driving and walking. In both cases, just having the predictability of established lanes and clear and more consistent turning movements is huge. Even if the speeds don’t decrease (I hope they will), eliminating the unexpected passing-on-the-right phenomenon while someone in front is trying to turn left is a huge improvement. Both in terms of safety and efficiency too. And for pedestrians to only need to cross three lanes of auto traffic – and one a turn lane at that — is a huge improvement as well. I think more than anything this will be an incredible safety benefit for the 1200+ Eckstein students.

  11. Anonymous says

    How about we make 75th one way going west with a single lane, two bike lanes and two parking lanes, and 65th one way going east but the same layout otherwise?

  12. Anonymous says

    If I lived on 75th, I’d start a class action lawsuit against the City of Seattle to get reimbursement for how much value I lost on my house due to not being able to park in front of it. It truly degrades a properties worth.

    • Anonymous says

      I think you’d need to prove the loss of property value that happened because of the traffic change and not because of the economy.

      If anyone wants to try, good luck with that.

  13. JLG says

    I’m still waiting for someone to tell me how any of this, and speed cameras in particular, would have stopped a drunk driver with a rap sheet as long as his arm.

    • says

      It wouldn’t and it won’t next time either. Completely unrelated subjects. How to get the State to keep superdrunks from repeated offenses is one thing. And how to punish Seattle’s citizens for driving cars is yet another. These bike tracks are not to help a few bikers (a few when compared to the 20,000 drivers on 75th each day), the bike tracks are a message from liberal zealots in politics that cars are melting polar ice caps. Trust me, that is why this is happening.

  14. Dawn says

    So, how do we provide feedback to the city about tweaks that they need to make now that the changes are in place? In particular, they need to do something about the manhole cover at the corner of 75th & 18th. With the lane adjustments, it’s now perfectly placed so that every car driving by hits it. The cover is slightly loose, so for a good ways down 18th Ave you can listen to the clunk-clunk over, and over, and over, and over again as the wheels from each car hit the cover. It is driving all of us neighbors batty. Anything we can do?

  15. Joe says

    75th was perfectly safe before. This issue was made into a safety issue when it was really a drunk driving issue. It had been 30+ years since the last fatality on 75th and likely longer if at all before that. Yeah its sad but s… happens.

    I feel sorry for those of you who parked on 75th in front of your homes, which you’ve invested time and money in, only to see what you thought you were paying for change drastically and immediately change how you go about your daily routine. Unfortunately those that actually don’t live on 75th, and will never see the parking in front of their homes restricted in the same way. So when you want to invite the family or friends over you can point them to the parking 100 yards away, or encourage them to maybe ride their bike from other locations around the sound.

    • says

      I’ve been a long time bike rider in NE Seattle. I get frustrated with how few bike lanes there are in Seattle, but this work on 75th was illogical, and grossly unfair to all residents on that street who lost their parking. Worse than that, McGinn or SDOT or our City Council chose to use the recent pedestrian deaths as a lever to get this bike track through the system. For that, they should be ashamed as its disrespectful to the families.

  16. erin says

    I live in Maple Leaf, not directly Ravenna, but my parents live in Ravenna and I visit often. I take 75th West AND Eastbound, and although I feel badly for the people whose homes/parking were impacted by the lane re-arrangement, I will say that I am grateful to no longer have other drivers zoom past me in their hustle to get up or down the stretch between 25th Ave and 15th Ave NE. Often there were cars parked in the curb lane that will end up slowing down a driver in a hurry, and cause almost accidents when the fast driver tries to immediately merge back into traffic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.