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Chokepoints grab bag: Potholes, bus lanes, and bike backups

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Every so often, I like to rapid-fire through some 97.3 KIRO FM listener questions. I call it the Chokepoints Grab Bag.

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The first question comes from listener Eric. He is not happy with the new configuration of 6th Avenue where Seneca exits into downtown. He wrote it’s a disaster since the city re-striped it.

Sixth Avenue

I talked about this in a Chokepoint last week, in relation to the bus tunnel kicking buses out. The city has created a bus only lane on 6th Avenue from Madison north. The striping just happened, and Eric is seeing the impact of that this week.

Instead of having three northbound lanes where Seneca turns onto 6th, there is now only one, and it is the far left lane. It goes through lane, bus lane, exit lane, and you have less than a block to merge.

It has been backing up the Seneca exit onto I-5 at times during the week. Drivers need to realize that the bus-only lane is only active from 3-to-7 pm, and this is just a change they need to get used to.

Seattle potholes

Listener Carolyn blew out two tires during the recent snowstorm on monster potholes in Seattle. She heard a rumor that the city was going to reimburse drivers for some of their damages caused by storm-created potholes. She asked me to dig-into it, and this rumor is just that, a rumor.

Seattle does not have some special deal going-on for those who suffered pothole damage during the recent snowstorms. You can always file a claim with the city, if you think it is to blame, but you need to be realistic. The city needs to be really negligent for you to get paid. It is not likely to be writing a bunch of checks.

The city has been repairing a thousand potholes a week since the storms, and it will likely be months before it catches up. You can always report your favorite pothole on the city’s website.

35th Ave. SE

Listener Jerry wanted an update on the largest construction project in Mill Creek’s history. It has closed 35th Avenue Southeast for eight months.

35th Avenue Southeast connects Mill Creek to 132nd, a major east-west commuter corridor. It’s been out for eight months causing huge disruptions around the area, and it opened to traffic this week.

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There was a low spot in the road that constantly flooded in heavy rains. The project raised the road several feet and got rid of two culverts to keep Penny Creek where it belongs, under the road. 15,000 cars a day use this stretch of highway. The project cost over $5 million.

Bike lane on 65th

And finally, listener Ursula asked about the protected bike lane on 65th through the Ravenna neighborhood. Ursula said she never sees any bikes, and the road now backs-up for two miles every day because of the road diet.

Here’s the latest on the project: The city is eliminating a lane of traffic on 65th, from Ravenna to 39th. Part of that stretch will have a protected bike lane. It has been striped but not separated from traffic.

That separation work is getting underway now, so the drivers who have been using both lanes to jockey for position will no longer be able to do that. The buffer includes flexible posts and raised pavement sections. Expect the westbound delays on 65th to get worse.

As for the actual number of bikes actually using 65th, the city doesn’t have a counter on that stretch of bike lane so we don’t know how many are actually using it.

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