Reducing traffic fatalities one ‘stroad’ at a time

Jan 18, 2024, 8:00 AM | Updated: 10:07 am

stroad traffic fatalities...

Aurora Avenue on Jan. 17, 2024 (Photo from Chris Sullivan)

(Photo from Chris Sullivan)

It’s not quite a road, and it’s not quite a street. You drive them every day, and they are some of the most dangerous places in Washington. They are stroads.

These are places like Aurora Avenue or State Route 99, Pacific Avenue, or State Route 7 in Parkland.  They started out as roads connecting two locations, but over time, they filled in and became destinations themselves.

More chokepoints: Tolling equipment not immune to freezing weather; chain fines rise

“About 1,100 miles of the state highway system are what we call stroads,” Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Secretary Roger Millar told the legislature this week.  “They serve as a road connecting two places, and they also serve as a street providing people access.”

Millar said these stroads are some of the most dangerous places in the state.

“In these 1,100 miles of facilities that were responsible for, the fatal crash rate is double the statewide average,” Millar said.  “The serious injury crash rate is triple the statewide average.”

And it’s easy to see why. These stroads usually have higher speed limits designed for when they were built but don’t really reflect the uses of it today.

I have one of these in my neighborhood, 132nd Street South East in south Everett. It was built to connect Interstate 5 through the buffalo farm and other rural areas east of I-5 to connect you to State Route 9.

Now that the buffalo farm is gone, replaced by schools, new apartments, and retail businesses, there are long stretches without crosswalks. I see people walking or running across this road from the apartments on one side, across the five lanes of traffic, to the stores on the other.

It’s not ideal, and Millar told lawmakers it’s time for a change.

“What we need to do is challenge the desire for speed and the need for safety,” Millar said. “The desire for convenience and the need for safety.”

Washington is most likely going to set another record for fatalities in 2023, and we had nearly 800 deaths on our roads heading into December.  This comes after back-to-back years with around 750 deaths on our roads.

“We’re seeing increased speeding, reckless driving, impaired driving on roadways and in work zones, and it’s happening statewide,” Millar said. “It’s happening all around the country. We have to ask ourselves, is 750 plus deaths a year acceptable, or are we truly willing to do something different?”

This is why you’re seeing a push to ban free right turns on red lights and to lower the blood alcohol content for a DUI. This is why you’re seeing speed limits come down too.

Millar said it’s time to start redesigning these stroads with all users in mind to make sure that everyone gets home safely.

Check out more of Chris’ Chokepoints.


Image: Red and white reflective stripes are being added to Washington State Department of Transport...

Chris Sullivan

Going green isn’t what you think when it comes to WSDOT safety

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) is tired of people plowing into trucks and is taking a green approach.

21 minutes ago

Photo: Traffic on I-5....

Micki Gamez

Prepare for traffic: Sound Transit to close lane of I-5 south

Washington has two seasons: winter and construction. Sound Transit is going to close one lane on I-5 south.

16 hours ago

ballard closures...

Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Closures are clogging Ballard, and will be for next two months

Getting through Ballard along 15th Avenue Northwest can be hard enough as it is, and that was before the closures.

2 days ago

I-405 multi-car collision...

Frank Sumrall

Multiple lanes on I-405 North closed near Bellevue due to multi-car collision

Multiple lanes on Interstate 405 (I-405) heading north are closed near Coal Creek Parkway after a multi-car collision.

2 days ago

Photo: The Washington State Patrol is cracking down on people who cut in ferry lines....

James Lynch

Don’t be that person: State troopers fine ferry line cutters $145

Have you ever been frustrated by a driver who cut in line at a ferry terminal? Now the Washington State Patrol is cracking down.

3 days ago

5-car crash sr 900...

Frank Sumrall

Mustang causes 5-car crash on SR 900 after veering onto oncoming traffic

A 5-car crash on State Route 900 (SR 900) in Renton Sunday led to four injured individuals, a five-hour highway backup and a brush fire.

3 days ago

Reducing traffic fatalities one ‘stroad’ at a time