Seattle’s attempt to reduce cut-through traffic feels ‘incomplete’

Apr 24, 2018, 5:53 AM | Updated: 12:18 pm

chokepoints, traffic diverters...

Though the city installed traffic diverters on a residential street between Aurora and Greenwood, rush hour can still be hectic. (Chris Sullivan/KIRO Radio)

(Chris Sullivan/KIRO Radio)

Let’s head back to 90th and Aurora in North Seattle where the city installed traffic diverters eight months ago to try and reduce cut-through traffic between Aurora and Greenwood.

RELATED: New traffic diverters getting mixed reaction

The Seattle Department of Transportation installed diagonal diverters at 90th Street and Linden and 90th and Dayton to prevent people from using 90th as an alternative route to the always crowded 85th Street. The diverters cut across the entire intersection and only allow left turns. Your straight path is blocked by flexible yellow posts, giving bicyclists and pedestrians access.

Eight months in and the city says they are working.

“We had 3,146 vehicles a day, and that’s excessive for a neighborhood street,” Dan Anderson with SDOT said. “After this project was implemented, we saw 1,704 vehicles a day. So a pretty significant reduction in the number of people driving on a neighborhood street.”

But the speeds haven’t dropped much at all. Drivers are still going over the 20 mile-per-hour limit.

Many drivers are simply using other east-west roads, pushing the cut-through onto other streets.

“We’ve heard mixed results from the neighbors,” Anderson said. “Some people really like these, but we’ve also heard from people that they are frustrated because some people have diverted and use parallel streets as the new cut-through.”

To illustrate the anger some residents have, I will share this story: When I got out of my car, wearing my reflective neon yellow jacket, a woman thought I was from the city and yelled, “are you here to fix our intersection.”

James Gomez has lived at 90th and Linden for eight years. You can put him in the “mixed review” category.

“It’s working to some degree,” he said. “The one thing I see is that a lot of cars just drive through [the flexible barriers].”

Chokepoints: SR 167 to Tacoma is years in the making

Gomez noticed the numbers of cars and the noise that goes with them has decreased. But at rush hour it’s still chaos.

“It’s helped deal with the constant traffic, people using it as a thoroughfare, but the commute hours, it’s a … yeah.”

The city continues to make changes to the intersection to respond to neighborhood feedback. Engineers have cut back on vegetation and added more signs so drivers have a better idea of what’s ahead. They also added stop signs at the intersection. When these diverters first went in, the number of near-head-on collisions went up. The stop signs have cut down on those near-misses.

If giving a grade on this project after eight months, I’d say “incomplete.”


Image: Interstate 5 north in Everett was shut down and blocked on Thursday, May 16, 2024. The closu...

Steve Coogan

I-5 north in Everett reopens after officer-involved shooting left suspect dead

Interstate 5 north in Everett at US 2 reopened late Thursday after an officer-involved shooting left one suspect dead.

2 days ago

traffic circles roundabouts...

Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Seattle’s traffic circles are not roundabouts

Traffic circles are not roundabouts. The words are not interchangeable, and the rules for navigating them are different.

3 days ago

Photo: SR 520 between Seattle and Bellevue....

Julia Dallas

SR 520 toll rates will increase this summer, here’s how much:

SR 520 tolls will be going up to pay for construction. Toll rates for new sections of SR 167 and SR 509 are also being discussed.

3 days ago

I-405 truck fire...

Frank Sumrall

Truck fire shuts down I-405, 2 lanes now open

All lanes of I-405 heading north at Sunset Boulevard in Renton were blocked due to a major truck fire. The HOV lane is now open.

5 days ago

Photo: Everett northbound I-5 near Lowell Road....

Micki Gamez

Brace for delays: Everett Revive I-5 is back

It's been over a year since the last downtown Everett Revive I-5. Work starts Friday, May 10, and lasts until Monday.

9 days ago

airport expansion...

Chris Sullivan

Sullivan: Airport expansion in high gear as summer travel approaches

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is undergoing a massive construction project expansion, making drop-offs and pickups better.

10 days ago

Seattle’s attempt to reduce cut-through traffic feels ‘incomplete’