Big Changes Coming to Rainier Avenue

Big Changes Coming to Rainier Avenue

Last fall, just two weeks after 10 people were injured in a 10-car crash on Rainier Avenue South in Rainier Beach, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) launched the Rainier Avenue South Safety Corridor Project designed to improve safety along the busy arterial through street improvements, increased enforcement efforts and educational outreach.

The project focuses on the segment of Rainier Avenue South from Letitia Avenue South near Genesee Street to Seward Park Avenue South in Rainier Beach.

In November, SDOT held two public meetings to get community input on how to increase safety along Rainier Avenue for drivers, transit-users, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.

Since then, many have suggested a traffic calming “road diet” for the busy south-end speedway. A road diet often involves reducing lane widths and/or number of lanes to promote slower vehicle speeds and accommodate other modes of traffic such as bikes, pedestrians and transit.

Others say Rainier Avenue South is already busy enough and that — instead of limiting traffic — conditions for motorists should be improved in order to create a calm, steady flow of cars through the corridor.

“The last time a road diet was considered for Rainier Ave, it was the Lakewood Seward Park Community that complained and ultimately prevailed,” wrote Lakewood Seward Park Community Club president and longtime Rainier Valley resident Jeannie O’Brien in an email to the neighborhood. “We know that Rainier Avenue is unsafe, but there are alternate methods to improve safety that would not result in increasing traffic volumes on Lake Wash. Blvd., 50th Ave. S, and Seward Park Avenue. These alternatives must be fully considered.”

She’s encouraging neighbors to attend this week’s Lakewood Seward Park Community Club meeting and let senior SDOT officials know how you feel. The meeting is planned for Tues., Feb. 10, at 7 pm, at the Lakewood Seward Park Community Club (4916 S. Angeline St.), where SDOT’s Michael James and Bill LaBorde will address traffic calming plans for Rainier Avenue South and “Accessible Mt. Baker,” a project underway to make North Rainier pedestrian and bicycle friendly, while being mindful of freight and commuter demands.

In addition, SDOT is inviting the community to review potential safety improvements for Rainier Avenue and provide feedback on possible design changes at two upcoming meetings scheduled for Thur., Feb. 26, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons located at 3528 S. Ferdinand St. (use the Edmunds St entrance and parking area), and Tues., March 3, from 6 to 8 pm, at the Ethiopian Community Center (8323 Rainier Ave. S.).

Children crossing Rainier Ave. S at S. Myrtle St. Photo/Seattle Neighborhood Greenways

 

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