He Said/She Said: Rainier Ave Road Diet

He Said/She Said: Rainier Ave Road Diet

“He Said/She Said” highlights some of the most vigorous civil debates that take place in the Go: South Seattle Comment section. The dialogue that occurs here between friends, neighbors and engaged citizens is one of the features that makes Go: South Seattle such a valuable community resource. Go: South Seattle does not necessarily endorse the opinions expressed.

After months of public meetings and sometimes bitter debate, as well as several spectacular crashes, Rainier Avenue South is on a permanent road diet. It’s been about two weeks since the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) re-striped former Highway 167 down to one lane in each direction with a dedicated center turn lane from South Alaska Street to South Graham Street in the heart of the Rainier Valley, and  depending on who you ask, its either Armageddon or the Dawn of Civilization. Below are just a few of the comments found throughout multiple RVP discussions.

Mark A: The thing that bugs the crap out of me about this road diet is that SDOT did absolutely nothing else to try to reduce the problems. They put up “Vehicle Safety Corridor” signs and then did absolutely nothing. Have you ever seen a “speed trap” executed on this stretch of Rainier? Did they lower the speed limit? Did they install speed “bumps”? They jumped straight to a “road diet”. The real problem with driver behavior in Seattle is that there is near zero enforcement of the traffic rules. Why obey them when there is almost zero chance of being caught.

Leonard Dosono: It should go all the way down to Henderson Street!

angeldove: Can you say gridlock? Ugh!

schlepRock: I LOVE the road diet. LOVE it. I also love anecdotal evidence that a) traffic everywhere is worse because of it and b) it hasn’t made anything safer. But only because I have a sick, deep-seated fetish for confirmation bias. I would also love some enforcement from SPD, for sure. I’ll wait for the data to draw conclusions on whether it was successful or not. But to me, it feels calmer and safer. But then, not only would I extend this to Henderson, I would make RAS between Henderson and Seward Park Ave a shared auto/pedestrian plaza with a 10 or 15 MPH limit. Oh, the lulz.

Mark B: I don’t mind it when I am on the bus, but in a car it’s not so great. As far as RAS between Henderson and Seward Park Ave. When the bullets start flying you want to be able to get out of there fast.

Real Rainier Valley Girl: Good luck to first responders for whom other drivers won’t yield. Of course, now the other drivers won’t have the outer lane to pull into.

Whitney: We have some crazy driving down Rainier on a regular basis. In addition to all of the other priorities, SPD is needed for enforcement. We were on 50th and then Wilson the other day, and two cars were speeding and weaving through traffic. They even acted like they were shooting us as they sped by. Imagine what could have happened this afternoon…imagine if it happened during yesterday’s farmer’s market with the sidewalks full of people. 50 mph through Columbia City is frightening. After 13 years in SE Seattle, I have finally had enough.

Brian: I was driving tonight through the road diet area and saw a guy jaywalk across Rainier between two parked SDOT trucks, and then another car braked to let him cross. Sigh.

Matt: Folks, the speeding problem is everywhere in SE Seattle. We need to speak as a single voice on this. How far are you willing to go to effectively address this? Covert video and still imagery? Speed traps, speed bumps & flashing sign (which I don’t think they do much good).
Maybe we need to start making some noise…

realpolitik: Slanger, It a car problem not a road or driver problem. Tax cars at $2,500 per car (but only the ones sold in Seattle). Tax gas at 50 cents a gallon (but only the gallons sold in Seattle).

cbo: A road diet on Rainier is essential for the safety of ALL the people in the valley. There needs to be a road diet through Columbia city, which is getting more and more crowded with ped and bike traffic every day.

Greener Grad: NOT WORKING! Backups/gridlock on side streets and ML King have gotten much worse. Did the City try this on Lake City Way, another urban highway? I would really like to know. It fits in with the plan – Get people to move out of Seattle, especially the disabled and large families. [Also] the Rainier Beach library is closing from August 24 through the end of the year, and patrons with holds will be redirected to the Columbia City Library. I like that library, but I do not want to fight the road diet and pick up my holds in Columbia City. No thanks!

Mark ABCDEFG: How many auto-accidents have there been on this stretch of Rainier since the road diet started?

Kathy: The existing road diet starts just past 57th, and it’s already pretty scary at that point as people race to be first in line. I can only imagine how terrifying it will be when the entire stretch from Henderson to 57th becomes the only two lane piece of road along Rainier. I’d rather take my chances with the bullets.

Mariana: All that traffic has moved to MLK. Bumper to bumper Northbound at 2:00PM yesterday. You cannot legislate common sense and not having left turn signals does not ADDRESS SAFETY!

Tom T: Saw a big rim car playing a combination of Frogger and drag racing through Columbia city the other day. Not sure how the staccato high speed driving has made things safer.

Brian: Since they have already done a road diet on Rainier from about 57th Ave S. to 84th Ave. S. nearing Renton, it would be interesting to see what the pre and post-diet data is for this stretch of road.

Greener Grad: SDOT engineers in safety vests and police officers were at the main Columbia City intersections on Rainier Avenue today watching the traffic back up several blocks. I can imagine their laments: “When we ran the computer modeling, the road diet was great! I was sure it was perfect. Taking a major arterial from four lanes to two worked well in Amsterdam. What’s wrong with Seattle?”

au: Rainier is already a parking lot, morning and evening, buses are chronically late. I can’t count the times I’ve seen people sitting on the bus as it crawls up Rainier making frantic calls to explain why they’ll be late to class/work/appointments/job interviews… you name it. If you want a taste of how a Rainier road diet will look, try getting a bus on North Broadway between 4 and 6PM.

Coco: If the lights were timed on MLK and Rainier, and buses had turnout lanes on Rainier I think it would help significantly. The result would hopefully be more evenly distributed traffic on the North/South arterials and maybe even less traffic on 50th and Seward Park. We had a mayor several years ago that timed all the lights in Seattle and it was awesome. They are definitely not timed now. I hate taking MLK because I get stopped at every single light. Rainier might be slightly faster but still terrible (especially up by McClellen). I stop at fewer red lights, but there are also no bus turnouts and in many sections no center turn lane so it really clogs up traffic (not to mention Rainier might have the worst drivers in the world). As a result I avoid those streets and take Seward Park which is where I live. Now Seward Park is getting pretty clogged up especially south of Orcas to Rainier because Rainier and MLK suck and people prefer S.P.A. Something really needs to be done, but given our current elected politicians it will probably be a “drive nice” campaign or something equally ridiculous.

Mark B: Traffic is regularly backed up past Genesee as it starts on Alaska. It should be super awesome after thousands of new units are built making it even worse. Once I change banks, I will have no reason to even venture that way. I’ve already saved a lot of money cutting out Columbia City. Thanks, SDOT.

Last fall, a car accident left seven people injured, two businesses severely damaged and an SUV sitting inside the waiting area of the Carol Cobb Salon. Photo/Seattle Fire Department



Comments are closed.