The Queen Anne Greenways group is continuing its work to make Queen Anne a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood by working with the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) to create an improved intersection at West McGraw Street and Seventh Avenue West.
The group is focused on improving the neighborhood for pedestrians and cyclists. It has identified the Crown of the Hill greenway as its main focus. It has seven potential projects, and the Seventh and McGraw intersection was one of them, said Mark Ostrow, point person for the project.
Ostrow has been working with the group for a year, and that particular intersection has been a concern of his for a long time. His son walks to Coe Elementary School, and Ostrow wanted to make sure the intersection was safe for him and the many other kids who use the street.
“Kids should be able to walk safely to school,” he said. The road’s 30 mph speed limit and nearby access to shopping makes it an obvious choice, Ostrow explained.
SDOT project manager Brian Dougherty learned the community was concerned about the intersection several years ago, when he was working with Coe on Seventh Avenue West and West Wheeler Street. The school identified the McGraw intersection as another concern, but there wasn’t enough money available to fund the project. Now, they have the money and can make the improvements.
SDOT identified the intersection as a new project and has been working with the Greenways group.
The road has historic, rounded curbs, which make for a long walk across the street, Ostrow said. SDOT contracted a design firm to create three new design options. All of the options call for a four-way stop, with marked crosswalks on each side, and squaring off the curbs to shorten the crossing distance.
The Greenways group is interested in preserving the historic curved sidewalks, Ostow said.
Ostow also likes the options that provide a bench and greenspaces for people walking through the area.
Design Option 1, named the “mini plaza,” includes a greenspace and extends the curb, with the sidewalk meeting the new, extended pedestrian space. It also includes a bench and bike racks.
Option 1-Plus, called “Eastside,” is similar to Option 1 but adds another greenspace across the street, with options for green stormwater infrastructure.
Option 2 extends the sidewalk as in Option 1 and includes a larger greenspace with a bioswale option.
SDOT has already started to move forward on the designs, Dougherty said. The main focus is extending the curb on three of the four corners, shortening the pedestrian distance and creating additional greenspace.
This will improve the neighborhood, Ostrow said: “It will be a much more attractive place to be and walk.”
And it will mean a safer neighborhood and an easier walking commute for Coe students, Dougherty said.
In a letter of support to SDOT, Coe principal Virginia Turner, said, “This intersection is already at the entrance to a small and vital pedestrian-oriented commercial district, and it is along the route of a future neighborhood greenway, so these changes would benefit businesses, residents and the entire neighborhood, not just our school.”
The Safe Routes to School program, which tickets drivers who don’t obey the laws in school zones, is funding the improvements.
To comment on the design, community members can send their input to SDOT (firstname.lastname@example.org).
SDOT will also host meetings and presentations at the Queen Anne Community Council, the neighborhood district council and the Greenways group. Neighbors living directly adjacent to the project will be contacted directly, Dougherty said.
The construction on the project will begin in early 2015, Dougherty estimates. He expects it will take between three to four weeks.
There will be temporary sidewalk closures and some temporary lane closures. The streets will remain open with flaggers directing the traffic, he said.
After this intersection, the Greenways group will focus on the Crown of Queen Anne Greenway. The greenway isn’t one of SDOT’s upcoming projects, so the group is “patiently waiting in line,” Ostrow said. The group has been told the big greenway project probably won’t happen before 2016.
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