Thursday, June 9, 2011

Traffic Circle Installed in North Laurelhurst At NE 50th And 44th Avenue NE

A new traffic circle has been installed at the intersection of NE 50th Street and 44th Avenue NE., in order to slow down the speed of cars on NE 50th Street, a residential street with no center line divider, but with a high traffic flow in and out of the neighborhood.

Jeannie Hale, Laurelhurst Community Club President told us that this project is part of LCC's Laurelhurst North Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan, developed in 2002, with a comprehensive analysis identifying transportation improvements and traffic calming needs.

The traffic circle at the busy intersection was rated the number one priority in the 2010 Neighborhood Street Fund process which is "grassroots" where District Councils ranks projects and makes decisions "assuming that the projects are engineeringly feasible, " Jeannie explained to us.

The city requires 60% approval of surrounding neighbors for traffic circles to be installed. In this case, there was 98% approval, probably in large part due to the high volume of speeds clocked on 50th, Jeannie added.

The LCC Transportation Plan, which includes numerous other recommendations for North Laurelhurst says: 

High speeds were observed on NE 50th Street between 47th Avenue NE and Sand Point Way. This is a residential street that already has one traffic circle located at 46th Avenue NE. Speed-reduction would be more effective with a pair of traffic circles. Therefore, this additional traffic circle is recommended at the NE 50th Street/44th Avenue NE intersection.

Traffic circles are preferred by the City of Seattle, as a calming device, as they are effective at reducing speeds along the approaching streets. 
The circles are "raised islands constructed at intersections that cause motorists to decrease speed in order to maneuver around the circle. Traffic circles are also very effective at reducing angle accidents at intersections, by slowing drivers down and drawing their attention to the intersection," the Plan says.

Vegetation will be installed in the NE 50th Street traffic circle in October, according to nearby neighbor, Kathleen, an avid gardener, who will take the lead to ensure maintenance of the new traffic circle with assistance from LCC.

Completion of the traffic circle is on hold until that time when the next step before the planting starts, Kathleen told us, is meeting with  the Urban Forestry Section, along with other community members and landscape volunteers to discuss and get the desired planting for the traffic circle off based upon their approved planting list.

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