Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Police To Start Patrolling Dangerous NE 41st Street Hill And Other Upcoming Changes To Improve Safety

Bottom of dangerous hill looking east on NE 41st Street

Last week we posted about a dog that was struck and killed by a speeding driver on NE 41st Street, a dangerous hill in the neighborhood, intersecting with NE 43rd Street, also known as "the Boulevard."  We also posted comments from neighbors who live and drive through that area.

We just received SDOT's review from Jim Curtin, SDOT Traffic Safety Coordinator, in which he details the analysis of the area and upcoming changes and modifications to ensure better safety for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists, including also patrolling NE 50th Street on the north side of Laurelhurst.

Jim writes:

Thank you for contacting the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) with your traffic concerns near the intersection of NE 41st Street and 43rd Avenue NE. We appreciate your patience as we reviewed conditions.
We understand your traffic safety concerns on NE 41st Street. Drivers headed westbound on NE 41st Street could quite easily exceed the speed limit going downhill. However, data indicates that the majority of drivers travel near the posted speed limit of 30 mph through this corridor with the 85th percentile speed at 32 mph. Driver compliance with the speed limit is likely due to a number of factors.

First, the westbound travel lane is roughly nine feet wide. This relatively narrow travel lane likely contributes to slower speeds since drivers generally drive slower under these conditions.
Second, a number of advisory speed limit signs are in place along the NE 41st Street corridor. These signs suggest that drivers go 15 mph downhill and are present where NE 41st Street intersects 45th Avenue NE and 43rd Avenue NE.

Third, additional warning signs along the corridor provide extra guidance to drivers. For westbound drivers, a sign warns of “hidden driveways ahead” at 45th Avenue NE. For eastbound drivers, an intersection warning sign with a flashing beacon and 15 mph advisory speed limit placard alerts drivers that they are approaching a junction.
While the majority of drivers comply with the posted speed limit of 30 mph on this corridor, we have requested that the Seattle Police Department conduct speed enforcement patrols for the entire NE 41st Street corridor. The presence of law enforcement in the neighborhood should have a speed reduction effect on this roadway.

Collision data shows that the intersection of NE 41st Street and 43rd Ave NE functions as intended. There have been three reported collisions at this intersection since 2001 and just one in the past three years. However, SDOT staff will move forward with some modifications to enhance safety in this area.
SDOT will replace faded regulatory signs at the intersection and refresh the stop bars. Additionally, a new advisory sign indicating an advisory speed of 15 mph going downhill will be installed west of the Laurelhurst Park entrance and a new 30 mph speed limit sign will be posted at a location east of 48th Avenue NE or 50th Avenue NE for the westbound direction.

SDOT will also cut back vegetation in the right-of-way to improve sight lines for all who travel along the corridor. This work will occur on NE 41st Street between 42nd Avenue NE and 43rd Avenue NE. SDOT may need to work with the adjacent residents prior to performing this work.
Most of this work will be completed before the end of the year with just a few exceptions.

SPD will schedule their work separately but they will likely start patrolling in the next two weeks. We’ve asked SPD to enforce the speed limit on the NE 41st St corridor during the afternoon since the highest recorded speeds where clocked between 4 and 6 PM. We’ve also asked SPD to monitor NE 50th St since a resident contacted SDOT with a safety concern in that area too.
Remarking the stop bars may not occur in 2014 since we need warm and dry weather to accomplish this task. Unless our current dry period lasts for several more weeks, this work will likely occur in the spring. Sign installation and replacement will occur before the end of 2013.

Vegetation trimming will occur in December. This work will need to occur a couple of times every year to ensure that sight lines remain open. It is technically the responsibility of homeowners to maintain the right-of-way adjacent to their property – especially if the overgrown vegetation was planted by the homeowner – but SDOT will send crews to take care of the current issues. We’ll want to talk with some of the owners about long term maintenance.

Pease feel free to contact me should you have any questions or comments about this information.

Thanks again,
JIM CURTIN | Traffic Safety Coordinator | Seattle Department of Transportation |
Traffic Management Division| 206-684-8874 (Tel)

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