Last month, the SAC (Standing Advisory Committee), made up of representatives of Children’s and Hospital and City representatives held a meeting on issues related to the design and construction of new buildings and other projects under the City approved Children’s Hospital Major Institution Master Plan.
The meeting focused on the design of upcoming construction of the 293,000 sq.ft building, named the Forest B Building, which will be located on the existing surface parking lot at an angle to Building Hope, recently completed.
The front entrance will be on the narrower street, 40th Avenue NE instead of Sand Point Way, of which SAC members brought up their concerns.
Three floors of parking (241 stalls) will be added under the new building. The helistop will move to Building Hope temporarily and then to the roof of the new building.
New Children’s Hospital’s Parking and Entrance Proposals
Seattle Children’s Hospital’s proposed Forest Building B, slated for construction 2017-2019, will add 293,000 square feet. This is allowable under their current Major Institution Master Plan and its phasing.
However, plans for a new underground garage and a shift of the hospital’s main entrance, both accessed from 40th Avenue NE, present serious concerns. Page 10 of the Design Guidelines under “Parking and Vehicle Access,” addresses entrances in the MIMP.
Neighbors and the Standing Advisory Committee already have noted that relocating the main entrance from Sand Point Way to 40th Avenue NE is of major concern. Backups already occur both on this short street and at the NE 45th Street stop light when buses and shuttles turn in either direction off/onto 40th Avenue NE. This street often queues up throughout the day, and can require several light cycles to crossing through it.
SCH Phase 2 proposes to add more cars from the new parking garage entrance/exit, exacerbating the existing tight conditions. In addition to patient drop offs, extra delivery trucks will supply the relocated cafeteria.
All of these new entrances/exits for additional functions would impact the capacity and efficiency of 40th Avenue NE for all other users. This street was originally designed as a residential street along the now-demolished Laurelon Terrace condominiums.
40th Avenue NE has a capacity about the length of 12 vehicles. It is already heavily used by SCH for access to: the main Emergency entrance for patients and ambulances, an ED parking lot, primary truck deliveries, and the SCH employee shuttle system.
Sandwiched between Sand Point Way NE and NE 45th Street., 40th Avenue NE, is a main access street to Laurelhurst Elementary and Villa Academy students, staff, and faculty. This short street also serves the residential neighborhood as a major crossing to the Fire Station on 40th Avenue NE /NE 55th Street, access to the northeast businesses (such as the Metropolitan Market), and is controlled by a long stoplight.
The corner intersections are also very dangerous points for pedestrians and bicyclists. Vehicular traffic is coming fast down the steep NE 45th St. hill, as well as along 40th Avenue NE off Sand Point Way NE.
LCC had voiced concerns about the safety of the intersection of 40th Avenue NE and NE 45th Street before the Master Plan was approved. LCC had met with both SDOT and SCH to discuss the intersection in the planning process of the first phase.
LCC’s Settlement Agreement with SCH (before the Major Institution Master Plan) required SCH to avoid excess use of 40th Avenue NE.
Looking from a wider perspective, LCC is concerned about the cumulative effects of traffic volume and congestion on the neighborhood’s transportation needs and its access to major roads and highways. The neighborhood is essentially surrounded by Sand Point Way NE / NE 45th Street and Montlake Boulevard. The ability to move along these routes is essential.
Those additional impacts on transportation include:
- The University of Washington’s 20-year expansion plan of 12.9 million new square feet. Student/faculty/staff are expected to increase by 20 percent over the next 20 years.
- The University District Upzone, which could triple the U-District population over the next 20 years.
- The planned University Village expansion, which will bring increased numbers of shoppers and diners to an already busy area.
All of this projected growth will have a cumulative effect on traffic through Montlake Boulevard, Pacific Avenue, 25th Avenue NE, NE 45th Street, Sand Point Way, and the surrounding streets.
LCC wants a new, comprehensive traffic study – including all of the projected growth along this corridor over the next 10 to 20 years – conducted by Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Seattle Department of Transportation. The study should be done as soon as possible so that new data are available before considering the addition of more vehicular traffic on 40th Avenue NE, as proposed.
To support the new services offered by SCH in Phase 2, better transportation access for patients, families, medical professionals, and staff need to be addressed, along with the requirement to preserve access for adjacent neighborhoods and local businesses in Laurelhurst and Bryant.
Seattle Children’s Hospital will present its plan to the Laurelhurst Community in January. Details of the meeting date and time will be announced in the Laurelhurst Blog and through LCC’s Constant Contact network.
To comment now on SCH Phase 2 plans or impact concerns, please email: todd.johnson@seattlechlidrens.