Congestion and cyclist safety dominate Dexter Avenue North open house

Concerns about cyclist safety and congested roadways were the main issues raised at an open house last Thursday to discuss proposed changes to Dexter Avenue North.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) organized the meeting at the Swedish Cultural Center on the evening of Aug. 19. The meeting unveiled maps that showed the positioning of in-lane bus stops, wider bike lanes and dedicated left turn lanes at busy intersections. The public who attended the meeting was also invited to ask questions of the SDOT staff manning the tables.

Eugene Wasserman, president of the North Seattle industrial Association, voiced his concerns that the new in-lane bus stops will lead to congestion and bumper-to-bumper traffic.

"For the 1.3 miles of the project, carpools, trucks and automobiles will have to follow the bus in front of them since it would be illegal for them to pass the bus," Wasserman says. "At each of the five bus stops traffic would be stopped as the bus picks up and discharges passengers." 

However, SDOT officials at the meeting maintained that even at peak traffic hours when buses are scheduled every 10 minutes and with in-lane transit stops, Dexter Avenue would operate well with one lane in each direction.
The design is "expected to encourage better behavior and more safety for all modes of transportation," according to Eric Widstrand with SDOT.

Cyclists who use Dexter also worried that the proposed changes aren't the best ways to make the route better for commuters who uses bikes. They asked questions about lane width, pavement and other concerns.

For Justin Kliewer, who cycles from his home in Wallingford to work in West Seattle each day, the main concern was the state of the road. Although he appreciates the wider bike lanes that will be provided, "it would be better if they would fix the paving," he said, noting that some patches of Dexter were pretty rough.

Other neighbors questioned the length of the project, potential traffic slow-downs and whether parking will be affected. The project is scheduled to take about nine months to complete, February through October of 2011. According to SDOT, roads with fewer than 24,000 vehicles daily (Dexter is one of these) function well with the one-lane approach. Parking will remain on both sides of the street, although parking may be removed to provide a load zone for businesses or to improve safety by increasing visibility.

Other upgrades, according to SDOT Project Manager Sue Byers, include renovations to the pavement, installing drainage upgrades, providing additional lighting and improving sidewalks.

Currently, there are no further open houses scheduled on the Dexter Avenue North revisions before construction is slated to begin. However, comments are still being accepted at or by calling 206-684-7583.[[In-content Ad]]