Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Ending the 164th Street crosswalk dance

By Mike Allende

In fifth grade, I was a master break dancer (according to me). I’ve also become a skilled line dancer (again, according to me). And like many pedestrians, I’m skilled at the crosswalk dance.

You know the crosswalk dance. It’s like the hokey pokey: you put your right foot in, then out, then in, then out again. All the while, you try to figure out if that car is going to turn into the crosswalk or not. Hey, I never said it was a fun dance.

We will extend the traffic islands at the 164th Street Southwest on-ramp
to I-5, eliminating the HOV merge and making it safer for pedestrians to cross.

Well, we’re trying to end the crosswalk dance – and the guessing – at the busy ramp entrances on 164th Street Southwest and Interstate 5 in Lynnwood.

A project beginning soon (we need dry weather) will simplify the merge from 164th Street to I-5 by reducing the number of lanes that can make the merge from two to one.

As it is now, 164th Street has two lanes in each direction that can turn onto the I-5 ramps. The far right lane goes directly onto the freeway ramp, and the lane next to it can either proceed through on 164th Street or turn onto the I-5 ramp as a HOV. While all vehicles are supposed to signal their intent, we know it doesn’t always happen, and that’s where the crosswalk do-si-do comes in. Are they turning, or aren’t they?

This project will improve safety at the crosswalks by extending a pedestrian island that will essentially block I-5 ramp access from the lane that allows HOVs to turn onto the I-5 ramp. The remaining far right lane will be the only one where drivers can merge onto the freeway, simplifying things for pedestrians. The HOV lane will open to vehicles after the crosswalk. We’ll also be adjusting signage so drivers are aware of the change.

We will improve pedestrian safety at the crosswalk of  164th Street Southwest
and I-5 in Lynnwood by taking away the HOV merge lane.

This is the first of two parts of this project. In the future, we’ll also add pavement markings to make it a marked crosswalk and extend the islands even more. To further grab drivers’ attention, there will be a flashing warning beacon on signs that a pedestrian can activate by pushing a button at either side of the crossing.

Even with these changes, it’s important that pedestrians wait for a safe opening in traffic or for vehicles to clearly yield before stepping into the crosswalk. We don’t want people to have to dance their way to safety while dodging vehicles.


The Geezer said...

I travel this at least daily. A flashing light? Really? That would be inconsistent, and rely on peds to PAY ATTENTION, which they don't at this intersection

Anonymous said...

What a horrible idea! the lines are already horrendous. Why not make a pedestrian overpass.

Anonymous said...

Are we trying to make traffic worse in an area that is horrible.
Why not build a pedestrian overpass.

Anonymous said...

I have to say I have never seen any pedestrians on this side of the overpass, and I do realize that doesn't mean they haven't been there, but adding another choke point to the freeway doesn't seem to be the best way to handle the situation.

This is a very difficult set of lights to navigate through. I have many times been a sitting duck in my car on the south bound exit lane to 164th which can back up out on the freeway, waiting for things to get moving at the light.

Adding MORE congestion to this area by restricting flow through it seems like it will add to the problem.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that I have moved away
from this area. Traffic congestion is so bad and this will not help. I understand the need for pedestrian safety, put the county has to balance traffic load demands. Seems to be putting a pedestrian bridge in that goes directly to Ash Way park and ride would be a much better solution.

Anonymous said...

Did the DOT actually talk to people who have to use this overpass on a daily basis before deciding this was the best solution to the problem?
This will make an already congested intersection more congested. A separate pedestrian overpass over the freeway would be an ideal solution for pedestrian safety, but if that is too expensive, a pedestrian overpass over just the freeway ramps similar to the one on 196th would work.
Better yet, why not spend scarce tax payer dollars on better synchronizing all the stoplights between Ash Way and 13th Ave W in order to reduce congestion?

The Geezer said...

No, they NEVER talk to folks before designing/building. They don't even drive and observe, it seems, or could fix lots of stuff, very inexpensively.

Ped X at 196th was a city of Lynnwood project.

Geezer has spaketh.

WSDOT said...

Pedestrian overpasses are multimillion dollar projects. The resources required to construct a pedestrian overpass at this interchange would be better utilized at a higher priority location and are generally better suited for a regional trail system. This project will improve pedestrian and bicycle safety at a fraction of the cost ($25K for the first phase) of a new overpass. The impacts to traffic are anticipated to be a fairly short period during the morning commute when HOV use is higher, but the overall daily impact of a one-lane on-ramp is not typically significant.

WSDOT signal engineers work closely with Snohomish County to synchronize the signals along the 164th Street corridor. But even with the coordination, the corridor is challenged by the high traffic volumes and multiphase signalized intersections. That means a considerable share of green light times must be offered to side streets and left-turns, which constrains the amount of green time for the busy through traffic on 164th. It’s a significant challenge to find the right balance for all the traffic needs in that area and we try to time the signals to minimize the total delay for all vehicles at the various intersections. We’ll continue to monitor those signals to try to be optimize them to keep all traffic moving as well as possible given the high traffic volume there.

Anonymous said...

I think the DOT's comment totally supports all the opinions about not changing these intersections. If a pedestrian overpass is not justifiable based on expense and need.."would be better utilized at a higher priority location " why change it at all. As one commentator stated and as I have observed, there are hardly any pedestrians at all at these intersections. The good of the many outweights the good of the one.

Anonymous said...

Nice idea not - in spending $20k to fix a problem that has not existed, you have hosed up the on ramp

Now from VERY early in the morning the south bound ramp now lines up across the bridge, across the north bound ramp, and then past the next 2 intersections

Anonymous said...

Oh so because you only screwed up the ramp during peak hour that's ok?

That is the dumbest justification for fixing a problem that you admit has not been ever a problem

WSDOT said...

We're a multimodal agency. We have a responsibility to address the needs of all travelers, including passenger vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and transit. While we do expect some increased congestion during peak travel times, we also believe that eliminating some of the guesswork for pedestrians crossing these interchanges will be beneficial. It’s true that there have been no pedestrian’s struck at the interchanges, with increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic in this area as development continues on this route, the chances continue to increase that a tragedy could occur. We would rather address that situation now with a relatively low-cost solution than wait until there is a pedestrian-vehicle collision to improve safety at these interchanges.

Our traffic data shows that the majority of traffic at these interchanges uses the merge lane that will remain open already. We will continue to monitor the area and make adjustments in conjunction with the City of Lynnwood to optimize traffic signals along this stretch to try to assist traffic in moving as smoothly and safely as possible.

Anonymous said...

WSDOT states: "......We would rather address that situation now with a relatively low-cost solution"

A low cost solution would of been to PAINT A CROSSWALK and a put in a couple of COUPLE OF SIGNS!

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