The Long Road To Getting A Traffic Circle

Looking east at the intersection of 23rd Ave NE & NE 105th, site of the proposed traffic circle

Looking east at the intersection of 23rd Ave NE & NE 105th, site of the proposed traffic circle


For several years, Victory Heights residents along 23rd Avenue NE have been trying have a traffic circle installed at the intersection with NE 105th Street. The Victory Heights Community Council was reconstituted partially to help get funding through the North District Council (they respect “recognized” organizations over individuals).
Last April the District Council voted to forward the application (along with two others) to the city’s Parks and Street Fund. At the District Council meeting on Wednesday July 3rd, there was a vote to prioritize the three projects that would allocate the approximately $90,000 in funds that are available. In addition to our traffic circle proposal (estimated by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) at a cost of $26, 750), there is a project to improve pedestrian access at NE 143rd and 30th Ave NE in Lake City ($23,000 for design only, but actual construction would likely be more costly because of proximity to Littlebrook Creek), and improved access to crosswalks in Maple Leaf ($65,000).
Each group being represented at the District Council got one vote. The ballots asked for each project to be ranked either 1 (highest priority), 2 (second highest) or 3 (third highest)  Every ballot had to include all 3 projects, ranked 1-2-3.  Lowest total weighted score would be highest priority. The results were:

1) Ped Access at NE 143rd Ave and 30th Ave NE:  21 points  (7 Firsts, 4 Seconds, 2 Thirds)
2) Traffic Circle in Victory Heights:  28 points  (4 Firsts, 3 Seconds, 6 Thirds)
3) Crosswalks in Maple Leaf:  29 points  (2 Firsts, 6 Seconds, 5 Thirds)

In theory SDOT could allocate the $90,000 by spending $23,000 for the Design of the Ped Access project, then $26,750 on our traffic circle, and still have some money left for Maple Leaf.  But there is no guarantee it will go that way.
The pedestrian access project had a lot of supporters at the meeting urging the council members to approve it. Which only proves that the squeaky wheel gets the oil when it comes to city politics.
No one knows how SDOT will ultimately decide, but it’s just another step in eventually getting the traffic circle. Stay tuned!
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3 Responses to The Long Road To Getting A Traffic Circle

  1. S. Morris Rose says:

    Is a traffic circle obviously a good thing? That’s not evident. Studies of traffic safety don’t support the claim that they enhance traffic safety, which I think is the unstated goal?
    See, for example, http://www.kitsilano.ca/2013/02/18/traffic-circles-studies-show-theyre-dangerous-to-vancouver-cyclists/
    In Vancouver, the city has removed at least one traffic circle. See http://www.straight.com/news/378721/west-side-traffic-circle-leads-collisions-between-motor-vehicles-and-cyclists for press coverage.
    It always seemed obvious to me that traffic circles are effective traffic calming, but that was before long experience with them as a cyclist- seems like most of my close calls are at traffic circles, including the one at NE 120th and 23rd NE.
    I haven’t seen data for how traffic circles affect ped-auto, auto-auto, or ped-bike conflicts, but it seems reasonable to conclude that cyclists aren’t the only ones negatively affected.
    Sorry to rain on this parade, but data trumps intuition.

  2. Aaron says:

    I agree the 105th & 23rd st intersection could benefit from “traffic calming” features. But I think a traffic circle will be problematic. A better choice would be speed bumps to slow traffic while not obstructing the intersection.
    Personally, I (and likely other residents) require this intersection to be clear of obstructions while making a wide turn when towing a large trailer (which I do about 30 times a year). It’s the only safe and suitable access to my property. We should keep it that way.
    Can we do speed bumps instead??

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