'Road diet' losing momentum

The city's proposed "road diet" for Stone Way North has drawn mixed reactions in Wallingford and Fremont.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) wants to reduce the number of vehicle lanes from four to two, with a center turn lane. Bike lanes would be added, as well. The changes would take place between North 34th and 50th streets.

In that stretch are four uncontrolled, marked crosswalks, meaning there is no traffic signal accompanying them: North 38th, 41st, 47th and 48th streets. If the road is not "dieted," the city would remove the four crosswalks.

"Based on the traffic volumes and lane configuration, if you look at the [federal] standards" for crosswalk placement, said SDOT spokesperson Gregg Hirakawa, "that configuration is not safe for a marked crosswalk."

It would be safer, the city says, for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross three lanes rather than four.

Lack of consensus

The Wallingford Community Council supports the change, as does the Cascade Bicycle Club. However, many local business owners say the diet won't help pedestrian safety and will tie up traffic.

"Stone Way is a main thoroughfare and the only way for trucks to get onto the [Aurora Bridge]," said Kara Ceriello, co-president of the WallingfordChamber of Commerce.

The Wallingford chamber met last week to officially adopt a "no position" on the proposal. The group was equally divided for, against and "no opinion," according to Ceriello.

"We all feel that pedestrian safety and crosswalks are of great importance, as is bicycle safety, and that the road diet may not be the best answer for these issues of concern," the chamber said in its response to SDOT.

Reducing the number of lanes could cause impatient drivers to spill over onto adjacent residential streets, Ceriello said.

Cut-through traffic is already a concern between North 40th and 45th streets. Last year, Dominick May-Douglass, 11, was struck in the 41st Street crosswalk and suffered a serious brain injury.

The Fremont Chamber of Commerce opposes the changes.

Changes in future?

The road diet would not affect freight access to or from state Route 99 (Aurora Avenue North), said SDOT's Eric Widstrand.

The extent of the changes could change, Hirakawa said. One possibility the city is considering is dieting Stone Way North from North 40th to 45th. That would maintain freight access north and south of that area.

The city has not seen any consensus for any particular option based on public comments collected.

Work could begin early next year.

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