Madison Park pedestrian activists bend chief traffic engineer's ear

Crossing flag stewards share concerns about intersections, driver behavior

Madison Park pedestrian activists bend chief traffic engineer's ear

Madison Park pedestrian activists bend chief traffic engineer's ear

Madison Park crossing flag stewards Ken Myrabo and Reg Newbeck are questioning whether a recently completed construction project at East Madison Street and McGilvra Boulevard East has improved the pedestrian experience in the neighborhood.

The Madison Park duo took Seattle’s chief traffic engineer, Dongho Chang, on a walking tour of the newly reconstructed intersection and what they considered to be other trouble areas on Friday, July 13. The next day Chang attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the intersection, which signaled the start of the Madison Park Days Children’s Parade.

SDOT started constructing curb bulbs on the north and south side of East Madison Street, extending from East Garfield Street on the west to McGilvra Boulevard East on the east in late March. East Garfield Street was realigned at East Madison, and ADA and bike ramps were added along these two streets.

Newbeck bemoaned the expending of $700,000 to make these improvements and deciding against creating marked crosswalks on the north end of McGilvra Boulevard, west of Starbucks, and to the south, next to Wells Fargo.

“Those are rolling stops,” Newbeck told Chang, watching cars making a right from McGilvra to East Madison.

Chang said the intersection has better visibility than many others he’s seen around the city. He noted that every intersection is a legal crosswalk for pedestrians, regardless of whether it’s marked.

Newbeck also clocked drivers as speeding past the intersection, near where a new 20 mph speed sign had been placed.

“You think so?” Chang asked. “OK.”

Myrabo said he’s asked the city to move the radar speed sign at East Galer Street farther east on Madison. The speed limit there is set at 25 mph, and then 20 mph at McGilvra Boulevard East. Newbeck and Myrabo said a consisted 20 mph speed limit is needed.

Chang said the radar speed sign was placed where it is to get drivers to begin slowing down as they enter the Madison Park business district. He said foliage obstructing the sign could be cut back.

Newbeck also took issue with King County Metro putting a bus stop back, just west of East Madison and McGilvra, following completion of the intersection reconfiguration, because it causes more traffic issues, he said. Newbeck added there are bus stops a block east and west of that intersection.

Weeks after construction ended, Chang told Newbeck and Myrabo that he would see to it that the black plastic bags covering parking signs on the south side of East Madison Street would finally be removed.

Myrabo said another issue is delivery trucks using the turning lane for loading and unloading. He added people have also used the turn lane to move around vehicles that have stopped for pedestrians crossing at uncontrolled intersections, which is how he was recently almost struck by an impatient driver.

McGilvra/East Blaine

Newbeck and Myrabo proceeded to take Chang north on McGilvra Boulevard East, pointing out a blind curve as the street hits East Blaine Street. Myrabo, a former Madison Park Community Council president, said his predecessor had lobbied for a crosswalk there, but was told that couldn’t happen because it’s a residential street.

41st Avenue/East Madison

Chang said a hanging crosswalk light over the faded crosswalk at East Madison Street and 41st Avenue East will eventually be removed, as hanging crosswalk lights are no longer sanctioned.

“We rely on the overhead streetlights,” Chang said of illuminating crosswalks, because the light from hanging crosswalk lights have been proven ineffective.

He said the city will consider painting crosswalks at intersections where there are traffic lights or stop signs, but not uncontrolled intersections. However, the city’s policy now is not to mark every controlled intersection with crosswalks. Crosswalks are repainted every four years, he said. Installing a lighted crosswalk that pedestrians can activate can cost between $50,000 and $100,000, Chang said.

42nd Avenue/East Madison

Newbeck told Chang he’s had vehicles parked on the north side of East Madison, next to Pharmaca, back into him several times while he attempted to cross the street. 42nd Avenue East is a one-way street heading south, but Newbeck said vehicles frequently don’t see the signage and turn on to the street from Madison.

43rd Avenue/East Madison

Chang said enhancing the 43rd Avenue East and East Madison Street with curb bulbs would make a great Your Voice, Your Choice project proposal. Newbeck asked about a raised intersection, which Chang said would be more expensive than what the Your Voice, Your Choice program funding provides.

Your Voice, Your Choice: Parks & Streets is a participatory budget initiative facilitated by the Department of Neighborhoods, where residents propose small street and parks improvement projects that are then vetted by community teams. Finalist projects are then put to a public vote for city funding.

Chang told Newbeck and Myrabo he would take their feedback back to SDOT and return with a timeline for potential street improvements in Madison Park, such as making sure all speed limit signs are correct and visible.