There have been several articles written by local journalists regarding 15th & Columbian. Check them out here:
According to the Transportation Safety Research Board, middle school aged children have a “greater desire to take risk” when crossing streets, which could result in “walking across more risky roadways”. Eliminating a crosswalk, combined with high times to cross at the remaining marked crosswalks, could present an opportunity to middle school kiddos to cross against the light, defeating the entire purpose of a redesign of the intersection. All for the benefit of drivers trying to get through the area as quickly as possible.
This is not what Vision Zero should be. Vision Zero, to which Seattle is in theory committed, is intended to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by adapting street design to human behavior. A major part of that is accommodating pedestrian desire lines ($)—the paths pedestrians would use most naturally. The desire line for many students crossing this intersection will be across its north side; that is the shortest way across, and it is where both transit and public space will be.
In the middle of the busy roadways is a curbed concrete island, no larger than the size of a couple parking spaces. The pedestrian sanctuary is complete with plastic guard pylons, some of them sheared off from hits by passing motorists. Complicating matters, Mercer International Middle Schools sits along Columbian, a short distance away. As school lets out every afternoon, students run through the intersection to catch buses from the stops located on 15th.
This intersection is very close to Mercer Middle School, located a block away. The fix proposed would rechannel traffic into fewer lanes, add a south crosswalk on Columbian Way, and use the excess space in the road to create a public plaza. The plaza is not the primary purpose of the project, but simply a byproduct of reallocating an overabundance of roadway to slow down traffic.