TL;DR: Why redesigning 15th & Columbian is a good idea

Sometimes you don’t want to read 45 articles to figure out a project; here’s the BHSS Summary:

How does this project improve safety?

  • Decreases how far people have to walk in the street to cross.

  • Adds a new crosswalk closer to the path students naturally take on Columbian Way

  • Simplifies the intersection to reduce confusion by drivers and pedestrians

  • Improves ADA accessibility

  • Reduces speeds for through traffic on 15th and makes clearer sightlines on Columbian Way

  • Improves cyclist safety and connectivity by adding bicycle elements to the intersection

Additional Benefits

  • The new public plaza space can be used by nearby businesses as additional seating and open space for residents and visitors

    • Some have also expressed that the plaza may “hurt” businesses due to loitering people or students; this is unlikely as open spaces tend to improve pedestrian traffic and give people more reasons to stick around.

  • The possibility of an all-way walk to assist students in accessing transit and the school versus needing to complete multiple crossing legs.

  • Improved transit amenities at stops, such as benches or shelters as well as moving one stop further from a driveway where people frequently drove through the bus stop sidewalk area.

What are some thoughts on other concerns about the project?

  • SDOT has proposed an “Option C” that removes a crosswalk over Columbian Way to maintain the signal at Oregon.

    • The point is to make it easier for students to cross here as well as other vulnerable users. Removing a crosswalk makes the intersection more complicated, will reduce safety for pedestrians, and make it more difficult to access to transit as well as encourage students to keep “jaywalking” by not having crosswalks where they need them.

  • “The new signal at S. Dakota is just too far from Oregon”

    • It is further for some, closer for others. The drive or bike time to this location is just over one minute from S Oregon at a calm pace.

  • “S Oregon street is wider, thus more appropriate for a signal”

    • This is true, Oregon is about 32ft and S Dakota St is 26ft wide. Narrower streets reduce speeds and serious injuries; however, if there are concerns about larger vehicles we should ask SDOT to look at parking restrictions along S Dakota.

  • “There is not enough crashes/data/data isn’t supporting/not enough people have been hit/killed”

    • This is a distraction. Beacon Hill Safe Streets supports a Vision of ZERO traffic fatalities and serious injuries. We should not wait until additional serious injuries or fatalities occur before improving an intersection that already makes people feel uncomfortable.

    • In December of 2017 another child was struck, this 12 year old was able to walk away from the crash but should we wait until one can’t?

    • In July of 2018 as the project continues to be debated a rollover crash occurred injuring occupants of the vehicles.

  • “We should retain the existing light at S Oregon and install the new signal at S Dakota”

    • The new signal on S. Dakota will meet the objective of the neighborhood by providing a way to safely turn left. A signal at both locations is unacceptable if it results in the current configuration at 15th & Columbian being retained. The new signal reduces the safety of the Beacon Hill Greenway by increasing traffic on it; the S Dakota signal should only move forward if the significant safety improvements to 15th & Columbian are done.