The city’s patience ran out last August, after a car slammed into the Carol Cobb Salon on Seattle’s busy Rainier Avenue South, pinning a family of three to the wall.
Miraculously, no one was seriously hurt. A neighborhood rally followed, the salon and the Greek restaurant next to it temporarily found other sites — and Scott Kubly, city transportation director, told staff to let loose their safety ideas.
Eight times in the past year, cars have smashed into businesses in and around the Columbia City business district. The city also reports 1,243 collisions in a 3½-mile stretch of Rainier Avenue South in the past three years, causing 630 injuries and two deaths.
Rainier’s road diet
The city is preparing to remove two general traffic lanes for 3½ miles between South Alaska Street and South Henderson Street. Also, the speed limit of 30 mph would decrease to 25 mph for one mile, through the Columbia City and Hillman City business districts. Options range from $500,000 to $2 million.
• Option 1a: Reduce the four lanes to two lanes, plus a center left-turn lane.
• Option 1b: Same as 1a, but add protected bicycle lanes in the Columbia City-Hillman City core.
• Option 2: A “hybrid” layout that includes bus lanes in parts of the corridor. Some roadside parking would be removed.
Source: Seattle Department of Transportation
Twelve people have died on Rainier Avenue as a whole in the last decade, and there are twice as many collisions as on Lake City Way or Aurora Avenue North.
The problem is speed, safety officials say.
So in October, the road’s four lanes will be reduced to two between South Alaska Street and South Henderson Street, plus a left-turn lane in the center. In a mile-long retail core, the speed limit will be reduced from 30 mph to 25 mph.
Rainier Avenue will undergo the city’s 36th so-called road diet since 1972, on a former state highway that attracts nearly 20,000 cars a day. Another lane reduction goes into effect in April on 23rd Avenue through the Central Area, including the stretch in front of Garfield High School.
On Rainier, one of seven drivers exceeds 38 mph between Columbia City and Hillman City, city samples found.
Nationally, road diets reduce crashes some 29 percent, while a city study of Seattle’s 2007 road diet on largely commercial Stone Way North found injury crashes dropped by a third. Average speeds dropped 3 mph…