Central District News yesterday covered city plans to remake 23rd Ave into a “complete street” — a roadway with facilities for all users: cars, transit, bikes and pedestrians alike. While the $14 million project extends from Rainier Ave to John St, some ideas being discussed could affect Montlake and signal change to come once 520 is replaced.
Details are scant, but most likely this would involve putting 23rd on a road diet, where its four lanes would be converted to three — two in each direction with a center left turn lane and improved sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Road diets have reduced traffic accident rates all across the country and despite loud protests a few years ago against diets for Nickerson below Queen Anne and 125th in Lake City (“Mayor McSchwinn!“), real world data so far has shown the concept to work no differently in Seattle.
Other ideas for 23rd include adding trolley wires through the corridor to electrify the 48 bus route. This would likely split the forty-late in two: Mount Baker Transit Center to UW on wires and UW to Loyal Heights as it is now. Electrified 48s would reduce street noise through Montlake.
So how might 23rd actually work? CD News speculates:
Imagine being able to cross 23rd on foot at every intersection without sprinting for your life or going four blocks out of the way to the nearest stoplight. Imagine more welcoming bus stops and more comfortable sidewalks. Imagine quiet electric buses instead of diesel-belching ones. Imagine if very few people drove over the speed limit, and fewer people got injured or killed simply trying to get wherever they’re going. And yes, imagine being able to safely bike to 23rd Ave destinations.
Could this happen along 24th Ave as well? Perhaps, but given that it feeds 520, SDOT will likely see how the highway replacement design shakes out before proceeding with changes to 24th. Still, many of the same ideas could come our way.