Seattle Streets

This blog is pretty apolitical. There are plenty of other places on the internet where you can get your political kicks. That being said, I’ve been frustrated recently with the attempts being made to reduce the number of roads in South Seattle. Below is an email I sent to the City of Seattle (Seattle Transportation Plan) on November 19 as feedback on their proposed changes to South Seattle’s streets.

Hello folks,

My name’s Lindsay Watt and I’m a South Seattle resident. I am writing to ask you to please stop reducing the number of roads in South Seattle and impeding the flow of our traffic. This includes the “road diet” for MLK and the discussion of shutting Lake Washington Boulevard to traffic in one or both directions.

Why am I asking you to pause this?

Well, South Seattle’s traffic is a product of history. The last ice age means that we live in a narrow strip of land between a drumlin (Beacon Hill) and the flooded former bottom of a glacier (Lake Washington). The history of Seattle’s development meant that the city built an industrial no-man’s land West of Beacon Hill, further narrowing the space that we live/commute in. Moreover, the proximity to industrial areas meant that we were the last area of Seattle to develop and we have been historically poorer and lack the amenities found elsewhere in Seattle.

We have only four major north/south roads: Beacon Ave, Rainier Ave, MLK and Lake Washington Boulevard. And we have no option but to drive. We have no local hospital; you have to drive for any urgent medical service. Our grocery stores are not safe (witness the continued violence in both the Rainier Valley and Rainier Beach Safeways) so locals need to drive for access to food. And we lack amenities: North, West and Central Seattle have more facilities than us, meaning that South Seattlites are constantly driving simply to lead the same existence of their fellow citizens.

And this is getting harder as our roads get shrunk. The reconfiguration of Columbia/Beacon has led to long car queues in peak hours, punishing every South Seattle resident. The road diet on Rainier in Columbia City has made 42nd St scary for everyone – and especially children-to cross (the traffic didn’t disappear – side streets are just more dangerous now).

Please do not take away more of our streets. Life has always been more challenging when you live in South Seattle – and we do not need it made more complex.

As a concerned citizen, I ask you to stop your plans. There is a lot of capability and creativity within Seattle government and I am confident you can find a different way to achieve your outcomes without making life harder for every South Seattleite.

Thank you,

Lindsay Watt