Petition: Emerson Street mess

Posted on November 6th, 2017 by Sara

By guest contributor Valarie Cooper

This is the text of the petition to be sent to the City of Seattle for reconsideration of the traffic changes to the Emerson Street/Gilman lane reductions. These lane changes have created huge backups entering the neighborhood without much input from Magnolia residents. Please go to the link below and sign.


Magnolia has 3 entrance/ exit points for this neighborhood, and until recently, a total of 6 functional lanes entering and 5 lanes exiting the Magnolia peninsula. With very little public announcement, SDOT implemented a traffic revision on the Emerson Street Bridge extending east to the intersection of Commodore Way, eliminating a full lane of entrance into the neighborhood.

The goal of this project was to connect bike pathways into Magnolia, but failed to consider that this is one of three entrance/exit points for the entirety of Magnolia and is an essential daily pathway for tens of thousands of Magnolia Residents.  

The city did outreach to the residences on the arterial feeding this route, but they also failed to extend their outreach beyond their standard adjacent roads, again lacking consideration how this is not a standard intersection in the city of Seattle. SDOT states that they are moving forward with this project, despite requests of local residents to meet and to re-consider the project.  

In light of the exceptional traffic back-ups caused by this revision, and the fact that Magnolia’s other entrance points – the Magnolia Bridge which has been deemed limited for long-term use, especially if there is an earthquake, and Dravus street which is experiencing exceptional up-zoning,  densification and congestion at the intersection at 15th Ave. W – residents of Magnolia and all visitors to this neighborhood need our city to duly consider how to allow appropriate traffic flow into and out of this neighborhood.  
There is no other community in Seattle with such limited road access. Magnolia also has many residents under the age of 18 and over the age of 60, which precludes a large majority of our community from being bike commuters.  

We wish the City of Seattle and SDOT to engage our community and to develop adequate and proactive plans for traffic routes as the financial security of the 20,000 residents of Magnolia depend on reliable and efficient roads in and out of our community.  

Many Magnolia residents have excellent and creative solutions for bridging the needs of the biking and driving residents of this community. If proper community engagement had occurred, we could have had this project roll-out with much greater success. We are hoping to re-evaluate this project with our city leaders and SDOT to find a more tenable solution.

Go HERE to sign the petition.

10 responses to “Petition: Emerson Street mess”

  1. Jeremy Hubble says:

    The under 18 crowd could get the most use out of this, especially if Lincoln becomes the neighborhood high school. This bike lane creates a protected route to the Fremont bridge and Burke Gillman trail, providing easy bike access to Wallingford.
    I must be lucky because when I have passed through there during rush hour, the traffic does not seem any worse than before. It looks like they do have some work to do to finish the bike lanes, probably causing some confusion.

  2. Kelly says:

    Another way to frame this, “Were you asked about the bike lane improvements on Emerson?”

  3. Dan Ullman says:

    Nitpick, It is Emerson Place, not street.

    I could live with Gilman but Emerson Place road diet is very silly. Emerson is an industrial area with many trucks. If a truck needs to make a left turn, it ends up stopping east bound traffic until the west bound traffic clears enough for the turn. I work in the area and sometimes drive to work. In the weeks it has been there I have already learned to go down to Fort Street and work my way back.

    Westbound on Emerson is a mess during commuting times. Removing the left turn lane from the Gilman intersection doubles the time needed to pass through it. With the left turn lane, people could turn left and right at the same time. Without it, this means large backups. Again, the solution is to use Fort Street.

    Btw, there is a solution that is safer and makes sense. Extend the bike trail’s trail head to the bridge. The property is owned by BNSF but it isn’t useful and never will be. It would be at least worth the effort to talk to BNSF about getting the amount of property they need to extend the trail.

  4. Ballard Biker says:

    As a daily bicycle commuter on this stretch, the bike lanes are a welcome sight. I ride through during rush hour and have yet to see much vehicle congestion. I also question the notion that people over 60 or under 18 can’t ride bicycles? Look at cities like Amsterdam where half the trips taken are by bicycle. I guarantee many of those riders exceed your age limits. It’s hard to sympathize to your complaints about access to your peninsula when you must have taken it into consideration when moving there.

  5. Joe Tynan says:

    As a resident of Magnolia, I fully support the creation of this bike link between the Ship Canal trail and the Magnolia Loop trail. Of the 3 connections to Magnolia, this is the *only* one that would be a good compromise between enabling cyclists to travel to/from Magnolia to seattle, and minimize impact on vehicle routes. The only other potential options would be Dravus, which gets vastly more traffic and not a suitable road diet route, or perhaps Fort street, but that would completely circumvent the existing bicycle trail on Lawton/Thorndyke, and force cyclists to share a single 2 lane road with traffic, or divert into the fisherman’s terminal to commute over there from the ship canal trail, as well as completely circumvent the existing Magnolia Loop trail.

    Having been a regular commuter by bike for 2 years now along this route, the assumptions of the author as to who is actually riding on it is completely false. I see families riding on the weekends with small children, and I regularly see commuters of all ages riding every day, at all hours. I see retirees riding on the weekends with their groups as well, and having the cycling traffic segregated from the traffic in fact allows for faster traffic flow for the bulk of the day. The only exception is during rush hours, where I see the regular multicar backups – just like before the trail was done. Granted, its a bit longer by a few cars *now* during construction, but once that is complete, and drivers have adapted to the new lane markings, I think it will go down.

    Honestly, I’m surprised there’s negative views of the trail – perhaps no one has noticed that the RVs that used to be parked along thorndyke have all but disappeared, and have been gone for a couple months now.

  6. Darius says:

    This traffic revision is great. Anything that gets people out of cars is a good thing in our community and should be encouraged!

  7. Keith S. says:

    I would have preferred that the petition include some suggested remedies. I had been planning to write SDOT asking if they can fund a study on whether a regular traffic light at Emerson/Gilman would improve traffic flow. It could be timed to accelerate arrivals in the evenings (where traffic is now backing up to the Fisherman Terminal entrance) as well as departures in the mornings (maybe even reduce the number of people ducking onto 24th/Thurman to cut in front of the long lines of people turning left).

  8. Keith S. says:

    Also, I hate to nitpick, but there are still six lanes entering into Magnolia: I think you forgot about the fourth Street bridge connecting 27th Ave., West with Gilman. It is not intended for large amounts of traffic, but I have noticed more cars peeling off onto Commodore Way to take this road. Is at least worth including in your count, in the name of accuracy.

  9. Keith S. says:

    Sorry, typo: Fort Street, not fourth Street

  10. Miller Myers says:

    I both bike and drive along Government Way. I believe that the new bike lanes are dangerous for bike riders. I was perfectly happy with the previous bike lanes along Government Way. They made rational sense for both riders and drivers.

    The new lane configuration is going to make it hard for drivers to see bike riders. Its an accident situation waiting to happen.

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