Seattle street residents called 'Wild West' reconfigured

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 25, 2013 at 6:14 PM

Updated Sunday, Aug 25 at 10:59 PM

For years, residents in the Wedgwood neighborhood have complained about traffic dangers along Northeast 75th Street.

But it wasn’t until four people were hit and two killed in March that the city took action.

This weekend, crews installed a two-way turn lane and bike lane that neighbors had requested.

“You see the right hand pass, people honking at cyclists,” said Brent Starace, who lives nearby.

Residents previously referred to the street as the “wild west.”

“Get to where you need to go as fast as you could and if someone was going slow you pass them on the right,” said Starace.

With up to 10,000 cars passing through Northeast 75th Street a day, the street is considered a major thoroughfare. 

With just one stripe down the middle, some drivers treated it as a one lane road, others a two lane.

“Essentially it was two lanes in each direction, no bike lane, no turn lane,” said Starace.

Parents were so worried a Facebook page was set up to connect the community about the issue.

“It’s stupid,” said Jane Newman, who lives nearby.

Others aren’t happy with the changes and have put signs in their front yard that say “STOP SDOT” to show their frustration.

“Nobody rides bicycles on this street; it's heavy traffic all the time,” said Newman.

According to Newman, safety is a concern, but feels this is the wrong way to solve it. Children walking from nearby Eckstein Middle School have been hit.

“They’ve only changed street lanes, they didn’t put crosswalks in,” she said.

Newman expects extra congestion and is angry that there’s no longer street parking.

“I think it's Mayor (Mike) McGinn. Everything has to have bicycle lanes whether it makes sense or not and this does not make sense,” said Newman.

Among the other Department of Transportation changes: A new marked crosswalk on 28th Avenue Northeast and a school zone photo enforcement camera at Eckstein Middle School.

Seattle's DOT hopes to complete improvements before the school year starts in the area on Wednesday, September 4.

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