By Daniel Nash
The final piece of a grassroots funding request for intersection improvements to East Madison Street and McGilvra Boulevard has been approved under the Neighborhood Park and Street Fund.
Board member Alice Lanczos told the Madison Park Community Council Dec. 5 that the Department of Neighborhoods had agreed to her $90,000 funding request and would assign a project manager sometime in 2017. The authorization was final as of Nov. 29, following the Seattle City Council’s authorization of the city’s 2017 budget.
The money will contribute to constructing curb bulbs to increase pedestrian visibility and better control traffic at the intersection.
Built around East Madison Street’s pronounced southwest-northeast diagonal, the Madison-McGilvra intersection actually includes a third road, East Garfield Street. Every road that connects to the main Madison arterial does so obliquely, and without a straight shot to its other half. A driver who wants to stay on East Garfield Street must make three separate turns to do so.
“It was designed when people still got around on horses,” Lanczos said.
These turning difficulties make the prospect of crossing the street equally fraught for pedestrians. Maybe more so — cars parked along Madison can obstruct the view of the roadway, making it difficult for pedestrians to see whether traffic is clear.
Local sentiments to improve the quality of the crosswalk at Madison and McGilvra got a shot in the arm earlier this decade when Michael Morrow, the branch manager of the Wells Fargo adjacent to the intersection and a self-proclaimed witness to several accidents at the location, started work with the Madison Park Business Association and the Madison Park Community Council to lobby the city of Seattle for safety improvements. The most public accident at the location in recent memory was an August 2013 bicycle collision that hospitalized Washington Park resident Dan Miller for treatment of a traumatic brain injury and broken bones. Miller was attempting to cross the street at the time of the accident.
Lanczos was pessimistic. She said she had tried to see the intersection improved for 20 years without success. But when neighborhood resident Gene Brandzel became president of the Community Council, he was adamant that Lanczos try again.
“He just kept pushing me and pushing me until I was sick of it,” she said, laughing.
They recruited Bob Edmiston, a user experience engineer for Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and an active advocate for pedestrian safety in the Madison neighborhoods. On a walking tour of the nearby Arboretum neighborhood in September, Edmiston told the Times he became passionate about pedestrian and biker safety after he began commuting to the University of Washington by bicycle. He said he realized there were numerous danger points on the route, from blind spots, to missing sidewalks, to a lack of controls like speed bumps to keep the neighborhood limits enforced.
Edmiston dove into researching relevant municipal codes and funding opportunities. Sometimes he would be the lead in pitching a project to a city department. When he measured a roadway before preparing a pitch, he would do it twice.
“When he says something, it’s right,” Lanczos said.
Working together, they secured nearly a half-million dollars in project funding to install the curb bulbs before 2016.
The $90,000 from the Department of Neighborhoods will cover any construction overages from the project.
Syndicated from the Madison Park Times