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23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project

Project updates – September 2014

Phase 1 construction will begin in early 2015! Come learn more about the project by visiting our booth at the Central Area Block Party!

Saturday, September 27 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
E Cherry Street between 23rd and 25th avenues (Garfield Community Center)

We will also host a larger-scale open house in late 2014 or early 2015 to share more information about Phase 1 construction as well as the latest info about phases 2 and 3.


Construction in Phase 1 (between E John Street to E Jackson Street) is scheduled to begin in early 2015 and last approximately 20 months. The Phase 1 project area will be split into three work zones (see map) to minimize impacts to businesses, the community and traveling public. During construction, northbound traffic will be detoured to Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to provide enough space for crews to work.

Before construction begins, SDOT will implement a neighborhood greenway in Phase 1 in fall 2014.

Learn more about what to expect during construction and how we’re working to keep your neighborhood safe and moving during construction by visiting us at upcoming events (listed above) our reading our latest handout.


The Corridor

23rd Avenue is a main arterial that connects a variety of users to businesses, educational institutions and residences in the Central District and beyond. Approximately 13,400-20,000 vehicles use 23rd Avenue each day. This area also serves high volumes of pedestrians, bike riders, and transit users (approximately 6,000 daily transit riders – the 10th highest ridership in King County). Today, the roadway is in poor condition with hundreds of patches where potholes existed, narrow lanes and no turn lanes, and is bordered in many places by constricted and uneven sidewalks.

A Call for Better Mobility

The condition of the 23rd Avenue corridor creates a poor environment for pedestrians, bike riders, and vehicles. This concern prompted a broader evaluation and community conversation about the needs and opportunities to improve the corridor. Through several grants, SDOT expanded its original plans to only repave along 23rd Avenue (from E John Street to S Jackson Street) to include a larger project area and address safety and accessibility interests in other modes of transportation. Guided by Complete Streets guidelines, community input, as well as the near-term needs for bike riders, pedestrians and transit users, as demonstrated in recently updated master plans, SDOT expanded the project’s scope.

The New Roadway – Opportunity for Rechannelization

On streets with 25,000 vehicles per day or fewer, redesigning a street from four lanes to three can reduce collisions, reduce speeding, allow vehicles to turn without blocking traffic, manage drivers cutting in and out of lanes, create space for wider sidewalks, make streets easier to cross, and make it easier for freight and transit to travel. To balance the needs of users in the area, SDOT proposes to reconfigure 23rd Avenue between approximately E John Street and S Norman Street (Phase 1 and most of Phase 2) from the current four lanes (two lanes in each direction) to three lanes (one lane in each direction and a center-turn lane).  At this time, Phase 3 of the project includes only transit stop improvements due to limited available funding.

The corridor revisions aim to balance safety, mobility, and reliability needs for a variety of users in the area, as well as enhance the local community and natural environment. Traffic analysis completed to date shows that travel time for vehicles stays about the same (plus or minor less than one minute depending on the travel direction), while transit travel time is expected to improve by three minutes. At most bus stops, the road will flare to approximately 18 feet, where buses can pull to the side and vehicles can pass the stopped bus in the travel lane.

After previous analysis of a protected bike lane (also called a “cycle track”) on 23rd Avenue, and review and discussion with key stakeholders, SDOT will not include a protected bike lane on 23rd Avenue. This is primarily due to safety and traffic flow concerns. Instead, routes for an adjacent greenway have been selected for Phase 1 and several options for the alignment in Phases 2 and 3 are under review. Designating a nearby greenway improves pedestrian and bike rider safety in the area, and provides a safer option to navigate through neighborhoods as compared to the busy 23rd Avenue arterial.

Project Phases

The project is separated into three phases:

  • Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)
  • Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)
  • Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)

Improvements will vary by phase and include:

    • New pavement
    • Sidewalk improvements
    • Lighting improvements
    • Increased transit s reliability
    • Traffic signal improvements
    • Public art
    • Adjacent neighborhood greenway

Current Schedule

Phase 1 (E John Street to S Jackson Street)

  • Design: Spring 2013 – Fall 2014
  • Construction: Early 2015 – late 2016

Phase 2 (S Jackson Street to Rainier Avenue S)

  • Design: Spring 2013 – Winter 2015
  • Construction: Likely 2017, pending funding

Phase 3 (E Roanoke Street to E John Street)

  • Construction of transit stop improvements could start as soon as 2017, pending funding

Public Outreach

SDOT is committed to engaging with the community and understanding the needs in the project area. Several outreach events are planned for summer and fall 2014 to share information about Phase 1 construction and the latest updates about Phases 2 and 3. Events include drop-in sessions, participation in community events and festivals, door-to-door outreach on 23rd Avenue, and a fall open house.

Previous outreach efforts have included:

  • Hosted an open house (February 2014) where community members learned about the 23rd Avenue corridor, the planned improvements to the corridor and latest project schedule, as well as the selected route for the Central Area Neighborhood Greenway.
  • Hosted three public drop-in sessions throughout the corridor to share design and schedule updates and answer questions (January 2014).
  • Presented project information to community, business and educational organizations (late 2013 and early 2014).
  • Coordinated with the 23rd Avenue Advisory Core Team (ACT), an advisory group that collaborates directly with the City of Seattle and the community to ensure that the shared vision and implementation actions pertaining to the 23rd Avenue Action Plan (Union-Cherry-Jackson) reflect the voices and balanced interests of the community.
  • Participated in the Central District Street Fair (August 2013), where more than 115 people visited the project booth to learn more and provide feedback for the project.
  • Hosted an open house (June 2013) and presented the preferred alternative – a 3-lane cross-section with a parallel greenway facility – which was selected through community input and a Complete Streets assessment. The concept reflected strong community interest in improving pedestrian crossings and bicycle facilities in the corridor.
  • Hosted an open house (March 2013) and presented several roadway cross-section improvements.
  • Presented to the City’s advisory boards (Pedestrian, Freight and Bicycle) and Council.

The project team will continue to work with key stakeholders including neighborhood, business, and advisory groups as design is refined and construction details become available.

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Project Materials

Current materials

Previous Materials

Project fact sheet - early 2014

Project Cost

The project is being funded by a number of sources – local, state and federal. To date, the City of Seattle has allocated $45 million for improvements to the corridor. Phase 1 is fully funded. Phase 2 and 3 design  are fully funded. Additional funding is needed for Phase 2 and 3 construction.

Questions or Comments?


Maribel Cruz
Project Communications Lead

Ron Scharf
Project Manager

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