As the Washington Department of Transportation moves forward with a plan to reconfigure two crash-prone intersections on state Highway 500 in October, pedestrian and bicycling advocates say the agency is moving at an unusually brisk pace and leaving some road users stranded in the process.
“WSDOT is claiming it has plans to build an above-grade pedestrian crossing in the future,” said Marcus Griffith, a local advocate for pedestrian infrastructure. “Well, the original plan was to build overpasses at these two intersections and that fell through so obviously WSDOT’s plans are not binding.”
WSDOT is set to overhaul the intersections at Northeast 42nd Avenue/Falk Road and Northeast 54th Avenue/Stapleton Road, replacing the traffic signals with right-in/right-out interchanges. The agency believes the reconfiguration will reduce the collision rate of about 80 crashes per year in the 2-mile area encompassing the two intersections by as much as 70 percent.
The pedestrian bridge connecting 42nd Avenue and Falk Road will be left in place. But 54th Avenue and Stapleton Road’s at-grade crosswalk will be removed. WSDOT plans to replace it with a new pedestrian over or underpass, but it won’t likely be built until sometime between 2021 and 2025, after funding is secured.
That plan frustrates Griffith and other pedestrian advocates.
Griffith filed an Americans with Disabilities Act discrimination complaint against WSDOT through the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. He said the agency has failed to make accommodations for disabled pedestrians during the yearslong gap between closure and construction at 54th Avenue and Stapleton Road.