Community Post

23rd Ave: Work needed, but not yet scheduled

It’s transportation week here at CDNews!   Yesterday I mentioned that we had made an inquiry on 23rd and whether it would be getting any love from the city’s Bridging the Gap levy.   This morning the helpful folks at SDOT wrote back with an update.

The bottom line:  23rd is in such bad shape that it will require more than your usual paving job.  City engineer Ben Hansen says that large sections all the way from Jackson to Montlake need to be completely dug up and rebuilt from scratch.  That’s an expensive proposition, and SDOT’s current strategy is to tackle the smaller projects first to make sure a few big projects don’t monopolize all of the available funding.  In the meantime, report pot holes to the city and they’ll try to patch things up.

Also:  SDOT spokeswoman Marybeth Turner tells me that there is a long-term plan for a reconfiguration of 23rd to include bike lanes, but it’s also currently unscheduled.   And in Bike News:  We’re going to be getting some cool new on-street bicycle parking on 12th in front of Cafe Presse.  

Here’s the full response from Mr. Hansen:

In late 2006, voters passed the Proposition 1 “Bridging the Gap” ballot measure, which provides new funding to address basic transportation maintenance such as paving.  On its arterials alone, Seattle has a backlog of over $300 million in deferred maintenance; streets where the condition indicates a paving need but no funds are available to complete a project.  The conditions along 23rd are a good example of what deferred maintenance looks like on the ground.  It has taken a long time to accumulate this backlog and it will take some time to work it off.  We can not meet all the need immediately, so work is prioritized taking into account condition, rehabilitation cost, transit use, traffic volumes, and several other criteria. 

We agree with you that 23rd is in need of paving, but a project is still several years off.  Part of the challenge on 23rd is the cost of the rehabilitation.  Large sections between Jackson and Montlake need to be dug up and completely reconstructed from the ground up.  It is much more expensive to reconstruct streets than to resurface them.  If we began with the worst streets, which need reconstruction, then the overall condition of Seattle’s street network would continue to decline because we would be spending a lot of money to fix a few select locations.  Greater benefit is delivered to the public by first resurfacing and preserving existing pavements, deferring major reconstructions until we have completed the preservation work.  You will note that we have recently completed projects of this nature on E Madison St and on S Jackson St.

Until a major project moves forward on 23rd,  we will continue to patch potholes as necessary.  You can request pothole repairs to specific locations by calling the SDOT Street Maintenance dispatcher at (206) 386-1218, or visiting  We respond promptly to these requests, usually within 48 hours. 

0 thoughts on “23rd Ave: Work needed, but not yet scheduled

  1. Someone, quick report the big pothole on 23rd stretching from about Union all the way to Jackson.

  2. they would have the plans queued up for 23rd to be ‘ready to go’ under the stimulus package. geez ake up people!

    I work in Information Services. We use the Lean Methodology. Our stories (including some that involve major infrastructure investment and planning) are always queued up, constantly reprioritized based on ever changing reality, but we definitely are ready to go if resources are freed up….

    I bet these guys could hustle a bit and get enough done right now to slip it into the infrastructure funding list for federal money. They keep claiming we cannot do traffic calming because 23rd is a major arterial where traffic must move-move-move. So, why is it less important than Mercer??

  3. OK, so I just filed my 4th (at least) request on the Pothole website about fixing the westbound James St. potholes from 9th to 7th Avenues. I challenge anyone else out there that uses this street and finds the wear and tear from these potholes to also file a request and hopefully they will finally address them.

  4. rather than resurface the curb lane holes, let’s just road diet that sucker.

    edit: if we really want to reinvigorate 23rd ave, you need to make it attractive for businesses. Businesses will find it attractive in a very limited way if it is a nascar straightaway. I bet the owners of 23rd and Cherry would welcome putting 23rd on a diet.

  5. I think Madison was just a resurfacing project since they only replaced the top layer of asphalt.

  6. Now that the chocolate is gone I everyone gets to diet so how about the road? But the property owners further north need to move their yards and stonework back off the sidewalks so people can walk down the street.

  7. Maybe it was a bit of both — seemed like in some places they did quite a bit of digging way down deep, while in other places they just skimmed off the top and put on new asphalt. I also found it interesting that they used asphalt everywhere, when I’ve seen in other street resurfacing projects, like 35th in Bryant/Wedgewood, they repaved with concrete, which is more expensive (I think) but holds up better with heavey bus and truck volumes (like we see on Madison). I’d be curious to find out why they used asphalt — was it for budget reasons, or was it indeed just a resurfacing project, and they would’ve had to reconstruct the entire street to repave with concrete (which I think was the case with 35th)?

  8. Anything more on this?

    Also: SDOT spokeswoman Marybeth Turner tells me that there is a long-term plan for a reconfiguration of 23rd to include bike lanes, but it’s also currently unscheduled.

  9. We don’t have any more information than that. Of course adding bike lanes would be a big deal. There’s really not space for 4 lanes as it is, so adding bike facilities would probably mean slimming 23rd down to two travel lanes + a turn lane, with bike lanes on the outside. IMHO, that would be a fabulous thing for the neighborhood.