Community Post

23rd Ave to stay rough for years – Updated

23rd Avenue will remain a bumpy ride even if it slims down a bit in 2012. According to the latest documents published on the SDOT website (pdf attached at left), the Central District’s major roadway isn’t scheduled to have its rough pavement repaired until 2015.

Stretching from Madison to Jackson Street, the project calls for the two center lanes to be ground down and repaved with asphalt, and the two outer lanes to be completely rebuilt from the ground up with new concrete. 

A 2004 study of paving needs around the city identified 23rd as among the city arterials most in need of attention, receiving a score of Poor and total project cost of $868,396. Only 5.5% of streets at that time had a worse rating.

We made several requests to SDOT for more information what has driven the prioritization of the 23rd Avenue project, but have not yet received a response. We’ll give you an update if we do.

Update: We just spoke to Richard Sheridan, spokesperson for SDOT, who explained that the 23rd Ave project is prioritized based on a number of factors, and that the current roadway condition is only one of those. They use a formula that takes into account geographic diversity, project cost, traffic volumes and uses, and opportunities to coordinate with utility work.

One factor going against 23rd is the size of the project. It requires a full rebuild of the roadway from the ground up, and will cost $8.6 million. That represents 100% of the paving budget for 2015, and 23rd is the only project scheduled for work during that year.

To take an example of another roadway, 85th NW in the north end is of similar size and quality as 23rd. However, it carries substantially more traffic at 25,000 vehicles per day, compared to 15,000 a day on 23rd. And it requires much less work, with only a grinding down of the pavement and application of new asphalt on top. Thus, is gets a higher priority and will be repaved in 2012.

0 thoughts on “23rd Ave to stay rough for years – Updated

  1. The outer lanes are in really terrible shape, probably due to bus and truck traffic. The sensation is akin to driving over a washboarded dirt road. The inner lanes are OK, though, if only by comparison to the outer lanes. It’s bad enough in a car, it has got to be window-rattling, bone-jarringly bad on a bus.

    Another lousy road is Rainier Ave S between Genesee to the South and I-90 to the north, again, in the outer lanes. The problem on Rainier isn’t so much cracked and broken concrete, though; it’s the very steep slope, I assume for water runoff, combined with sunken manhole covers. I notice this more while heading northbound. You’re essentially driving at an angle, while periodically having your spine “corrected” by slamming into these de facto potholes.

  2. So it sounds like they’ll be doing what they did on 23rd north of Madison, which is too bad, since I always avoid the inner asphalt lanes as they’re much bumpier than the outer concrete lanes. Still, I understand the general idea — that concrete can take more weight than asphalt, and that since buses primarily travel in the curb lane, then it makes sense to use concrete for the curb lane where those heavier vehicles are traveling. What I don’t understand is why some other roads get concrete across the entire roadway (like 35th Ave NE got recently up in Bryant/Wedgwood), while others get all asphalt (like Madison Street got in its recent repaving project). Madison Street, in particular, seems weird to me since it’s a very heavily used arterial with plenty of bus and truck traffic using the outer curb lane. Why repave it with asphalt instead of concrete?

  3. 23rd makes for an awful bike ride too – it’s dangerous enough without a share lane, but then having to avoid rough patches of road makes it even worse (especially since other cars don’t have room to really get around cyclists in the curbside lane).

  4. It seems that road is even worse than 23rd right now…from the Montlake neighborhood southbound all the way up the hill…those lanes on that west outer lane are falling apart!

  5. this is really an indicator of how poorly our infrastructure is maintained and how incapable the City is at taking care of itself. SDOT is backlogged $500 Milion in streets, bridges and other infrastructure.

    if this were Queen Anne or Phinney Ave do you think this would get so bad?

  6. How does SDOT think that 23rd will survive without repaving another FIVE years???!!! It is practically crumbling right now!!!

  7. because this city invests there.

    people talk about equality as the DNA of Seattle, etc, but this is the most unequal city in terms of infrastructure investments i’ve ever seen, and I grew up in Chicago.

    btw, i think riding a bike on 23rd is suicide. i suggest using 22nd, and I think we need to get used to using non-arterials for biking (27th as opposed to MLK).

  8. I agree with the sentiments. 23rd Ave is the major street in our neighborhood to go North or South. I avoid the outer lanes as these are a bone rattling, car shaking, back breaking wheel dislodging mess. I know the city has a stated policy to ONLY Re-surface MAJOR THOUROUGHFARES…which I believe 23rd Ave is. I have seen a lot of repaving and cement use elsewhere in the city, but the half done job on Madison seems to be the money saving plan in our area. I noticed that 4th Ave in Sodo is also getting a concrete outer lane, asphault inner lane scenario too. What is wron with our city that our tax dollars go to half fixes and then mostly to the “good” neighborhoods? The last time I checked, my property taxes were the same rate as Magnolia, Queen Ann, Wallingford etc yet we are getting short end of the deal. If the new Mayor can’t change things, then I will vote against him just like I voted againt ex-Mayor “we did a B rate job” Nichols.
    Please fix our horrible streets in the Central and Central adjacent area!

  9. Fix up the roads and get rid if the criminals and this place will be mote expensive than Queen Anne. Think of potholes as affordable housing programs.

  10. 23rd is like a wagon trail. It seriously reminds me of the old roads in the rural township I’m from after the Spring thaw, ruts and lakes included. I avoid the right lane whenever possible. Riding the 48 is like hitchin’ up the ox team and headin’ out. It’s an adventure in more ways than one!

    Maybe if we donate all the money we spend on alignments we can convince the city to fill the caverns before we all just give up, caulk the wagons and float them.

  11. Agreed. The only time I ride on 23rd is if I’m bombing down the big hill, because I can keep up with car traffic. Otherwise, I’m either on 19th or 27th. There’s really no reason to ever ride on 23rd or MLK, ever.

  12. I lived along Fauntleroy when they resurfaced there recently. Fauntleroy is also a location that is part concrete, part asphalt. It is my understanding that what determines this is how the road was origionally constructed. If it was designed to be concrete, they resurface with concrete, and vise versa with asphalt. It is often cheaper to use aspalt, but it is not really a lesser material. It’s newer technology, actually, and younger cities use it exclusively (think: Bellevue).

    In Fauntleroy’s case, and probably others, the two types together was the result of those old trolley lines and an experiment. The experiment didn’t really work out (they were going for cheaper to maintain), but because it was constructed with the two different types, they have to keep resurfacing it that way. Lots of reasons for that, but one that surprised me was that all the road level utilities would have to be re done, too, if the type was changed.

    So, no, SDOT isn’t cheaping out on us with the asphalt. They really do have to do one or the other.

  13. Interesting – I haven’t heard of this before. Maybe Scott could follow up with SDOT to confirm? My understanding is that when you scrape down to the dirt, you can re-pave with whatever is most appropriate, and that concrete is better able to handle heavier vehicles (sometimes they’ll put concrete pads in just in front of bus stops on an otherwise all-asphalt road).

  14. Looks to me like 27th is a pretty easy ride from Madison to Cherry. Many more parked cars which narrows the street and keeps it from being a thruway for autos. I really like to see cyclists come by and know they are not in the mess of traffic that is 23rd or MLK.