Wallingford has a problem with traffic.
I don’t mean the standard complaint about congestion created on 45th and 50th as people drive back and forth from their homes in Ballard to their jobs in Redmond. The problem is with the people who try to avoid the traffic on these arterials, and instead choose to cut through the narrow residential streets.
West of Meridian Ave, the shortcut traffic between 45th and 50th is dispersed along 3 or 4 streets, with 46th carrying the highest number of short-cutting drivers. East of Meridian, there is only one route that carries all of this shortcut traffic–46th/47th. At one short block, this route makes the jog from 46th to 47th. This unusual offset intersection seems quiet and safe, set in a calm residential area of Wallingford. This is misleading–the large corner radii of each intersection creates a sinuous S-curve, inviting drivers to zoom through at inappropriate and unsafe speeds. This is the location of our proposed Pavement-to-Parks project.
There are two separate but related pieces to this project, and together they perform several important functions. The traffic diverter cuts off the flow of drivers short-cutting through the residential area, while allowing pedestrians and bicycles to pass through. The curb extension narrows the corner radius, and keeps drivers from zipping around blindly, too fast. Both of these elements create important park space, with the potential for events and gatherings, community gardens, and play/sport space for kids and adults. Just imagine the block parties you could have here. Imagine the safe space that would be created not just within the modified areas, but in the section of dead-end street. Kids could have a generous public space, a safe area to play.
This Pavement-to-Parks project could have an initial implementation using curb stops to define and protect the space, flexible bollards to make the park more visible and well-defined, and paint.
With a full build-out (extending the sidewalks and creating permanent infrastructure), here is what it could become…a safe community space, with room for gardens, gathering spaces, and play areas. Here are some possible configurations for the traffic diverter space.