Road safety changes in the works for Wedgwood area

SEATTLE -- At Ravenna Eckstein Community Center, many residents expressed appreciation Tuesday night to Seattle Department of Transportation officials who listened to their concerns about road safety and to their ideas for possible solutions.

Residents of Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood said there's too many blind spots and not enough crosswalks, making the area dangerous for pedestrians.

"It’s just a horrible situation," said resident Dagmar Jacobs.

Jacobs lives three blocks from NE 75th Street, where Dennis and Judy Schulte were killed last month when they were hit by a suspected drunken driver in a pickup truck. Their daughter-in-law, Karina Schulte, and their infant grandson were also struck as they were all crossing the street. Karina and the infant are still in serious condition in the hospital.

"Slow down 75th Street as a whole corridor ... bringing it to a one-lane road," Jacobs said.

His idea of narrowing 75th Street to one lane in each direction was written down by officials.

SDOT encouraged concerned residents to pinpoint other changes.

"I liked the fact that they steered you to make specific suggestions," said Ravenna resident Robert Elleman.

In no time, a map of Wedgwood was filled with possible solutions at various intersections in a three-mile radius.

"I feel great; I think they are handling it very well," said Jacobs.

SDOT city traffic engineer Dongho Chang said these one-on-one sessions will mean safer roads this summer.

"We are going to incorporate all the community input and and what we want to do is come back and say this is what we heard from you," said Chang.

Priority will be given to schools. This year alone, four students at Eckstein Middle School were hit by cars. Last week, crews installed flashing school zone beacons, and speed cameras could be next.

"It’s always the case where someone has to die to make a change," said Elleman.

In addition to repainting and adding more crosswalks, SDOT officials said they will also look into putting more traffic lights at different intersections to slow down drivers.

Another community meeting will held at Wedgwood Presbyterian Church on Thursday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.