This afternoon I walked the length of the 23rd Avenue road construction project that was the subject of the lengthy Council briefing this morning (and has been in the news). My photos are below.
Some thoughts, in no particular order:
- A local business owner told me that SDOT has cleaned up the site considerably over the last two weeks. So what you see below is a lot better than it used to be.
- There are traffic cones along the entire 15-block length, usually with half the road blocked off and often the sidewalk on one side of the road. I was constantly jumping back and forth across the street — sometimes in the middle of a block — to walk down the road.
- I saw at most 25 construction workers, at 2:00pm on a Tuesday afternoon when it wasn’t raining. Nine of them were working on a single intersection paving project. This project is clearly not a matter of urgency to the people running it.
- The vast majority of the blocked-off space is being used for staging of equipment and materials, not for actual construction. To put it another way: the city has decided that it’s perfectly OK to inconvenience citizens to maximize convenience for the contractors (and to probably save a little money). If they were staging elsewhere the equipment and materials that weren’t intended for use in the next 1-2 weeks, they could re-open large stretches of 23rd Avenue. And SDOT and the City of Seattle has plenty of vacant lots they could use for this purpose.
- There are plenty of “Businesses are open” signs that the Office of Economic Development has placed along the street to try to encourage shoppers to visit stores. Many of them are comically placed.
- Why they decided to do major road construction during the winter months is beyond me. There’s a reason so much is done during the summer here in Seattle.
- The financial pain is being felt by the local business owners, but the residents along 23rd Avenue are clearly feeling other sorts of pain as well.
- Construction projects are hard. Large construction projects are harder. But this one is being grossly mismanaged. They are far off their original staging plan, and the contractors and subcontractors who are doing the work do not have appropriate oversight to ensure that local businesses and residents are being treated well.