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Seattle begins construction on its first protected intersection

The new design will be built at the intersection of Thomas Street and Dexter Avenue North in South Lake Union.

A rendering shows the new protected intersection layout that includes five new concrete islands to direct traffic patterns.

The new intersection design aims to keep bikers and pedestrians safer with concrete islands and updated traffic patterns.

Rendering via SDOT

Table of Contents

South Lake Union may get a little safer for bikers and pedestrians soon thanks to Seattle’s first protected intersection.

The change is coming to the intersection of Thomas Street and Dexter Avenue North, which had been pegged for the upgrade since the late 2010s. In January 2023, a police officer killed 23-year-old Jaahnavi Kandula while speeding at 74 mph through the intersection on the way to a call, drawing more attention to safety issues.

The project is a part of the Thomas Street Redefined project that aims to prioritize pedestrian and bicycle connections between the Waterfront and Eastlake. This upgrade will also help connect the greenway on Thomas Street to the Dexter Avenue North bike lanes.

What’s a “protected intersection,” anyway?

The design has several elements intended to protect pedestrians that differ from other intersections, including:

  • New traffic signals to stall cars for those who need to cross on foot, bike, or scooter
  • Five concrete islands that prevent cars from making left turns and add a bit more separation for bikes + pedestrians
  • Traffic diverters which help reduce traffic volume

Bikers and buses will have the shortest detours during construction, but cars will need to travel six blocks east.

Map via SDOT

Logistically speaking

The $1.8 million project is expected to be completed in 2024. Detours are already in place for bikes and motorized traffic, but roads around the interesection may open and close as crews go to work.

Even through construction, businesses and homes in the area will always be accessible to those looking to enter.

Want to learn a little bit more about the philosophy behind protected intersections? Check out this video SDOT uses to explain the concept.

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