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What will happen to Roxbury? A detailed look at the plans

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By Gwen Davis

The final SW Roxbury St. safety improvement plans are done. Construction will begin soon.

SDOT’s plans:

-> Pavement improvements. Repavement will occur on Roxbury between 25th Ave. SW and 27th Ave. SW, as well as between 17th Ave. SW and 18th Ave. SW. New curb ramps will be constructed at each intersection. Spot pavement repairs will be made on the western segment of Roxbury.

-> New sidewalks. Sidewalks will be installed on the south side of Roxbury between 28th Ave. SW and 30th Ave. SW.

-> Rechannelization (otherwise known as ‘road diet’). Roxbury will be rechannelled between 17th Ave. SW and 35th Ave. SW. Rechannelization will turn the street’s four lanes into two lanes, one in each direction, with one middle turning lane. Additionally, bus lanes will be installed between 25th Ave. SW and 30th Ave. SW to serve the Rapid Ride C Line and Route 120. Rechannelization will improve safety by reducing vehicle speeds and improving turning movements, especially for trucks and buses. It will also improve pedestrian safety by providing a buffer between pedestrians and vehicles, as well as by reducing the amount of time that pedestrians are exposed to traffic when crossing the street.

-> New radar speed signs. Radar speed signs display the speed of oncoming traffic and remind drivers to slow down. SDOT studies have shown that radar speed signs can reduce speeds by three to five miles per hour. Two radar speed signs will be installed east of White Center. The exact locations are still to be determined.

-> New photo enforcement. Photo enforcements will be installed at Roxhill Elementary (at 30th Ave. SW) and Holy Family School (at 20th Ave. SW).
Signage improvements. Signage will be improved near the transition from Roxbury to Olson Place SW.

Rechannelization, while somewhat drastic, has been proven effective both locally and nationally for streets such as Roxbury.

The average capacity for a two-lane road is about 25,000 vehicles per day, according to SDOT. However, the current average weekday traffic on Roxbury is about 16,300 motor vehicles per day at 17th Ave. SW, and 13,000 vehicles per day at 35th Ave. SW., along with lower volumes on the western segment of the corridor. This makes this portion of Roxbury an ideal candidate for rechannelization. National studies and SDOT’s experience with similar projects have shown that this level of traffic can be effectively accommodated within a three-lane configuration. SDOT’s analysis of Roxbury’s rechannelization shows minimal change to travel times.

Early timeline:

By summer/fall of 2014, SDOT will construct and possibly complete:

-> Pavement repair on Roxbury between 25th Ave. SW and 27th Ave. SW.

-> Photo enforcement installation at Roxhill Elementary (at 30th Avenue SW) and Holy Family School (at 20th Ave. SW).

-> Signage improvements near the transition from Roxbury to Olson Place SW.

-> New sidewalks and pedestrian facilities on 30th Ave. SW south of Roxbury.

Why all these projects?

This work is needed because Roxbury is notoriously one of the most unsafe arterial streets in the city. High vehicle speeds have been documented along the corridor, along with 223 crashes which have caused 112 injuries in the last three years. Pedestrian, bicyclist and driver safety will all be improved.

Save the date: SDOT will host a Roxbury Walking Tour on Wednesday, May 20 at 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Walk and talk with SDOT about existing conditions on Roxbury and learn how the plans will improve safety.

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