The Smarter Highways website has an animation to show how the system will work. Here’s a longer video about the system. According to the video, systems such as this have been used in Europe with success, reducing traffic-related collisions by 30%.
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Expect construction delays at this location next week as new dynamic signs are installed.
The Seattle Department of Transportation will be installing new dynamic (electronic) messaging signs at several locations in the city next week, including South Columbian Way/14th Avenue South near the freeway ramps. The new electronic signs will provide improved traffic information to travelers.
The signs will be installed during the daytime next week, March 8 to 12. The work will start in Crown Hill and progress down the list to Columbian Way, which is last, so we can probably expect lane closures and construction slowdowns at Columbian and 14th from the middle to end of next week. Expect some delay and congestion during this time.
The other locations that will receive the new signs are in Crown Hill at 14th Avenue NW and Holman Road NW, 15th Avenue NW just south of Ballard High School, and on 15th Avenue West near the Magnolia Bridge.
We are not sure exactly what the signs will look like, but they may be similar to other dynamic messaging signs SDOT has previously installed in SODO. Here’s an interesting PDF from 2005 about the use of dynamic messaging signs by WSDOT on Washington highways.
There is another minor violation of the law at that site as well, though it’s likely they didn’t realize it was against the law, and several other nearby businesses are doing it too. As it turns out, it’s illegal to put A-frame signs on sidewalks, except in certain business districts that have actually obtained special street use permits to allow and regulate them. Those districts are Broadway, Pioneer Square, and Pike Place Market. Period.
Beacon Hill cannot have these signs, legally, unless a Business Improvement Association, historic district, or Chamber of Commerce is formed here. The district group would then need to get 60% of the businesses in the area to sign on, carry $1 million in liability insurance, and then obtain a Street Use Annual Permit from the city. Who knew?
Even in districts that allow such signs, it is illegal to have more than one sign per business, and they have to be directly in front of the business. First Choice has had up to three signs in front of their shop, and one across the street.
Sidewalk signs are relatively harmless, but one can see why limiting each business to one would be a good idea. The signs are taking up space in the public right-of-way, after all. In the case of the car wash, the signs are right in the entrance to two crosswalks. This is probably not an ideal location for pedestrian safety. (Nor is their driveway, as can be seen in the photo with this post.)
Since Beacon Hill’s Chamber of Commerce has gone dormant, it’s not likely that sidewalk signs will be made legal on the Hill anytime soon. In the meantime, First Choice and several other local businesses are violating a law that most of us have probably never even heard of.
The sign replacement program is now planned to run through 2016, and the old signs are being sold to the public. You can see more of the old street signs here — and, of course, there’s one in the header graphic of this page.