Worried about mix of kids and increased traffic, Dayton Street residents push for greater safety measures

The Dayton Street Safety Group says that the hundreds of children who attend programs at the Frances Anderson Center daily are at risk due to the increased volume of cars and trucks using the street. (Photo courtesy Dayton Street Safety Group)

Can vehicles and kids coexist on Dayton Street? Not with the present setup, according to the Dayton Street Safety Group, an increasingly vocal coalition comprised of Dayton Street residents and parents of children who participate in programs housed in the Frances Anderson Center.

The group’s primary concern is the speed and volume of traffic on Dayton between 9th and 6th Avenues, particularly at the drop-off zone in front of the Frances Anderson Center-based Main Street Kids child care center, located across from the intersection of 7th Avenue.

“The Frances Anderson children’s center occupies an entire block of that fast-traveling, wide-open stretch of road where hundreds of kids are dropped off and picked up daily,” explained Nancy Marsh, part of the Dayton Street Safety Group that has been pressing the City of Edmonds to address this problem for some time.

And according to the group, it isn’t just cars.

Among the Dayton Street Safety Group’s key concerns is truck traffic, which they say poses a particular safety issue for children. (Photo courtesy Dayton Street Safety Group)

“Dayton Street is the only Edmonds Bowl street out of six (Main, Maple, Walnut, Pine and Alder) that has no stop signs, gross truck limit signs, or speed reduction [measures] from 6th Avenue South to 9th Avenue South,” Marsh continued. “Edmonds has a designated truck route established in 2017, but our city officials refuse to enforce it. Large semi-trucks frequently choose Dayton as a quick cut-through street to shorten their day. Kids and semi-trucks don’t match up.”

And a glance at a city map makes it easy to understand why Dayton is attractive to motorists.

Dayton Street offers a quick, convenient, direct route to downtown Edmonds, the ferry and the waterfront, allowing cars and delivery trucks to bypass an increasingly congested (and now often closed on weekends) Main Street.

The pre-construction Dayton Street road surface was rough and potholed from years of freezing, thawing and delayed maintenance due to budget cuts — and may have contributed to slowing traffic. (Photo courtesy City of Edmonds)

In the past, Dayton’s rough, uneven road surface and a curbed traffic calming island at 8th Avenue helped keep traffic volumes and speeds somewhat under control.

But no longer.

With the completion of the Dayton Street Improvement Project in fall 2020, this route suddenly became more attractive. Improvements included resurfacing streets, undergrounding utilities and adding ADA curb ramps, all of which contributed to making the corridor easier to negotiate, more friendly for cars, trucks, cyclists and pedestrians, and bringing – according to the Dayton Street Safety Group –  higher traffic volumes and speeds.

And this hit the group’s critical tipping point.

“The goal of our group of concerned citizens is protection for the hundreds of children who are dropped off and picked up on Dayton Street to attend preschool, Montessori school, and various other activities at the Frances Anderson Center,” Marsh stressed. “Unfortunately, after over five months of trying, we can’t seem to get the attention of Mayor Nelson, staff, or (city) council on what should be seen as a ‘First Priority’ for our community: children’s safety.”

But contrary to the group’s contention that the city has turned a deaf ear, city officials said they have heard their concerns. In March, city staff met with group representatives to discuss them, and afterward formulated at least seven measures to help address the problem. While these did not address every action requested by the group, the city said it did commit to – and is putting in place – a number of measures aimed at calming traffic and enhancing safety for children and parents.

Signage on 8th Avenue approaching Dayton Street warns motorists that cross traffic on Dayton does not stop before entering the intersection. The Dayton Street Safety Group has asked the city to add stops signs on Dayton to make the intersection a four-way stop. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

At the meeting, the group formally outlined their issues and asked that the city take specific action. Among their requests was installation of solar-lit stop signs at the intersection of Dayton at 8th Avenue that would change that intersection into a four-way stop instead of the present two-way stop on 8th Avenue only. They also want solar-lit stop signs at 7th Avenue, making this intersection a three-way stop. There are presently no stop signs at this intersection, which is similar to the intersection of 7th and Main —  a three-way stop adjacent to the drop-off zone on the opposite side of the Frances Anderson Center.

In addition, the Dayton Street group wants the city to replace the present curbless “ghost island” — installed to replace the curbed traffic circle in the middle of the 8th and Dayton intersection — with a 6-inch curbed island. The group points out that traffic can easily roll right across the ghost island and that this — combined with the smoother resurfaced street — makes Dayton “one long joy ride from 6th to 9th Avenues.”

The pre-construction traffic island at 8th and Dayton featured a 4-inch curb and signage indicating the proper direction of traffic flow around the island. (Photo courtesy City of Edmonds)

Other requests included installation of speed humps near the Frances Anderson Center drop-off zone, restricting commercial trucks of more than 5 tons from using Dayton as a through street, and treating the drop zone as a school zone, with an enforced 20 mph speed limit.

In response, the city agreed take the following measures:

  1. New Child Pedestrian Safety Program – Work with the on-site program managers in the Frances Anderson Center to add an educational element to their programs about how to be a safe pedestrian.
  2. New Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at crosswalks – Install pedestrian-activated RRFBs at the two north/south crosswalks at 8th Avenue, and the north/south crosswalk at 7th.
  3. New Radar Feedback Sign – Install a programmable radar feedback sign between the intersection of 8th Avenue and the Frances Anderson drop-off zone so it is visible to westbound (i.e., downhill) drivers
  4. New Pedestrian Safety Handout – Develop a handout for parents of children at the Anderson Center advising them to exercise caution when dropping off or picking up children on Dayton. This will include pre-planning suggestions regarding the side of the car that will be used for the car seat, so children will enter and exit the car seat mostly on the curb side of the vehicle.
  5. New Raised Pavement Markers (RPMs) – Add another ring of gold-yellow tactile bumps approximately 6 inches further from the “ghost island” circle, and in the shallow curve between the street centerline and the right side of the circle in both east and west directions. These will provide both a visual and tactile signal to drivers to divert more to the right as they approach the circle and discourage them from maintaining higher speeds through the intersection by driving over the side of the circle.
  6. New Sign in Center of Circle – This will have the effect of making the circle seem larger and less inviting for cars to travel over the edges of the circle. (Note that the former traffic circle had such a sign)
  7. New Lighting – Replace the ground-level lights at the traffic circle with new ones that will direct light specifically toward each leg of the intersection and increase nighttime visibility.

The Dayton Street Safety Group acknowledged that while “these solutions provide some value,” they “do not solve the critical safety issues of excessive speeds, abusive commercial truck usage, and traffic volumes.”

Specifically, they continue to cite the need for stop signs at both 8th and 7th Avenues, treating the drop-off zone as a school zone with a posted 20 mph limit, limiting trucks to no more than 5 gross tons, and installing signage redirecting commercial trucks to the established Edmonds truck route (see accompanying truck route map). Calling the present “ghost island” a “design flaw,” they also request that it revert to the former design with a raised curb and directional signs.

The green lines show the designated truck routes in Edmonds. The Dayton Street Safety Group is asking that these routes be enforced, and that truck traffic be limited on Dayton Street.

Several members of this group provided public testimony at the July 27 Edmonds City Council meeting, noting traffic volumes, child safety, the need for additional stop signs, and other concerns.  Video of their comments can be viewed here (scroll to the July 27 meeting and click the video link).

One of the measures taken by the city in response to the Dayton Street Safety Group’s request is the addition of raised pavement markers (RPMs). The markers provide a visual and tactile signal to drivers directing them to pass the traffic circle on the proper side and not mount the island. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

According to Edmonds Public Works and Utilities Director Phil Williams, while the measures staff have promised are “taking a little longer than we’d hoped,” the city is committed to finishing the job. The crosswalk beacons and raised pavement markers are already in place, and the other measures are in the pipeline. He specifically noted that the Radar Feedback Sign is on order from a Canadian company, and while shipment has been delayed due to COVID, the company promises delivery “within the next two weeks.”

In response to Dayton Street Safety Group concerns, the city installed crosswalk beacons at the 7th Avenue intersection (shown here) leading to the Frances Anderson Center, and at 8th Avenue. (Photo by Larry Vogel)

Regarding the concerns expressed about the 8th Avenue intersection, Williams points out that the new ADA curb ramps have reduced the size of the intersection, making it more difficult for large vehicles to negotiate the traffic island.

“That’s why we designed a mountable curb,” he explained. “The intersection has been shrunk down for the curb ramps, so the amount of space to negotiate the center island is reduced. We know that the smaller intersection means some large vehicles such as buses and articulated vehicles will struggle and not be able to stay around the mountable curb. But we expect anyone who can go around it will do so. I’ve watched it and seen folks mostly behaving themselves. Police have also sat there and quite honestly didn’t find anything or see what the neighbors are reporting.”

In this aerial photo, note how the new curb ramps and bump outs at the intersection of Dayton and 8th have reduced the amount of room for traffic to negotiate the traffic circle island. (Photo courtesy City of Edmonds)

Williams went on to explain that despite the group’s assertions to the contrary, speed monitoring studies do not indicate excessive speeding on Dayton.

“We’ve conducted 11 speed studies on Dayton dating back to 2003,” he said.  The current 85th percentile speeds are about 27 miles per hour along this stretch.  This is pretty typical in a 25 mph zone and does not rise to the level that warrants enforcement; the 85th percentile speed would need to rise to 33 mph to trigger enforcement.”

Regarding truck traffic, Williams stressed that the city has a map showing truck haul routes, and actively works with folks who have big projects. This includes “informing them of established trucks routes and asking them to use these.”

With the curb ramps narrowing the 8th Avenue intersection, larger trucks are frequently forced to mount the “ghost island” traffic circle to get through. According to city officials, the curbless island was purposely designed into the project to facilitate this. (Photo courtesy Dayton Street Safety Group)

He went on to clarify that it’s not illegal for large trucks to use Dayton if they have a delivery there, specifically referencing large Amazon trucks and the beer trucks that deliver to the Salish Sea Brewery.

Addressing the issue of additional stop signs, Williams explained that the purpose of stop signs is to control traffic flow at intersections, not to control speed. He adds that the traffic volumes at the two intersections cited by the Dayton Street Safety Group do not rise to the level that warrants additional stop signs. He further notes that while the group compares the Dayton intersections to the four-way stop at the intersection of 8th and Pine, the greater traffic levels at that intersection warranted these stop signs.

Going forward, Williams added that the city will keep an eye on the situation and monitor the effectiveness of the measures they’ve committed to once these are on the ground.

“We’ll finish what we said we’d do,” he concluded. “It’s taking a little longer than we’d hoped, but we have no plans at this point to go beyond what we’ve already committed. We want to finish it up, get some experience, and see how it works for a while. We’re always willing and ready to re-evaluate based on this experience.”

But for Nancy Marsh and the Dayton Street Safety Group, the city’s actions amount to “appeasement,” and nothing short of their full list of measures will be sufficient to provide the necessary “protection of hundreds of children…who are dropped off and picked up daily on Dangerous Dayton Street.”

Mayor Nelson’s office did not respond to My Edmonds News’ request for comment.

— By Larry Vogel

 

  1. Mayor Nelson does not seem to respond to citizens input!!! In fact where is Mike Nelson? Does he live in Edmonds ? I am clearly being sarcastic, but I never see him actively involved with any Edmonds events and now he wants to hide away as well for City Council Meetings.
    I do not live on Dayton but live very close by and walk the street often.
    Everything is so true and cars/trucks drive Way to fast. But that can be said for many side streets in Edmonds,
    Drive as if your children, grandchildren and friends were playing and walking nearby.

    1. One point is yes we have many areas with speeding drivers but I still think Dayton should have stop signs at each street corner and btw a 4 way stop would be a real good idea. I don’t live on Dayton or in the Bowl so coming from me it should be pretty clear they need it.
      As far as these Semis go well whose fault is that… I would imagine that the cake and eat it too isn’t going to work. I would NOT allow Semi trucks AMAZON for the Merchants etc… I say its because of this insane cutting off all the streets at every opportunity. I would imagine Semi used either 104 and up onto main. How they got out… I don’t know. But I do know that closed whole area is not helping Dayton at all. So yes, Their are a lot of children there at the little playground and I expect they play ball??? Anyway you look at it we have to protect your kids from all of these things…As we should. Semis are also hard on streets…So they have really no place in residential areas at all.

  2. Mayor Nelson is evidently only interested in photo ops. He has proven time and again he has no regard for the citizens of Edmonds.

    The safety measures that are being requested are long overdue. What is it going to take for the city to listen?

  3. Let’s do something about speeders on 3rd Avenue South as well. Folks going 40+ in a 25 mph zone all the time. Only a matter of time…..

  4. I’ve been taking my kids to events at FAC for 10 years and have not personally noticed any concerns with heavy traffic or speed issues or trucks. I do not doubt that these things happen, or that they should not be a concern, and of course we all agree it is important to keep kids safe… but sometimes humans are inclined to take an isolated incident that we didn’t like, blow it out of proportion and say things like “why don’t you care about keeping kids safe?” Especially when most of the kids attending programs there are of the age where they would be holding hands with an adult if they had to cross the street at all.

    I’m grateful the city has listened and is making efforts to put some reasonable measures in place and they are willing to re-evaluate after there is a chance to see what’s working. We just have to be a bit more realistic about where this falls in the priority list given the lack of data to support whether this is a truly dangerous situation.

    Gotta admit I am perplexed about why there is a traffic circle in that spot at all, instead of a 4-way stop, but I’m not a civil engineer so it’s easy for me to just roll my eyes and go on with my day.

  5. All the issues in this story help illustrate that Walkable Main Street needs to go, particularly on Saturday when trucks are more likely to make deliveries and use Dayton to get around the closures. Wake up City Council and Mayor Nelson.

  6. I find that Dayton west of 5th is also a speedway and very crowded especially on “walkable” weekends when people need to go around the central part of Main Street. I suspect the upper segment of Dayton is impacted in the same way and for the same reason.

  7. The simple answer is take out the island completely and put in a four way stop. This was a goofy confusing traffic installation from day one of it. (Who does half roundabouts?) All the stops, including Main and 8th., around the FAC should be four way stops. This would slow the traffic down considerably and make the intersections user friendly for pedestrians in the process. Oh, I forgot, Edmonds doesn’t do simple.

  8. As a grandparent often dropping off or picking up daycare grandkids at Main-street kids, I’ve often been alarmed by the speed of motorists on Dayton. It’s just not safe. I fully support the initiative of the Dayton Street Safety Group. Curbed roundabouts are a great idea. Proven safer for intersections compared with 4-way stops and guaranteed to slow traffic down.

  9. Why not use volunteers/mentors to help the children? they can even wear fluorescent vests with flags.

    I do recognize among the problems, that is “old technology,” and doesn’t require city staff and resources.

    (While I don’t currently reside in Edmonds, I do often times visit, and have been known to both walk and drive in that area)

  10. Roundabouts are designed to keep traffic flowing, not slow it down. They are used mainly on busy main arterials (like 5 corners), not side streets. Pedestrians temporarily shut down roundabout streets unless there is some sort of overpass. How are they any safer than stop signs on side streets?

  11. Don’t expect anything out of Nelson. Pre-election, he stood on my door step for 30 minutes trying to earn my vote, promising he would do something about the speeding on Walnut St and the intersection of 9th and Walnut. Three accidents, one of which totaled a vehicle, at a four way stop in five years. Really? I have reached out to the city since 2016 regarding these issues. And since Nelson was elected, nothing on that promise he made.

    Nelson’s administration and city staff push forward with their desired version of a project be it the changes on Dayton or the bike lane project rather than listening to residents and addressing concerns.

    Nelson’s leadership is putting the city at risk for lawsuits when a child gets killed on Dayton or a bicyclist is stuck by a car. In the June 2, 2021 community meeting regarding the bike lane project, city staff didn’t know how to respond to the question regarding city’s legal liability nor have they since followed up on the issue. For context, the City of Seattle paid out $1.5M for one claim and $3.5M for another.

    I’ve reached out to Nelson via phone and email since he became mayor and never received a response. He’s acting like a career politician trying to create a good backstory with photo ops for his next move rather than serve the people he is elected to represent.

  12. I am a member of the Dayton Street Safety Group and am appalled at the political circus that we have witnessed here relative to valid Dayton Street safety concerns for the past 6 months. Did you know? There are over 2500 cars and trucks (City of Edmonds data) that travel up and down Dayton Street daily with no speed reduction obstacles or signs – especially dangerous in front of the Frances Anderson Center daycare and Montessori school where hundreds of children are dropped off and picked up daily. The Frances Anderson Center is owned and operated by the City of Edmonds, yet they allow these unsafe conditions to exist while collecting rent from Tenants from a facility that the Edmonds taxpayers support through exorbitant Snohomish County property taxes, sales taxes, Business and Occupation taxes, etc. etc. etc.. WE are supporting an unsafe facility and conditions against our will and without representation. Dayton Street is the only Edmonds bowl street without any stop signs from 6th Avenue to 9th Avenue. All other street have stop signs: Main, Maple, Alder, Walnut and Pine Streets all have stop signs to control and slow traffic. The Edmonds Public Works Department has told us that stop signs DO NOT stop traffic! Well, what exactly do they do then? They must be absolutely ignorant of the facts here. The curbless “painted ghost island” at 8th and Dayton is a downgrade (that we paid for) from the curbed island that was there before. It is ineffective and confusing to navigate, but the skateboarders love it for tricks and jumps. It is completely ineffective at controlling traffic speeds or directing vehicles how to navigate it. Really, nothing of substance has been done to address these issues since February, 2021. All that we have asked for is 2 stop signs, 2 Truck Route signs, replace the ineffective island or remove it, and TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT. Our requests have been reasonable and our concerns have always been submitted with possible solutions. Why won’t the City listen to us and act to eliminate these unsafe conditions? It makes no sense!

  13. Hey Brian, Just get in touch with your District elected City Council Representative and file a complaint about the lack of attention to safe streets in your neighborhood so the City Manager can do something about it. Oh, that’s right, you don’t have one, because all our C.P.s are voted for at large and we just love our Strong Mayor/Weak Council system of government where all our needs are so well represented. You expect “sense” from a system that spends $120,000 of our money to choose the very competent girl next door to be our new Police Chief; after running out the very competent and dedicated boy, living in house, just a few months before? Dream on folks.

  14. I have been waiting since early April for the “Radar Feedback Sign” and the new “Center of Circle” sign. It would be nice to hear from our Edmonds Police Department! Are they aware and have they heard our comments to city officials and the city council? I have lived on Dayton Street since 1996 and do not ever recall the use of radar by Police. I know they use radar at the foot of Main Street at the bottom of hill just before 9th. The ticket I got cost me over $200.00 and I never forget it. Imprint that on the people who choose to exceed the posted speed on Dayton. It won’t be Mayor Nelson or Public Works Director Williams who has to respond to a car pedestrian accident.

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