Reader view: Better safety measures needed at 220th SW and 80th W intersection

The intersection of 220th Street Southwest and 80th Avenue West. (Photo courtesy Ben Burkhalter)

I have lived in Edmonds since 2017 at the intersection of 220th Street Southwest and 80th Avenue West. After first moving here, I started noticing safety problems with this intersection, but it wasn’t until 2019 when my son was born and I went on paternity leave that I realized just how frequently accidents happen here.

The accidents happen about twice per month, becoming so commonplace that neighbors started turning our security cameras toward the intersection to monitor. We would share the clips with victims and police because the intersection has such poor visibly and controls that it becomes challenging for people to get insurance claims resolved.

I learned of the Edmonds Traffic Calming budget in 2019 and started petitioning the neighborhood. We quickly gained all the required signatures and recommendations for what was needed to resolve the traffic accidents. We submitted in early 2020 ahead of the deadline, and soon heard back from the city that there was not enough traffic to justify calming measures. As accidents continued, we resubmitted in 2021, but we were then told, due to COVID-19, there wasn’t enough data to scope any calming measures, and the program was put on hold. After this, there was a terrible accident where a vehicle was hit and launched into the yard of one of the houses at the intersection. The doors had to be pried open and the seatbelts cut to free the kids inside. Luckily the children survived and were relatively protected by their car seats.

After this, we heard back from the City of Edmonds that in spring of 2022 a speed limit sign would be brought out to resolve the issue. I immediately reached out to the city to say that this was not sufficient. Most of the accidents aren’t due to speeding but rather to insufficient controls and poor visibility. My fear was that the next accident would also involve kids and be worse. The city did not respond, and my fear was realized on Friday April 22 at around 3 p.m., when a car struck a pair of children at the crosswalk of 220th Street Southwest. Both children were rushed to the hospital. One was a toddler, and was in critical condition. The police, fire department, and emergency medical workers were quick on the scene and everyone pitched in to help. We shared the horrific footage of the incident with the police. While reviewing the footage, both the officer and I teared up. Watching what happened to these kids is something that will haunt me for many years. Luckily both have survived and I’m praying for a swift recovery, but I worry about how long this “luck” of ours will last.

We put in a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) request with the police to pull records of the accidents, and they quickly got back to us with the reports. As many of the accidents go unreported, police only have records of the particularly horrible incidents, but there were records of over a dozen of these avoidable accidents. Over a dozen students at Edmonds-Woodway High School, medical professionals at Swedish Medical Center, or families living in Edmonds and Esperance that had one of the worst days of their lives at this intersection. The city has all these records, along with our neighborhood’s persistent requests for real safety measures to protect families traveling by car, bicycle and foot through Edmonds, but still there has not been any action taken. I will be attending the next city council meeting in person on April 26 at 7 p.m. to plead with the city to take this matter seriously and help prevent another child from being rushed to the hospital. Please join me in support so we can enact change with our city council.

By Ben Burkhalter

Ben Burkhalter lives in Edmonds.

17 Replies to “Reader view: Better safety measures needed at 220th SW and 80th W intersection”

  1. I am familiar with this intersection, but looked on Google Maps to get a better idea. It looks like, if you’re travelling north or south on 80th and coming up to 220th, the intersection could easily be mistaken for a 4-way stop. I’m not sure if that’s been a contributor to some of these accidents or not, and I’m not sure if Google Maps is giving me a good sense of how it would feel in real life, but that is something that jumped immediately out at me.

    Ignored

  2. Just want to make things simple. We need 2 things one drivers don’t own the road. Speed limits/attention following the laws. Seems driving behaviors have been going down hill. 2 the more vulnerable you are the more you need to watch out for yourself. Can I use when I was a kid? When I was a kid we were taught to make sure it was safe before we crossed, that didn’t matter if it was at a crosswalk or not. We kept our eyes on the cars we hurried if we needed. To me this is the most important part. “It doesn’t matter who is right the car is going to win.” I would give the same advice to bike riders, probably more. Accidents are going to happen we can’t have stop signs and lighted crosswalks every 200 feet everywhere or bike lanes for that matter. I just get tired of driving around and thinking it’s a good thing I saw them cause they weren’t paying attention to potential hazards.

    Ignored

    1. Jim, I use the same tactic when I cross the road. Make sure you know the driver sees you before you cross. Taking that extra moment to make eye contact can save a lot of trouble.

      Having lived in a big city for many years without a car, I quickly learned that a car beats a person every time – even if the person was following the law. Another thing I learned is that it’s important to use the crosswalk. Jaywalking may save time, but it might ruin your day (if not worse) getting hit by a car.

      I often see people jaywalking across Hwy 99 even when they are close to a crosswalk. I also see pedestrians walking against the light. Both are very dangerous habits.

      Ignored

    2. I agree completely Jim. It seems pedestrians no longer fell that stop signs are for them too. I was taught to stop, look left, look right, look left again, then cross with caution. Nobody does that anymore. I believe they feel that it is the driver’s responsibility to watch out for them. Downtown Edmonds is terrible with this. Downtown Seattle is the worst! One comment on the flashing ped crossing lights: the one installed on Walnut and 8th is rarely used. I have seen on many occasions, people crossing there on the opposite side from where the crosswalk and lights were installed. Maybe COE should have done some research to determine which side of 8th people cross Walnut on. Point here being, if the install those crossings they should make sure they are in the best location.

      Ignored

  3. Mr. Burkhalter,
    I agree with you completely. That intersection is simply dangerous for vehicles as well as pedestrians. I have walked across 220th at that spot on my way to Esperance Park. East/west traffic is heavy on 220th and seems to typically exceed the posted speed limit. At a minimum, solar powered pedestrian-activated crossing signals should be installed to keep people safer. High visibility crossing signals may well have prevented the recent pedestrian injuries there and would likely help prevent worse tragedies there in the future.

    Ignored

  4. Thank you for your thoughts. Not to downplay 220th/80th but our intersection of 220th and 96th Ave W is just as dangerous to pedestrians. 96th Ave. W has Westgate Elementary on the south end and Yost Park on the north end. I can’t count how many cars exceed the 25 mph speed limit. 30, 40, 50 and even 80 mph are witnessed weekly. I don’t know what has gotten into drivers lately but it is NOT safe “out there”. EPD needs to do some emphasis patrols all along 220 street SW.
    Just my thoughts & observations.

    Ignored

    1. One thing that has ‘gotten into drivers’ is police departments (Seattle at least) has come out publicly that no longer enforce a lot of traffic laws due to losing funding. I witness this daily in the freeway with 1 out 6 cars (yes, I counted) drives in excess of 10 mph over the posted speed limit. This spills over onto surface streets. If PD would spend time on 220th and ticketing these people, this situation might be significantly reduced. I do not know what EPD does all day but I have to believe they are not so busy that they could not do this. This would be considered ‘serving the Public’ which is what they are supposed to do.

      Ignored

  5. I’ m 75 and a little frail. I cross here. Sometimes it’s a long wait for an opening long enough for me to get across. My daughter-in-law takes a detour getting me home so as not to use this intersection. I can’t leave my husband in the evenings, but is there a way for me to weigh in on this?

    Ignored

    1. HI Susanna — one way to express your concern is to send an email to the Edmonds City Council. This is an email address that will reach all of them:council@edmondswa.gov

      Ignored

  6. First thing to recognize is this intersection is shared with Snohomish County. The south side of 220th (west of 76th) is in Esperance, which is not City of Edmonds.

    First thing to do, Edmonds should coordinate with the county to install “Cross traffic does not stop” signs under the Stop signs for north- and south-bound traffic, same as City has installed downtown at 3rd & Bell.

    Next thing is to install those bright flashing yellow “pedestrian crossing” lights, same as recently installed on 196th at 84th by the fire station. Flashing yellow turns on when pedestrian pushes the button.

    This isn’t rocket science. Solutions are straightforward and should be implemented post haste, before another serious accident or near-tragedy occurs.

    Ignored

    1. Edmonds should consult with Lake Forrest Park as they have maintained strict traffic enforcement for 50 years. Lake Forest Park is a role model. People familiar with Lake Forest Park just know you do not speed and you pay attention while driving. They have tons of speed signage, camera lights around all schools and a police force that writes tickets. Ballinger way is comparable to edmonds way but with 2X the signage and police often sitting on the side of the road just in case the signs aren’t enough. We are bigger I realize, but if we really want to see a drop in accidents, adherence and accountability to speed limits would go along way. Only other option is to become the speed bump capital of the US and just speed bump every street.

      Ignored

  7. Perfectly spoken/expressed, Roger. Wake up, Edmonds, if you [we] really want things to orderly/progressively change in these sections and intersections in ‘town’, Edmonds must annex Esperance. Are you/we all aware of this?

    Ignored

  8. I live on Walnut Street and 8th, where my neighbor was killed while crossing the street in front of my house back in 2014. I can attest to ‘city hall moves slowly!’ It took years to get a pedestrian crossing sign installed and additional years to finally get a crosswalk with the flashing yellow lights. Be persistent! What seems simple to many of us is a major undertaking in dealing with the city.

    Ignored

  9. It would help to at least install orange flags for peds ..hopefully waving them would get driver attention. INSTALL ORANGE FLAGS.

    Another problem is 220th & 76th intersection .. drivers traveling east do not stop on yellow, but run the red light to get to Hwy 99 intersection. This is an intersection used by EWHS students. Install a traffic camera.

    Start a campaign Signal4Safety ..get Edmonds PTA’s involved with the kids, parents & grandparents putting up signs around schools and neighborhoods (like Choose Kindness size):
    Turn signals are law.
    Signal all turns. All lane changes.
    Left Signal w/arrow Right Signal w/arrow
    Signal 300 ft = 1/2 BLOCK

    Let’s get some smart and affordable safety action going!!!!!!

    Ignored

    1. @Christine, I’d say there are constitutional problems with traffic cameras. Also lynnwood has them all over and I don’t see any evidence that they stop people running red lights. I do think having lights at periodic intervals helps force people to slow down and be more cautious though. even those that run red lights I think have a bit more caution than if there was no signal there at all. Getting the PTA involved is an interesting one though. My son isn’t old enough for us to be involved with the schools yet, but I do think that could be a great option.

      As an aside, the Mayor took the time to talk with me after the city council meeting. Actions will speak louder than words, but he said the right things and I felt the sincerity behind his words. I’m very hopeful we’ll have some action heading in the right direction. Not just for this intersection but perhaps several others in Edmonds as well!!!

      Ignored

  10. Adding a couple of stop signs would be my answer. A crosswalk flashy thingy is expensive 20 grand? Times every intersection in Edmonds it gets to be ridiculous. On that note the new one on 196th and 84th continues to be a problem. I noticed a few days after I bought it up for the second time they got the traffic reconfiguration done which helps I don’t know if it is finished but it is not well marked. I also have noticed new marks and chips in the pushout so that feature continues to be a problem, now they have even painted it orange. I don’t who thought this one up but it was poorly thought out and continues to be a problem. Hate the thought of the city going around and making similar mistakes all over town. Here is a idea take this one down and relocate it to 220th and 80th and put the crossing at the light for the fire station where it should have been all along.

    Ignored

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.