Pilot Program: Restrictions at SE 16th Street

Pilot Modifications Map Soon after East Link light rail construction began on Bellevue Way and on 112th Avenue SE in summer 2017, the city implemented a three-month pilot traffic mitigation program intended to discourage commuter traffic from using some neighborhood streets to access Bellevue Way during the weekday evening commute hours.

Starting Sept. 5, 2017, temporary turn restrictions were implemented on SE 16th Street at Bellevue Way and SE 16th Street at 108th Avenue SE and in effect Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.

The pilot showed a decrease in traffic volumes in the area. Based on community feedback and observation of the logistics of the pilot, modifications are being made.

Starting Jan. 13, 2018 the following restrictions will be in effect Mon-Friday, 4 to 7 pm

  • No access to 108th Ave SE south of SE 16th St from southbound 108th Ave SE
  • No access to southbound Bellevue Way from westbound SE 16th St at Bellevue Way SE

Notes to map:

A. To improve community access, westbound access from SE 16th St across Bellevue Way will open. Left turns are still restricted from westbound SE 16th to southbound Bellevue Way, Monday-Friday, 4-7 PM.

B. To increase visibility and compliance of the turn restrictions, stop signs will be added to the northbound and southbound legs of 108th Ave SE at SE 16th St making this intersection an all-way stop. The all-way stop is in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Southbound 108th Ave SE traffic must turn right at this intersection onto SE 16th St Monday-Friday, 4-7 PM.

Buses and bicyclists are exempt from the time-based turn restrictions. All motorists, transit, and bicyclists must obey the all-way stop.

These modifications are being made to the pilot to enhance enforcement, increase compliance and address the issue of residential access. Also, the pilot will be extended through June 2018. The city will continue to monitor its effectiveness through observation, enforcement, and community feedback so that adjustments may be implemented should the pilot continue beyond June 2018 and throughout the duration of light rail construction.

Let us know your experiences and observations with the pilot project by completing a short survey. Also, the city will collect traffic data during the pilot and will keep the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee (NTMC) informed of impacts of the program.

The Committee has been extremely sensitive to recommending mitigation that is intended to discourage commuter traffic and recognizes how mitigation also impacts residents. While the pilot restrictions come with changes for residents in accessing their neighborhoods, the intent is to discourage commuter traffic from using neighborhood streets to reach their destination.

See the "Frequently Asked Questions" below.


What changes are being made to the pilot program?

Starting Jan. 13, 2018, the following changes will be made: 

  • To further increase compliance, the turn restriction sign at SE 16th/108th will be modified to indicate “right turn only” during the restricted hours (Monday-Friday, 4-7 p.m).

    • This addresses feedback that the sign is difficult to see.

  • To enhance enforcement and increase compliance, the intersection at SE 16th Street/108th Avenue SE will be converted to an all-way stop intersection.

    • This addresses feedback that the turn restriction sign is difficult to see.

  • In response to community feedback regarding residential access, westbound SE 16th Street access will be allowed while southbound turns to Bellevue Way from westbound SE 16th Street will continue to be prohibited.

    • This addresses feedback that additional options should be provided in the late afternoon to leave/arrive at schools for activities and to improve residential access.

  • Restrictions are in effect Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.

  • Restrictions do not apply to buses and people bicycling.

The next iteration of the pilot will run through June 2018, upon which traffic volumes, enforceability and community sentiment will again be considered to determine if the pilot should continue throughout the duration of East Link construction.

View postcard
(Dec. 2017)

When will the changes be implemented?

The new signs and all way stop will be installed by the city on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018.

The city will continue to monitor traffic volumes, conduct police enforcement as resources allow, and gather community feedback.

The extension will run through the end of the Bellevue School District school year (June 2018) at which time its effectiveness will be evaluated and a determination will be made if the pilot should continue throughout the duration of East Link construction.

Why is the pilot project happening?

  • Increases in commuter traffic on neighborhood streets as a result of East Link construction have long been a concern of neighborhoods adjacent to East Link construction zones.

  • The Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee was formed to develop mitigation tools to address this concern.

  • Traffic increases have been occurring on neighborhood streets since East Link construction began. (View slideshow from 7/6/17 NTMC meeting)

  • Lane reductions on 112th Avenue SE and Bellevue Way will make neighborhood streets more appealing for commuters to use (as was seen during similar lane reductions during a city Utilities project in 2015) (View 07/25/17 East Link Construction Alert)

View the Initial Pilot Project Mailer (Aug. 2017)

The pilot is being modified and extended to increase compliance and enhance enforcement and in response to community feedback.

View the Modified/Extended Pilot Project Postcard (Dec. 2017)

 

How long will the pilot last?

The pilot—and all work associated with the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee—is temporary in nature and is only be considered while East Link construction is underway.

The initial pilot was three months (Sept.-Dec. 2017). The pilot is being modified and extended through June 2018 to increase compliance and enhance enforcement and in response to community feedback.

View the Modified/Extended Pilot Project Postcard (Dec. 2017)


View the initial Pilot Project Miler (Aug. 2017)

What was learned during the initial pilot?

The initial phase of the pilot program (Sept. - Dec. 2017) showed:

  • Significant traffic was diverted from 112th Avenue SE to 108th Avenue SE during a city utility project; light rail construction implemented the same traffic control and a similar uptick was anticipated.

  • Following implementation of the pilot, traffic volumes during the evening commute for the southbound direction have decreased 31% on 108th Avenue SE north of Bellevue Way and are below levels experienced during the city utility project.

    • No correlated commuter volume increases were seen in the Enatai neighborhood.

      • Traffic increases were seen on 104th Ave SE south of Bellevue Way and are likely residents finding a new route home.

  • There are alternate routes for residents of the neighborhoods the Committee represents.

    • Although the pilot restricts weekday access during the afternoon commute, there are other routes available to residents.

    • Mobile apps reflect the turn restrictions.

  • Signal efficiency has improved on Bellevue Way since the park-and-ride closed in May.

    • Vehicular traffic in/out of park-and-ride is not occurring during construction helping to improve signal efficiency.

      The next iteration of the pilot will run through June 2018, upon which traffic volumes, enforceability and community sentiment will again be considered to determine if the pilot should continue throughout the duration of East Link construction.

What are the current features of the pilot program?

Starting Jan. 13, 2018, features of the pilot include:

  • Pilot will be in effect Monday through Friday, 4 to 7 p.m.

  • No access to 108th Ave SE south of SE 16th St from southbound 108th Ave SE. The intersection is now an "all way stop" intersection.

  • No access to southbound Bellevue Way from westbound SE 16th St at Bellevue Way

  • Advanced warning of restrictions at Main St and 108th Ave SE through use of a sign

  • Transit and bicycles are exempt from the restrictions

  • Pilot program is enforceable; enforcement will occur as resources allow

  • Navigation apps would reflect change

  • Traffic data collection will occur during pilot

  • Community can give feedback on pilot

 

View the Pilot Modified/Extended Project Postcard (Dec. 2017)



How will the pilot program discourage commuter traffic in neighborhoods?

Commuters sometimes use neighborhood streets to bypass congestion on neighboring arterial streets. The pilot will discourage this activity by restricting through movements on convenient bypass streets—in this case, 108th Avenue SE between Main Street and Bellevue Way—thereby keep commuter traffic on the arterial street network. Police will help to enforce the restrictions as its resources will allow. Additionally, the restrictions will be reflecting on navigation apps routing (e.g. Waze, Google Maps), effectively removing some streets as a possible route for users of these apps. 
 
 
 

Must all motorists abide by the restrictions?

Yes. All motorists must abide by the restrictions. Similar to the existing no-through restriction at 108th Avenue and Main Street, transit vehicles and people biking are exempt from the restrictions.

Does this pilot apply to buses or people biking?

No. Buses and people biking are exempt from the restrictions and are permitted to travel through the intersections. Signs will communicate this exemption. This exemption is similar to the existing no through restriction at 108th Avenue and Main Street.

Are the turn restrictions enforceable?

Yes. Police will enforce the turn restrictions. If you are found to violate the restrictions, the infraction is $136. Enforcement will occur as resources allow.


Will the city implement a method (e.g. placard, sticker, decal) to exempt residents from the turn restrictions?

No. The issue of exempting residents from any traffic mitigation implemented during East Link construction was raised when a draft mitigation plan was presented to impacted neighbors in Sept. 2016. The city advised the NTMC that there are many challenges with such a system:

  • lack of local or national precedence in application or case law
  • program administration difficulty (e.g. facilitating guest access) 
  • inadequate resources to maintain the program 
  • precedent setting for neighborhoods
  • enforcement requires substantial resources 
  • could create unwanted and unexpected driver behavior
  • may create jurisdictional challenges because Beaux Arts Village is its own municipal entity.

For these reasons, a placard system is not prudent or plausible for the city to pursue.
.

What feedback has been received about the pilot?

The Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee has been extremely sensitive to recommending mitigation that is intended to discourage commuter traffic and recognizes how mitigation also impacts residents. While the pilot restrictions come with changes for residents in accessing their neighborhoods, the intent is to discourage commuter traffic from using neighborhood streets to reach their destination.

Public comments are valuable in evaluating the effectiveness of the turn restriction. Comments received to-date are below. Updates will be posted periodically.

Email correspondence:

Comment Log (as of March 7, 2018)

Online survey comments (as of March 7, 2018) 

At its September 28, 2017 meeting, the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee was presented with:

  • Community feedback prior to and during the initial days of the pilot; and
  • Data from a traffic volume study conducted during the initial days of the pilot

Of 1,700 mailers sent to addresses within the Bellecrest, Surrey Downs, and Enatai neighborhoods and Beaux Arts Village, a little more than 60 individual comments were received in the initial weeks of the pilot. The majority of comments were from area residents. Most comments expressed frustration for having to re-route routine trips which take longer than prior to the turn restrictions being implemented.

Traffic data from the initial phase of the pilot shows an overall decrease in evening and daily volumes at key locations near the turn restrictions.

Additional comments were received after Oct. 25, 2017.

During the second phase of the pilot, the city will monitor traffic volumes, enforce the restrictions when police resources allow and gather community feedback.

Can the pilot turn restrictions be made permanent?

The pilot—and all work associated with the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee—is temporary in nature and is only be considered while East Link light rail construction is underway on Bellevue Way and 112th Avenue SE.

What if my navigation app directs me through the intersection in contraction to advisory signs

You need to obey the law - which is to obey the turn restrictions.

A moving violation is $136 and a mark on your driving record.

I either live south of these restrictions or am trying to travel south through this area between 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. How do I get to where I’m going?

If you use 108th Avenue SE and/or SE 16th Street between Main Street and Bellevue Way to get to Enatai, and/or I-90, you will likely have to find alternative routes. Fortunately, there are numerous other ways to get to I-90 such as traveling on Bellevue Way from downtown, using 112th Avenue SE to Bellevue Way, or using one of the downtown entrances to I-405.

The modifications being made in mid-December permit westbound SE 16th Street access across Bellevue Way into Enatai; left turns onto southbound Bellevue Way are still prohibited.

Since the closure of the South Bellevue Park and Ride in May 2017, the overall traffic flow on Bellevue Way SE has been functioning better.

Please see pilot program handout (mailer sent Aug. 2017) to see how to access destinations south of the restrictions.


How was the pilot program developed?

Through its discussions, the Neighborhood Traffic Mitigation Committee recognized that a pivotal point of traffic impacts could be at the intersection of Bellevue Way and 108th Avenue SE and originally proposed turn restrictions there.

The Police Department advised enforcement would be difficult on Bellevue Way and cautioned that implementing restrictions would mean officers having to pull over drivers onto Bellevue Way, which would compound traffic issues.

In light of the Police Department’s advisement, city staff proposed pilot turn restrictions north of the Bellevue Way/108th Ave SE intersection and presented it to the Committee.

Although not all Committee members supported the initial pilot program, there was recognition that mitigation should be in place because construction was happening on Bellevue Way and began on July 31, 2017 on 112th Avenue SE.
   

How is the City informing the community about the pilot program?

City staff are reaching out to properties adjacent to the area where the turn restrictions will be implemented, neighborhood association leadership, Bellevue High School and other stakeholders.

Public information will be released through city communications tools including:

Contact

Marie Jensen, East Link OutreachJohn Murphy, Neighborhood Traffic Safety Services

Telephone

425-452-2064 (Marie) 425-452-6967 (John)

Email

mjensen@bellevuewa.gov jmurphy@bellevuewa.gov
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