Neighbors clash over $2.4 million road project some believe will create traffic nightmare

SEATTLE — Some Seattle neighbors are pushing back against a planned $2.4 million city road project that would restrict and take away traffic lanes at a busy intersection to build a plaza and make other bus and bike lane changes.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it,” said Greg MacPherson, who owns MacPherson’s Fruit and Produce in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.

MacPherson worries the Seattle Department of Transportation's current plan to remove the 15th Avenue lanes that continue straight at Columbian Way would create traffic jams that kill his longtime neighborhood business.

Flyers have been posted inside his business and put in customer bags at checkout encouraging people to “fight back” by calling the city and speaking up against the plan that, according to the latest designs, would also bring 15th Avenue down to one southbound lane through the intersection to Columbian Way with one turn only lane.

"There's too many places to buy bananas,” said MacPherson. “They're not going to come here if it takes them 20 minutes to get up 15th Avenue.”

SDOT said the project was requested by the community and funded through its Neighborhood Street Fund program to make the intersection safer for everyone, including students at nearby Asa Mercer International Middle School.

MacPherson argues safety is not an issue and has even spent his own money to hire an engineer who gave the city less expensive upgrade options that don’t take away traffic lanes.

"It'll really hurt business,” said MacPherson.

KIRO 7 spoke with other neighbors, like Kennedy Leavens and her family, who said they support the city’s plan.

"That's what taxpayer dollars are for,” said Leavens. “They're for making our streets and our kids safer."

Leavens described the city’s recent community meetings on the project as “contentious” and shared video with KIRO 7 that showed a SUV that crashed into a neighbor’s car and onto her property.

She believes speed is a problem around the intersection and likes the idea of fewer traffic lanes in the area.

“It's not safe,” said Leavens.

SDOT said it has used feedback from community meetings, and even ideas from MacPherson’s engineer, to revise plans for the intersection that have yet to be finalized. The city said it will hold another community meeting before moving forward with construction.

Meeting details have not yet been released.