SDOT removes second ‘unauthorized’ community-painted crosswalk

SEATTLE — Crews with the Seattle Department of Transportation removed a crosswalk painted by Capitol Hill residents on Monday, angering some who feel the move is unnecessary.

The crosswalk, which was painted at East Olive Way and Harvard Avenue East, was removed on Wednesday morning.

This is the second time SDOT crews have removed a crosswalk painted by residents in recent years.

In September 2021, Greenwood residents painted a crosswalk on Greenwood Avenue North and North 83rd Street, saying they were tired of waiting for the city to install a crossing.

Six months later, SDOT removed the crosswalk and residents were not happy.

“This is infuriating,” Seattle Councilmember Andrew Lewis said at the time. “We have the time and money, apparently, to expediently remove a crosswalk, but it takes years to get around to actually painting one. No wonder neighbors took it upon themselves to act.”

According to the Seattle Times, the crosswalk was supposed to be built in 2021, but the pandemic and supply chain caused a delay. The crosswalk was later completed in October 2022, according to SDOT.

According to SDOT, the community crosswalks “give a false sense of safety” and put pedestrians in danger.

On Twitter, one user posited that regardless of crosswalks, pedestrians should have the right of way and feel safe at marked and unmarked crosswalks.

In a statement to KIRO 7, SDOT said they are committed to making safety improvements and working with residents throughout the city:

“We have heard the message loudly and clearly that the public wants more crossing and safety improvements. We appreciate the passion which has driven someone to paint their own crosswalk, however this is not the right way to voice your desire for change.

There are standards which we are legally required to follow when painting a crosswalk. The unauthorized markings at E Olive Way and Harvard Ave E have been removed because they do not comply with city standards.

We are committed to increasing safety and working with communities. For example, in September SDOT applied for nearly $50 million in federal grants to improve safety and support our bridges. The grant proposal included crossing improvements at Harvard Ave E and E Olive Way. We’ll learn whether we receive the grant as soon as January 2023.

There are many needs throughout the city. We need to focus our resources on safety improvements based on safety, health, and equity. We’re committed to continuing this conversation including co-creating a new Seattle Transportation Plan with the community.”

Note: A previous version of this story stated that a crosswalk was never constructed at the intersection of Greenwood Avenue North and North 83rd Street . Although construction was delayed due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety improvements to that intersection were ultimately completed last month.