In keeping with what seems to be the city's never-ending mission to wreck the roads that (like it or not) we all depend on, here comes the latest move that will make your life worse: the re-making of the intersection of Market Street and 24th/Shilshole.
This intersection is such a disaster already about 8 different ways, at first glance one might think "oh, finally, SDOT is gonna fix it". Well, they're gonna "fix it" alright - Seattle style. Which means, it's going from Disaster to Calamity.
Here's how it's laid out currently:
Market street has two lanes going west, and about two and a quarter lanes going east. A quarter lane eastbound? Sort of. Going east, the left lane is for left turns (up 24th) or going straight. In practice, pretty much all the traffic in these two lane goes straight. There's little reason for a left turn here from Market eastbound to 24th northbound - everyone who lives or works west and north of this already-congested intersection would take a different street going north. What's that "quarter lane" going east? It's the curb lane, used for traffic trying to turn right onto Shilshole. I say "trying" because in practice, it doesn't work very well now because of cars (and delivery trucks) parked in front of the bars and buger joints on the corner. So the "curb lane" only has room for one or two cars at best, and in order to get into that lane, you have to go through the next lane over. The first car in that lane that isn't turning right stops at the light....and traffic backs up quickly. It often backs up all the way to the Taco Time or the entrance to the locks. It's incredibly inefficient, and for those that rail about carbon footprints, you have hundreds of cars every day that just sit there, not moving, engines running.
The north-south lanes are just as bad. Coming south on 24th, there are 3 lanes: the left-most lane is left-turn only, onto Market, which makes sense. But idiot drivers tend to just drive down the center (2nd) lane, which is either left-turn or straight. The right lane southbound suddenly appears just a few yards north of the intersection - thanks to the city's decidion to change 24th from 4 lanes to 2 lanes with center turn lane. The traffic going south of 24th often backs up badly, at least to 59th, sometimes all the way to 65th. 24th is single land now until just a few yards before market St, so it's not surprising that a lot of clueless drivers who want to turn left onto Market St eastbound just stay in the same lane they were in (not the dedicated left turn lane). So that one lane backs up badly very quickly - even though many of the cars in it will not be continuing through the intersection and making the half-left onto Shilshole. Rather than sitting in traffic that's (needlessly) backed up for blocks, some drivers try to cheat by cutting into the 3rd (right-most) lane headed south on 24th - which is now a bike lane until you're almost in the intersection. Then the two lanes of cars that want to make the half-left onto Shilshole have to merge within the intersection, as they are both making the half turn.
Going north from Shilshole onto 24th is even worse. There are two lanes. Some - but not all - of the cars in the left lane turn left onto Market. But many of those cars head north on 24th. Meanwhile, the right lane of Shilshole is either right turns onto Market (a minority) and most go north on 24th, which results in a drag race and a very quick, dangerous merge in the space of about 20 yards as the street narrows from 4 lanes to 2. I have seen several accidents right there (and countless near0misses) as a result of this squeeze.
Introduce a bicycle anywhere in this mix and it gets even worse, fast. The whole thing is incredibly inefficient, really dangerous, and just terrible. It's hard to imagine anything worse.
Well, somebody came up with a way to make it worse.
Wait until you see what SDOT is doing to this intersection now. It's going to make everyone long for the good old days when the intersection was just a disaster.