MLK Jr Way Safety Project

July 5, 2024

Creating a safer street for everyone

What's happening now?

Construction Update

Our crews will be working at the following locations for the next two weeks:

**As of July 1, all bus stops and routes disrupted by MLK Jr Way S Safety Project construction have returned to normal operation 

July 8-12

MLK Jr Way S from Rainier Ave S through S Judkins St 

  • Crews will finish installing signs throughout the corridor
  • Crews will do restoration work, including topsoil and seeding, throughout the corridor 
  • Crews will continue unfinished work and make touch ups as needed 
  • Pedestrian and car detours will be in effect as needed  


Rainier Ave S & MLK Jr Way S   

  • Crews will continue electrical work and signal installation work throughout the intersection
  • Pedestrian and car detours will be in effect as needed at the Rainier Ave S intersection
  • The southwest, northwest, and northeast pedestrian crosswalks are now open. The newly created southeast corner of the intersection will open in a few weeks after crews finish up signal work, replace the lid of an electrical panel, and pave a small area of new sidewalk. 


July 15-19

Rainier Ave S & MLK Jr Way S   

  • Crews will continue electrical work and signal installation work throughout the intersection
  • Pedestrian and car detours will be in effect as needed at the Rainier Ave S intersection.
  • The southwest, northwest, and northeast pedestrian crosswalks are now open. The newly created southeast corner of the intersection will open in a few weeks after crews finish up signal work, replace the lid of an electrical panel, and pave a small area of new sidewalk. 


Construction progress

The southwest, northwest, and northeast pedestrian crosswalks at the MLK Jr Way S & Rainier Ave S intersection are now open!
The southwest, northwest, and northeast pedestrian crosswalks at the MLK Jr Way S & Rainier Ave S intersection are now open!

What to expect during construction

Typical work hours are Monday – Friday, from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM. During this time you can expect: 

  • Temporary traffic revisions to accommodate construction vehicles
  • Temporary parking restrictions near work zone
  • Noisy construction activities, such as backup alarms for safety, heavy vehicle use, and the use of power tools.

On October 6, 2023, we celebrated groundbreaking for this project with some of our biggest project supporters sharing a few words about this exciting milestone to local media. We were honored to have speeches from Mayor Harrell, SDOT Director Greg Spotts, Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Lee Lambert, and Franklin High School Principal Erik Weiss. Read more about the event on our blog post.

Photo showing Mayor Harrell sharing speech at groundbreaking event.
Mayor Harrell giving a speech in support of the MLK Jr Way Safety Project at the groundbreaking event. Photo credit: City of Seattle.


Photo showing Mayor Harrell, Director Spotts, and project supporters holding shovel during groundbreaking ceremony.event.
Left to right: Sound Transit CEO Julie Timm, SDOT Capital Projects Director, Cascade Bicycle Club Executive Director Lee Lambert, Mayor Bruce Harrell, Franklin High School Principal Erik Weiss, SDOT Director Greg Spotts, and Council Member Tammy Morales partaking in the groundbreaking ceremony. Photo credit: City of Seattle.

Construction of the MLK Jr Way S Safety Project began September 28, 2023 and will continue through Summer 2024. Check out our 100% design plans. Want to stay up to date on construction information? Sign up for our listserv to receive construction updates.

We are updating the street design on MLK Jr Way S to reduce driving lanes, slow down people driving, build new protected bike lanes, widen sidewalks, and add new ADA-compliant curb ramps. These changes will improve safety and access to transit and local destinations for people walking, rolling, biking, and driving between Mount Baker Station and the future Judkins Park Station.

Changes coming to MLK Jr Way S

This project will:

  • Redesign the road to create more predictable vehicle movements. There will now be one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. The travel lanes will continue to accommodate freight and transit movements.
  • Install protected bike lanes on both sides of MLK Jr Way S and add new bike detection signals at intersections.
  • Repaint the road to improve visibility and safety conditions for pedestrians, vehicles, and bicycles.
  • Repair or widen sidewalks and add or widen crosswalks to better separate pedestrians from traffic.
  • Add or upgrade pedestrian walk signals and bike detection signals to make people walking and biking more visible to drivers.
  • Upgrade 30 curb ramps to improve accessibility according to the most current ADA standards
  • Revise parking while maintaining access to local businesses.

Our project was guided by Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to prevent serious collisions by designing safer streets. This project will help manage driver speeds and encourage more walking and biking. When construction is complete, you will notice the following changes to the street:   

Graphic map showing the project route and key changes we are making that reflect the bullet points above.

Work began September 28, 2023 and will continue through 2024.

During construction, you can expect:

  • Typical work hours are Monday - Friday, from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Temporary traffic revisions, to accommodate construction vehicles and equipment
  • Temporary parking restrictions
  • Noisy construction activities, including backup alarms for safety, heavy vehicle use, and the use of power tools

Questions about the project?

Email us at MLKWay@seattle.gov or leave us a voicemail at 206-900-8750.

Project Description

We are updating the street design on MLK Jr Way S to reduce driving lanes, build protected bike lanes, slow down cars, and create safer pedestrian connections to transit. These changes will improve safety and access to transit for people walking, rolling, biking, and driving between Mount Baker Station and the future Judkins Park Station.

Project Goals

The number one priority of this project is to improve safety for people traveling on MLK Jr Way S. As a major arterial road, MLK Jr Way S poses a higher risk of serious and fatal crashes. In our 2022 High Injury Network assessment, the MLK Jr Way corridor scored high. Our crash data showed that there have been 305 collisions on MLK Jr Way S since 2016, which resulted in 152 people being hurt or seriously injured. Since 2020, there have been two fatalities of people walking on MLK Jr Way S who were struck by vehicles while crossing an intersection at MLK Jr Way S & S Massachusetts St and MLK Jr Way S & Rainier Ave S.

While the speed limit on MLK Jr Way is 25 mph, our data showed that most people drive over 35 mph on this corridor south of S Plum St. This is why redesigning MLK Jr Way S to encourage safer roads and speeds is so important.

This project aims to:

  • Reduce traffic fatalities and serious accidents
  • Increase ADA accessibility
  • Prioritize pedestrian movement
  • Create safe connections to new transit options
  • Build a citywide bike network

Learn about how each of these goals are incorporated in the construction plan in the Project Area section of this webpage.

Safety Improvements

Our project design was guided by our Vision Zero Top to Bottom Review and the USDOT's Safe System Approach. This project will help manage driver speeds and encourage more walking and biking. When construction is complete, you will notice the following changes to the streets:

  • Vehicle travel land reduction: 74% of pedestrian fatalities occur on arterials with more than one lane in each direction. Instead of two travel lanes in each direction between S Holgate St and S McClellan St, there will now be one lane in each direction with a center turn lane. The travel lanes will continue to accommodate freight and transit movements.
  • Wider sidewalks and crosswalks: In order to better separate pedestrians from traffic and encourage walking, we are widening sidewalks and crosswalks. Additionally, we will add new crosswalks at the south and east crossings of MLK Jr Way S & Rainier Ave S and at the south crossing of MLK Jr Way S & S Bayview St.
  • Protected bike lanes: Our data shows that 80% of people killed while biking were biking where no biking facility was available. This project adds one mile of protected bike lanes connecting people to destinations like I-90 Trail, Rainier Valley Neighborhood Greenway, Franklin High School, Mount Baker Transit Center, and the Mount Baker and future Judkins Park Link light rail stations. We will add bike detection at the following intersections: S Judkins St, S Massachusetts St, S McClellan St, and Rainier Ave S.
  • Wheelchair access: To make our sidewalks accessible to everyone, we are adding or upgrading 30 curb ramps throughout the project area to meet the most current ADA design recommendations.
  • Pedestrian movements: Our analysis shows 93% of epedestrian fatalities occur on arterials. We will update pedestrian walk signals between S Judkins St and Rainier Ave S. MLK Jr Way S currently has leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) installed from S Judkins St to S McClellan St, and we will add LPI to the intersection of MLK Jr Way S & Rainier Ave S. LPIs give pedestrians a head start when crossing, which makes them more visible to drivers who are turning. 
  • Parking revision: There will be changes to street parking along MLK Jr Way S, including some parking removal, to support bike lane installation while maintaining access to local businesses.
  • New roadway paint: A fresh coat of roadway paint will improve visibility and safety conditions for pedestrians, vehicles and bicycles.

Project Area

Graphic map showing the project route and key changes we are making that reflect the bullet points in the "Changes coming to MLK Jr Way S" section of the webpage.

Final Project Design

S Judkins St and MLK Jr Way S improvements 

Improvements at this intersection include:

  • bike lane located between travel lane and sidewalk on west side of street
  • bike lane located between parking and sidewalk on east side of street
  • new ADA curb ramps at all four corners 
  • markings for people biking, walking, and driving

MLK and Judkins Cross Section Graphic

MLK and Judkins Intersection Diagram

I-90 Trail and MLK Jr Way S improvements

The design elements include:

  • bike lane transition from street grade to sidewalk grade with slow down line markings
  • bike lane located between travel lane and sidewalk
  • sidewalk level pedestrian crosswalks cross the raised protected bike lane
  • markings for people biking, walking, or using transit
  • passengers board and alight (exit) into the bike lane
  • bikes must yield to passengers boarding/alighting

MLK Protected Bike Lane Project I-90 Connection Graphic

S Massachusetts St and MLK Jr Way S improvements

Currently, this street has one travel lane in each direction, a center turn lane, and parking on both sides. There are sidewalks present, but no bike lanes. Our proposed design introduces protected bike lanes to both sides of the street. Other design elements include:

  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of the street
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Turn boxes to help cyclists safely make left turns
  • Bike signal at S Massachusetts St for southbound bike lane 
  • Shared raised protected bike lanes and bus stops where buses remain in travel lane
  • Removed parking on the east side of the street
    • Preserved parking on the west side is closer to community centers and businesses

MLK PBL Project S Massachusetts Graphic

MLK and Massachusetts Diagram

MLK and Massachusetts Signal Phase

S Bayview St and MLK Jr Way S improvements

This corridor has four travel lanes and a center turn lane. There are no bike facilities, and the sidewalk is missing on the east side of the street between S Bayview St and S McClellan St. Our proposal for this corridor will remove two travel lanes and includes:

  • Protected bike lanes on the both sides of the street
  • A protected multiuse path on the east side of the street, south of S Bayview St with a detectable strip between cyclists and pedestrians.
    • This path will be separated from vehicle traffic by a concrete barrier
  • Drainage and pavement repairs and upgrades
  • Upgraded curb ramps
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present

MLK PBL Project S Bayview St 60% Design Graphic

MLK and Bayview Intersection Diagram

MLK and Bayview Intersection Extended Diagram

S McClellan St and MLK Jr Way S improvements

Currently, the street has four travel lanes that become a left turn lane at S McClellan St. This corridor is heavily used by Metro buses accessing the current location of the Mt Baker Station. Our proposed design for this corridor will remove two travel lanes and includes:

  • Protected bike lanes on both sides of the street
  • A protected multiuse path on the east side of the street north of S McClellan St, with a detectable strip between cyclists and pedestrians.
    • This path will be separated from vehicle traffic by a concrete barrier
  • Openings in the proposed bike lane to maintain access to businesses and the transit center
  • Green pavement markings to highlight where cyclists will be present
  • Other pedestrian improvements that were a part of the Accessible Mount Baker Project

MLK PBL Project S McClellan St Cross Section

MLK and McClellan Intersection Diagram

Rainier Ave S and MLK Jr Way S improvements

The near-term improvements from the Accessible Mount Baker Project have been merged with the MLK Protected Bike Lane Project. To see full details on the Accessible Mount Baker Project, please visit the project webpage. Improvements in this area include:

  • New and widened curb bulbs and crosswalks to create shorter crossings
  • Widened and repaired sidewalks for additional sidewalk space
  • Right turn restrictions from Rainier to MLK
  • Protected bike lanes that connect to the Mt Baker Light Rail Station

Rainier and MLK Intersection Diagram

Funding

This project is funded in part by Puget Sound Regional Council, Washington State Department of Transportation, Accessible Mount Baker, Connecting Washington Grant, and the Levy to Move Seattle. 

Project Schedule

Schedule graphic identifying this project as in the construction phase

Community Outreach

We want this design to work for not just people who bike, but also everyone who lives and works in the area. Please feel free to get in touch with us to ask questions or set up a meeting: MLKWay@Seattle.gov or (206) 900-8750

Summer 2019 MLK was identified as an important Southeast Seattle bike connection as part of the latest Bike Master Plan Implementation Plan   
Early 2020 Phone interviews with project neighbors and interested stakeholders
Spring 2020 Mailer, online survey and other outreach to engage neighbors in the early design 
Summer 2020 Mailer, online early design drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Fall 2020 Mailer, online early design (30%) drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Spring 2021 Mailer, door hangers, posters, A-frames, 60% design drop-in session with Live Q&A, online survey, pop-up event, stakeholder interviews, and additional outreach to neighbors and community members
Summer 2023 Announced new project schedule at events including Bike Everywhere Month pop-up at Sam Smith Park, Big Day of Play, and Rainier Beach Back2School Bash
Ongoing Email and web updates

Materials

September 2023 Fact Sheet - English

September 2023 Construction Mailer

July 2023 100% Design Plans

May 2023 Project Fact Sheet

July 2021 Outreach Summary

April 2021 Drop-in Session Recorded presentation

April 2021 Drop-in Session Presentation Script

April 2021 Drop-in Session Q&A

May 2021 Updated Fact Sheet

April 2021 Drop-in Session Q&A

Early Design Project Map

Accessible Mount Baker Proposed Biking/Walking Improvements

January 2021 Updated Fact Sheet

November 2020 Outreach Summary

November 2020 Drop-in Session Q&A

August 2020 Outreach Summary

August 2020 Drop-In Session Q&A

Spring 2020 Outreach Summary

March 2020 Fact Sheet  

Channelization Graphics

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Transportation

Greg Spotts, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 3800, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 34996, Seattle, WA, 98124-4996
Phone: (206) 684-7623
684-Road@seattle.gov

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