This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
I’ve recently moved back to the CD after a few years away, and I’m riding on 23rd Avenue more, both in my car and on the bus. 23rd has been beaten up pretty badly by the buses over the years (buses distribute all their weight to a few points of contact with the road, and thus tend to beat up the street worse than cars). As you can see, the city recently made the outer lanes concrete instead of asphalt to help ameliorate this:
(Incidentally, this is a nice example of why we need to look at transportation holistically — the buses are running on SDOT’s right-of-way, but SDOT needs to spend extra to maintain the road so buses can use it. We’re all in this together, in other words.)
Still, 23rd is kind of a mess. As hugeasscity recently pointed out, the right-of-way is way too narrow for a 4-lane street. It should be like MLK Way, with one lane in each direction and a center turn lane. the nice thing about Central Seattle is that, Rainier aside, it’s actually a very nice grid layout, meaning that traffic can very efficiently re-flow to other N-S arterials: 12th, 14th, MLK, 31st, etc.
[Yes, it would be slower on 23rd, but that’s not a bad thing. I have to sheepishly admit that I often drive a few MPH over the speed limit on 23rd, and judging by the speed indicator signs set up there, I’m not the only one.]
A narrower 23rd with wider sidewalks would be a huge boon to the pedestrian life in the are (as hugeasscity notes). It would probably make it more attractive for someone to buy the old Philly’s Steak building , or for someone to open up a corner grocer at 23rd and Cherry, either of which would be great for street life.