Rainier Improvements

Updated: December 14, 2023

Improving safety and bus reliability on Rainier

What’s happening now?

More Improvements Coming Soon!

As soon as January 2024, you can expect to see SDOT crews working on Rainier Ave S and Sturtevant Ave S, to improve safety for people walking, biking, rolling, and driving.

In response to community concern, SDOT painted a curb bulb extension and installed flex posts at the southwest corner of this intersection in 2019. This change narrowed the lane width and slowed traffic, which improved safety.

With additional funding now available, we will make this change permanent by replacing the paint and post treatment with a concrete curb. We will also install new signage clarifying that there is no crossing Rainier Ave S for pedestrians at this corner. People crossing Rainier Ave S will need to use the crosswalks at 51st or 52nd avenues. This work will not change how people access businesses on the either side of Rainier Ave S and Sturtevant Ave S.

Map showing construction activities and detours at Rainier Ave S and Sturtevant Ave S.

People crossing on the new Rainier improvements.

Click here for more photos of the changes on Rainier Ave S.

The street redesign between Rainier Beach and Columbia City is complete! We also upgraded the signal at Rainier and Holly to have left turn arrows (rather than yields) and add crossing time and built curb bulbs at Rainier and RoseThe new traffic signal at Rainier/Rose is now planned for 2021 due to budget and construction crew constraints related to COVID-19.

Check out this mailer and FAQ for more info. 

Project Overview

We completed Phase 2 of the Rainier Improvements project to improve safety and bus reliability between S Kenny St and S Henderson St, including:

Project Background

Rainier Ave S has great restaurants, retail, salons, community centers, libraries, and schools and some of the highest bus ridership in Seattle. Unfortunately it also leads the city in crashes. Between 2005 and 2014, there were nearly 3,600 total collisions along Rainier Ave S. During a 6-month study in 2015, on average, there was 1 crash per day that took 45 minutes to clear. We're working to change that. 

In 2014, we launched a collaborative process to improve Rainier Ave S as part of Seattle's Vision Zero program to reach zero traffic fatalities or serious injuries by 2030. During Phase 1, we redesigned the street between S Alaska St and S Kenny St and successfully improved safety. We're now in Phase 2 between S Kenny St and S Henderson St.

Phase 1

In 2015, we redesigned one mile of Rainier between S Alaska St and S Kenny St from 4 to 3 lanes. This project successfully improved safety along Rainier Ave S in Columbia City and Hillman City. 

Read the full evaluation report.

Highlights from the 2016 report include:

  • Overall collisions decreased by 15%. Injury collisions decreased by 30% and collisions with people walking and biking were down 40%.
  • The percent of drivers speeding decreased by just over 1/2 in the northbound direction and almost 1/3 in the southbound direction.  
  • During the PM peak commute, southbound buses were traveling the corridor about 1 minute faster. Transit travel times during the morning peak hours increased slightly (2 seconds). 

We partnered with Runta News (a local Somali news organization) to create this Vision Zero video about the Rainier project. Check it out!

Susan Davis

Susan Davis is the Executive Director of the Rainier Chamber of Commerce and has watched the changes from her Rainier Ave office. Remarking on changes since phase 1, Susan observed new driving patterns:

"It feels much safer. Cars are going much slower. And I also think it's good for business because drivers are seeing what's in the area and hopefully they'll stop and go to those stores."    

Phase 2

In 2017, we continued our work on Rainier Ave S from S Kenny St to S Henderson St. We asked for your feedback on two potential Phase 2 concepts. The most common themes we heard were support for improving safety, better crossings, and a need for frequent and reliable Metro Route 7 service.

After reviewing community feedback, working with our partners at King County Metro, and conducting traffic modeling, we built improvements at every major intersection in 2019. In 2020, we made additional improvements to the intersections at Rainier/Rose and Rainier/Holly and completed the new street layout. 

The street layout concept typically includes a parking lane (either on the west or east side of the street), one driving lane in each direction, center turn lane, and bus lanes. We maintained about two thirds of the parking, but some sections include a bus lane in place of the parking lane. Check out this mailer for details on where we kept or removed parking.

Why reduce the number of travel lanes?

Reducing the number of general purpose travel lanes has been proven to reduce speeding - a key factor in the frequency and severity of crashes. Adding a center turn lane will improve business and neighborhood access and adding bus lanes will keep buses moving. We'll closely monitor speeds and vehicle counts on and near the project area and make changes as needed.

Thank you for your feedback!

To get to this point, we held "community conversations" with neighbors at apartment buildings and community centers, collected surveys in multiple languages, held pop-up events, met with community groups, went door-to-door, and attended neighborhood events and festivals to hear from neighbors what their priorities and ideas are for Rainier Ave S. We heard people want Rainier to be safer, easier to cross, and to keep buses moving. These projects build on previous success and take bold steps to accomplish those goals. We appreciate your participation in making Rainier Ave S safer!

See the full list of outreach activities below.

Project Area

The Phase 2 project area is on Rainier Ave S between S Kenny St and S Henderson St. 

Rainier project maps

Other Projects along Rainier

Our project team is in close coordination with following projects along Rainier:

Phase 2 Schedule

Summer/Fall 2017: Shared lane configuration concepts

2018: Studied selected lane configuration concept and identify revisions

2019: Changed the street layout within about a third of the corridor and build targeted improvements to address crash patterns 

2020: Incorporated input and completed the street layout within the remaining project area to improve safety and bus reliability


We received funding from the Real Estate Tax to fund the second phase of the Rainier Ave S Corridor Improvements Project. The project is also funded by the Levy to Move Seattle, a 9-year $930 million levy approved by voters in 2015.

Phase 2 Outreach Activities

When What Details
February 20 – March 27, 2017 Winter 2017 online survey Collected general feedback on the project and community needs and priorities, which were used to design alternatives 1 and 2
March 7, 2017 Community forum Held an open house, shared crash data with the community
May – July 2017 Community Conversations Worked with Department of Neighborhoods to share project information with historically underserved or underrepresented community groups; Delivered short presentations and held open discussions in small groups; Asked questions regarding transportation priorities
August 2017 Mailer to Rainier Valley residents (approximately 33,000 households) Raised project awareness; shared alternatives; invited community members to visit the online open house
August 1, 2017 Rainier Beach Neighborhood Night Out Shared alternatives with the community for feedback
August 3-31, 2017 Online open house (w/survey) Shared alternatives with the community, collected feedback on specific alternatives
August 12, 2017 Rainier Valley Heritage Festival Shared alternatives with the community for feedback
August 15, 2017 Bus stop survey intercepts Handed out project materials; raised awareness of online open house; requested feedback
August 17, 2017 Ethnic markets drop-ins & poster delivery Shared project information through translated posters and interactions with employees; collected feedback
August 21, 2017 Safeway tabling event Shared project information; collected feedback
August 29, 2017 Southeast Seattle Senior Center briefing Shared alternatives with the community for feedback
August 2017 Social media campaign (Facebook posts, ads, Twitter posts, SDOT blog, South Seattle Emerald Blog and eNewsletter) Raised project awareness; shared alternatives; invited community members to participate in the online open house
September 2017 Rainier Beach Action Coalition briefing Shared alternatives with the community (youth/teens) for feedback
August 12, 2018 Rainier Valley Heritage & Othello Int'l Festival table Shared project info and Vision Zero giveaways
August 19, 2018 BAAM Fest table Shared project info and Vision Zero giveaways
Late August-Early October 2018 Door-to-door outreach surveys along whole project area Shared updated project info and talked with businesses and residents about their operations needs such as deliveries, parking, etc.
October 29, 2018 Spot improvements workshop with Rainier safety advocates Shared updated approach/timeline and collected input on spot improvements to build in 2019
October 31, 2018 Boo Bash in Rainier Beach Vision Zero giveaways
December 7, 2018 Rainier Beach walk with neighborhood advocates Learned more about Rainier Beach priorities and shared plans for 2019 improvements
December 13, 2018 Rose St Triangle activation planning committee meeting Shared Rainier and Rose intersection plans and collected input
February 6, 2019 Seattle Neighborhood Greenways and Rainier Valley Greenways meeting Walked through each 2019 improvement and shared plans for 2020
March 8, 2019 South Shore PreK-8 meeting Shared plans for Cloverdale and Henderson and collected input
March 16, 2019 Meeting with businesses owners on southeast corner of Rainier and Rose Shared plans for 2019 improvements at Rainier and Rose and collected input on options for 2020 improvements
March 19, 2019 Rainier Valley Greenways meeting Answered questions about 2019 improvements and overall schedule
April 7, 2019 Small group workshop at Ethiopian Community in Seattle monthly Kurse Shared project overview presentation and collected input on Rainier/Rose intersection options
Late May 2019 Mailer to project area (approximately 13,500 addresses) Shared 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
May 22, 2019 Presentation to Transit Advisory Board Shared project overview in conjunction with Route 7 Transit-plus project
June 29, 2019 Table at Rainier Vista Health Fair Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
July 26, 2016 Table at Lake Washington Apartments Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
July 27, 2019 Table at South End Heritage Fest Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
August 10, 2019 Table at Back 2 School Bash event Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
August 11, 2019 Table at Othello International Festival Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
August 17, 2019 Table at New Holly Family Fun Fest + Health Fair Share 2019 intersection improvements and 2020 street layout changes
September 10, 2019 Street Safety Pop-Up at Rainier and Henderson (2:30-4:30 PM) Games, donuts, music, free stuff, and a chance to learn more about the Rainier Improvements project, Neighborhood Street Fund, and Your Voice Your Choice. Thank you to Black Girls Do BikeRainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for YouthSouth Shore PreK-8, and Seattle Neighborhood Greenways/Rainier Valley Greenways for help planning the event and to Bike Works for the helmet giveaways. 
December 11, 2019 Door-to-door with Community Liaisons at Rainier and Rose Share materials and talk with business owners about upgrades to Rainier and Rose intersection and parking removal on west side of street
August 2020 Mailer to project area (approximately 13,500 addresses) Share construction timing and 2020 improvement details
September 3, 2020 Door-to-door with Community Liaisons at Rainier and Rose Share information about improvements and upcoming construction
Ongoing Website and email updates Share up to date project information; opportunities for involvement


Pop-up with project info at Rainier and Henderson


Phase 2 (S Kenny St to S Henderson St)

Phase 1 (S Alaska St to S Kenny St)

Translation and Interpretation

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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

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The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is on a mission to deliver a transportation system that provides safe and affordable access to places and opportunities for everyone as we work to achieve our vision of Seattle as a thriving, equitable community powered by dependable transportation.