Gene Tagaban gathers spirits at the James St. Clair Memorial Walk.
The Seattle Department of Transportation is making much needed improvements to 35th Ave SW & SW Graham St in High Point, the site where 69-year-old James St. Clair was killed last December as he crossed the street.
St. Clair was the fifth fatality along 35th Ave SW since 2006. "It's a street that really needs some focus and city attention,” said Cathy Tuttle, executive director of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways.
In January, Seattle Neighborhood Greenways organized a Memorial Walk for St. Clair that included his family, other residents of his West Seattle neighborhood, and safety advocates, including former mayor Mike McGinn. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways plans Memorial Walks and Bike Rides for all Seattle walking and biking traffic fatalities. At the memorial, St. Clair's niece, Darlene Saxby, spoke about her uncle's generosity, and how much she would miss him. She told reporters, "I just hope my uncle's death is not in vain. I think it would make him happy if he knew his sacrifice could help others."
St. Clair's brother Oscar added, in a statement, "I pray a positive light will happen because of this. A lot of people need to walk in the evening. They want to go to the grocery store like Jim did on his last night. I hope in his memory we see brighter lights, a stoplight, a safer community."
Now it seems these aspirations for safer streets are starting to be realized. In February, Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen announced a multi-year traffic safety corridor project for 35th Avenue SW. And in early June, High Point residents received notice that the Graham St. intersection where St. Clair was killed would be altered in the coming months to limit drivers to right turns only.
More 35th SW corridor improvements are planned. Watch for an SDOT kick-off meeting to discuss them October 22, 2014.