Olympia residents voice concerns over dangerous speeding on Capitol Way


Several residents voiced their concerns about speeding on Capitol Way in the South Capitol neighborhood.

At the Olympia City Council meeting on May 7, residents cited multiple incidents that have resulted in near accidents and property damage in recent years.

Valerie Hammond reported near-miss accidents at a crosswalk due to drivers failing to stop.

Hammond recounted a concerning incident at a crosswalk on Capitol Way. She said that just a few weeks prior, as she was crossing at the intersection of Capitol Way and 18th Street within a well-marked crosswalk, she had to quickly move back to avoid being hit by an oncoming car on Capitol Way. Despite large signs indicating the need to stop for pedestrians and wide painted lines designating the crosswalk, the driver failed to stop in time, prompting her to step back for her safety.

Hammond also spoke about issues with speeding on Capitol Way. She noted that driving the posted 25 miles per hour speed limit on Capitol Way seems dangerous, as other drivers often get angry and pass aggressively when she maintains that speed.

Another resident of the South Capitol neighborhood, Andy Meyer reported the same experiences as Hammond.

Meyer was not present in the council chamber but his letter comment was read by Gerald Apple of the South Capitol Neighborhood Association, who stated that pedestrian safety is threatened by excessive speed.

“I have to move rapidly out of the way of a speeding vehicle when I start to cross the Capitol Way crossing but realize during mid-cross that the car is approaching too fast,” Meyer wrote.

Meyer recounted several incidents where vehicles followed him at excessive speed, almost colliding with his car on Capitol Way. He suggested installing speed bumps at key pedestrian crossings and changing the signal system on 20th Avenue.

Resident Barbara Soule shared her concerns during the public comment segment.

About 20 months ago, Soule recalled, an uninsured drunk driver crashed into her living room late at night. She noted that they likely would not have survived if her family had been in the living room that night. She has since spent $5,000 installing boulders for protection.

Soule added that in the 1980s and 1990s, they had experienced the same incidents where southbound cars ran into the brick wall at the back of her yard, destroying her property.

“Following these incidents there have been dozens of accidents,” Soule said.

The city put in a guardrail that extended west of the corner where Capitol Way becomes Capitol Boulevard.

However, the guardrail did not address the problem as Soule said the frequency and severity of accidents have increased. “Vehicles bounce off the guardrail across the street into neighbor’s yards. [Vehicles] ended up onto the guardrail or sometimes they come inside onto our property. The lamppost at the corner has been knocked down many times.”

Citing data obtained from the Olympia Police Department in 2023, resident South Capitol Neighborhood Association board member Treacy Duerfeldt noted that on average, over 1,000 times per day, vehicles exceeded 35-mph on the residential road, where the posted limit is 25 mph. He also reported that between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily, drivers exceeded 50 mph an average of four times per day.

Given the frequency of crashes likely caused by speeding, Jesse Goff expressed worries about the dangerous conditions this creates, particularly for families with young children. While acknowledging competing priorities and limited funding, he urged the city council to find effective and creative solutions to address the safety issues raised by residents.

Councilmember Dani Madrone encouraged a meeting with the South Capitol neighborhood, city staff, police department and the Transportation division of the city's Public Works Department to discuss traffic safety solutions.

Madrone acknowledged that while some solutions like speed bumps may seem straightforward, there are also nuances to consider. She noted that speed bumps could pose a challenge if an emergency vehicle needed to access a house on fire quickly.

Madrone noted that the Transportation Benefit District that was recently passed could help with pedestrian/bike infrastructure to address some of the safety concerns.


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  • Callie

    When we lived on Capitol Way, we had cars crash into our yard as they headed south, just after the bridge, and missed the turn. My husband said we might move my EMT patch to my nightgown. He would stand at the door so that he could relay the number of casualties to the 911 operator - something they always asked. We sent a lot of towels off with injured people once the Medics arrived.

    One time, the inebriated driver was able to hitch a ride away from the scene before help arrived.

    I notice that our former rental home now has a stone wall to deter cars from making it all the way to the house.

    I'll share these thoughts with the city council.

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • HotTractor

    I'm not a road engineer, but I think the roads are designed to facilitate traffic movement, instead of safety. It's known that roads that are too wide and open, that drivers will drive faster. A good example of this is Delphi road where they "improved" the road and now most people drive now drive 50MPH on the 35MPH, myself included. There needs to be a more concerted effort to improve road design for safety.

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this

  • LeeChambers

    I live on the referenced “improved” Delphi Road beside the widened and “improved” section done a couple years ago. It’s a no-win. They made the road easier to drive, in theory safer for bicycles. But keeping people to the speed limits? Nope. 50 mph in the posted 35 zone? Ha! Quite often it’s 70 or 80 past us and into the grand wide curve just beyond us, or accelerating the other way toward the straightened road beyond. We needed the widening for safety, got Thunder Road!

    Wednesday, May 15 Report this