(Updated at 6:10 pm after a conversation with the developer whose project’s at the heart of this)
ORIGINAL 4:37 PM REPORT: In the bright jacket, that’s West Seattle-dwelling City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee. Rasmussen bicycled up to Pigeon Point this afternoon to listen to neighbors’ concerns about effects of the 6-week road closure that starts on Monday so that a developer can run a sewer line to new-home sites on 23rd SW. First reported here 10 days ago, the closure not only will close a major route between North Delridge and Pigeon Point/Puget Ridge, it also will reroute Metro’s 125 bus (details here), which in turn means parking restrictions on nearby streets that are not in the construction zone. Most galling to neighbors – as noted here last night, when the signs went up yesterday, they covered an even longer stretch of nearby streets than had been announced by SDOT – and that’s what has neighbors most concerned. Jim S wrote in a WSB comment last night:
It’s frustrating to say the least. It feels very much as if the city has sold out Pigeon Point for a developer’s utility upgrade to the arterial. I understand that Riser Homes are paying the full ride on the sewer and storm drains on 23rd and that cost is considerable, but this has affected a far wider swath of neighborhoods than the average street closure. Closing virtually all parking on two of the three major streets in the Pigeon Point neighborhood without consulting the neighborhood is very unfair. It is a thoughtless, cookie cutter fix to a problem that required a more measured equitable solution.
This afternoon, Rasmussen met with about a dozen residents, coordinated on short notice by Pete Spalding (at right, below, with Rasmussen at left – note the “no parking” signs lining the road in the background).
It’s not just a matter of nowhere to park and driving a detour route, neighbors say, it’s also a safety issue – as hundreds of drivers detour, there’s concern they may go racing down streets where there’s not usually heavy traffic. And there’s a big-picture issue here: Notification. Everyone agrees that the homebuilder did what was required – notifying neighbors in the immediate area – but, as discussed at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting last Wednesday, what’s required, may not be enough. In our video clip, you’ll hear Rasmussen wonder if there’s any way to hold off the project now, so that a meeting can be held with neighbors first:
There was no public word of the impending closure till signs went up on Delridge a week and a half ago; the signs seemed to suggest Delridge was closing for six weeks; a WSB’er named Pete (not Spalding) contacted us to ask what we knew. We checked with SDOT, which explained the developer’s plan – this Feb. 10th story resulted – and got him to add “23rd SW” lettering to the closure signs; the information about bus and parking restrictions followed, and Pigeon Point neighborhood leaders have been working round the clock to try to make sure residents are getting accurate information. They’re expecting SDOT reps to be in the area to monitor the situation on Monday morning, first commute period after the closure is scheduled to happen, if the plan doesn’t change in the meantime. (We also have e-mailed the developer to ask for comment.)
ADDED 6:10 PM: Got a fast response from Jon Riser, the aforementioned developer, who called after receiving our e-mail. He says, “This is a process that’s been going on for a long time. We submitted a traffic control plan back in November – it’s not a small, little, quick, throw-out-a-permit thing to close the road. It’s been a drawn-out (process) that’s involved Metro, city engineers, and my own traffic engineers. This is the plan they came up with that they felt was the safest.” He says he’s talked with Councilmember Rasmussen and that holding off construction isn’t an option – “I don’t see us not starting on Monday” — Riser says this phase of the project will be costing him $10,000 a day; “the contractor’s lined up and this all has been rolling for weeks.” But, he adds: “What I do want to do is, during the first initial closure, try to adjust some of this …” such as, seeing if buses can “turn directly onto 21st,” and adjusting some of the no-parking zone on 23rd for residents who face “some serious parking problems.” He adds, “Adding signs, removing signs … whatever we can do in the first day or so. … (And) we’re trying to get a couple police officers to be on site to help. … I’m trying to do what I can.”