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The final decision is in, says SDOT – SW Alaska will indeed be “rechannelized” between California and Fauntleroy, adding transit lanes to parts of the stretch, a westbound bike lane on one section, and removing some parking. It’s mostly the same proposal that was circulated, though without a standalone public meeting, earlier this year (here’s our most recent story, from July.) According to a letter just sent to area “stakeholders” announcing the decision, the only notable change is that parking on SW Alaska in front of Capco Plaza (home to QFC, liquor store, future Petco) will NOT be removed. Read on for the letter from SDOT’s Jonathan Dong:
Dear SW Alaska Street Stakeholder:
To support the planned RapidRide C Line, which is scheduled to begin service in fall 2012, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has finalized plans to change the configuration of SW Alaska Street between California Avenue and Fauntleroy Way. After listening to and reviewing comments from the community, SDOT will be making the following alterations to SW Alaska Street:
· Install an eastbound business access and transit Lane (BAT) between 42nd Avenue SW and 40th Avenue SW
· Install a westbound BAT lane between Fauntleroy Way and 42nd Avenue SW
· Remove parking on the north side of SW Alaska Street between California Avenue SW and 42nd Avenue SW and north side of SW Alaska Street between 41st Avenue SW and Fauntleroy; remove parking on south side of SW Alaska Street between 42nd and Fauntleroy
· Install a westbound left turn pocket at California Avenue and SW Alaska Street
· Install an eastbound left turn pocket at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street
· Install a westbound bicycle lane between Fauntleroy Way and approximately 30 feet west of 41st Avenue SW
RESPONSE TO COMMUNITY ISSUES
King County and SDOT conducted extensive outreach to collect feedback on the proposed changes to SW Alaska Street. During the community outreach process, property owners and residents raised questions about the potential impacts of removing parking capacity, the traffic impacts of installing a BAT lane, and why a bicycle lane is needed on SW Alaska Street. In response to these issues, SDOT did further study and made improvements to the channelization plans.
Traffic Analysis for SW Alaska Street
SDOT conducted a traffic analysis on SW Alaska Street and conducted traffic counts on May 17, 2011. Average weekday daily traffic volumes range from 3,178 vehicles to 7,605 vehicles depending on the location. Based on the counts that were taken, the volumes have changed minimally since 2005 and are lower on Alaska in 2011.
To study the effects of a change from the existing four-lane cross-section to the two general-purpose lane configuration (with bus lanes), SDOT conducted a traffic analysis using the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Highway Capacity Methodology (HCM). This analysis showed no significant impacts from the new configuration. The delay per vehicle for eastbound traffic is projected to be virtually unchanged and the increase in westbound delay was also insignificant: from 3.4 seconds to 4.7 seconds.
In response to concerns raised by the community, SDOT has agreed to monitor traffic on SW Alaska Street after the BAT lanes are installed.
Parking Utilization Analysis
In response to property owners’ concerns about the removal of on-street parking on SW Alaska Street, SDOT conducted an analysis of parking utilization for the West Seattle Junction parking lot located at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street, and the QFC parking garage. Data also was reviewed from a parking study that was conducted in 2009.
Parking data shows that for most of the day, parking is available in the West Seattle Junction and QFC parking lots. The exception is during 5:30 and 7:30 pm, when parking utilization is above 70%.
In response to concerns about the removal of on-street parking on SW Alaska Street between 42nd and 41st Streets, SDOT reconfigured the channelization plan to allow parking to remain on the north side adjacent to the QFC store. In addition, SDOT will work with the Junction Merchants Association to improve signage that directs people to available parking facilities. The department will also work with Seattle City Light to improve alley lighting near the Junction Merchants parking lot.
SDOT is scheduled to implement these changes to SW Alaska Street and the associated bus stop improvements in winter 2011. Over 7,000 riders per day will benefit from these improvements.
If you have further questions about the West Seattle RapidRide improvements, please contact Jonathan Dong at (206) 233-8564 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This letter addresses only the stretch west of Fauntleroy; changes also are planned for the stretch between Fauntleroy and 35th SW, as well as SW Avalon Way in the Luna Park area (as noted toward the bottom of this SDOT webpage).