‘Fauntleroy Way Green Boulevard’ on today’s budget agenda

November 3, 2011 at 11:36 am | In Triangle, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 46 Comments

(Sketch from West Seattleites’ 2008 presentation to the City Council about a “boulevard” vision for Fauntleroy Way)
All week long, the City Council has been listening to presentations about possible changes to the Mayor’s budget plan. Just because a change is presented, doesn’t mean it’ll make it into the final plan, but with that in mind: One of the proposals that will be heard this afternoon would allot a quarter-million dollars to start working toward what’s dubbed the “Fauntleroy Way Green Boulevard.” This is a concept that has been under discussion for more than three years, including as a component of the West Seattle Triangle vision. Just last night, in fact, members of the Southwest District Council brought it up briefly while reviewing what’s transpired with the Triangle. It’ll be one of many budget-change options presented during this afternoon’s City Council session. Here’s part of the description, from the “Green Sheet” for the proposal (which you can see in its entirety here):

This project will transform Fauntleroy Way SW into a green boulevard. Preliminary engineering will address project elements identified during conceptual design, including: a planted median with signature lighting fixtures, a pedestrian zone with sidewalks and planting areas including street trees, pedestrian lighting, potential green stormwater infrastructure and art, and safety improvements for crossing movements for all modes, including bicycle improvements and pedestrian crossings, signals, and reconfigured intersections and bulbs. Funding will be used to complete preliminary engineering in 2012, including public outreach, preliminary design, and construction cost estimates. Alternative project designs will be developed (with and without the relocation of a 28? drainage and wastewater main) that seek to balance green boulevard design elements with Major Truck Street treatments.

The proposal is officially from Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee and has long been involved in discussions about improving the Fauntleroy Way “gateway” to West Seattle. His office says the goal of this item is to get the project on the city’s Capital Improvement List and start studying what it would take to make it happen. This presentation is part of the council’s afternoon agenda (full list here), scheduled to start at 2 pm; you can watch live on Channel 21 or seattlechannel.org (or of course by going to City Hall downtown). Budget-change decisions are scheduled to start next week, with a plan finalized before Thanksgiving.

46 Comments

  1. As nice as that sounds, now is certainly not the time to do it. Maybe when the economy improves. In the mean time we need to emphasize basic needs, like repairing our pothole-filled roads. A little common sense could go a long way…

    Comment by marty — 11:40 am November 3, 2011 #

  2. Ditto marty,the council wants to spend money on new projects when the city cannot keep our existing roads in shape.Not getting my vote Tom!!

    Comment by let them swim — 11:44 am November 3, 2011 #

  3. Marty, the bad economy is exactly why this should be done. Spending on projects like this creates jobs, and a beautified entrance to West Seattle can’t be bad for business, either.

    Comment by KBear — 11:53 am November 3, 2011 #

  4. KBear: Would you pay to improve your driveway and yard if you couldn’t afford basics like food and clothing for your children? Like I said, “A little common sense could go a long way”.

    Comment by marty — 12:14 pm November 3, 2011 #

  5. For anyone who wants to know what the actual impacts of this plan will be, you should go drive Lake City Way during rush-hour.

    LCW bottlenecks right around that tree’d median area at 125th and often backs up for 10-15 blocks.

    Comment by Adrian K — 12:26 pm November 3, 2011 #

  6. I thought we couldn’t pay for fire and police and teachers? I think we could “create or save” quite a few jobs with the money this thing will take.

    Comment by watertowerjoey — 12:26 pm November 3, 2011 #

  7. IMO, we can have jobs now by doing necessary but neglected maintenance on the streets we all have to use today.
    Street repair isn’t magic, workers have to go out there to do it.
    This is money for a ‘study’, and we all know what that process is.

    Comment by old timer — 12:27 pm November 3, 2011 #

  8. I am with Marty on this one……

    Comment by Dan — 12:34 pm November 3, 2011 #

  9. old timer: Right on!

    Comment by marty — 12:40 pm November 3, 2011 #

  10. I love trees and greenery but I agree with Marty and old timer on this one. If you want to make an impression, maintain the streets. Nothing like a pothole to say, “Hello, welcome to Seattle.”
    While we are at it, why not do a little street sweeping as maintenance and help out with the leaves. Show that you can maintain the greenery we have, then maybe add some more. I know we all can “adopt a storm drain” but I don’t see that happening consistently. What I see more often are “landscapers” with leaf blowers blowing the leaves and clippings into the streets.

    Comment by DC — 12:48 pm November 3, 2011 #

  11. “Would you pay to improve your driveway and yard if you couldn’t afford basics like food and clothing for your children?”
    .
    I might if I worked from my home and the appearance of my yard had a negative effect on my business (reducing my ability to feed my children). Fauntleroy Way is a dumpy eyesore. You can’t tell me it doesn’t detract from business in West Seattle.

    Comment by KBear — 12:57 pm November 3, 2011 #

  12. KBear: That’s weak!

    Comment by marty — 1:01 pm November 3, 2011 #

  13. KBear, I’ll tell you it doesn’t. Bad example. Your yard and city streets-apple and oranges.

    Comment by let them swim — 1:19 pm November 3, 2011 #

  14. Right on old timer and DC, you folks know what you’re talking about!

    Comment by Mat — 1:19 pm November 3, 2011 #

  15. This is an idea that is long overdue, similar to the plans to improve Aurora. The naysayers will say nay whether there are revenue shortages or revenue windfalls. What this does is establish that when we inevitably redo Fauntleroy, that we do it in a way that is a little more visionary than keeping the same sh*t we have now. When the day comes that we redo the infrastructure at Fauntleroy, we might as well do the job right and promote businesses and livability in the area. Sounds like common sense to me.

    Comment by Harper — 1:28 pm November 3, 2011 #

  16. Um, I wasn’t the one who brought my yard into this. That was Marty. And this proposal has nothing to do with being able to pay teachers or police, either. Different budgets.

    Comment by KBear — 1:32 pm November 3, 2011 #

  17. As Harper notes, this may be tied to infrastructure at some point – see the mention of a water main in the excerpted text. Anyway, we’ll be watching at 2 pm and will add notes on any discussion that comes up. Whether you love it or hate it, you might as well get some heads-up when your elected officials are talking about it, is our motto – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:43 pm November 3, 2011 #

  18. I wonder if the city po-bahs have ever heard of the First Law of Holes – When you’re in one STOP digging!! The City’s Capital IMPROVEMENT Budget should be zeroed out UNTIL they have learned how to budget for maintenance of existing Capital!!! That would include a plan and budget for maintenance of ALL city streets.

    Comment by flynlo — 1:49 pm November 3, 2011 #

  19. The areas served by this portal into West Seattle are growing and will only get more populous as people are pushed out of more expensive neighborhoods close to the city but are still seeking a nice place to live. I’m happy to see the little pockets of improvements in the triangle as I drive to and fro, but the area is still an eyesore overall and this plan would be a great start. With the tens of thousands of people who live here I imagine some sort of donation drive could help push this along. This is about long-term investment as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by Bob H. — 2:12 pm November 3, 2011 #

  20. Considering how much West Seattleites complain (rightly) about the state of our roads, I’m surprised there is so much opposition here to even considering improvements to one of the major routes in/out of West Seattle, which desperately needs it. It seems like many people want road work done, but they don’t want road work done. Cognitive dissonance anyone?

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 2:16 pm November 3, 2011 #

  21. Like in lake city, the trees mess up your veiw looking for stray jay walkers. people just pop up from every where. and marty your dead on. We need to maintain and fix what we have before we buy new stuff. This also helps with jobs. Our city concil is like a little kid. “Daddy I don’t want to fix the old one I want a new one”

    Comment by boy — 2:18 pm November 3, 2011 #

  22. Peter on Fauntleroy, I couldn’t agree more. “We don’t have the money for capital projects! Direct it to maintenance!” OK, here comes the maintenance crew. “Why does the city keep giving us asphalt patches? The road needs a complete rebuild!” o_O

    Comment by jno — 2:23 pm November 3, 2011 #

  23. this is a dumb idea. i am very much in favor of greenways along the lines of what portland has done, which involves modifying certain NON arterial streets to give priority to bicyclists and pedestrians. (from the Portland Bureau of Transportation website: “residential streets with low volumes of auto traffic and low speeds where bicycle and pedestrians are given priority.”)

    on a couple recent visits to portland (in my car, i might add), i admired how they’ve funneled bike and foot traffic to the greenways while making arterials (akin to Fauntleroy Way) friendlier to cars and mass transit. we need something like that, not a greening of our arterials.

    Comment by Ben — 2:32 pm November 3, 2011 #

  24. ‘boy’, I’ll bet there will be fewer jaywalkers to look out for with the improved pedestrian crossings.

    Comment by higgins — 2:34 pm November 3, 2011 #

  25. Consider 2 blocks of Junction as a pedestrian mall a la Boulder CO-

    Comment by TM — 2:49 pm November 3, 2011 #

  26. Awesome. First they make traffic flow much slower by adding a bike lane and removing the slow lanes of Fauntleroy Way when in all of the years I’ve driven that road there weren’t enough people on sidewalks to slow bicyclists (I ride as well, so I know exactly how annoying crowded sidewalks are). Now they want to reduce parking spaces, reduce lane width even more, and on an already overcrowded road nonetheless. All to make it look a little snottier… I don’t understand why they can’t just spend the money on useful things that benefit people who actually USE the roads every day.

    How about we fix those pot holes all over the streets connected at the bottom of Erskine hill? I’ve told friends to test their 4×4 rigs for death wobble by going through those roads. Its rougher than many country roads I’ve driven.

    How about we fix all of the potholes in the parts of Beach Drive that aren’t on the landslide zone? What about fixing that nasty bump on Lincoln Park Way going down hill, that has bounced people across the lane towards parked cars?

    Because they put retarded speed bumps on 48th Ave going up the hill based on requests from people who have no logical thought processes, I’ve had to use Fauntleroy Way to get everywhere in my car.

    Again, awesome. If traffic wasn’t so messed up on the freeways surrounding West Seattle, I’d probably move out. Glad I don’t vote, since I’d be even more pissed for wasting my time…

    Comment by Duke — 2:57 pm November 3, 2011 #

  27. It’s important to plan improved ways of doing things, instead of just maintaining the old. It costs money to plan, but it’s money well spent. And it’s silly to just always say we can’t afford to do this because we have other, important, unmet needs. The money isn’t all in one big pot. THIS money isn’t available to fix potholes, to build schools, or to feed people. Not spending it on planning street improvements will not magically make it available for those (important) things.

    Comment by J — 3:07 pm November 3, 2011 #

  28. things like this make it difficult to support the Council – why are we thinking about $$ being spent on planning a re-do of Fauntleroy (in fairly decent condiction) when there’s so many other roads that need basic upkeep? I’m all for road improvements but why not work on getting all of West Seattle to a driveable level first before $$ spend on this planning.

    Comment by Colleen — 3:12 pm November 3, 2011 #

  29. Nice to see the “bicycle improvements” mentioned. A shoe-in to make the Mayor’s final budget plan.

    Comment by Aman — 3:49 pm November 3, 2011 #

  30. Duke,
    Are you sure that they made Fauntleroy slower? EVERY OTHER report I’ve seen (as well as my anecdotal experience) suggests it’s no slower and that the turn lane improves flow.

    They changed it – under a plan adopted on Nickel’s watch – but i don’t think they slowed it down.

    What is true is that the plan outlined above will diminish the perception of some motorists that they’re still on an extension of the road formerly known as the West Seattle Freeway. They’re now in a neighborhood where reasonably prudent driving is called for.

    I don’t see much to hate about that.

    Comment by JAT — 4:01 pm November 3, 2011 #

  31. I haven’t looked at traffic numbers, but I don’t think the comparisons to Lake City Way are fair. That’s a major route to the east side. Fauntleroy is a major route to… Vashon. A much better comparison would be the Beacon Ave S green boulevard.

    Also, I’m with JAT. I’ve seen no evidence that the Fauntleroy has commute has been slowed since the re-stripe.

    I’m all for planning this. The next time there’s an economic boom, the budget will turn around and then it’s important the city knows what they are going to do with the money.

    Comment by Eric G — 4:14 pm November 3, 2011 #

  32. Didn’t they just repave Fauntleroy recently? What about another of our gateways to West Seattle….Delridge Way SW? Driven on it lately? It is the city of Seattle’s poster child road for all that is wrong with our deferred maintenance. Make sure your shocks are in good working order when you go check it out.

    Comment by Pete — 4:43 pm November 3, 2011 #

  33. This is Fauntleroy through the Triangle, for the “green boulevard” concept. Sorry, I guess I didn’t make the Triangle = boulevard concept strongly enough. The redo on Fauntleroy – replacing concrete panels where they were too far gone – was south and west of the Triangle, Edmunds to Holly. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 4:54 pm November 3, 2011 #

  34. A few people seem to be confused about what this proposal actually is, so here are a couple of clarifications:
    .
    First, it’s not a “road died.” I hate the term “road died,” but incidentally, here are the results of previous improvements on Fauntleroy south of Hudson Street, which is an overwhelming success: http://publicola.com/2011/10/21/2067103793/
    .
    Second, this is not a Portland style “greenway,” which is basically a bicycle oriented side street.
    .
    The idea behind this “green boulevard” is essentially to widen sidewalks, add planting strips, and add turn lanes. No version of this proposal has narrowed or removed traffic lanes. (Check out the city’s DPD neighborhood page for details).

    Comment by Peter on Fauntleroy — 5:32 pm November 3, 2011 #

  35. I approve of this. You may stop debating it now. Thank you for your input.

    Comment by Herman — 6:41 pm November 3, 2011 #

  36. And why are people opposed to this? The money comes from a fund specifically devoted to projects such as this, so it is not taking money away from the road band-aid fund, the road would be totally redone from the foundation up, and it would be made safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The reason few cyclists use this street currently is because of the insane idiots driving on it who treat it as a freeway on/off ramp. Plus the fact that it will turn what is currently a hideous street into something approaching attractive.

    Comment by JN — 7:39 pm November 3, 2011 #

  37. Although Herman has already approved this project I just thought I’d mention that this type of project sounds like a good candidate for a Transportation Enhancements grant from the federal government, which is a pot of money dedicated to things like beautification and nonmotorized transportation improvements. So going forward with this project might not necessarily mean any city funds need be spent. I have no idea if this is what the city has in mind however.

    Comment by Mtnpeak — 8:21 pm November 3, 2011 #

  38. Projects like this drive me nuts. I agree that the area around the triangle needs some work, but the rest of Fauntleroy is fine (sidewalks, bike lane, trees). It’s also a great way to get to the bridge for those of us that live south. This project is definitely at the wrong time. In the last few months I’ve personally had to deal with the following items:
    - Seattle schools trying to take our school back while saying that opening shuttered schools costs too much
    - A fire on my block that almost caught the entire neighborhood on fire due to a lack of water pressure (mains needing to be replaced).
    - No sidewalks
    - A need for circles in intersections to slow traffic down
    - The potholes everyone else has commented on
    - The only ladder truck south of Alaska that is getting retired at the end of the year due to no budget.

    Mr Mayor, Tom Rasmussen and those in charge, please do us a favor and focus the money on a much more worthy cause.

    Comment by D-mom — 8:30 pm November 3, 2011 #

  39. to the nay-sayers, i contend that this proposal is an infrastructure improvement that fixes something that is in bad need of repair. it’s not a new project.
    .
    turn lanes would provide a huge relief for the p.m. commute through the triangle. for example, people turning left (south) on 37th from westbound fauntleroy often jam traffic up to the light at 35th.
    .
    but by all means, let’s keep hamstringing government funding, and then gripe about how government doesn’t do anything – especially when it comes to traffic congestion.

    Comment by redblack — 8:35 pm November 3, 2011 #

  40. As lovely as it looks, I’m with Marty on this one.

    Who cares if it comes from a different budget than other improvements/expenditures? Just because the money is allocated doesn’t mean it needs to be spent. If was recovering from an overspending debacle, I wouldn’t take myself on a shopping spree. It might come from federal funds? Don’t they have enough debt on their hands? Not the time to be handing out “cash” for a beauty project.

    Let’s cut the fluff spending and focus on supporting our city from the necessities on up. Green boulevards, along with several other projects I can think of including public art, are icing on a surplus cake. Fauntleroy is fine. Not beautiful, but functional and fine for now.

    Comment by Krystal — 9:58 pm November 3, 2011 #

  41. redblack +1. It is an infrastructure improvement and Fauntleroy is in serious need of a turn lane.
    .
    To people who complain about all the new condo dwellers in the area and not enough infrastructure to support them: this project’s for you.

    Comment by jno — 12:05 am November 4, 2011 #

  42. Wasn’t there an impromptu meeting with the Mayor last week in West Seattle (covered by WSB) where the mayor openly admitted that the city aborist (or budget) can’t keep up with maintenance of the trees in the city?
    .
    I’m all for making our community greener and more welcoming, but other traffic talking points aside – can the city really maintain all this new greenery?

    Comment by johnny Davies — 10:10 am November 4, 2011 #

  43. Johnny, good point. The WS Chamber invited the mayor to its monthly “Lunch with LEO (local elected officials)” in mid-October (took me a while to finish the story!) – don’t know how far in advance they had booked him, they have had individual city, county, and port reps too – and that was one of the concerns mentioned:

    Comment by WSB — 11:26 am November 4, 2011 #

  44. I could not find the part in the document where it says the number of existing traffic and turning lanes will not be reduced.

    This segment of roadway, probably due to ferry traffic volume peaks needs to keep it’s existing lane numbers.

    Comment by dsa — 11:29 am November 4, 2011 #

  45. Even if the WS community says “don’t spend this money on improvments when we need to cover existing services” the money allocated here WILL NOT be re-designated to potholes, teachers, police, etc in any way. It will simply “go away” and not be spent in WS.
    .
    The budget system encourages local groups to grab whatever is on offer, no matter how inappropriate, because if they don’t some “other” group will then get those funds.
    .
    You have to be pretty Zen in order to feel that it is a good outcome for WS not to have this work done and in turn some other area of King County gets those monies for work that you may or may not think any more essential.

    Comment by MellyMel — 11:00 pm November 4, 2011 #

  46. Our roads are so bad, do we really need a green blvd? NO WE DO NOT!!

    Comment by Paul — 12:29 pm November 7, 2011 #

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