We’re at the Chief Sealth International High School Galleria (2600 SW Thistle), where the first of two Metro meetings on proposed West Seattle route restructuring, which has drawn strong reaction since emerging more than 2 weeks ago, is under way. It’s purely an “open house” format – no presentations or speeches – so you can drop by and ask questions, voice comments/concerns, any time until its scheduled end at 8:30. (Based on how meetings in this format tend to go, we wouldn’t advise waiting till the last half-hour – no guarantee they won’t fold up early.) Metro employees are stationed around the room with easels, maps, and butcher paper for recording comments – there are more than half a dozen tables you can sit at, too, to fill out a “Transit System Restructuring Feedback Form.” The first question: “How might these suggested changes affect you or others in your community?” We’re going to check out a few of the easel stations – which appear to go beyond route-restructuring information – and will add more to this story later.
ADDED LATE WEDNESDAY NIGHT: The conversations at the tables were the liveliest we heard – particularly voices of those concerned about the plan to cut Route 37, leaving Beach Drive without bus service, and Route 22, leaving Gatewood without off-peak service, as well as the southern leg of Route 21, which currently serves Arbor Heights. Local pedestrian advocate – and Gatewood resident – Chas Redmond told a Metro staffer that the choice of meeting location was ironic, as 22 currently serves the school, where you will find large groups of students waiting to catch buses in the afternoon. Besides “don’t cut (whatever),” some alternate routing suggestions did make it onto the butcher paper. Metro says the comments will be considered as they draw up the next revision of the proposal for presentation at meetings that likely will be held in January. You still have chances to offer your thoughts – 10:30 am-1 pm Thursday, for example, Metro will have a table in the cafeteria at South Seattle Community College, and a meeting like this one is set for Madison Middle School at 6:30 pm one week from tonight (November 17th).
“Transit Pathways” were featured on the north side of the open-house area – Metro’s first pass at figuring out what buses that use the Alaskan Way Viaduct will do when the rest of it is replaced by the tunnel, in terms of replacing the pathway into/out of central downtown. Right now, they’re looking at four alternatives for getting people into downtown, all based on using Highway 99, with a transit lane in place on the northbound side, between the West Seattle Bridge and King Street. The options are different variants of going in through Pioneer Square, whose business community will be involved in upcoming conversations about the “pathways.”
Interesting note from the timeline on this part of the project: It says the Columbia and Seneca ramps onto/off Highway 99 will close in Winter 2015. That would be a full year ahead of when the tunnel is supposed to be in operation. A final decision on the “pathways” is to be made next year.