The newly passed city budget includes a $250,000 allocation to start planning a “Green Boulevard” along Fauntleroy Way in The Triangle. But that might not be the only “boulevard” in West Seattle’s future. Two City Councilmembers and key SDOT staffers joined the most recent meeting of the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council to hear a community pitch for potential “boulevard” treatment of Delridge Way SW:
One major supporter of the concept is Delridge-area activist/advocate Pete Spalding, who explained to Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw that a median, trees, and pedestrian-friendly features could “make it feel more like a community than a piece of concrete passing through our neighborhood.”
Those types of improvements could have “a significant impact on the entire community,” added DNDC chair Mat McBride.
As Spalding said, this has been discussed “for a long time” – but new urgency emerged when it was discovered that the city has set aside “Bridging the Gap” levy money to pave a major section of Delridge Way. So they invited key people from the city to come discuss whether the boulevard concept could fold into that; besides the councilmembers – two SDOT managers (who also happen to be West Seattleites), community traffic liaison Jim Curtin and paving-project manager Jessica Murphy (who we saw a lot of during the Fauntleroy Way rebuilding project two years ago). The topic also was at the heart of last month’s DNDC meeting (WSB coverage here).
The boulevard features not only would “calm” traffic, supporters say, it also would be more conducive to business – friendly to those who stop and shop/dine, rather than the current “just keep driving” mood the street seems to encourage.
“The idea of a boulevard down here is very appealing,” Councilmember Bagshaw agreed. “Make it an environment where people want to be.” Just a few weeks earlier, she had been in Delridge to talk with neighbors about bringing the “greenway” concept to 26th, just west of Delridge. The discussion meandered off in that direction for a few minutes before returning to the boulevard.
The city’s Bicycle Master Plan calls for bike lanes along Delridge between Andover and Holden, said Curtin, in response to a question. Murphy added that even with those lanes and other “amenities,” Delridge is still wide enough to hold a boulevard. The SDOT reps also noted that “boulevard” doesn’t necessarily mean “island down the middle of the road” – the concept can involve improvements on the sides instead, or in addition to. And as for bike lanes – Curtin observed that if 26th becomes earmarked as a greenway, just to the west, that could mean omitting them on Delridge, in favor of directing bicyclists to the nearby greenway.
As other ideas started to percolate – including the need for a speed-limit-reminder sign just before Andover, to catch those coming off the bridge (Spalding said he’d once been told it could happen, but then the story changed to “no money for it”) – Councilmember Rasmussen suggested a community meeting with SDOT to talk “specifically about simple low-cost ideas that could make a difference.” That could be an “on-site” conversation, Curtin enthused.
Murphy interjected that the actual paving project that kickstarted the current conversation is currently on the docket for the narrower southern end of Delridge, “not wide enough for the true boulevard, but might still be opportunities for some of the boulevard feel,” from Orchard to Henderson. She said she’s hoping that by the time it happens, there might be enough funding to “continue a little further south, to Roxbury, to address some of the worst pavement needs.”
The project is currently at the 30 percent design stage, identifying pavement conditions and required drainage – stormwater-storage pipes will be put in during the work, which currently isn’t scheduled until 2014, but might – just maybe – move up to 2013, the SDOT reps said.
No time to waste, then, on getting the “boulevard” vision into the picture, it was agreed – especially if some city neighborhood-projects funding could be procured for projects as part of it.
Next steps: While SDOT continues to plan the basic project as it is now, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council will continue to discuss and strategize, too. Watch their upcoming meeting agendas, as this may be the subject of an upcoming edition of the visioning discussion that precedes each monthly DNDC meeting (third Wednesday of the month, with visioning/strategizing at 6, business agenda at 7, Youngstown Cultural Arts Center).