SDOT on-call rule dropped after West Seattle stoplight snarl, Times reports

February 20, 2012 at 11:02 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(Taken on 35th looking toward Fauntleroy just before 8 am February 8th)
Hundreds if not thousands of drivers who use the Fauntleroy Way entrance to the West Seattle Bridge may still have memories of February 8th, the morning the 35th/Fauntleroy stoplight turned into a 4-way stop for much of the morning commute. We first reported on it as a traffic alert, and then followed up later in the day, because we and others had noticed the light in flash mode the night before, and wondered why it hadn’t been fixed before it could cause a rush-hour backup.

Hours later, SDOT spokesperson Rick Sheridan told WSB , “Though reported overnight, the signal required specialized diagnosis and repair expertise.” (The rest of his statement’s in our followup story.) In an article published online tonight, Seattle Times (WSB partner) reporter Susan Kelleher digs further into what happened. She writes that at the time of the incident, SDOT had a rule that in essence resulted in no one being available for overtime callout to West Seattle the night of February 7th, and reports that rule was dropped last week after a union grievance. The Times report attributes the rule to an SDOT manager who gained notoriety because he, as Kelleher writes, “led the city’s botched response to the December 2008 snowstorms and who figured prominently in a yearlong human-resources investigation into the department’s street-maintenance division.” You can read her story here.

13 Comments

  1. That signal was doing the 4-way flash on
    the night of the Super Bowl – 2/5/12.
    The traffic coming up the bridge was backed past the
    Walking on Logs area, sort of like a rush hour type backup.
    but it was Sunday night.
    I wonder what the repair record might show that
    misfired again on the 7th.
    Maybe it was just the full moon.

    Comment by old timer — 11:29 pm February 20, 2012 #

  2. I love the government. Can’t fire somebody so you just promote him to someplace where he will hopefully do less damage. I would say it was a success. This time he only messed up W. Seattle instead of the whole city. :)
    .
    Government motto: FUMU.. Foul-Up-Move-Up
    .
    Yes, I have first hand knowlege. LOL

    Comment by Eric — 11:40 pm February 20, 2012 #

  3. Not all government, I replaced a person who was let go for performance-related issues. Although I work in State Higher Ed, cannot speak for the City. I have also worked for corporations that tolerated all kinds of ridiculousness as long as the economy is rolling.

    Comment by CandrewB — 5:55 am February 21, 2012 #

  4. Thank you International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77 for filing to get rid of the rule that stopped electricians who had volunteered for overtime from being called by Paul “Dufus” Jackson (the Manager demoted for his work on the 2008 snowstorm).

    Comment by Ken — 6:34 am February 21, 2012 #

  5. Who would have thought a story about a traffic signal could be so compelling? Just another example of how Susan Kelleher is exceptional at what she does.

    Comment by Christopher Boffoli — 7:41 am February 21, 2012 #

  6. >>corporations that tolerated all kinds of ridiculousness as long as the economy is rolling<> as long as the economy is rolling<< – private companies can go BANKRUPT.
    One can’t compare the two.

    Government just taxes us more to cover-up their waste and incompetence. They have little incentive as we are captive "customers" – not that they consider us customers.

    Comment by Fred — 8:52 am February 21, 2012 #

  7. I am so glad there are forums like this, and stories in the PI, for calling out issues like this.

    Comment by WSratsinacage — 9:07 am February 21, 2012 #

  8. City workers… What did you guys expect?

    Comment by WestSeattleDrew — 9:22 am February 21, 2012 #

  9. what, unions tried to get rid of an obviously stupid policy?

    i’m sure some teabagger will still blame it on the workers for a ridiculous management idea, as usual

    Comment by NikkiTaMere — 3:31 pm February 21, 2012 #

  10. They say they need someone to do a specialized diagnosis to the light. There is nothing special about this light. It is timed (the same always) and has no sensors. The timing sucks at this light. If you are heading north on 35th and trying to cross only four cars can cross. Sometimes the whole block is full and it can take four tries to get across. I wish they would fix this problem. There are more cars in West Seattle and the lights need to reflect that.

    Comment by S — 4:35 pm February 21, 2012 #

  11. “private companies can go BANKRUPT.” They can indeed. Sometimes they get liquidated by Bain, sometimes they use bankruptcy to get out of obligations and then come right back, sometimes they are bailed out by that very same tax-raising government we all loathe possibly averting catastrophe, you never know. Often they sweep millions of dollars under the rug because they sit on billions. It’s all good. Our college has seen its state support drop by 25-30% in the last three years, head count has also decreased by as much. Enrollment is at all time highs, but whatever. I wasn’t around for the gravy days so I cannot compare. Sometimes taxes are not raised (like in this actual case) to keep the following from happening. Honestly in the short run I view this as a positive. It has forced moribund institutions to change and adapt, refocus what is important, and there is more to go. Long term though, this is not sustainable.

    Comment by CandrewB — 5:24 pm February 21, 2012 #

  12. Couple of things – the story was in the Times (thanks neighbor!! Susan Kelleher) and two – I’m a city worker, and work my tail off – I know you didn’t mean to throw all of us under the bus!!

    Comment by WS Sue — 9:07 am February 22, 2012 #

  13. Our tax dollars at work…or not at work in this case.

    Comment by Mike — 10:14 pm February 22, 2012 #

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