From curb bulbs to construction: Updates @ Morgan Community Association

April 24, 2013 at 4:33 am | In Neighborhoods, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

Not much chance SDOT will move the much-criticized California/Fauntleroy bus bulbs. So said the SDOT rep who came to the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting last week. Ahead, our roundup from the meeting, also including an update on preparations for demolition work on the now-vacant block across from Lowman Beach Park, where a sewer-overflow tank will be built, and other topics:

CALIFORNIA/FAUNTLEROY INTERSECTION: Mike Ward from SDOT started off by explaining the safety curb recently installed on Fauntleroy just west of California to keep westbound traffic from trying to pass stopped buses. “For many years an intersection operates a certain way – then we make a change, and a behavior change has to take place … operations felt they had no choice but to do this to modify the behavior.” They have not yet evaluated how it’s working. So far, though, SDOT is not aware of any collisions before or after the curb installation.

Referring also to the bus bulb on northbound California just north of Fauntleroy: “What would it take for SDOT to admit it made a mistake in locating both bus bulbs, and move them” – 50 feet further west, 50 feet further north – asked MoCA vice president Chas Redmond, who ran the meeting. “The AM/PM congestion is not acceptable, and it’s affecting transit – the 128s are waiting two lights to round the corner,” he said, and he also noted that ACCESS buses shouldn’t be stopping at bus bulbs because it takes them quite some time to load their passengers. “They promise 30 second dwell time – there’s nobody who will tell you there’s 30-second dwell time at this intersection.”

Ward said he saw very little chance of a turnabout on the bus bulbs, but he said some change was being pondered, such as: They’re looking to adjust the 128′s route so that its northbound leg could stop on Morgan near California rather than at the busy bus bulb stop on California north of Fauntleroy. Continuing to press the point about the waiting times on northbound California, MoCA board member Cindi Barker asked if SDOT had observed the wait time in that direction; Ward didn’t think they had. One attendee said, is the city trying to get people out of their cars? Ward said he could see why some suspect that, but it’s not a “conversation” that’s being had – more “planning for the future” and working on the Complete Streets vision, he said. “We’re encouraged that Metro realizes there’s an issue,” said Redmond.

Speaking of transportation …

GREENWAYS: Don Brubeck, president of West Seattle Bike Connections, came “to start a conversation about greenways,” standing in for Seattle Greenways, reminding people that they aren’t just about bikes, but also pedestrians and others – “safe, healthy neighborhood streets.” The conversation so far has mostly been focused in east West Seattle, where at least two greenways are in the works. But the conversions cost money, so greenways have to be sought by the people living on the streets they’re proposed for. He explained the concepts of the many forms that they could take. So who decides this stuff? as Don put it – the people who live on the affected streets. Conversions do cost money and so it goes where there’s demand. Barker brought up the Bicycle Master Plan, which is being updated; Brubeck said the greenways would indeed have to work with that. Check out West Seattle Greenways on Facebook.

MURRAY COMBINED SEWER OVERFLOW PROJECT UPDATE: Doug Marsano from the King County Wastewater Treatment Division mentioned some of what’s happened at the site lately, including last month’s Seattle Fire Department training (WSB coverage here), which Marsano said will NOT be followed up by a second round after all – there’s still “hazardous material” in the building that made a “live burn” infeasible. The material will be removed, though, and the county now has permits and is reviewing bids for deconstruction work, starting with that removal. A contractor should start on it in mid-May, continuing for six weeks, with an air-quality consultant on site. Once it’s out, and other recyclable material removed, the buildings will be taken out, but the foundations will remain and be filled in, to maximize stability of the back ledge. The demolition should be done by the end of June; a contractor will be in place by fall and “significant construction will be under way this fall” – they are required to have the storage tank under construction before the year’s out.

FRIENDS OF MORGAN JUNCTION PARK: Sean Gamble, MoCA secretary, says the group’s being formed to address concerns about the park and its upkeep – not to be responsible for all of its upkeep, but to work toward some projects such as urban forestry, “maybe bringing more and better trees to the park,” or even converting the ShortStop grayscape – which the city has been in the process of purchasing – into something green. “Could it include the triangle by Thriftway?” one attendee asked. “It could,” replied Sean. “Maybe it should be called Friends of Morgan Junction PARKS,” suggested Redmond. They need a leader for the new group, though they have a fair amount of volunteer help. “We’ve got some grunts, but we’re seeking leadership,” summarized Redmond, planning to communicate that to president Deb Barker, who could not be at the meeting.

DESIGN GUIDELINES: Cindi Barker is hoping to represent MoCA’s views at an April 29th city hearing about design guidelines. A committee put together the Morgan Design Guidelines in 2007, she explained; then there was a city revision in 2010 that didn’t go so well – and it “went away” – and now the process has started again. However, she says, what they came up with in 2007 has made it through unscathed – except for some deletions, including “everything that set the context of Morgan Junction.” Barker says the city claims that will all go int a ‘reference guide.’ Developers will be required to consult the guidelines – but not necessarily that “reference guide,” she said, showing the pages that were deleted, such as “maintaining its small-town feel,” “greenery integrates well with business,” “vital commercial district,” “closest one can get to living on an island without taking a ferry” … and other descriptive phases. So without those, how do they know “what our character is?” Barker wondered. She is proposing to say “those things that describe our neighborhood need to be part of the document, not a reference guide, but if it has to be (the latter) then something needs to say developers are REQUIRED to read the reference guide.”

MURAL RESTORATION: MoCA says the owner of the building at California/Fauntleroy is interested in keeping/preserving the badly deteriorated mural on the back of the red brick building that now houses Starbucks, Abbondanza, Subway, and other businesses – Bruce Rickett of Nova Scotia was the artist, and MoCA was hoping to contact him, but a longtime local resident whose business used to be in that building says he has passed away.

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION HUBS DRILL: Cindi Barker, says the biennial drill on May 11th will be at Morgan Junction Park this time around, with everything from Scouts to ham-radio volunteers. They’ll be looking for people to portray “victims,” if you’re interested in helping.

MORGAN JUNCTION COMMUNITY FESTIVAL: The next one is just two months away – June 22nd in Morgan Junction Park, adjacent to Beveridge Place Pub, with booths behind Zeeks Pizza and Feedback Lounge (both WSB sponsors), in the Washington Federal lot across the street. The Bite of Morgan will return – six participants as of meeting night – and they’ll try again for the Bark of Morgan – at least four food trucks so far – last year’s lineup invited back because only two of them got to play because of the downpour. Sponsorship solicitation letters are going out soon, if they’re not out already.

OFFICERS: An all-incumbent slate was introduced, with a chance for anyone to make additional nominees: they were all re-elected.

Next regular MoCA quarterly meeting will be in July – watch morganjunction.org for info.

11 Comments

  1. I can’t believe those bus bulbs were designed and built without anybody from SDOT or the contractor realizing at any point during design or construction that they are a really poor idea right at the intersection where they innevitably block traffic on a regular basis. Mindless.

    Comment by Common Sense — 6:38 am April 24, 2013 #

  2. Because unlike your name– their is no common sense- involved at SDOT/Metro you name it.

    Comment by Gene — 7:53 am April 24, 2013 #

  3. I’m really frustrated that the city doesn’t seem to have any requirement or plan to evaluate that intersection after the changes were made. Seems pretty intuitive that an improvement project should be measured afterwards to see if it was worth the money and did what it was designed to do.

    Comment by Jesse — 7:57 am April 24, 2013 #

  4. Seemingly, any story about the bus bulbs is met with comments that are virtually identical every single time. It’s like a terrible Groundhog Day scenario but instead of Bill Murray and comedy, we get angry citizens and asinine quips.

    Comment by Brian — 8:36 am April 24, 2013 #

  5. I’m not surprised with the response given by SDOT about the bus bulbs. Typical. No accountability and no admitting that the whole idea was a mistake. And of course there haven’t been any accidents yet since no vehicles can maneuver around the buses when they’re blocking the way!

    Comment by CMP — 8:42 am April 24, 2013 #

  6. I’m surprised at the condescending response related to need for people to modify their behavior when nobody at SDOT actually (or apparently) looked at the impact these bulbs are having on safety or traffic flow. They might as well have said “suck it up and quit complaining”

    Comment by Jeff — 9:01 am April 24, 2013 #

  7. The “no accidents” reference also included whether, since the bulbs were installed, there had been crashes PRE-safety curb – it was installed because people were swerving over into the oncoming (eastbound) lanes, where the potential for a head-on crash existed – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:07 am April 24, 2013 #

  8. Brian you are so right. Its such a joy to see so many cars stuck in the intersecton while the bus unloads, burning all their gasoline, polluting the air, creating tension. Its exactly the result we were all hoping for to get people in to busses, and clog up the intersection further, right? I truly hope this satifies the Ground Hog dillema you faced. With all sincerity, George.

    Comment by george — 10:44 am April 24, 2013 #

  9. Sdot was involved in the planning of these bus bulbs and gave it’s permission to METRO to install them. Johnathon Dong of SDOT was told a a SWDC meeting that the would never work but he defended them back then also.

    Comment by dwar — 1:48 pm April 24, 2013 #

  10. When we were out today, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Metro Access Van had pulled over beyond the bulb to load or unload. Cars were able to get by without being held up.

    Another time today, one was there and cars were backed up quite substantially.

    Thank you to the Metro Access driver that pulled over.

    Comment by Faith4 — 4:21 pm April 25, 2013 #

  11. I think this comment shows the heart of the problem: “For many years an intersection operates a certain way – then we make a change, and a behavior change has to take place … operations felt they had no choice but to do this to modify the behavior.” Sometimes non-natives drive through Seattle who don’t know that the road design is meant to modify past behavior. Several times I’ve stopped at the green arrow from eastbound Fauntleroy to northbound California because if I tried to turn, I’d cause gridlock. The people behind me don’t understand about the past behavior, they think I don’t know the light is green.

    If the road design makes it impossible for me to do the right thing, it’s bad road design.

    Comment by Seaview Gal — 4:38 pm April 25, 2013 #

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