West Seattle Transportation Coalition: What they want – including your support and concerns

October 12, 2013 at 10:31 am | In How to help, Transportation, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

How can West Seattle’s transportation tangle best be untangled?

With unified, peninsula-wide voices, resolve, and action.

That’s what the newly rechristened West Seattle Transportation Coalition is organizing. This morning, its interim board members are meeting for a strategy session, as they prepare for their first big public action, sending a letter to local political leaders – the ones who have (or potentially have) the power to forward and fund solutions to our peninsula’s muddled intersection between population growth and lack of transportation vision.

Here’s the brand-new letter the WSTC will send to elected officials and candidates (scroll to the end to see the list of addressees, and if you can’t see the embedded document, here’s the PDF link):


The WSTC (whose board members are listed here) isn’t just going to wait for politicians to take action, though. It’s also going to draft a transportation vision. And it’s looking for as much support as possible. Here’s how:

-Show your support and/or your group, business, organization – go here

-Explain what matters most to you in the creation of a peninsula-wide transportation vision – send e-mail, circulate a survey, see how by going here

-Come to WSTC meetings, listed here – next one is Tuesday, November 12th, a general meeting expected to focus on operational issues including planning and recruitment.

BACKSTORY: The WS Transportation Coalition is the renamed WS Transit Coalition, which itself launched less than three weeks ago – here’s our coverage, with video, of that first meeting.

6:59 PM NOTE: WSTC board members finalized and formatted the letter at their meeting today and that finalized version is now linked and embedded above.

27 Comments

  1. I applaud this coalition for their activism. Though having read their letter it seems to me that conspicuously absent from their list of challenges is the role that we citizens play in compounding transportation problems in West Seattle and how our choices can be part of a solution. Every time I see a 150 pound person idling at a drive-thru window – alone in a massive 6,000 pound vehicle – it is obvious to me that government action is just one part of what we need to improve transportation on the peninsula.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 11:25 am October 12, 2013 #

  2. I have no idea what you’re talking about…….. I’m at least 250.

    Serious Comment – I would like a trolley or a circulator. It can go from Admiral to the ferry and back or even just Admiral to the Fauntleroy Junction and back. Just back and forth on Admiral with maybe a swing through the Triangle.

    Comment by Curtis — 12:47 pm October 12, 2013 #

  3. Not to mention those 250 pound people in 3000 pound vehicles.

    And drive-thrus should be outlawed or bicycle only, or maybe for carpools only….

    Good grief….

    Comment by Jeff — 12:59 pm October 12, 2013 #

  4. Christopher…perhaps they’re disabled enough that a walk to wherever would be prohibited, but a quick car ride to a drive thru and back home again sure beats finding a bus, and taking what? an hour to get a quick burger? Remember, disabilities may be not visible to the population, but still exist. I do not take metro to my doc appts. on the hill because I cannot walk up a hill to where I would need to transfer, and sometimes I have back to back appts. at two different places. I use my car, and don’t feel guilty about it.

    That’s one of the things that needs to be addressed. People with disabilities are often inconvenienced with two or three bus changes, and an hour trip turns into an all day thing. And if someone gets on a bus with a hidden disability, people who are comfortably sitting in the front of the bus don’t budge, even though they are not disabled or senior. If you ask, often they refuse, and give you strange looks. You end up standing, which can be difficult at times for some.

    Jeff…who gives a damn what they weigh…it’s their choice, not yours. You can shake your head all you want, but it won’t change anything. No need to look down your nose at anyone.

    Curtis..I’m going to assume that you live in the Admiral District, where bus service is sorely lacking. Me, too. There is the free huttle that takes you to the water taxi terminal via Alki, and back up the hill. There is a schedule for that. But, yes, other shuttles that would go to the Triangle, and then maybe up to the Junction, and back to Admiral is an idea. We need to be creative instead of just shaking our heads and putting up with no service.

    Comment by JanS — 2:48 pm October 12, 2013 #

  5. You are bringing up 3000 lb. cars….like SUVs? Or a macho guy in his huge pickup truck who thinks he owns the road, and acts like it? Yeah, they’re out there , too. Ever seen one weaving through the traffic on the bridge, jockeying for the best position (because they think they’re special?)? I have. We can’t outlaw them. What we can do is become involved, and make sure that we’re doing the best that we can do , personally.

    Comment by JanS — 2:54 pm October 12, 2013 #

  6. I would like to take a trolley or some sort of transit also but that don’t work for me or most the people I know. Most people I know have a schedule, lots to do after work and can’t depend or have the time to deal with transit and in most cases it does not go to where they need. Many people also in the trades need their tools like me. So I drive a 6000lb truck daily as I need it. Transit and bikes will and always only work for a small percentage of the population.

    Comment by wetone — 2:55 pm October 12, 2013 #

  7. I don’t understand what an individual’s weight has to do with anything.

    Comment by Robert F — 3:13 pm October 12, 2013 #

  8. I support this effort ! Can this thread go back to that point? I am curious about what others think of the letter and the call to action of the various levels of government.

    Comment by CeeBee — 5:30 pm October 12, 2013 #

  9. CeeBee,

    I couldn’t agree more. unfortunately some feel the need to put others in their place and then make the discussion all about them…..it is very tiresome.

    I am all for reducing our carbon foot print and there are many ways we as individuals can do that. What may work for me, may not work for you. The point is that we all try in some way and yes, as WS population grows traffic congestion is a huge issue and mass transit plays a pivotal role.

    Comment by jwws — 6:03 pm October 12, 2013 #

  10. My point was that we have a finite amount of space for cars and yet many of us are driving around in vehicles that are much larger than they need to be. Vehicles that are so big that less than 1% of the fuel energy we put in them is being used to move us down the road and the rest is wasted on moving the weight of the vehicle. If we made better decisions and bought smaller, more space (and fuel) efficient cars we could easily increase the number of vehicles that could be driven and parked on roads. We could also embrace density and better urban planning to integrate residential and commercial spaces so we wouldn’t have to make as many trips. We simply cannot expect our government to solve this problem without recognizing our own culpability in perpetuating the problem. As individuals we make decisions every day that exacerbate transportation problems. And as individuals we’re more capable of innovation and change than our slow-moving government.

    Comment by cjboffoli — 6:17 pm October 12, 2013 #

  11. This is a good comprehensive list and I thank this coalition for taking the effort.

    However, a #5 Maintenance [backlog] line item is missing. The city can’t keep up with basic maintenance and can’t even financially afford maintenance completely as far as I know.

    Other improvements are fine and dandy but this request is the equivalent of asking a homeowner to remodel when they can’t afford to maintain their yard regularly.

    Comment by wsn00b — 6:24 pm October 12, 2013 #

  12. Christopher, I do agree with you that changes in our behavior can be part of the solution. In context of this new group, I strongly encourage you to attend their Nov 12 meeting and offer to lead a committee where you can help affect that change. Maybe, as you suggest, if we the citizens take this message out, it might be better received than it is when delivered by government bodies.

    Comment by CeeBee — 8:21 pm October 12, 2013 #

  13. Christopher, I couldn’t agree more…and that’s coming from someone who has a 16 year old kinda midsized car. I wish it was smaller and more efficient, but it is what it is. I was at the first meeting of the WSTC, and it is about time that we in West Seattle demand better for our community. And that’s what this committee is all about. Little things like…if someone wants a permit for a new apt. bldg with little to no parking, then perhaps there is some way for them to contribute to the cost of moving these people to where they work downtown. There are also many other ideas that need to be discussed, and I’m sure they would love for you all to attend the next meeting and offer up suggestions. Our little peninsula is becoming very dense, and it seems that public transportation is constantly being downsized. When that viaduct comes down, it will affect us all, and we shouldn’t wait until after that happens.

    wsn00b…Olympia was included in this because they control the transportation purse strings. This isn’t just a local thing, it will take city, county and state working together. And it may help other areas of the city, too. Keeping quiet and just letting whatever happens happen isn’t the best idea…we have to try to see if improvements can be made.

    Comment by JanS — 9:26 pm October 12, 2013 #

  14. JanS…

    Good grief… indeed who cares what someone or their vehicle ways. My original post was an effort to point out the humor, or folly, of the initial poster’s comment, and the general ‘tude that some folks, like our mayor, actually have.

    Comment by Jeff — 10:21 pm October 12, 2013 #

  15. I would like to see some kind of incentive to encourage the ABLE-BODIED amongst us to walk more – especially for those many trips shorter than 1 mile. I know a big concern in neighborhoods near major bus routes is the practice of park-n-hide. I suspect that many of these commuters could walk from home to the bus line, but the extra time involved is an issue. However, I am amazed at how many ABLE-BODIED people will wait 20 minutes or more to ride a bus a distance that could be walked in less time. I walk from Alaska Junction down to Beach Drive very often, because it’s almost always faster than waiting for the 50 and then walking from the bottom of Admiral Way – especially on Sunday when the 50 has only hourly service. The more walking the ABLE-BODIED amongst us are willing to do, the better any transportation system (even the lousy one we have) is able to function for everyone else, i.e. those who can not walk far, and those who absolutely do need to drive. As my name would suggest, I do rather a lot of walking these days:)

    Comment by Last53BusRider — 10:58 pm October 12, 2013 #

  16. Jeff…sorry about that…sometimes the written word can be misunderstood :)

    Comment by JanS — 11:36 pm October 12, 2013 #

  17. Who cares about the “peninsula” term? Take that out, verbiage that doesn’t need to be there. That already is not going to help in the eyes of funding to the political sector. I think taking more of a contribution angle of how West Seattlelites contribute to the city, county and state’s economic growth, would be a better angle to ask for funding. I think there should be a shuttle(s) or bus(ses) that circulates West Seattle during summer months or year round. There could be a rail that gets people to the outer boundaries of west Seattle, Spokane st., White Center/Burien, downtown, Georgetown, etc. to connect to another means of transportation or continue rail transportation. This could be built along side the bridge (west and east) and/or along 35th( north and south). West Seattle and Seattle are restricted due to water surrounding the city and this puts limitation to a belt way and other roads, highways, or freeways to maneuver cars and people. Maybe an underground or above ground subway system to outer points. The incentives one mentioned towards pedestrians, it’s already in place, high taxes on vehicles and car insurance. Singapore makes it very costly to own a car, this is one tactic for the government to limit how many vehicles are on the roads.

    Comment by 206YouKnow — 5:10 am October 13, 2013 #

  18. Ironically, I would have no way to attend these meetings as there is no bus transportation to my neighborhood in the evening. I will make a suggestion that they rotate meeting times to a daytime/weekend so that those for whom evenings are impossible have a chance to participate.

    I totally agree with CJ, although my concerns are more environmentally based. I’m so bloody sick and tired of these monster, gas-guzzling vehicles – most of which are NEVER used for any work purpose, aside from “hehe, mine is bigger” size comparisons.

    Comment by anonyme — 7:03 am October 13, 2013 #

  19. last53 — not sure why you emphasized ‘able-bodied’ when people with disabilities need exercise and need to be able to get around in their communities as well, whether on foot or in a wheelchair or scooter. One of the keys to being able to ‘age in place’ (rather than being isolated in a nursing home) is to be able to remain active and integrated into the fabric of one’s community by going shopping, visiting restaurants, etc., whether independently or with assistance. Investing in making transportation infrastructure, including pedestrian amenities such as sidewalks and crosswalks, accessible to and useable by people with a variety of disabilities.
    Frankly, accessibility in WS is pretty poor. Some of this is due to topography and old infrastructure, some is due to poorly performed work and trees buckling sidewalks (try rolling in a wheelchair down the east side of CA from Alaska to Morgan Junction.) However, a lot is due to the city’s lack of foresight and failure to proactively integrate accessibility into projects. For example, when RR replaced the 54 and stops were removed on Fauntleroy, there was no effort to survey the route and install curb ramps. As a result, there is no accessible path of travel in many places to get from the closed stops to the few remaining stations. In the 70′s, the city got a federal grant to develop guidelines on creating ‘Priority Accessible Networks’; the results were groundbreaking in teaching planners how to integrate accessibility into existing infrastructure and how to include it in new projects. (note: publication I no longer available except possibly from the city’s archives; search this document for ‘priority’ and the report is referenced about halfway down the page: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/research/safety/pedbike/03042/part3.cfm)
    I would encourage the coalition to develop a general accessibility statement and to ensure that the city (and Metro and Sound Transit) include accessibility and useability (yes, there is a difference) in their plans. The FWHA reports referenced in the above link are excellent; WSDOT also offers similar publications.

    Comment by metrognome — 9:45 am October 13, 2013 #

  20. Monorail system over the West Seattle bridge to downtown Seattle~!

    Comment by Amrakx — 10:07 am October 13, 2013 #

  21. I think someone should address traffic light timing. Not just in West Seattle, but everywhere. This can, along with an increase iin traffic capacity, make all the difference in terms of reducing travel times. I am in LA right now. Despite the much larger volume of traffic (more cars on any arterial than you find in the Mercer mess during rush hour), this traffic actually moves many times fast per mile than anything I’ve seen in Seattle. No joke. ( with the exception of some hopelessly overcrowded routes). Why? Because they spent the money to synchronize the lights properly so one can go almost a mile on a series of green lights. It’s really low cost to implement too.

    Comment by DanS. — 11:41 am October 13, 2013 #

  22. I think what a lot of people fail to realize is if I-5 is slow or stopped (most the time) people of this area are locked in. No matter how many lanes going out of West Seattle, we only have one on-ramp lane for N/S bound access each way. Result is traffic will always back up into W/S and only get worse for people unless you work locally and can take surface streets bottom line. To add a trolley or train to this area you will either have to take a lane of traffic off the bridge or an expensive rebuild (from studies done in the past) or build a new multi-purpose bridge for transit system, bikes and people. Anyway you try to solve this traffic issue it is going to be very costly to the people of West Seattle. That’s what happens when you over build, populate an area with limited access like W/S because we are surrounded by water. Get ready for tolls to get into and out of W/S along with higher property taxes to solve the problems the city’s bad planning has caused the people of West Seattle….. I guess I shouldn’t really worry as the city says all the new people (many thousands) moving into the new buildings being built don’t have cars :) Look forward to the WSTC and will try and get to some meetings.

    Comment by wetone — 1:11 pm October 13, 2013 #

  23. what about asking the city of seattle to encourage more businesses to be located in West Seattle, not just retail and restaurants. like Bartell’s did. ok that is simplifying it as there are also small doctor’s offices and dentists in WS…. during working hours, I don’t leave West Seattle (unless I have a meeting) cause my office is less than 2 miles from my house.

    Comment by sam-c — 9:51 am October 14, 2013 #

  24. Does anybody know why West Seattle isn’t getting a light rail?

    Comment by bob — 10:25 am October 14, 2013 #

  25. It would be an ideal world if we all bought smaller cars with great fuel efficiency. However, the world is not ideal and between work, school, kid activities, volunteer work and family road trips I have a need for a car that can fit a lot of people and or things. I try to do my part by busing, running or biking to work downtown, but suggesting that I bus my family to soccer games and such is somewhat insulting. The people here advocating that lifestyle pretty clearly don’t understand what it means to have a young family.

    Comment by DW — 10:52 am October 14, 2013 #

  26. Mass transportation and bike lanes will not solve our transit problems. Seattle has suffered from a lack of long term vision from its leaders for way too long. People have to start thinking big. Why are we removing the viaduct? Why can’t we have more then two North South Corridors through the city? Would it hurt the cities long term growth to have adequate movement of goods and people? The easements in place from the viaduct are worth a lot of money and should not be vacated.

    Smaller cars and better gas mileage will only result in politicians wanting to increase fees to offset the reduced income they receive. Remember the water rate hikes after the push to conserve water during the drought? Currently the DOT is wanting to increase fees because their income is down from all the higher MPG vehicles on the road. One is damned if they do or don’t as politicians don’t understand market forces rather only their ideal Sim City they are trying to social engineer.

    If our leaders truly want to reduce traffic congestion I would suggest the following measures towards accomplishing that goal.

    1) Free I5. Yes, tear down the convention center. This would allow stacking of more freeway lanes and help move commerce for long term growth.

    2) Close down container shipments into the Port of Seattle. This not only would likely reduce our property tax support of the Port but would absolutely reduce traffic congestion caused by tractor trailers (with inadequate safety inspections) from clogging our streets with products that will be utilized in other parts of the state or country. I am sure the UW could do a study and the economic benefit. I would bet the increase in productivity of citizens being able to move freely would way offset the loss of the local port jobs. Heck they all may be hired by the ports receiving the extra shipments.

    3) And remove the extended curbs blocking whole lanes of traffic at intersections as a result of the new Rapid Ride stops. Nothing about those are remotely efficient and only serve to increase traffic rage and decrease public safety as first responders have no safe options to navigate around the resulting bottle neck.

    I am happy to see West Seattle standing up to take a strong stance to try and improve their traffic headaches. It will only get worse with the increase in density and lack of leadership and vision at the city level.

    Comment by Brad — 12:47 pm October 15, 2013 #

  27. Very well said and I agree 100%. To bad they did not build a new viaduct and incorporate a convention center and more under it. Would have cost less and opened I-5 up. This city is going to have some big problems soon if they can’t get I-5 traffic flowing better.

    Comment by wetone — 4:18 pm October 15, 2013 #

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