FIRST REPORT, 6:27 PM: Here are the boards/slides for SDOT‘s meeting tonight about Phase 2 of the 35th SW Road Safety Corridor Project. They start with stats that SDOT says prove “the roadway redesign is improving safety,” referring to the Roxbury to Holly rechannelization put into place last fall:
The slides continue on to what SDOT says is under consideration for Phase 2, including:
*Rechannelization between Edmunds and Juneau (one lane each way, center turn lane)
*Possible extension of rechannelization from Juneau to Graham
*Signal or turn restrictions/crossing at Juneau or Graham
*Crosswalk or signal at Dawson (a signal might require 4 traffic lanes, SDOT notes)
*Holly (north end of current rechannelization) to Graham, likely keeping “4 to 5 general-purpose lanes”
Whatever is decided for Phase 2 would not be put into place until next year, but some tweaks are planned in the meantime, including the crosswalk, with flashing beacons, at Kenyon, to be installed next month. More to come at the 7 pm meeting at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).
7:02 PM: The meeting has just begun. Outside the front door to NHHPC, rechannelization opponents were handing out bumper stickers.
Inside the hallway, dozens of people were already gathered.
Before opening the doors, SDOT’s project manager Jim Curtin stuck his head out to explain the format – strictly open house, no presentation. When he mentioned that the information would include an update on Phase 1, somebody said loudly, “Sucks!” and laughter rippled around the crowd. When he said, “We want your feedback,” someone else was heard to say, “Do you really?” (Added – our video of Curtin’s announcement)
Yet another voice wondered aloud whether SDOT director Scott Kubly was present. (Doesn’t appear to be.) Boards from the document atop this story are on easels around the room, and there are a few tables set up for different forms of feedback.
We’re sitting near a staffer who is explaining the greenway concept (set for 2019 construction).
More to come.
7:20 PM: The room is getting crowded. People are writing down comments to put in a box by the front of the room, and there are other feedback opportunities, including a table at the center of the room. It’s a little loud in here for effective Q/A, and somebody approaching the comment box just verbally commented to that effect. One man was heard standing at the greenway table nearby, demanding to know who he could vote against in the next election. We haven’t looked at the sign-in sheets for an estimate but we would guess at least 100 people have circulated through so far.
7:30 PM: We’re going to circulate and listen in, since it’s mostly just a dull roar where we currently are sitting. Also looking for a copy of the survey/comment form that people are filling out; one voice nearby suggests a reason for supporting safety improvements is “Because I’d like not to die.”
7:41 PM: Pending discovery of a PDF somewhere, here’s a photo of the “Phase 1 Comment Sheet”:
The crowd has thinned. Maybe 50 in here right now. The lights have gone on, finally. Nobody at the greenway table at the moment. Might be our chance to ask a few questions. West Seattle has two greenways already – one through North Delridge, one in Puget Ridge/Highland Park – and this one is supposed to be mostly parallel to 35th, but not scheduled for construction for at least three years.
8:10 PM: We’ve just roamed the room a bit to listen in. The board with the major Phase 2 proposals – another possible stretch of rechannelization, possible signals/crossings – is on the northeast end of the room. There, an SDOT employee cheerily corrected one man who asked about “the road diet” by saying, “It’s NOT a road diet.”
“Hey, I’m FOR the road diet,” replied the attendee (not in photo above). A woman standing at the other end of the board says she supported what’s been done so far. Down now to about 35 people; we’re taking a quick look at the sign-in sheets to see if that gives any sort of an attendance count (keeping in mind that not everyone will take the time to, or want to, sign in).
8:25 PM: The biggest crowd remains around project manager Jim Curtin, who is next to the board with the collision data from Phase I – the official full evaluation of the first year is due out in October, according to the project timeline. He’s listening to concerns including intersections where it’s become tougher to turn.
Meantime, even with far fewer people in the room, it’s still loud. If you prefer a quieter venue for questions/concerns, the “walking tour” planned for next Tuesday – 6 pm-7:30 pm August 9th, starting at 35th/Avalon and heading south – might be of interest. SDOT did this before Phase I and there was little turnout, meaning those who did drop in at various spots had no trouble engaging the SDOT reps in conversation.
8:32 PM: One woman leaving the room told the SDOT staffer at the check-in table, “Thanks for listening to all our gripes!” Staffer’s reply: “That’s what we’re here for.” We’re not quite down to 1-to-1 ratio SDOT to general public, but getting there. Quiet enough now that we can hear Curtin’s voice from around the room, reiterating what’s in the new documents, that travel times have not increased by much and that transit times have improved. Yes, but, one man says, he lives in The Arroyos and the 21X experiences delays. Curtin, who has said often publicly that he lives in Arbor Heights and uses 35th in multiple modes, says he rides the 21X too and can vouch for that. The attendee suggested Metro should have been here along with SDOT.
8:45 PM: Still a handful of people here. The greenway-table SDOT staffer is talking with a woman about Arbor Heights’ sidewalk shortage. We have a few questions to ask once this is about to wrap, and we’ll add the answers after we get them.
9:40 PM: After the last few attendees trickled out just past 9, we spent a while talking with project manager Curtin. First, we brought up the point made in comments, about comparing the crash and injury/death stats from the not-quite-a-year post-Phase 1 to the ten years ahead of time. He agreed that the real tale will be in the official report this fall, when they will use a 3-year period for comparison, and will “lay out everything we have.”
Second, we clarified that the stretch which might be rechannelized next is very much in flux – if SDOT decides new signals/crossings at Dawson and/or Graham are warranted (and this is tied into the greenway planning, so there would be a cutover to The Junction), that could reduce how much of the roadway would be eligible for lane reductions. But Curtin stressed that road redesign is vital to reduce speeding on the stretch north of Morgan.
Third, we asked what could and would be done to address some of the concerns brought up over and over again, especially people having difficulty making turns, either onto or off 35th, because there’s no break in the one-lane-each-way traffic. He said there WILL be changes in signal timing and he expects that will make a major difference – they will use a timing scheme they had in place before Phase 1 – and he promised it will happen before year’s end.
The last major point – he stressed that they are proceeding more slowly with this phase, that what was on the boards you see above (and/or saw at the meeting) are “concepts,” with more discussions coming up at the August 9th walking tour, at a community meeting before year’s end, and another one early in 2017.
We have some photos to add, before the night’s out.