By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Even outside peak commute times, motorized-vehicle traffic roars and rumbles through The Triangle on Fauntleroy Way, along the route of the now-in-final-planning-stages Fauntleroy Boulevard project. This afternoon, that posed challenges for the “talk” part of the first of two SDOT-led Walk-and-Talk Tours through the project zone.
More than 40 people turned out in the semi-surprise sunshine to walk along most of the route, eastbound from 39th/Alaska to Fauntleroy/Avalon, with two crossings along the way. Introductory speakers included longtime resident and community advocate Sharonn Meeks (below, with project manager Norene Pen):
Meeks reiterated that the project “has been in play” for many years and said, “We’re here as a community … not as ‘I want it, I don’t want it’.”
Two groups formed; we went along with the one led by project spokesperson Rachel McCaffrey, who recapped key points of the plan, including two travel lanes in each direction, and “consolidation of utilities” since the undergrounding requested by the community wasn’t part of the budget. Stops started with an explanation outside Trader Joe’s of how, since their current loading area will no longer exist, they’re going to load off 39th SW west of the store, with some in-lane loading in the middle of the night on Fauntleroy.
McCaffrey said TJ’s is “pretty happy” with what they worked out. Currently, they get two truck deliveries each night, one around 7 pm, one around 3 am. Next stop was the Parks-owned triangle by SW Oregon, where pedestrian improvements were the focus.
Discussion included the plan to change the overhead “fire signal” flashing lights to a full pedestrian-activated signal. Some questions included how that would be timed with the rest of the motorized-vehicle traffic flow on the road. Also noted at this stop, the plan to have “consistent, defined sidewalks” on both sides of Fauntleroy. Then came a chance – for those who haven’t experienced it – to see what it’s like crossing Fauntleroy in The Triangle. The amount of time allotted definitely wasn’t enough for ~20 people.
At the end of that crossing, outside Wardrobe Cleaners, tour participants got a look at the area that SDOT says will be turned into “green stormwater infrastructure.”
Someone pointed out a utility pole that seemed to be infringing on the pedestrian area. “We’re going to be moving a lot of utility poles,” McCaffrey acknowledged. Another question: How will the landscaped median areas be maintained? SDOT is accountable for right-of-way maintenance, but community group help would be great too, McCaffrey said. (Community groups actually have helped over the years – we’ve covered numerous cleanups in the Triangle/Gateway area – but their numbers have dwindled, among other challenges.) Project designer Mike Hendrix said they’re looking at “low maintenance” trees, too.
Outside the 4480 Fauntleroy Way building (Rudy’s Barbershop/Realfine Coffee), questions included just how much of the parking lot was really city right-of-way.
With questions about how businesses would be helped to survive the year-long construction period – a major topic at the recent launch meeting of the Fauntleroy Way Association – the SDOT reps pointed to city Office of Economic Development reps who were present, and suggested talking with them at the end of the tour.
After that, we missed the final scheduled stop because of unrelated breaking news. But we caught back up with the end of the tour inside West Seattle Brewing (4515 Fauntleroy Way SW), where participants were invited to check out more informational boards, talk one-on-one with SDOT reps, and chow down on pizza that WS Brewing baked at its Alki location and brought up to the Triangle for the occasion.
Also there, Jill Anholt, just announced this week as winner of the public-art contract for the project zone:
Anholt said she doesn’t have a preconceived plan for the work – she’s waiting to see the stories that community members tell. (Here’s how to share yours.) We asked what she’s done in the area most recently; turns out she has work at the newly opened Sound Transit Angle Lake station.
The second and final walking tour – at least for this phase of the feedback process – is on Saturday morning (March 18th), 10:30 am-noon. Same route – meet outside LA Fitness at 39th/Alaska.