West Seattle, Washington
Yesterday we published an alert from an Arbor Heights mom who wanted to let families know that her daughter had been followed from a Denny International Middle School-dropoff stop at 100th/44th on Tuesday. This afternoon, Denny principal Jeff Clark has sent us the notice sent home today to families of students at his school and adjacent Chief Sealth International High School:
Dear Denny and Chief Sealth Scholars and Families,
Yesterday afternoon, one of our 6th grade female scholars reported to us that she was followed by a man in his car while she walked home from her bus stop in Arbor Heights near the intersection of SW 100th St. and 44th Ave SW. She reported that the man seemed to be in his 20s and had short black hair. His car was a black four-door sedan. Our scholar did a great job by running off and telling her mother, who contacted the Seattle Police Department.
As a precaution, we are reminding our scholars about safety tips for walking to and from school. We would appreciate your help by having a similar conversation at home. The walking safety advice includes:
GENERAL SAFETY TIPS
· Pay close attention to your surroundings, avoid “automatic pilot.”
· Walk with a purpose; project an assertive, business-like image.
· Use common sense; plan your route to avoid uninhabited parks, parking lots, garages and alleyways.
· Stick to well-lit areas.
· Develop a plan before you see trouble. Crossing a street or entering a store may get you out of a potentially bad situation.
· If a car follows you or beckons you while you are walking, do not approach it. Instead, turn and quickly walk the opposite direction.
· Consider wearing clothing and shoes that you can move freely and quickly in, especially when walking or waiting for the bus.
· Carry minimal items; overloading yourself can make you appear vulnerable.
· Always plan your route and stay alert to your surroundings. Avoid shortcuts. Walk confidently. Scan your surroundings and make eye contact with people.
· Avoid walking alone at night. As much as possible, walk or travel with a friend, even during the daytime.
As always, thank you for your help and partnership!
Reminder for everyone who travels the busy multipoint Avalon/Yancy/30th/Andover intersection between The Triangle and Luna Park – the last major component of the safety project is in place now, the striped intersection you see in our photo, and the pedestrian-activated flashing-light signs on both sides of it, so please be extra watchful. SDOT pointed out – when announcing exactly two months ago that the project was about to begin – that this was a Neighborhood Street Fund project proposed via the Delridge District Council.
Thanks to Morgan Community Association president Deb Barker for forwarding the SDOT alert: The next phase of sidewalk work along the west side of California SW, south of Fauntleroy Way, is set to start next week.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will replace broken and uplifted sections of sidewalk on the west side of California Ave SW in front of Ivy Court Apartments and the Marnae Apartments in the middle of this block.
This project is immediately south of the sidewalk that SDOT replaced in 2015.
SDOT does not currently plan to remove the seven street trees here.
After the sidewalk is removed and tree roots are examined, SDOT Urban Forestry staff will examine the tree roots and determine if the roots can be pruned or if one or more trees need to be removed.
After the jump, full details on construction hours and temporary effects in the area:
(Screengrab from SPU mapping tool you can use to figure out what kind of “service line” goes to your residence)
3:55 PM: Just out of the WSB inbox:
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) said today that two days of extensive testing in five Seattle homes confirms the city’s water continues to be safe to drink.
The utility started testing after learning last week that Tacoma Public Utilities had detected high levels of lead in four water samples taken from galvanized steel service lines.
In response to that information, SPU asked Seattle residents to run their water before using it if the water had not been run for a while. SPU then initiated its own tests to see if the problems reported in Tacoma exist here.
The Seattle test results announced today are well below the action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb). The highest level recorded in Seattle’s tests was 1.95 ppb.
Seattle’s water quality experts worked with five homeowners, distributed throughout the city, with galvanized-steel service lines. They sampled water from the main to the tap, after allowing the water to sit overnight in the pipes.
“This sampling protocol was much more extensive than the standard federal test, and should give customers an added sense of confidence in their water,” said SPU Drinking Water Quality Manager Wylie Harper.
“Seattle Public Utilities is in compliance with U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations,” said Derek Pell of the Washington State Department of Health’s (DOH) Office of Drinking Water. Pell added Seattle’s testing protocol is supported by DOH.
If customers are interested in learning what kind of material — copper, plastic or galvanized steel — the service line that supplies their homes with drinking water is made of, they can use a new online Web tool.
You can navigate to the Web tool by clicking here.
SPU said the test results released today mean Seattle water customers can return to using water as they did before Thursday’s announcement. (EPA, DOH and SPU recommend running the water before drinking.)
SPU’s source water, supplied to 1.3 million people in the region, comes from protected mountain watersheds in the Cascades Mountains and is considered to be some of the best water in the nation.
Seattle regularly tests its water for lead and other contaminants, and has met all requirements of the federal Lead and Copper Rule since 2003.
The utility’s state-of-the-art water quality laboratory analyzes over 20,000 microbiological samples each year — more than 50 a day taken throughout the system — and conducts chemical and physical monitoring daily, 365 days per year.
SPU continues to work with key stakeholders and regulators including DOH, Seattle-King County Public Health, EPA and city departments.
A phone line has been set up for customers with questions: 206-684-5800. Customers can call today until 7 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
9:01 PM UPDATE: As discovered and discussed by commenters, there are some spots on the map where you won’t find the water-line information. We asked SPU, whose Andy Ryan replied: “We know there are some ‘blanks’ in the database. Records were not always well kept or complete and some parts of the city were annexed. If your readers have questions — such as, ‘I can’t find information for my address’ — please ask them to call 684-5800, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.”
That’s how West Seattle mom Holli Margell headed her note, including this photo and report:
At (Southwest Athletic Complex) this evening around 7 pm, my 4th grader found six shells during track and field practice. He put them in a pile to the side so no one would step on them, then he came and told me about them. I had never thought I’d need to tell my kids to never touch bullets or shells they saw on the ground before!
I’m hoping that anyone else who heard or saw something suspicious reported or reports it too.
And, while I have talked to my kids about never touching a gun they find, and the importance of telling an adult if they do, I learned this evening that talk should include bullets and shells.
In a followup exchange, she said the shells were on the turf field near the southern goal. And yes, she reported the discovery to police.
First update is from a mayoral announcement this afternoon:
NO PUBLIC-SAFETY LEVY, SAYS MAYOR: Tax-watchers have long voiced suspicion that a city public-safety levy was on the horizon. Today, in an announcement about how SPD’s new North Precinct would be funded, Mayor Murray announced outright that he would not be proposing a public-safety levy this year or next. The announcement says that’s because the city’s Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) income remains “strong.” Read the announcement here. (It does not mention the funding plan for additional SPD hires the mayor recently promised.)
Second update is a followup on a story we reported earlier this week:
911 CENTER RENOVATIONS FOLLOWUP: On Wednesday, we reported on the renovations that SPD says have temporarily reduced the number of lines they have for dealing with 911 calls. We couldn’t find information about the project online, so we asked the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department. Spokesperson Julie Moore explained that no bidding information was available online because “this project did not go through the traditional bidding process. We used the Job Order Contracting (JOC) process, which per RCW 39.10.420-460, allows the City to issue work orders directly to a JOC prime contractor for facility and utility construction projects not exceeding $350,000.” FAS is handling part of the project, while the equipment is being handled by SPD. So Moore is speaking only for the construction work, which she explains “is secondary but necessary to prepare the space for the main intent of the project – replacing the existing 38 dispatch and eight training/back-up consoles with new consoles and equipment. Additional equipment upgrades include large display monitors and software upgrades, all in collaboration and with support from King County E9-1-1, Seattle IT and several City and County service providers. The work is contained in the main call center/dispatch room, training room and nearby hallways on the 2nd floor of the West Precinct Seattle Police Department 911 Communications Center. FAS’ portion of the project is estimated at $348,000 and is being completed by Saybr Contractors, Inc. (a WMBE firm).” She says the scope of the work includes:
· Revise electrical to support new consoles.
· Replace static-dissipative carpet.
· Add new grounding to meet current radio system requirements.
· Add wall supports and electrical for new wall-mounted monitors.
· Add supervisor/chief dispatcher platform.
The first phase of the work updated the training area, and Moore says that was finished by March 11th. What’s under way now, updating the main call-center area for 38 new consoles, started on March 14th and is supposed to be done by the end of May. In the meantime, Moore says, 911 calltakers have been “relocated to the Fire Alarm Center co-located with the City’s Emergency Operations Center/Fire Station 10 at 400 S. Washington St.”
(UPDATED 8:11 PM with link to information now posted on SPU website)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We think our water’s safe. Having said that, we’re going to make sure there’s no cause for alarm.”
So said Andy Ryan from Seattle Public Utilities when we talked with him a short time ago about a new round of water testing and investigation that SPU has launched because of a situation in Tacoma involving lead.
The two cities’ water systems are NOT linked, but the situation that Tacoma uncovered MIGHT also be happening in a small part of Seattle’s service area, so SPU is advising a specific precaution: Until they find out for sure if the lead problem is happening anywhere here too, any time you have NOT run the water in your home or business for six hours, turn on a faucet and run it for two minutes before using it.
This is NOT just a West Seattle thing, and NOT related to the rust/sediment situation that led to the flushing that’s been happening here (just last night, we were out with the flushing crew and were starting to work on that update, when we found out about this and found ourselves writing this completely different water-system story instead).
What Tacoma has been doing, Ryan explained, is looking for galvanized-steel service pipes in their system that are connected to water mains with “a piece of lead pipe called a gooseneck.” He says Tacoma, Seattle, and many other cities have some of those goosenecks because their systems are so old. But they don’t know exactly where those goosenecks are – many are near older houses “built before good records were kept,” explained Ryan.
SPU DOES know where the galvanized lines connect to the water mains. There will soon be a map on the SPU website showing where those are – about 2,000 in Seattle, they believe. That will help them accelerate looking for the goosenecks. Ryan said there had already been an effort to replace them when crews found them, and they’ve been trying to find ways to step up the search. Tacoma, he explains, came up with a way to test water inside galvanized-pipe areas to look for heightened lead levels, and that’s what led to the current concerns, after a handful of samples came back. “As soon as we learned about this, we immediately started to figure out what that meant for our system,” Ryan told WSB. “Short answer is – we don’t know (yet).” So they’re launching the same kind of testing in the galvanized lines to see what turns up.
It should be noted, though, that Seattle Public Utilities has already been routinely testing its water for lead and other undesirable metals such as copper, “greatly exceed(ing) regulators’ standards.”
We visited the lab (March photo above) for our recent story about “who’s watching your water?” related to the ongoing effort to reduce the incidences of “brown water” here. (And yet again, if you haven’t followed our coverage, “brown water” does NOT involve lead – it’s basically rust that’s stirred up in the cast-iron water mains, and even visible levels of it are not a health risk. Lead is basically invisible. It has not turned up in Seattle tests, Ryan says.)
Meantime, they’re hoping to get some samples back “really quickly” to see if what Tacoma found “is applicable here.” Since the locations of possible problems aren’t known yet, “we are asking everyone to just be extra cautious – run your water for two minutes if it’s been sitting in the pipe for more than six hours.” That’s being advised out of “an abundance of caution,” he stresses. “Prior to hearing back from Tacoma, we had not considered, nor had regulators considered, these galvanized pipes and gooseneck fittings to be an issue.” There are some differences between how Tacoma and Seattle run their systems, he notes, particularly the treatment methods, which could lead to a different level of corrosion in their pipes, in turn meaning that what’s detected there will NOT turn up here. But they have to find out.
Until you hear otherwise from SPU, follow the “run the water for two minutes after it’s been in the pipes for six hours” advice TFN. Keep watch for a map on their website showing the “general areas of the 9,000 galvanized service lines, maybe four percent of all our service lines. 2,000 of those might have the gooseneck fittings.” (Those fittings used lead because it was more flexible and less likely to break, he explained.)
If you have questions – SPU already has a special phone number: 206-684-5800.
When the aforementioned map, and any other information, is online, we’ll link that here too.
BOTTOM LINE: For now, SPU is asking *everyone* to run their water for two minutes after six hours of non-use. (So, when you wake up, and when you get home from work, if your residence is empty during the day.) That will soon be narrowed down to the 9,000 or so customers who are connected to water mains via galvanized-steel piping. The lead goosenecks are only believed to be in use for a quarter of those connections, but that will be the most difficult thing for SPU to narrow down.
8:11 PM UPDATE: SPU’s website now has information, linked from its left sidebar, which points you to this page. No location information yet on where the city believes it has the galvanized piping that could be connected to the aforementioned lead-containing gooseneck fittings, but it promises, “More information about potentially impacted homes will be posted here soon.”
Right now police are at the scene of a one-car crash on Puget Ridge, on 21st SW north of Dawson. What we’ve heard via the scanner so far is that it’s a mystery – the car was found with airbags deployed, but no one inside (which is why a “rescue” callout was quickly canceled). The location is notable because just a few hours ago, as reported in our coverage of the West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting, a neighbor brought police a petition asking for speed enforcement on that stretch of 21st, which is now part of the Delridge-Highland Park Neighborhood Greenway.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Gunfire was the first thing our area’s top law enforcer brought up as tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting began.
CRIME TRENDS: Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis opened the meeting with his crime-trends briefing, as usual. “As of lately, there’s been a lot of shots-fired incidents, there’s reasons behind it … it is alarming,” and community members “are quite tired, and I don’t blame them one bit.”
Once shots are reported, “we do take them very seriously, our officers go out and investigate … if there’s physical evidence that can be confiscated and taken to a lab, we do that .. there’s a whole unit that does that to see if there’s a nexus between different areas of the city (and other cities). … There’s shots-fired evidence we can link to various crimes throughout the area.” According to Capt. Davis, gangs and drugs are what’s most often involved “and we’re quickly putting together the pieces as to who’s who.”
He mentioned one particular trouble spot – a mile-plus of 16th SW, from the 6900 through 9000 block. South Park (which also is served by the SW Precinct) is being plagued by gunfire incidents, too, and so, he said, patrols have been stepped up, even including SWAT officers and the Anti-Crime Team. But they can’t patrol around the clock, he warned: “Obviously these individuals are smart enough to know if you’re shooting when police are around, you’re probably going to get caught … I wish I had enough officers to have out there 24/7 but that’s not the case.”
A resident of 21st SW in Puget Ridge spoke up at this point to say she had heard gunshots for three nights.
It’s beautiful, and it can be deadly. Water surrounds us, but water safety isn’t routinely taught to the youngest and most vulnerable among us. April Pool’s Day is meant to change that. The annual mix of safety lessons, free swim time, and incentives including raffles and treats happened at pools all over King County today, including Seattle Parks’ Southwest Pool in West Seattle. Toward the end of the free family event, lifeguards taught a round of boating safety, above. At poolside, we met someone with a special reason for pride in what was happening:
That’s Tony Gomez, who manages the violence and injury prevention program for the Seattle-King County Public Health Department, and organized April Pool’s Day almost a quarter-century ago. He said it was inspired by a desire to recognize those who had saved lives – and then became a way to teach safety to those who could learn to save themselves. We talked about how this time of year – the first warm, sunny days – always brings the risk, and sometimes the reality, of deadly tragedy, especially in our area’s fast-moving, chilly river waters, far more treacherous than they appear. Today’s events focused on cold-water awareness, lifejacket use and promotion, and basic water rescue. If someone in your family doesn’t know how to swim – it’s never too soon, or too late, to start. April Pool’s Day is a reminder of that.
Information on lessons and swim sessions at SW Pool is here.
(Map from July 2015 slide deck about 35th SW plan)
More than half a year after the much-discussed changes on 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury, Phase 1 of the 35th SW Corridor Safety Project, you might be wondering when we’ll hear the timeline for Phase 2, north of Morgan. After Kevin e-mailed to ask for an update, we checked in again with SDOT‘s project manager Jim Curtin. His reply: “We will host a couple of meetings about 35th in May – likely the weeks of the 9th and/or the 16th. We definitely want to chat with residents living immediately adjacent to 35th and provide other street users with an opportunity to chat about our work moving forward.” Phase 2 was outlined in the Phase 1 announcement last July (WSB coverage here), including a declaration of no channelization changes north of SW Edmunds, but the timeline hadn’t previously been specified.
Two weeks after first word of a new SDOT safety project at Avalon/Yancy/30th/Andover, we have an update – work starts as soon as next Monday. This information was distributed in the immediate area today, SDOT says, and will be going out to the project e-mail list tomorrow:
We wanted to let you know that as soon as next Monday, March 28, crews working for SDOT will begin constructing pedestrian-safety improvements at the intersections of 30th Ave SW with SW Avalon Way and SW Avalon Way with SW Andover and SW Yancy streets. Construction is anticipated to take about 6 weeks to complete, but the schedule is weather dependent.
People can expect the following impacts during construction (more detail in the attached construction notice):
Temporary closure of SW Andover St at SW Avalon Way for the first three weeks of construction, depending on the weather. Local access will be maintained from 32nd Ave SW.
Temporary closure of SW Yancy St and 30th Ave SW at SW Avalon Way for the last three weeks of construction. Local access will be maintained from SW Genesee St. The duration of this closure is also weather dependent.
King County Metro routes will not be impacted.
Pedestrian detours around work zones. People following the sidewalk detours will not need to cross SW Avalon Way.
Temporary closure of bike lanes on SW Avalon Way. People riding bikes will be directed to merge with vehicle traffic.
Weekday work hours, 7 AM to 5 PM.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
About 50 people filled the Southwest Precinct’s public-meeting room tonight, as the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network heard from – and talked with – District 1 City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for the first time.
One big issue is one that she and other councilmembers will discuss tomorrow morning – Seattle Police staffing – also a hot topic at WSBWCN two months ago.
The meeting also included SW Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis‘s usual briefing; more on what he said, after our recap of Councilmember Herbold’s appearance.
“About the public-safety work I’ve been doing this year,” she listed matters including her request for further breakdown of 911-response-time data – particularly the two sectors in the SW Precinct, drilling down further to the “beats, so we can see if there are any conclusions we can draw.” Among other factors she wants to look at is response/distance correlation. 9.4 minutes and 10.9 minutes were the average response times for the two sectors, she said.
She said she’s been working with the “nuisance crime” problem in South Park, and also is “excited to dig into the (SPD staffing) study … I still believe that it is a correct belief that we are understaffed as a department.”
“We would all agree with that!” interjected an attendee.
Herbold continued, “I was disappointed that we could not reach an agreement to make some gains while we waited for the staffing report,” which will be reviewed tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 9:30 am at City Hall by the Gender Equity, Safe Communities, and New Americans Committee, chaired by at-large-but-West Seattle-residing Councilmember Lorena González.
What do you want your City Councilmember to know about safety/crime in your neighborhood? The West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network has just announced that Councilmember Lisa Herbold will be their guest tomorrow (Tuesday) night, 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct. She’s already addressed a variety of public-safety topics – you can scroll through her blog-format website to see – but this is your chance to hear from her, and ask her questions, firsthand. You don’t have to be part of a Block Watch to attend – all welcome; the precinct is at 2300 SW Webster, and the meeting room is right off the parking lot.
That’s a quick Instagram-video spin (mouse over the image to bring up the “play” button) around the treacherous intersection of 30th/Avalon/Yancy/Andover. Busy road, many residents, south edge of the Luna Park business district, RapidRide stop steps away … dangerous whether you’re on wheels or on foot. It’s been a concern for many years – and now improvements are on the way. This came in from project manager Brian Glas at SDOT this afternoon:
Starting as soon as late March, crews working for the Seattle Department of Transportation will add a curb extension, curb ramps, a striped crosswalk, and a flashing crossing beacon at the intersections of SW Avalon Way, SW Andover St, SW Yancy St, and 30th Ave SW.
As I’m sure you know, this junction of intersections does not have a marked crosswalk across the SW Avalon Way arterial. Also, the current sidewalks do not have curb ramps that are compliant with current Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, making access difficult for people with assistive devices (such as wheelchairs, walkers, or strollers). Please see the map in the attached project fact sheet for more details about the planned improvements.
The contractor has not yet finalized the construction schedule, but we wanted to give you and your readers a heads up of some general construction impacts. Crews will need to temporarily close SW Andover, SW Yancy St, and 30th Ave SW at SW Avalon Way as they build the improvements. They plan to close these side streets on a rotating schedule, to minimize impacts. There will also be intermittent single lane restrictions on SW Avalon Way while crews are working. During these lane restrictions, a flagger will be present to maintain two-way traffic. As of now, we expect King County Metro routes will not be impacted. We anticipate construction will last approximately 6 weeks, though the paving work is very weather dependent. As we know more about the traffic impacts during construction, we will distribute construction notices door-to-door in the project area and to the project email list.
This project is part of the Pedestrian Master Plan, which aims to enhance pedestrian safety, comfort, and access in all of Seattle’s neighborhoods. This project is also part of the Neighborhood Street Fund Program and was one of three projects the Delridge District Council submitted in 2015.
We also plan to send out project listserv email updates throughout construction. People can sign up to receive updates here.
Note that this does *not* include a signal, though one was decreed as “warranted” back in 2011 – before the signal was added at Genesee/Avalon nearby.
(UPDATED 4:36 PM with new version of letter, via Denny’s principal)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:23 PM: Thanks to the Denny International Middle School and Chief Sealth International High School parents who shared a note that has been e-mailed to families about an incident that brought police to Denny this morning – hours before tonight’s student-safety meeting at Sealth:
Today, it was reported to administration that a Denny parent had made concerning comments to a scholar who was not his own child at school.
As a precaution, the Seattle Police Department was contacted. The Police came to school, interviewed those involved and documented the incident. The Seattle Police Department released the parent and we have had a normal school day.
As always, safety is our top priority. We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Thank you for all of your ongoing support.
The letter is signed by Denny principal Jeff Clark and Sealth principal Aida Fraser-Hammer. We checked with the district to find out more; spokesperson Stacy Howard explains that the reported comments were construed as potentially hostile, and came at morning dropoff time, after the parent’s child apparently pointed out and said something about a previous interaction with the other child.
P.S. Tonight’s 7 pm meeting in the school library, as mentioned again here last night, is meant to address issues of student safety off-campus as well as at school, and members of the community are welcome as well as students and families from Sealth and Denny.
ADDED 4:36 PM: Denny principal Clark says this letter is now being sent – it includes additional details:
Today at school we have had some conflict between two 7th grade scholars. As a part of this it was reported to administration that a Denny parent had made concerning comments to a scholar who was not his own child at school. As a pre-caution, the Seattle Police Department was contacted. The Police came to school, interviewed those involved and documented the incident. The Seattle Police Department released the parent. Despite a pro-active intervention to help solve the conflict, the two scholars got into a physical altercation. One of them received medical attention. Multiple steps will be in place to help these two scholars to resolve this conflict and develop the skills to solve problems peacefully.
As always, safety is our top priority. We will continue to communicate with you on a regular basis. Thank you for all of your ongoing support.
One more reminder – tomorrow (Wednesday) night, students, families, staff, and neighbors of Chief Sealth International High School and Denny International Middle School (and anyone else interested) are invited to come talk about keeping students safe, in the community as well as on campus. It’s happening at 7 pm in the library at CSIHS (2600 SW Thistle) and will include reps from Seattle Police, Seattle Public Schools, and other community-service providers. School administration and the Sealth PTSA are hosting the meeting and hoping to see you there.
(Bus headed southbound on 26th SW, north of Roxbury; watch for the damaged pavement panels after it passes)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One of the side effects of Westwood Village becoming a de-facto transit center is something that residents just to the south say they’re living with day in and day out, night in and night out – buses rumbling by almost continuously, leaving behind damaged pavement and causing their homes to settle.
More than a dozen residents brought their concerns to last night’s meeting of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (as we tweeted during the meeting). WWRHAH’s transportation committee is headed by Chris Stripinis, who lives in the area, and has created a website with a clearinghouse of information about the problem, at westwoodbus.wordpress.com.
In his introduction on that site, Stripinis wrote:
Severe visible road damage – On Barton, 26th Ave. and Roxbury, concrete panels in bus lanes are misaligned, cracked and subsiding under the weight of the buses.
Shaking of homes – Residents of Roxbury, 26th Ave. and Barton have reported significant, earthquake-level shaking in their homes as buses pass by. A seismic sensor designed for monitoring earthquake activity has recorded earthquake-level shaking in one Roxbury Street home.
Pavement Condition Index (PCI) numbers – On Barton and 26th Ave., PCI numbers supplied by SDOT show markedly lower ratings for lanes used for bus travel.
Bus weight waiver – Transit buses are overweight for local roads but operate under federal and state waivers to allow them on surface streets not engineered to handle these loads.
The panels over which the buses travel on 26th, as seen in our video clip above, look like this:
Last night, the problem was discussed with both Metro and SDOT reps in the room:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two major transportation-related topics at tonight’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting, too big for one story, so we’re tackling them separately.
In this first report: A SW Roxbury Safety Project report card, six months after changes including the rechannelization of its western mile-plus, to one travel lane each way plus a center turn lane, presented with information about what’s yet to come.
Jim Curtin, SDOT’s project manager for Roxbury (and the concurrent 35th SW changes), brought new stats, half a year after preps for the restriping began, along with an update on what’s next.
As Curtin explained tonight, “It was an effort to improve safety, and it all came up because this neighborhood council sent a thoughtful letter asking us to take a look at the corridor … as anyone in the neighborhood knows, walking along Roxbury was not a fun thing. We had two lanes in each direction; if you had a vehicle of any substantial size in that curb lane, they were going 30 to 40 mph literally inches away from you as a pedestrian. We took a look at the data and found out there was a high injury rate – that’s something we don’t like to see; the speed data showed an egregious speeding problem; we have two schools, Holy Family at 20th SW and Roxhill Elementary at 30th SW … As somebody who lives in Arbor Heights, I drop the kids off at day care every morning and (see these roads). … Wider streets encourage faster speeds.”
They reviewed, as he reminded everyone, the entire corridor from 35th to Olson. “Most of the changes have been on the western end of the corridor, but we’re gearing up to do some things further east” – not further rechannelization, he said, because the eastern part has too much volume for that, “one of the busiest streets in West Seattle.”
Here’s the latest data (with a formal report to come in September, along with recommendations):
SPEEDING: Down “significantly,” Curtin said.
At 20th SW (Holy Family), the 85th-percentile speed pre-rechannelization, was 37.5 mph – 7.5 mph over posted speed limit. Since the rechannelization, the 85th-percentile speeds have dropped by 3.7 mph, just a bit under 10 percent reduction.
At 30th SW (Roxhill Elementary), a “big drop in speeds” – pre-project, 85th percentile was 41.3 mph, 11.3 mph over posted speed limit; post-project, 34 mph – a 7.3 mph (17 percent) reduction in speed.
CRASHES: At 26th/Roxbury, which is still being evaluated for possible changes such as turn signals, there were 17 collisions in the 3-year period pre-rechannelization; post-project, zero, Curtin said: “We’re thinking that’s a good change at this point.”
As a whole, 17th to 35th SW on Roxbury, grand total of two collisions in the six months post-rechannelization, both “property damage only” crashes – zero injuries, zero serious injuries, zero fatalities. Curtin’s assessment: “We are certainly liking where those numbers are taking us.”
TRAFFIC VOLUMES: Steady, almost exactly what they were before, 475 per hour is the busiest it gets.
TRAVEL TIMES: Interns are doing what they call “floating car surveys” on all the SDOT rechannelization projects, “driving the corridor during peak hours with a passenger with a stopwatch, recording times.” So far, Curtin said, travel times are basically unchanged, with a maximum delay of 23 seconds over pre-project travel times: “Very little change or impact to vehicular traffic out there.”
FEEDBACK: After Curtin finished, two participants brought up issues such as having to wait a long time to back out of driveways or to merge into traffic. “The floating tally doesn’t include that,” one man suggested. What’s the likelihood of changes at 26th/Roxbury? Curtin was asked. It’s functioning well now, he said, but “I think we can take a look at it” – looking at, for example, lengthening the north-south “green time” on 26th. Some other questions led to Curtin wondering if possibly a “signal loop” in the pavement had failed, so he said they’ll take a look.
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold arrived during the briefing and asked about the analysis Curtin mentioned for fall, as well as the feedback on 35th SW. Can citizens help define how it’s analyzed? she said, urging a “partnership” between SDOT and the community. “That’s how this project got started in the first place,” Curtin pointed out.
One attendee noted, in support of the changes, that people who “can no longer speed” certainly are experiencing a slower commute, so “their opinion might not be as valid. … I’m just amazed at 6:20 in the morning at how many people are ready to, like, shoot me for going the speed limit.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROXBURY CORRIDOR: SDOT is up to 90 percent design for the new stretch of sidewalk coming to the south side of the street, east of 30th SW; a bit of it is in the city, but mostly in King County. They’ll take it out to bid in April and then build “400 linear feet of sidewalk,” which will “complete the sidewalk network” in the area (which has already seen new sidewalks as part of the Safe Routes to School program).
Also: Look for two new radar speed signs between 4th and 12th SW; they’ve made some modifications at the crash-prone 8th SW intersection, Curtin said, and they’re working to reduce the speed limit to 30 mph there.
At Olson and Roxbury, where Roxbury curves into Olson Place, SDOT will “fully signalize the crosswalk at that intersection” this year.
They’ll be rebuilding the sidewalk and improving barriers at Myers Way and Olson Place – ramps and other pedestrian improvements in the works.
And, looking back to the west a ways, “we’re still working on pavement and ramps in the section where the pavement is the worst” at 17th and 18th, in tandem with King County, because it’s “mostly theirs,” plus a City Light vault.
“Otherwise, I’m totally open to everyone’s comments and suggestions,” said Curtin. (You can reach him at email@example.com – and in addition to a Roxbury report this fall, you can also watch for news about the northern section of 35th SW in the months ahead.)
What about the slickness on the Roxbury/Olson hill area? asked a motorcycle rider. Another SDOT rep present said they thought they had it solved by tracing it to a particular model of Metro bus that seemed to be causing an “oil issue” at various spots around the city, but it’s not completely corrected, he acknowledged, so there may be something else in play.
SPEAKING OF BUSES: Report #2 will focus on the discussion of a problem that residents of 26th SW south of Westwood Village have been experiencing since RapidRide and other changes transformed the area into a major transit center without a significant amount of planning – damaged pavement and curbs, and settling/sinking houses.
Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, co-chaired by Amanda Kay Helmick and Eric Iwamoto, now meets on first Mondays, 6:15 pm, at Southwest Library.
Speaking of school safety – from the WSB inbox:
The topic of the meeting is “Student Safety: What you all need to know.” Representatives from Seattle Public Schools, the Seattle Police Department, and other community service providers will provide information about how students, families and neighbors can be involved in supporting student safety on campus and in the community. All CSIHS and Denny International Middle School students, families, staff and neighbors are invited and encouraged to attend.
CSIHS is at 2600 SW Thistle.
We’re at that point in trying to solve a mystery where it’s time to go wide – maybe *you* know something?
Last night, Mike tweeted about a strong natural-gas-type odor in a RapidRide bus as they traveled past Harbor Island – enough of a concern, he says, that the bus driver stopped to call it in. We checked the Seattle Fire log from yesterday – as SFD often responds to “natural gas odor” calls – and found 6 of them around the city, no obvious confluence, but two were in SODO.
First thing this morning, we checked with the major local natural-gas utility Puget Sound Energy, whose spokesperson Ray Lane replied, “We investigated the incident, and our team determined it was NOT natural gas. It could be some odor coming from the Port. We understand the odor was being detected again this morning.” Mike confirmed that – under the bridge, this time. We’ve also checked with the port, whose spokesperson Peter McGraw told us, “Our folks have been smelling the same thing around East Marginal and Spokane, and was reported in, but it was not likely from port operations.” We’re not at a total dead end yet, but thought we’d ask you. If you don’t want to comment openly, firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks!
8:37 PM NOTE: Still a mystery. We also checked with Corey Orvold, spokesperson for SFD, to ask if any of the crews investigating those six calls on Monday found anything. The smell was very real, she said, having been in one area where it was reported – but firefighters’ tests didn’t identify it, either.
When Mayor Murray first announced on January 19th that the city would open two “safe lots” for people living in RVs and other vehicles – one in Highland Park and one in Ballard – he said the city expected to have them open within 30 days.
While the one in Ballard made that timeline – opening February 19th – there’s been no sign of activity on the West Seattle site, a paved lot at W. Marginal Way SW and Highland Park Way, aside from a canvas-covered chain-link fence around it. We’ve been asking city reps frequently for an update on the plan, and today there’s a new answer. From Katherine Jolly of the Human Services Department:
We are currently focused on getting the Ballard safe lot fully operational before we open the second lot. As you know, this is the first time the City has done this and we want to make sure we address many of the lessons learned in the first lot before we stand up a second one. I will keep you posted as we decide on a more specific timeline for the second Safe Lot.
The two lots together were originally announced as expected to hold a total of 50 vehicles; the most recent estimate for the Highland Park lot was 12. We have a followup question out to Jolly to ask about the current count at the Ballard lot, which had four when we went by two days after it opened.