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VIDEO: ‘It’s going to be an interesting year and a half,’ Sound Transit rep tells West Seattle meeting, and explains why

That’s our video of last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization-hosted Sound Transit light-rail briefing/Q&A session at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.


No revelations in the presentation itself. ST’s Cathal Ridge recapped the overall Sound Transit 3 plan, including the 4.7-mile extension from SODO to the West Seattle Junction that’s scheduled to open in 2030, connecting to a new downtown tunnel opening in 2035 with the northward extension to Ballard.

Key timeline points: “Alternatives development” from now through early 2019, then the environmental-review process, 2022-2025 design, with construction starting in 2025. An attendee asked about right-of-way acquisition; Ridge said that would likely happen around 2023. When concerns were raised about ST taking property via eminent domain, he said they try to use that as little as possible.

Key process point: ST plans to assemble three “stakeholder” groups for an engagement process starting next year. “We really want people to be involved from the get-go and issues to be identified” early. These groups – one of which will involve elected officials – will have “20 or so” people who are “able to meet periodically.” In Q&A, some worried that too much decisionmaking will be up to people from outside the area; it was pointed out that the Sound Transit board currently includes two West Seattleites, King County Executive Dow Constantine and County Council Chair Joe McDermott.

Open houses are planned in January-February of next year (no specifics yet), and that’s when Sound Transit will come back to West Seattle with more information on where things stand at the start. That includes the roughed-out “representative alignment” of where the West Seattle route and stations might be. While Ridge did not bring the existing maps to the JuNO event, he acknowledged that they had already been shown by the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (as seen below, republished from our coverage of WSTC’s unofficial design workshop back in June):

That’s part of what Ridge described as “a lot of work” that already has happened, even at that early stage, though he added, “It doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what will be built,” while reiterating that ST wants to hear issues and ideas.

Those will, it was made clear by several attendees, continue to include the suggestion that tunneling would make more sense to get to The Junction rather than what’s envisioned now as a much-elevated track. Without getting into the added cost of tunneling, though, Ridge noted that input needs to take into consideration the big picture, such as the project budget.

And in turn, several attendees pointed out that West Seattle – and The Junction in particular – is leery of processes like this because of how others, such as HALA upzoning, already have played out in a less-than-collaborative manner.

One requested that ST “come back early and often” to talk with the community.

Referring to the intensive early planning that’ll continue into 2019, Ridge said, “It’s going to be an interesting year and a half.”

PARKING POLICY CHANGES: Proposal allows ‘shared’ parking, expands areas where offstreet parking isn’t required, and more

While many city-government watchers had their attention on the budget battle today, a major proposal was released by Mayor Tim Burgess‘s office – proposed changes in parking policy. The map above, based on 2009-2014 research about carlessness percentages in neighborhoods, was included.

The official news release focused primarily on one component of the proposal, “shared” parking, but there’s much more to it, as summarized in this report that was among the documents made public today:

The proposed parking-policy changes follow low-level “outreach” at city events where other topics took centerstage, such as last December’s the infamous Junction open house for HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzoning, primarily held at what was then Shelby’s.

If you don’t have time yet to go through the summary document above, it breaks down what’s proposed into six areas – number 3 is the big one:

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Metro has questions for you, as it unveils next steps in converting Route 120 into RapidRide H Line

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though we’re almost three years from the expected launch of the RapidRide H Line – which will be a conversion of what’s now Route 120 – the process requires that some key decisions be made soon, Metro says, so the next round of feedback is launching now.

First: A brand-new online survey for you.

Next: Community meetings are planned in White Center and Burien during the second week of December (exact dates, times, locations to come).

Just before the survey was announced today, we talked with the project manager for the H Line development, Jerry Roberson, and Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer. Roberson, a West Seattle resident, says the new round of feedback is to “find out what issues we should be addressing” before they wrap up the “planning phase” next spring, getting ready for construction in 2019 and launch in 2020 (likely with the September service change).

We asked about a key issue that’s resurfaced repeatedly in community-group discussions about the impending conversion: Concerns that RapidRide is geared toward getting people downtown quickly, but Route 120 is used much more for point-to-point transportation on Delridge.

That’s what they hope to learn more about during this feedback process, said Roberson. And because there will be no “underlying local service,” he acknowledged, “we’re going to have to be flexible.” That means instead of the standard RapidRide half-mile spacing, stops will likely be closer together, “especially in the more urban areas of the corridor – which is much of the corridor. … There are areas where we may have as close as quarter-mile (spacing),” though he expects the average will be more like a third of a mile. “That’s one of the things we’re going to take to the public.” Your feedback, Metro insists, will be vital. “Maybe the public will point out, here’s a critical stop, and here’s the reason why.”

They also want to hear exactly how you use transit and where it falls in your transportation usage – and find out where they might need to upgrade pedestrian connections to get people to RapidRide stops from home, school, business, etc. Where you start your trip and how you connect with transit are big questions they want you to answer, “so we can understand the needs,” Switzer explains.

Speaking of “where,” the final alignment of the H Line has not yet been settled, and they are looking at some alternatives in White Center – between 17th and Roxbury and 16th/107th – and in Burien, as circled on the map above. (That’s why Metro was collecting traffic data in WC recently, as we reported two weeks ago on partner site White Center Now.)

The feedback obtained from the new survey and at December open houses will be incorporated in time for follow-up meetings early next year, and then, Roberson says, their “target date to start design” is April 30th.

P.S. The project is a partnership with SDOT in part of because of the funding the city contributes to service; here’s our report from last spring on feedback that the city collected for H Line planning. That followed this Delridge Neighborhoods District Council discussion.

FOLLOWUP: Metro flat-rate fare gets County Council OK

The Metro Transit flat rate proposed this past summer just got approval from the County Council. From the official notice of today’s hearing, here’s what will happen:

The regular fare peak, off-peak and zone fare differential would be eliminated to create a flat regular fare of $2.75. The regular fare would be increased by $0.25 per trip during the off-peak, remain the same for one-zone trips during the peak, and be decreased by $0.50 for two-zone trips during the peak. The youth fare, low-income fare, seniors and persons with disabilities fare, and fares for Access paratransit service would not change. These fare changes would apply to all regularly scheduled public transportation service on buses, trolleys, transit vans, and dial-a-ride vehicles. These changes would take effect July 1, 2018.

Newly re-elected King County Executive Dow Constantine says, “We’ve taken customer feedback and turned it into action.” That feedback was collected last spring.

From DART to Hyde to vanpools and beyond: What you might not know about all your transportation options

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you want to – or have to – let someone else do the driving, you have more options than you might realize.

That was the theme of a recent forum presented by the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. WSTC put together a panel of representatives from advocacy groups and transportation providers who presented information, and answered questions, about many of those options.

It’s a money matter as well as a mobility matter:

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Washington State Ferries’ Triangle Task Force ‘at a crossroads’ as schedule-change plan nears

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Triangle Route Task Force is at a crossroads – should it continue or wrap up?

It was created early this year with the expectations its members would commit a year to tackling some of the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route’s challenges.

But now Washington State Ferries says it’s time to tackle a big one – revamping the Triangle Route’s schedules – and thinking the task force might want to hang around and help.

That was one big topic at tonight’s meeting, which started 15 minutes late because the ferries were running late, not because of a Fauntleroy backup like the ones that have caused so much past trouble, but because of what WSF alerts described as an “offloading problem” on Vashon.

First – the group’s executive “sponsor” from WSF is now John Vezina, because the scope of its work has moved away from how things work at the dock. Several other WSF managers were present today; facilitating again was WSF’s Hadley Rodero, supported by Justin Fujioka, also from the WSF Communications team.

CHANGING THE SCHEDULE: The WSF reps now say this will happen – it wasn’t voiced in such certain terms earlier this year. The numbers reviewed included these:

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BRIDGE CLOSURE ALERT: Fauntleroy Expressway end of West Seattle Bridge to be closed late Friday night-early Saturday

Just announced by SDOT:

SDOT advises travelers that crews will close a portion of the West Seattle Bridge (Fauntleroy Expressway) in both directions to replace jersey barriers on Friday night, November 10 through Saturday morning, November 11.

From 11:59 p.m. on Friday, November 10, through 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 11, travelers can expect:

*Both directions of the West Seattle Bridge (Fauntleroy Expressway) will be closed between 35th Ave SW and SW Admiral Way

*Signed detours will be posted:

*Eastbound traffic will be detoured via SW Avalon Way to SW Spokane St to the West Seattle Bridge

*Westbound traffic will be detoured via Harbor Ave SW to SW Avalon Way

The West Seattle Bridge is scheduled to reopen by 7 a.m. on Saturday.

As mentioned previously in our traffic/transportation coverage, overnight Friday night-Saturday morning also will bring a closure of the Battery Street Tunnel at the north end of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, because of paving-related work above the tunnel.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit briefing confirmed for November 15th

As mentioned in our coverage of last night’s Southwest District Council meeting, Sound Transit reps will be in West Seattle in two weeks for a presentation and Q&A about where the light-rail project stands. We’ve just confirmed with ST that the meeting is set for 6:30 pm Wednesday, November 15th, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). Though the line to West Seattle is not scheduled to start running until 2030, planning is under way, and this is the time to get your comments in. The Junction Neighborhood Organization notes, “This is a great opportunity for the community to voice their support for an underground light rail station at the West Seattle Alaska Junction.”

Getting ready for RapidRide H Line: Traffic studies in White Center

After a few questions about temporary traffic cameras in downtown White Center, we found out that King County is doing studies for the future conversion of Metro Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line. (Let us know if you see similar installations on this side of the line!) Details – including your next chance for feedback – are in the story we just published on partner site White Center Now.

FOLLOWUP: Timeline for SDOT’s next round of work at 59th/Admiral, and other intersections nearby

(WSB photo from this afternoon substituted for file photo originally used here)

1:37 PM: Another update from SDOT today about 59th/Admiral, two days after the without-warning end to its almost-two months as an all-ways stop, a change that led to parents from nearby Alki Elementary voicing safety concerns: SDOT communications director Mafara Hobson tells WSB that “We plan to visit the intersection today to do layout for the new decorative curb bulbs, median, and crosswalks. We’ll spray paint outlines for our crews. Pending weather, installation could occur as soon as Nov. 7. Installation will happen during normal working hours.” So if you see new markings – that’s what it’s about. Meantime, changes at other intersections – as first announced four months ago – are still in the works, and SDOT says that they’re tentatively scheduled to work at 61st/Admiral and SW Stevens/Admiral as soon as mid-November. Here’s how those intersections are scheduled to change, according to the SDOT graphics made public in June:

This is all part of the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, which included rechannelization of much of Admiral west of California a year ago.

4:02 PM: Thanks for the tips – we’ve since been back to the area and photographed two things – top photo shows the workers doing what SDOT told us they’d be doing; next photo, apparently Traffic Enforcement officers have been out in the area all day – this is one of two we passed on the uphill side of Admiral not far east of the intersection:

The Traffic Safety Task Force parents are “encouraged to see movement,” says Merkys Gomez.

ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: The TSTF’s official response sent to SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg, related to what transpired earlier this week – read it in its entirety after the jump:

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FOLLOWUP: What’s next for 59th/Admiral after sudden predawn reversal of all-way-stop configuration

We took that photo this morning before 8 am at 59th/Admiral, where, after weeks of concern over the effects of SDOT changing it to an all-way stop, a crew showed up pre-dawn and changed it back without warning or even a “traffic revision” sign (as subsequently reported in our morning traffic coverage). Then at noontime, we got a tip that a crew was back to add signs and do some other work, so we went over and found this:

Before that, we had asked SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg this morning what’s next for the intersection now that it’s suddenly been “changed back” – which doesn’t answer all the safety concerns that parents at nearby Alki Elementary had voiced. Her reply just arrived in the form of a copy of the following e-mail to them and other concerned parties:

Many of you have followed the SDOT ‘Signal to All-way Stop’ pilot project at SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW, installed August 31. As part of our Vision Zero efforts, the Department is considering alternative crossing designs at various intersections throughout the city. The SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW location was selected for an All-Way Stop, curb bulbs and additional marked crosswalks based on community input received through the SW Admiral Way Safety Project during the SDOT Walk and Talk last August; and a review of traffic volumes, operations and crossing use.

Once installed, we committed to monitoring the crosswalk for up to six-months to determine whether the new All-Way Stop design was a good fit for the intersection. Over the past month and a half, we collected feedback from community members as well as the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary regarding their concerns on how drivers and pedestrians are adjusting. Through our evaluation of the new design we concluded that the benefits of the All-Way Stop are similar to the original Pedestrian Signal. With that in mind, coupled with some community members’ concern, we decided to revert to the original design.

Unfortunately, an internal snafu within in the Department resulted in the premature start of the work. The community should have been alerted prior to the installation and ‘traffic revision ahead’ signs placed. We deeply regret any inconvenience this caused drivers and pedestrians this morning. Signs are now in place.

Going forward, here’s what you should except as we install phase 2 (see graphic below):

· Two decorative paint and post curb bulbs
· One decorative paint and post median at 59th Ave SW
· Two new crosswalks
· Two Flashing ‘School, 20MPH’ signs

As promised, we’ll accelerate installation of the curb bulbs, median and crosswalks to get them installed within the next two months, weather permitting. The flashing signs are expected to be installed during first quarter 2018, once equipment has arrived.

Councilmember González (Citywide, Pos. 9) and Councilmember Herbold (District 1) have engaged with us on this matter, and both continue to advocate for pedestrian safety along SW Admiral Way. We have committed to maintaining good communication with both Councilmembers, their staff, and the community; and they have conveyed the expectation that we work towards implementing solutions in lockstep with community.

We can note firsthand that the change without warning was a little more than “inconvenience” – going through the intersection both ways on Admiral at noontime, we experienced near-collisions both ways involving people turning and expecting us to stop. Meantime, here’s the graphic Schellenberg mentioned:

The initial change to an all-way stop was also installed pre-dawn, but that was with four weeks of warning that the change was going to happen. It’s all a followup to the rechannelization of much of Admiral west of California, with initial work done a year-plus ago.

FOLLOWUP: 59th/Admiral safety concerns now the subject of online petition

(WSB photo, October 9th, looking west from south side of 59th/Admiral)

Two weeks after our first report on Alki Elementary School parents contending that SDOT changes at 59th/Admiral made it unsafe rather than safer, they’ve launched an online petition so other concerned community members can show support.

They say they’re continuing to see near-collisions every morning, including this one last week, detailed by parent Merkys Gomez, one of the founders of the school’s Traffic Safety Task Force:

Another parent and I with our block school bus were standing on the intersection of 59th and Admiral on the south side ready to cross. Jeanne, the crossing guard, normally has us wait there until she’s standing in the middle of Admiral waving her flag for us to cross. She was about to step into the intersection. There was a line of cars on Admiral heading eastbound. A driver in a black Audi decided that he didn’t want to wait. He crossed the double-yellow line, floored it through the turning lane and across the intersection as the first car heading eastbound was getting ready to cross the intersection, and nearly missed a Metro bus heading westbound. You could hear his wheels spinning in the rain. The trajectory if he would’ve hit the bus would’ve sent the car our way. … We were all stunned, and none of us wanted to enter the intersection, not even Jeanne. We just stood. The children were clutching our arms. The crossing guard has been told that she must get a license plate number to get anything to happen. That’s impossible when we’re holding flags and kids’ hands and someone hauls across the intersection. SDOT needs to capture this data of near-misses.

Meantime, the extra stop sign recently placed in the center lane a half-block east of the intersection is gone – last seen in pieces on the planting strip. And the parents say they’re still waiting for a formal response from SDOT: “While we wait, we plan to continue our efforts to do outreach to the community regarding our proposed solution, which includes an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated. We want all users of the intersection, whether crossing Admiral on foot or turning onto Admiral from within a car, to feel safe.” They also have taken their concerns to City Councilmembers, including West Seattle/South Park’s Lisa Herbold, and citywide (but West Seattle-residing) Lorena González. SDOT said on October 11th that it will “accelerate” stop-sign relocation, painting of a crosswalk across 59th, and addition of painted curb extensions – by year’s end. The parents’ task force ultimately wants to see a full signal at this intersection, and that’s what their petition requests.

ROAD WORK UPDATE: 2nd weekend of SW Edmunds work rescheduled

October 20, 2017 11:02 am
|    Comments Off on ROAD WORK UPDATE: 2nd weekend of SW Edmunds work rescheduled
 |   Transportation | West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

As mentioned in our morning traffic coverage, we were checking with SDOT to see if SW Edmunds was indeed going to be closed again this weekend at 40th SW for continuing repaving work. Just heard back from SDOT’s Sue Romero, who tells us it’s being rescheduled since more heavy rain is anticipated, and they’re now expecting to resume the work October 28-29.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Adding to the confusion at 59th/Admiral’

Emily sent the photo of another stop sign that was in place by Monday morning (we checked this morning – still there) facing westbound Admiral Way, about half a block east of 59th, “adding to the confusion,” as she put it, because: “It doesn’t say ‘stop ahead,’ just stop. Which watching a couple cars as we were walking by, (they) didn’t quite seem to know what to do about it.” This is the same intersection we first told you about a week ago, where parents from nearby Alki Elementary School say the conversion to an all-way stop has made things more dangerous rather than safer. As noted in our first followup, SDOT said it would make some changes while continuing to evaluate the intersection until March, but they didn’t mention adding a mid-block stop sign.

WEST SEATTLE REPAVING: 40th SW & SW Edmunds, next two weekends

Just in from SDOT – a particularly bumpy and busy intersection on the east side of The Junction is about to be repaved:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that crews will be repaving 40th Avenue SW and SW Edmunds street the weekends of Saturday, October 14 to Sunday, October 15 and Saturday, October 21 to Sunday, October 22.

On both weekends, from 9 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday, travelers can expect:

·SW Edmunds Street will be closed to all traffic between 40th Ave SW and Fauntleroy Way SW

o Street will be detoured

o Uniformed Police Officers will direct traffic at the intersection

·No parking on 40th Ave SW and SW Edmunds St in the work zone

o “No Parking” signs will be placed 72 hours prior to start of work

·Driveway access will be limited, with waits up to 15 minutes for equipment to clear

FOLLOWUP: Yes, SDOT is still working on 35th Avenue SW Phase 2

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

At least once a week, somebody asks what’s up with 35th Avenue SW Phase 2 – or whether there will even be a 35th Avenue SW Phase 2, given that it’s been more than a year since SDOT provided the last major community update focused on the project.

We took the question to SDOT’s longtime point person on the project, Jim Curtin.

Yes, he says, Phase 2 is still being worked on. But first, SDOT is “preparing to come out with before-and-after data,” covering the two years since the Phase 1 rechannelization south of Morgan.

In August 2016, you might recall, SDOT unveiled possibilities for Phase 2 at an open house (WSB coverage here), and said whatever was decided would be put in this year.

This year is almost over. Curtin explained that “Councilmember (Lisa) Herbold asked us to let the community help us with the design. We thought it would be a good idea to pause and make sure we were collecting sufficient amounts of data before making decisions.” Now, he says, they believe they have, and they’ll be releasing the “before-and-after study” which “will also have our plans for Phase 2 within it.”

No hint on how soon this will go public, but he promises it’s “going to be incredibly comprehensive and illustrative of how the corridor functions in the Phase 1 area and will also have information about what’s in the future for 35th north of Morgan.”

In connection with a connecting project – the West Seattle Greenway – crossing improvements already have been announced for 35th/Graham (that announcement in June suggested that the next 35th SW update would be in July).

Curtin says those are still planned, along with other “long-requested new crossings.” And while, again, other details – such as whether part of the stretch will be rechannelized as was a long stretch south of Morgan – aren’t available yet, Curtin told us, “There will also be attempts to reduce the speeds on the north end, where we still have some significant speeding issues.”

He acknowledged again that the next phase has “been a long time coming.” The design process is under way, and there’s no new funding request – Curtin says it’s coming “mainly through the Levy to Move Seattle.” As for how the next phase will be unveiled, if you haven’t already guessed this from other city events in the past year, they are not likely going to have a city-official-with-slide-deck-style presentation, he said. The city’s contention is that some community members “aren’t comfortable in those situations, so we miss potentially powerful input.” So look for potential “drop-in sessions,” probably another walking tour, and information online … sometime soon.

FOLLOWUP: SDOT says it will ‘accelerate’ additional changes at 59th/Admiral

(WSB photo from Monday morning)

4:37 PM: We reported Tuesday on Alki Elementary parents’ concerns about safety at the 59th SW/SW Admiral Way intersection since its conversion to an all-way stop. SDOT had told the parents, who formed a Traffic Safety Task Force for the school, that they would evaluate the intersection over a six-month period before deciding whether to make more changes or revert to the way it used to work, including a pedestrian-activated stoplight. The task-force parents met with SDOT reps at the intersection yesterday, including Safe Routes to School point person Brian Dougherty, and now SDOT has just sent this update from spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg:

I wrote to [the list who received this update] a couple of weeks ago sharing what we’d been hearing and were observing with the new all-way stop in at 59th Ave SW & SW Admiral Way. Since that time, the most common concern we’ve received is that people driving begin to roll through this large intersection before people walking start, or complete their crossing. We share your concerns and are dedicated to improving the intersection for pedestrians.

Since the all-way stop was installed in late August, we started collecting data. Our evaluation of the all-way stop will ultimately include an assessment of stop compliance, speeds, turning movement, and pedestrian counts. So far, we have collected speed data, turning movement counts, and pedestrian counts. Based on this data, we have seen pedestrian volumes comparable to pre-installation with a preference for crossing Admiral on the east leg, where the crosswalk is marked. We’ve also seen a decrease in speeds along SW Admiral Way since the street was restriped in late 2016. That being said, we’ve made the decision to accelerate some of the other proposed improvements, including:

• Relocating the stop sign on the west leg closer to the intersection for improved visibility

• Marking the crosswalks across 59th Ave SW to further alert people driving that pedestrians may be crossing

• Adding painted curb extensions (see design selected by the community below) on the northeast corner, southwest corner, and median island on 59th Ave SW to help reduce the size of the intersection

We expect these changes to be made by the end of the year. We’ll continue to evaluate operations at the intersection over a six-month period.

Schellenberg’s e-mail included this image to show the “design selected by the community”:

…but, checking WSB archives, we note that it’s not the one announced in August, nor was it among the three offered for a vote in June. We’ve asked a followup question for clarification. We’re also contacting the task-force parents to get their reaction to today’s announcement.

ADDED 6:39 PM: Regarding the design, SDOT’s Schellenberg replied, “Based on the design selected, we worked with the material fabricator and our Arts person to create a design as close as possible.”

ADDED 11:25 PM: Here’s the response from the Traffic Safety Task Force, via Merkys Gomez, who we contacted for comment:

We had sent an email to Dawn Schellenberg on 10.07.2017, and her email today was unresponsive to our questions, misses critical concerns raised by members of the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary, and continues to push through an agenda to continue with an all-way stop, to which we, and area residents, are opposed.

We met with Brian Dougherty of SDOT on 10.10.2017, and he was able to witness first hand the issues that we are experiencing on a daily basis with the intersection, including the near-misses which are not being captured by SDOT’s data. We agreed to

* adequately marking the school zone (per SDOT’s school signage),
* reactivating the light on Admiral, and
* painting and later raising with concrete the median on 59th that separates the north and south lanes on the south side.

Those changes are necessary for the immediate safety of this intersection while we work toward an ultimate goal to install an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated, with no turn on red arrows, and red light and speeding cameras to ticket violations, especially during the school commute. Given the nontypical nature of that intersection, this is the best solution to improve pedestrian to driver and driver to driver communication and safety. Dawn’s email today makes no mention of our agreement with Brian. We’re talking about an intersection where the primary users are children getting to and from school. Their safety is more important than meeting an exact numerical quota. One child lost is one death too many.

WEST SEATTLE JUNCTION NOTES: Tagging vandalism cleanup plan; more bikeshare dropoffs; recycling event Saturday

Three Junction notes:

TAGGING VANDALISM TO BE CLEANED UP: Thanks to everyone who tipped us about the particularly big and brazen tagging across the front of the former Radio Shack store at 4505 California SW. We checked in with West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Swift, who had just put up the sign you see in our photo – informing everyone interested that it is scheduled to be cleaned up tomorrow.

Also in The Junction, more bike-share bicycles were dropped off today:

RENTAL BIKES REPLENISHED: The orange bicycles in the truck are from Spin; the truck was replenishing/adding them at spots along California, judging by what we later saw as we headed south, all the way to the bottom of Gatewood Hill. The green rental bicycles are from LimeBike, also in view along the sidewalk (we see them most often in use), and there’s also been a recent multiple-bike appearance by the third company authorized to operate in the city, Ofo, whose bicycles are yellow. Anna sent this photo as they appeared on corners in the heart of The Junction a few days ago:

Those three companies have permits to have thousands of bikes out around the city. The trend is spreading nationwide.

RECYCLING REMINDER: Our third and final Junction note – just four days until the dropoff Recycle/Reuse event on Saturday (October 14th), 9 am-1 pm, in the Junction lot along 42nd SW just south of SW Oregon – here are details about what they will and won’t take.

VIDEO: 59th/Admiral ‘improvements’ made things worse, Alki Elementary parents say

Our video is from 59th and Admiral, during the Monday morning walk to school at Alki Elementary, just north of the intersection. It’s been a little over a month since SDOT changed the intersection to an all-way stop – previously, east-west traffic didn’t have to stop unless the north-south signal on the east side of the intersection was activated by pedestrian(s). It’s the first phase of what SDOT announced as a two-way “crossing improvement.” Some say it’s been anything but.

Parents from Alki Elementary have formed a Traffic Safety Task Force. They met with us at the intersection before school at Monday morning to show us what they say are more-dangerous conditions since the change, with some drivers still seeming confused about how the intersection is supposed to work, resulting in, for example, turns made through the crosswalk while pedestrians are still in it:

In the parents’ correspondence with SDOT so far, it’s been reiterated that the department is evaluating the changes over a six-month period before deciding whether to make them permanent and to continue to Phase 2. The parents say this is more urgent than that – we’re going into the dark, rainy months and even on the clearest winter day, many will be crossing before sunrise, and the intersection is challenging enough now.

The one marked crosswalk at the intersection already serves as the only marked crossing on Admiral Way from 49th to 59th, all part of the Alki Elementary attendance zone.

What they want, as Merkys Gomez from the Task Force summarizes: “An all-way traffic signal (i.e. traffic light) that is pedestrian and vehicle activated with no-turn-on-red signs, and red light and speeding cameras for ticketing, at a minimum, during school commute times. We also need appropriate signage installed indicating that this is a school zone, with flashing beacons.”

While the city hasn’t added red-light cameras in a long time (West Seattle has two, at 35th/Avalon and 35th/Thistle), it’s continued to slowly expand the list of speed-enforcement cameras in school zones; in West Seattle, they are installed along Fauntleroy Way SW near Gatewood Elementary, along Delridge Way SW near Louisa Boren STEM K-8, and along SW Roxbury near Roxhill Elementary (which is scheduled to be vacated next school year) and Holy Family School. Even more elementaries have flashing “20 mph school zone” beacons, minus cameras, nearby, including Genesee Hill, Highland Park, and Gatewood.

This morning, the Traffic Safety Task Force parents were scheduled to meet with at least one SDOT official to continue discussing their concerns. But the request for a full-service signal has already been turned down – here’s what SDOT spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg told the Alki parents via e-mail:

Unfortunately, at this time traffic operations do not meet Federal Highway guidelines for full signal installation so this is not a resolution we can move forward.

Noting that 47th/Admiral has a full signal, without a school zone in the immediate area, they are asking for an explanation of where 59th/Admiral doesn’t meet “guidelines.” They also want to know how SDOT is collecting “public input” during the six-month review, as they haven’t seen any calls for it yet.

By the way, as shown in our video above, the intersection does have a crossing guard – but not guaranteed; the parents say that if the guard has an off or sick day, they’re not replaced. Not that the guard’s presence in the roadway prevented all rule-breaking, we noticed while we were there. SDOT told the parents that when a traffic officer was at the intersection in the early going after the all-way-stop change, SPD saw “99 percent compliance,” but didn’t provide data, so the parents are asking for that too.

ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: Nearby resident Tim has since recorded video at the intersection and provided it to the Alki Elementary Traffic Safety Task Force as well as to us, via this YouTube clip.

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD PROJECT: Final design to include 37th SW left-turn break

SDOT has just announced the final design for the Fauntleroy Boulevard project will include a left-turn break at 37th SW:

See the full final design on SDOT’s website, and in a smaller version below:

From the SDOT announcement:

Throughout the design process, we’ve been committed to improving mobility on Fauntleroy Way SW for all users – people who walk, bike, and drive. The final design includes two lanes of traffic in each direction on Fauntleroy Way, as we have today, with new sidewalks and crosswalks, a protected bike lane, traffic signal revisions to improve flow, landscaping improvements and more. Read more about the final design on our webpage.

Based on technical analysis and input from the community, we have incorporated into the final design a 2-way left-turn break in the median near 37th Ave SW, while maintaining the traffic calming effects of the landscaped center median. You can read the full summary of public feedback about this design change here.

Next steps

Construction of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project is currently anticipated to begin as soon as early 2018. This fall, we’ll begin pre-construction outreach, including sharing more information about traffic routing during construction.

This announcement went out one day after we asked SDOT specific questions about where the project stood, including the “traffic routing during construction” question – so apparently they have yet to decide whether to go with the longer construction schedule, which would involve keeping one lane open each way on Fauntleroy during the project, or the shorter schedule, which would involve making that stretch of Fauntleroy temporarily one way. The answers to our questions, which came in concurrently a short time ago along with this general announcement, also included the note from SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah that “We’re continuing to coordinate with Sound Transit on our collective project timelines.” That was also mentioned by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold in her weekly update last Friday.

@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: SDOT progress report on ‘bridge corridor’ projects

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two years after the unveiling of a “white paper” and project list with recommendations for easing traffic in the West Seattle Bridge Corridor, an SDOT rep came to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting with a progress report.

Bill LaBorde began by saying that the list started with 27 projects but has fewer now – primarily because some weren’t SDOT projects (Sound Transit 3 light rail, for example, which had a significant West Seattle-related update earlier that day).

Chas Redmond from the WSTC Board said that the “disintegration of the integration” of the projects was troubling – LaBorde said that taking projects off the list wasn’t intended to signify dis-integration. Redmond said list-shrinking still didn’t make sense since the agencies are working together on some of these projects anyway. After that, LaBorde ticked through the list, including:

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YOU CAN HELP: Community campaign to convince SDOT to keep its commitment to full Chief Sealth Walkways project

Westwood-area community advocates are ramping up their campaign to get the city to restore what it cut out of the Chief Sealth Walkways Improvement Project earlier this year. And they need your help.

As reported here in August, the city cut the community-proposed, grant-funded project in half because a development plan along 25th SW is expected and the developer would be expected to pay for similar improvements. The city acknowledged, though, that the improvements could be “several years” away, but in the meantime, they say, they’re only going to build the 26th SW path.

Community members say the idea of a developer maybe eventually building the 25th SW path is too uncertain and too far off, and want SDOT to recommit to the full project. They are concerned about safety of those who use the undeveloped path – not just nearby students – and the area’s status as a long-running eyesore (as noted on the Find It Fix It Walk last year).

The walkway-project status is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition meeting, and Marianne McCord – who shared the photos – says they are hoping for a show of support (6:15 pm October 3rd, Southwest Library, 9010 35th SW). If you can’t be there, e-mail – or, even if you can.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit says it’s on track after board vote

lightrail(Sound Transit graphic from 2016 WSB coverage)

The Sound Transit board just took another step toward making light rail to West Seattle a reality – first major move since the approval last May of the draft expansion plan. Here’s the news release we just received:

The Sound Transit Board today approved the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, establishing a $285.9 million budget for preliminary engineering for the project and giving the green light to move forward with extending light rail to some of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the region.

Also in a related action, the Board executed a $24.4 million consultant contract with HNTB Corporation to begin project development services.

“With the approval of this important step for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, Sound Transit moves forward to implement the system expansion plan that voters approved last November,” said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff. “We look forward to working closely with stakeholders and communities to decide on the project details rapidly and bring light rail to more communities on schedule and on budget.”

The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions are part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan that voters approved last fall. The project includes extending light rail to West Seattle by 2030, building a second downtown tunnel in conjunction with the extension to Ballard, and beginning service to Ballard by 2035. This fall, Sound Transit will initiate technical work on the project, and in early 2018 embark on a community engagement process to reach early consensus on a Preferred Alternative by early 2019.

West Seattle Extension

The project assumes connecting West Seattle to Downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Way, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway. The extension also includes a new connection to the existing Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel south of the International District/Chinatown Station, a new rail-only high-rise bridge over the Duwamish Waterway, elevated alignment over SR 99 and the South Spokane Street Viaduct, and an elevated alignment in West Seattle. This extension would serve five station areas.

Ballard Extension

The project would connect Ballard’s Market Street area to Downtown Seattle, then cross Salmon Bay on a new rail-only bridge near the existing Ballard Bridge. The extension would continue south on an elevated guideway through the Interbay corridor along 15th Avenue Northwest and Elliott Avenue West before transitioning to a new Downtown Seattle light rail tunnel. The new tunnel would run through the Uptown and South Lake Union neighborhoods along Westlake Avenue to Sixth and Fifth Avenues before reaching the International District and connecting to the existing Link tracks at South Massachusetts Street. This extension would serve nine station areas.

Sound Transit’s consultant team, HNTB, will be responsible for providing planning, engineering, operational, environmental and community outreach technical services to support the first phase of project development work for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions. Other firms on the HNTB team include Jacobs Engineering, CH2M, EnviroIssues, Fehr & Peers, Hewitt Architects and LMN Architects.

More information about the West Seattle and Ballard project, including how to sign up for project updates, is available at

That page in turn links to several others including this one with current timelines for the planning, design, and construction process.

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