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FOLLOWUP: Metro says it will ‘hit pause’ on Junction bus-shelter removal


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

As promised, we followed up today on the Junction bus-shelter removal that was abruptly announced by the appearance of RIDER ALERT signs over the weekend (here’s our Saturday story).

Metro just announced it will “pause” the removal plan while soliciting feedback. Its answers to questions we asked this morning just came in; first, here’s what we learned while talking this afternoon with Lora Swift, director of the West Seattle Junction Association, who helped organize the October 6th walking tour that preceded the plan (WSB coverage here).

First, she confirmed that the shelters planned for removal are the two to the right of the trash can in our photo above, NOT all four of the blue non-RapidRide shelters on the south side of SW Alaska. Metro had placed notices in all four of the structures, which led to some confusion. These two shelters are at a spot which has about 200 boardings a day, according to Metro, a dramatic drop from pre-RapidRide days (the RapidRide stops on the block see 1,300 boardings a day).

“The ridership doesn’t support having four giant bus shelters there,” Swift said. In addition to removing a space that is used more often by loiterers, she said, removal will “open up visually the path between the sidewalk and parking lot, and give (space) between the Honey Bucket and the shelters.” She said that should cut down on illegal activities such as drug dealing in the Honey Bucket – paid for by the city Human Services Department, which says one has been there since the Junction Association requested it more than 20 years ago.

The Honey Bucket itself will “stay for now,” Swift said, so there’ll be a public restroom there.

In discussion of the removal decision following our Saturday report, some commenters wondered about increasing enforcement. According to Swift, Metro Transit Police (a division of the King County Sheriff’s Office) are now “doing plainclothes patrols … getting on and off those buses,” and working with transients to direct them to services they might need that are available downtown but not here. She says Seattle Police are patroling the area as well.

In addition, Metro’s facilities division will be cleaning the shelters five days a week instead of three. And the Junction Association already has taken action to remove a bench in the adjacent parking lot, which, along with the Junction’s other parking lot on 44th, is being evaluated for lighting improvements.

One factor pointed out in the October 6th walking tour as another possible draw for loitering in the bus-stop area was a fixture with open electrical outlets. While they can’t be removed because they’re required for events in The Junction, Swift says they will be raised out of reach on a pole and locked up.

This all began, she said, with messages from merchants who had pointed out “increased transient behavior” at the bus stops, including drinking and sleeping – both of which are against Metro rules – and harassment of passersby.

Now, via spokesperson Jeff Switzer, here is Metro’s reply, just received, to several questions we asked this morning (part of it, toward the end, synchronizes with some of what the WSJA told us):

The King County Metro transit facility at Alaska Junction is incredibly important to our customers and to the functioning of the transit network in West Seattle. Due to the attention possible changes have received over the weekend, Metro is willing to push “pause” on the shelter removal and actively solicit feedback before finalizing the shelter removal plan. New information will be posted at the shelters within the next couple days and will provide the appropriate contact information. We also read the West Seattle Blog and other forums and will compile comments along with all other feedback we receive.

But Metro would also like to take a moment to clarify the proposal to reduce the number of shelters on SW Alaska Street at the Junction. The Alaska Junction transit facility consists of six individual bus stops or “Bays”. Bays 1 through 4 are located on SW Alaska between California and 44th avenues Southwest. Bay 2, on the south side of Alaska between 44th and the alley, is the subject of this discussion. Bay 2 has about 200 Metro boardings per average weekday. For comparison, Bay 1, between California and the alley, has about 1,300 boardings, while Bays 3 and 4 on the north side of Alaska each see about 400 boardings. Bays 5 and 6 are on 44th north of Alaska, on the east side of the street and they remain unchanged by this proposal.

West Seattle businesses, residents, and others have been seeking to identify improvements to reduce illegal and uncivil behavior in the area. The shelters closest to the City of Seattle provided porta-potty have been identified as facilitating this type of behavior and creating an unwelcoming if not unsafe environment for transit riders and others.

Two factors – ridership that does not justify the number of shelters, and numerous complaints of illegal and uncivil behavior – combined to prompt Metro to plan for removal of the two shelters closest to the Porta Potty. The remaining two shelters would continue to provide very generous waiting space for Metro riders, as would the two Rapid Ride shelters in Bay 1 next to Key Bank. Bay 4 (immediately across Alaska Street) currently has two large shelters and twice as many Metro boardings as Bay 2, and we have observed the Bay 4 shelters provide adequate space for riders.

Metro regularly evaluates issues with Metro bus shelters and makes decisions on the installation and removal of bus shelters, as ridership and circumstances change at bus stops. The plan to remove these two Metro shelters arose out of concerns raised by the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA), and subsequent meetings between WSJA, Metro Transit Police, the Seattle Police Department, and others regarding security issues in the junction, including loitering, public inebriation, fights, illegal dumping, public urination, and harassment of Metro bus riders and others. The removal of these shelters is one of several efforts in the Junction area that is attempting to address quality of life issues.

Removal of the two shelters at Bay 2 is one of several actions that WSJA and Metro are taking to improve security and maintenance at the Junction. Other efforts include:

· Metro Transit Police have started a “Problem Solving Project” in partnership with the Seattle Police Department SW Precinct to deal with code of conduct and quality of life issues to improve safety and security for business and citizens using the junction

· Possible additional lighting in the adjacent parking lots by WSJA

· Tree and bush trimming by WSJA in the adjacent parking lots to improve visibility into the lots

· Metro will increase custodial maintenance at the Junction bus stops from three times per week to five times per week.

Metro is looking forward to hearing further public comment and adjusting the proposal in ways that can both serve riders and improve public safety.

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FOLLOWUP: Two Junction bus shelters to be removed as part of ‘problem-solving plan’

Thanks for the tips about the new signs announcing Metro‘s plan to remove two bus shelters on the west end of the south side of SW Alaska in The Junction’s transit hub.

(WSB photo)

This is part of the “problem-solving project” we first told you about back on October 6th, after a walking tour involving reps from Metro, Metro Transit Police, Seattle Police, the city Department of Human Services (HSD), the West Seattle Junction Association (WSJA) and some of its merchants, the West Seattle Farmers’ Market, and the WS Chamber of Commerce.

The major complaint involved loitering in those shelters and in the nearby parking lot, with multiple police calls resulting from fights, disorderly conduct by intoxicated people, and maintenance issues. According to a preliminary follow-up report from Metro planner Dale Cummings that was sent to walking-tour participants, a Metro ridership study showed removal of those shelters was feasible because the RapidRide shelters on the east end of the block – which are NOT proposed for removal – get most of the use. Cummings wrote, “Since the RapidRide bus stop was added at The Junction, ridership at this bus stop that serves Rts. 37, 50, 55, 128 has dropped to around 400 boardings per day.”

The Junction had already taken steps to try to reduce the problems through changing the environment, including removing some of the vegetation and seating areas on the southeast corner of Alaska and 44th. The organization also planned to evaluate lighting in the parking lot, and to look at how to remove access to electrical outlets that have been in place by the SW Alaska bus shelter dating back to the Farmers’ Market use of the parking lot.

According to the Metro notices that just appeared in the shelters, they are to be removed in mid-November. We’ll be following up with the Junction Association about any other impending steps from the “problem-solving plan.” Meantime, if you have a comment for Metro about the impending removal, the notices point you to its Customer Service division – contact info is on this page of the Metro website.

MONDAY AFTERNOON NOTE: We’ve spoken this afternoon with Junction Association director Lora Swift and, as noted in comments, she confirms that despite Metro’s posting of all four structures west of the parking-lot driveway behind KeyBank, the two on the west are the only two slated for removal. We also talked about the other area challenges discussed during the October 6th walking tour and will have updates in our upcoming followup – we’ve been waiting all day for Metro to answer some questions before finishing the story.

Harbor/Avalon/Spokane/Manning improvements win citywide Neighborhood Street Fund vote

(May 2016 photo contributed by Chris, showing one traffic-choked morning at south section of the project zone)

The final official list isn’t out yet, but West Seattle Bike Connections says its proposal for improvements at Harbor/Avalon/Spokane/Manning topped the list last night when the citywide Levy to Move Seattle Oversight Committee voted on which proposals should get Neighborhood Street Fund money.

The proposal won top ranking from the Southwest District Council in neighborhood-level voting. Here’s the SDOT document explaining the proposal by WSBC’s Jodi Connolly, and estimating it at $352,000; here’s a WSBC report from February detailing the intersection’s challenges.

WSBC president Don Brubeck summarizes it as “The project will improve driver sight lines, traffic signals, and signage for safety for people crossing Harbor and Avalon on foot and on bikes. It’s a blind corner at the Spokane ramp to Harbor Ave SW for people driving low vehicles. At SW Manning to Avalon Way, the signage is confusing for the little pocket left turn bike lane and right-only vehicle lane.”

He adds – and note that one key change was made after SDOT’s version of it came out – “This grant application had strong community support, including Alki Community Council, Nucor Steel, Luna Park neighbors (who have their own Neighborhood Park & Street Fund project to improve the appearance and commemorate the history of this gateway to West Seattle). Our grant is for safety for people crossing the street on foot and on bikes. The Luna Park businesses has concerns about parking loss at Avalon and Manning by Luna Park Cafe. We discussed that, and modified the request so that no street parking spaces would be lost on Avalon (the SDOT link shows it before that modification). David Whiting, president of Southwest District Council and a founding member of West Seattle Bike Connections, helped us present to the council and obtain their recommendation.”

Following up on Brubeck’s note, we asked SDOT for an official list from last night’s meeting, but spokesperson Norm Mah said that wasn’t available yet: “This list of project recommendations has been transmitted to the Mayor for final approval. SDOT expects project applicants will be notified next week about final funding selections, with an official public release shortly thereafter.” A list tweeted by Seattle Neighborhood Greenways shows the only other West Seattle project to make the citywide top 10 was the “26th SW proposal” for the walking corridor between Chief Sealth International High School and Westwood Village.

More late-night/early-morning bus service? Tell Metro what you think

West Seattle would be one of the areas getting a little more late-night/early-morning bus service, if Metro goes through with a proposed service expansion, and they’re looking for your feedback. From the announcement:

… Metro has about 40 routes with some level of late-night service throughout King County. Of these, 20 provide trips after 2 a.m., including three Night Owl routes that loop through some Seattle neighborhoods only between 2:15 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. The City of Seattle contributes funding to late-night transit operation and is a partner in this effort. Metro’s draft proposal would replace the three Night Owl routes with late-night service on regular, all-day routes that serve the same areas. The draft proposal also includes new after-hours bus service to Sea-Tac Airport for travelers and workers, for whom there currently are limited options after 1 a.m. It also includes hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies. …

If you check “proposal by route” here, you’ll also see that “later” service is proposed for Route 120, which runs on Delridge. Want to tell Metro what you think of its proposal? Answer this survey by October 30th.

ROAD-WORK ALERT: Next 3 days on Beach Drive SW

ORIGINAL SUNDAY REPORT, 8:10 PM: No details or advance alert (any neighbors get one?) about this, but we’re writing about it as a precaution, given what happened with the no-notice pavement repairs on 35th SW last week: While out this evening, we noticed “no parking” signs along a stretch of Beach Drive SW just south of 61st SW [map]. This is the bumpy area that SDOT confirmed in January would be repaved “this summer.” The signs we saw tonight were placed on behalf of SDOT’s paving division, and are dated for 7 am tomorrow (October 3rd) through 5 pm Wednesday (October 5th). We’ll seek the details tomorrow morning.

ADDED MONDAY: After our inquiry to the SDOT communication team this morning, they published this, confirming it’s the long-awaited paving project.

Where should West Seattle’s next ‘greenway’ be? Last day for survey

If you haven’t answered the city’s survey about potential routes for the next West Seattle greenway – this is your last chance. (The greenway concept is explained here.) The survey contains questions about transportation topics above and beyond the greenway route, too. Answer the survey here. The project website also has an interactive map of route options with options for “liking” one or more and/or leaving comments. Whichever route is chosen, the greenway is targeted for a 2019 debut. (Our area has two greenways now, both in east West Seattle, shown in green on the map above.)

35TH SW UPDATES: Kenyon crosswalk work; West Seattle Transportation Coalition briefing


The flashing-beacon signs are in at 35th and Kenyon, the first big step in the work to bring back a marked crosswalk there, nine years after one was removed there. The plan to reinstall one, as requested by local business owners during planning for the 35th SW Safety Project, was confirmed earlier this year.

Just last week, SDOT’s Jim Curtin had told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition that the 35th/Kenyon crosswalk installation was about to start (and he told us today it should be done “within a week or two” depending on weather). He was at the WSTC meeting with updates on the planning for Phase 2, as well as Q&A. He said SDOT is continuing to work on its promised report about the first year since Phase 2 rechannelized 35th to one lane each way plus a center turn lane for most of the stretch between Holly and Roxbury.

For those who contend the rechannelization has driven drivers to side streets, Curtin told the WSTC that the volume on 35th is down a little, most notably just north of Roxbury, which SDOT interprets as an indication that Arbor Heights residents are taking other routes – Roxbury or SW 106th, depending on where they’re going. Delridge volume is down slightly on the south end, up a bit on the north end. And SDOT is observing side-street traffic volumes, Curtin said, to either verify or debunk the contention that people are diverting to residential roads.

On 35th, post-rechannelization, hey’ve had a reduction in crashes involving drivers hitting parked cars, which is “the #1 crash type in the city of Seattle,” no right-turn crashes, a major drop in left-turn collisions, no pedestrian collisions, but rear-end crashes are up, especially on weekends.

That’s expected to be alleviated, he said, by new signal timings, which are being worked on right now – they were mentioned at the August community meeting, and Curtin replied to our followup question today by saying “we’ve gone to longer signal cycles on Saturdays to accommodate higher volumes of vehicular traffic between noon and 6 PM.”

He also told the WSTC that Roxbury signal timings are being worked on, and that left-turn signalization is being looked at for 35th/Barton.

What’s next? As explained in August, they’re still evaluating possible options for Phase 2 – see page 7 of the presentation. SDOT is “slowing down,” Curtin said, because of the decisions to be made about the route for West Seattle’s next “greenway” (have you taken the online survey yet? deadline is Sunday).

No date set yet for the next community discussion, he told us today as part of our followup exchange: “We’re developing the Phase 1 report now but we do not have our next set of meetings planned just yet.”

P.S. The WSTC meeting also included a vote to endorse Sound Transit 3, the Regional Proposition 1 ballot measure you’ll see on your November ballot – 5 WSTC board members for it, 1 abstaining, none against.

WSTC also saw a presentation of the city’s plans for the waterfront, once the tunnel’s open (still skeptical? tunneling is about to hit the halfway mark, WSDOT said today). We don’t have toplines for the latter but we did get the meeting on video and it’s the first presentation, if you want to watch:

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets fourth Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center.

FOLLOWUP: SDOT pushes back Admiral Way Safety Project work to next week


Just in from SDOT – the Admiral Way Safety Project work that was supposed to be happening now has been delayed until next week. SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg just sent word that the construction schedule is now 7 am-5 pm Wednesday, October 5th, and Thursday, October 6th “depending on weather.” The “no-parking” signs in the area are to be updated. On construction dates, the plan remains:

· No parking on both sides of SW Admiral Way between California Ave SW and 63rd Ave SW to keep a travel lane in each direction open

· Existing striping will be removed and new striping will be installed

· Temporary lane closures and lane shifts around the work area; flaggers will be present to direct traffic

· Sidewalks will remain open during work; people biking on the sidewalk must yield to people walking at all times

· People biking should use alternate routes during construction

· Construction equipment, trucks, noise and activity will be in the area for about one week

· Emergency response vehicles will have continual access

The project has been in the works for a year and a half. The final design was announced by e-mail in July.

ROAD-WORK ALERT: SW Admiral Way project starts Wednesday


SDOT had said that the SW Admiral Way Safety Project would start work this week; this afternoon, they sent word that it’ll begin on Wednesday:

The Seattle Department of Transportation advises travelers that work on the SW Admiral Way Safety Project in West Seattle will start on Wednesday, September 28, and last for about one week, depending on weather.

Starting at 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28, travelers can expect:

• No parking on both sides of SW Admiral Way between California Ave SW and 63rd Ave SW to keep a travel lane in each direction open

• Existing striping will be removed Wednesday; new striping will be installed Thursday and Friday

• Temporary lane closures and lane shifts around the work area; flaggers will be present to direct traffic

• Sidewalks will remain open during work; people biking on the sidewalk must yield to people walking at all times

• People biking should use alternate routes during construction

• Construction equipment, trucks, noise and activity will be in the area for about one week

Over the past year and a half, SDOT has worked with the community on a new street design for SW Admiral Way between California Ave SW and 63rd Ave SW. The project will create a comfortable and predictable bike connection between Alki and the business district at California Ave SW. The new design will reduce speeding and collisions, and accommodate on-street parking. SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is completed.

Speed limits, paid parking, street cuts @ City Council Transportation Committee

(Seattle Channel video from Tuesday’s Transportation and Sustainability Committee meeting)

Next Monday, the full Seattle City Council is scheduled to consider the SDOT speed-limit-reduction proposal, primarily proposing that all non-arterial roads to have a speed limit of 20 mph. First word of the proposal a week and a half ago sparked much discussion; it was one of three major topics at this week’s meeting of the council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee.

SPEED LIMITS: As you can see in the video above (starting one hour, 29 minutes in), the SDOT presenters stressed that they believe lower speed limits will reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries; they presented this slide deck to underscore that.

As for what’s planned for other arterials, SDOT reps said this specific bill does not include any speed-limit changes for arterials outside downtown, but noted that others remain under review, especially the ones with the most crashes. They also pointed out that the city has reduced speed limits relatively recently on four arterials around the city, two of them in West Seattle (Fauntleroy Way SW last February, and 35th Avenue SW). And they said they’re reviewing some areas – many in West Seattle (though specific roads weren’t mentioned) – where they need to add signage reminding people of current speed limits.

The speed-limit proposal needs a majority vote at Monday afternoon’s full-council meeting. No one opposed it at the committee meeting.

PARKING BENEFIT DISTRICTS: While this item did not directly involve West Seattle, some information of interest emerged – particularly, the revelation that SDOT expects to review West Seattle Junction on-street parking again in 2018. That would be nine years after the last full review in 2009, which included SDOT‘s announcement that paid on-street parking did NOT seem to be warranted in The Junction. The review did result in some mostly minor changes, including time limits.

The committee briefing was about a proposal to look at Parking Benefit Districts – in which revenue from paid on-street parking would go back into the geographic districts where the parking was located, theoretically to give community members an incentive to support the paid parking. Specifically, there was a proposal for a pilot PBD in Capitol Hill. SDOT recommended against it, saying it prefers to stick with what it’s been doing, including “time-of-day” variable pricing in some areas and potentially extending paid parking later into the night in some parts of the city. The latest online update from our area’s Councilmember Lisa Herbold (who was not at Tuesday’s meeting of the committee, for which she is an alternate member) has more details on SDOT’s rationale for opposing PBDs.

Back to the meeting – Councilmembers Rob Johnson and Mike O’Brien had a notable exchange involving constituents’ concerns about parking. O’Brien said he hears most often about new development projects without offstreet parking and said he wasn’t sure that PBDs would have any effect on those concerns. And separate from that, West Seattle’s “remarkable growth and increase in density” was mentioned in passing a few times during the discussion.

CUTTING UP STREETS: This briefing got a little technical but here’s what you really need to know: The city is tightening up the rules for when and why streets can be cut into, and how long the cutters get before they have to restore the pavement. With the Move Seattle Levy funding new pavement, SDOT reps explained, “One of the things we wanted to avoid were a bunch of asphalt cuts turning (newly repaved) streets into Swiss cheese.” You can read here what they are working on, in addition to listening to the discussion in the meeting video (1 hour, 9 minutes in).

BRIDGE CLOSURE: SDOT plans one-night closure of West Seattle Bridge to replace jersey barriers

September 22, 2016 1:14 pm
|    Comments Off on BRIDGE CLOSURE: SDOT plans one-night closure of West Seattle Bridge to replace jersey barriers
 |   Safety | Transportation | West Seattle news

(September 10th photo contributed by Mark)

Remember that crash two weeks ago? It’s just one of several in recent months that have damaged jersey barriers on the West Seattle Bridge. Now, SDOT has announced an overnight closure, eight days away, for replacements:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that maintenance crews need to replace damaged jersey barriers in the median of the West Seattle Bridge, requiring a full closure of the bridge on Saturday, October 1, during the overnight and morning hours. Damage to these barriers has been caused by several recent vehicle collisions that have struck the median. An SDOT inspection of all of the jersey barriers on the West Seattle Bridge identified 18 that are in need of replacement.

From 11:59 p.m. on Friday night, September 30 to 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 1, travelers can expect the following:

· The West Seattle Bridge (WSB) will be closed to through traffic in both directions between 35th Ave SW and the Harbor Avenue/Avalon Way exit.

· Crews will begin closing lanes at 11:30 p.m. Friday with full closure by midnight.

· A detour will be in place for eastbound and westbound travelers on the WSB.

· The detour for eastbound traffic is via SW Avalon Way, SW Spokane St and back onto the WSB.

· The detour for westbound traffic is via the Harbor Avenue/Avalon Way exit to SW Avalon Way to Fauntleroy Way SW.

· Crews will remove and replace 18 damaged jersey barriers.

· Crews will check and adjust any existing barriers that may have moved, but do not need immediate replacement.

· The West Seattle Bridge will be reopened by 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 1.

West Seattle Transportation Committee to talk 35th SW & more on Thursday

As September continues, so does the new season of community meetings – and the next group to resume its schedule is the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. The WSTC just announced what’s on its agenda this Thursday:

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition hopes you are refreshed after summer and ready to get back to work! Our first meeting after summer recess is this Thursday, September 22nd at 6:30 p.m. We meet at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

Esteemed guests who will be joining us include Jim Curtin from SDOT to talk about the 35th Ave SW project and Angela Brady from the Office Of The Waterfront for a general talk about the post-Viaduct world. And undoubtedly we will also discuss ST3 and WSTC’s role (if any) in the initiative process.

We hope you can join us for what should be a fascinating meeting!

(It’s been a month and a half since the unveiling of options for Phase 2 of the 35th SW Corridor Safety Project – but the final plan hasn’t come out yet.) The meeting site is at 6400 Sylvan Way.

Another West Seattle bus stop gets a shelter

The photo is courtesy of the office of County Council chair Joe McDermott, sent with his announcement of two new bus shelters. We’ve already reported one – the RapidRide stop on southbound 35th SW, just moved back to its permanent spot south of Avalon, after more than a year at SW Snoqualmie during construction of mixed-use Aura. The newly installed shelter in the photo is on westbound SW Morgan, just west of 35th. McDermott’s announcement points out that this is kitty-corner from the West Seattle Food Bank and was the last shelter-less stop at 35th/Morgan: “The West Seattle Food Bank serves some of our most vulnerable residents. This new shelter will make it both easier and safer for those who use the bus as transportation to and from the Food Bank.” He tells WSB he first heard about the shelter-less stop at a fundraiser for the WSFB, whose executive director Fran Yeatts is quoted as adding, “Having a covered bus stop so these individuals can wait for the bus out of rain will be a very, very big help.” According to Metro’s website, fewer than a fourth of the system’s more than 8,000 stops are sheltered.

FOLLOWUP: Southbound 35th/Avalon RapidRide stop returns


For those who have been asking when the RapidRide stop on southbound 35th just south of Avalon would move back to its permanent site … it’s back. Don’t know if it’s been back for hours or days, but Eddie tipped us this afternoon, so we drove by for a photo. We had most recently checked with Metro in July, and – as we wrote here – they expected it to return in August, so it was a little behind schedule, but it’s there now. During the construction of mixed-use Aura, the stop had moved about a block south.

20 mph on all ‘residential streets’? City Councilmembers to consider next week

When Mayor Murray announced the “Vision Zero” plan more than a year and a half ago, the plan (p. 14) promised to start reducing speed limits on “residential streets” to 20 mph. By last summer, the change was made on a few streets in north West Seattle. Now, it’s going citywide. One week from today, the City Council’s Transportation and Sustainability Committee will consider the proposal that was announced this afternoon:

Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Mike O’Brien today unveiled a proposal to enhance safety on Seattle’s streets by changing the speed limit on all residential streets from 25 to 20 MPH and streets in the center city from 30 to 25 MPH. The proposal is part of Seattle’s Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on city streets by 2030.

“Having helped pass the Neighborhood Safe Streets Bill during my time in the legislature, I’m proud that Seattle will be the first city in the state of Washington to implement lower speeds on all residential streets,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “When combined with other elements of our ongoing Vision Zero work, such as redesigned roadways and data driven enforcement, lower speed limits will help make Seattle’s roads safer for all.”

Speed contributes to 25 percent of collisions citywide and 42 percent of downtown traffic fatalities every year. It is the critical factor in survivability for a crash. Pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 25 MPH are half as likely to die as those struck at 30 MPH.

“Studies show that lowering speed limits is one of the best ways to improve safety in our neighborhoods,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “Reducing speeds will not only reduce accidents and fatalities but it also brings peace of mind for those who use our sidewalks, including children and our elderly neighbors. The reduction we are proposing will not restrict mobility.”

In residential areas, going down to 20 MPH brings the entire neighborhood to existing school zone speed limits, making safer routes of travel for all. Vehicle safety in Seattle has improved significantly, but not for people walking and biking. Pedestrian and bicycle collisions make up seven percent of total crashes, but nearly half of fatalities. The new speed limit will apply to 2,400 miles of non-arterial streets and help enhance safe routes to schools, transit, parks and other destinations.

“The proposal presents the opportunity that exists to balance the need for safe passage with thoughtful engineering,” said Councilmember Mike O’Brien. “Reducing speed limits has a direct impact on safety and helps the City implement better design standards that will allow drivers, bikers, pedestrians and parents alike to breathe a little easier as we head back to school by bus, bike or single passenger vehicle.”

Downtown there has been a 20 percent increase in speed-related fatal collisions over the last four years. Signal timing has already been adjusted to the new 25 MPH speed limit and drivers are moving more efficiently through the center city. A 25 MPH speed limit fits the typical operating speed of vehicles in the downtown core today.

This change would mainly impact the off-peak hours when there are more high-end speeders and more severe collisions.

“Speed is the critical factor in crashes, and lowering speeds is essential if we want to end traffic deaths and serious injuries on our streets,” said Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly. “You can save a life for only an extra minute more per trip.”

This speed limit is consistent with the Washington State speed limit for city streets and Seattle is the only city in King County with an arterial speed limit over 25 MPH. Also, 25 MPH is the speed limit in the overwhelming majority of city centers nationwide including cities like New York, Portland, Phoenix, Denver and Houston.

The City Council’s Sustainability and Transportation Committee will discuss and vote on the proposal at its September 20 meeting. The legislation will then go before the full council for a vote later this month. If passed into law, the City expects to begin rolling out speed limit changes in November.

If you’re not sure whether a street near you is “residential” – check this map. If it’s not an arterial or freeway, it’s residential.

FOLLOWUP: SDOT says Admiral Way work will start September 26th


One week ago, thanks to tips, we reported on SDOT‘s preparation work for restriping Admiral Way west of California SW, a project that’s been in the pipeline for a year and a half, with the final design announced in July. Today, SDOT announced the work schedule:

Work to restripe SW Admiral Way between California and 63rd Ave SW will occur the week of September 26. We expect construction to take about one week, depending on the weather. During this time on-street parking will be restricted on both sides of the street between 7 AM and 5 PM for the entire length of the project. This allows the street to be restriped while keeping a travel lane in each direction open. “No parking” signs will be in place for 72 hours prior to the start of the restrictions. We’ll work to reduce impacts as much as possible and appreciate your patience during this work.

Here’s the mailer that SDOT says will go out to residents and businesses next week; it says SDOT is drafting “Phase 2” of the project, based on suggestions from the August walk-and-talk meeting (WSB coverage here).

But first – as reported here last night, project reps will be at next Tuesday’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (7 pm Tuesday, September 13th, The Sanctuary at Admiral, 42nd/Lander), for updates and community Q/A on the work that’s about to start.

SDOT’s Admiral Way team & vehicle-noise researcher @ Admiral Neighborhood Association next week

As reported here one week ago, SDOT has started marking Admiral Way for forthcoming changes a year and a half in the making. That’s one of two major topics just announced by Admiral Neighborhood Association president Larry Wymer for next Tuesday’s meeting:

*Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods from SDOT will be returning for their 3rd visit to our group to provide their latest update – and Q&A session – on the SW Admiral Way Safety Project. They both conducted an on-site ‘Walk & Talk’ session on August 20 which some of you were at, and are now involved in “preparatory work” including marking the roadway for upcoming lane changes as part of the final design. Construction should begin within a matter of weeks, with the exact schedule announced prior to our meeting.

*Jesse Robbins is doing research across Seattle to learn if and how noise pollution from, among other things, cars and motorcycles with loud mufflers is a problem among residents. He has been visiting neighborhood organizations throughout Seattle as part of this research project, and is now focusing on neighborhoods throughout West Seattle to make sure our voices are heard. He welcomes any insight Admiral residents can provide towards his research in proving that vehicle noise pollution is still a problem, and working towards resolving with the right prioritization of focus and resources among city officers.

The ANA meets at The Sanctuary at Admiral, at 2656 42nd Ave SW. Our monthly meetings are held the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm. Everyone is welcome to attend.

$100 million down, $40 million to go for Lander Street project; another ‘open house’ ahead

The Lander Street Bridge (ex-overpass) in SODO – seen as a key part of mobility between there and here – is now $40 million away from full funding.

That’s what the city says in this afternoon’s announcement that the feds have just finalized a grant covering about a third of the price tag of the project that’s been revived after almost a decade on the shelf. Read on for the official news release, plus news of another “open house” about the project: Read More

FOLLOWUP: SDOT starts street markup for Admiral Way Safety Project


ORIGINAL REPORT, 7:35 PM THURSDAY: Thanks for the tips: SDOT crews have started marking the roadway for upcoming lane changes as part of the final design of the SW Admiral Way Safety Project. Our photo shows what we found in the 61st SW-62nd SW area when we went by this afternoon. SDOT project reps did not respond to our subsequent request for an update on the construction schedule; during the August 20th walk-and-talk meetings (WSB coverage here), they had promised to get that information out “soon.” The project page says only that work will be done in “late summer/early fall.” The final design was announced via e-mail on July 21st.

The first version of the plan was unveiled in April 2015 at an Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. Much neighborhood criticism ensued, especially concern over the city underestimating how much Admiral Way parking is needed for residents and visitors; the city re-evaluated and then held a second and final community meeting in July of last year.

At the walking tours last month, the focus was on the possibility of added pedestrian improvements along the route, and the project webpage says tomorrow (September 2nd) is the deadline to make suggestions along that line – go there to see how.

ADDED 11:43 AM FRIDAY: Finally heard back from SDOT. This “preparatory work” will continue into next week, says spokesperson Norm Mah: “We are looking to start construction toward the end of the month and will provide a 3-week notice prior to beginning construction.”

Why half the new sidewalk by Fairmount Playfield will be replaced

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

This started, as many WSB stories do, with an e-mailed question:

Why is the new sidewalk along Fauntleroy Way SW, by Fairmount Playfield, half concrete and half asphalt?


The sidewalk was installed this summer, two years after the removal of trees that left the old one cracked and bumpy. This is an especially bad place for that since this is a school-bus pickup/dropoff zone for nearby Fairmount Park Elementary, in addition to its frontage along a popular park in a densifying area.

There’s no obvious explanation for the mid-sidewalk material switch. But we went over for a firsthand look and noticed that where the concrete ends, it has a stamp: MOVE SEATTLE.


That, you’ll recall, is the $930 million levy passed by voters last year.

When we asked SDOT about the two-tone sidewalk, we learned that it’s related to a much smaller number: $90,000 – less than one-hundredth of one percent of the levy amount.

The explanation:

SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah first answered our question “why is half the sidewalk concrete and half asphalt?” with this information: “SDOT was able to replace a portion of the sidewalk with concrete and use asphalt temporarily for the remaining section to keep within budget. SDOT is planning to replace the asphalt section with concrete next year.”

So – we asked in a followup – there wasn’t enough money to use concrete for the entire project?

That’s not exactly what “keep(ing) within budget” means in this case, Mah replied: “With the budgetary constraints facing projects, our goal is to minimize project costs as much as possible. This sometimes requires doing small projects in phases. The statewide bid limit law restricts SDOT crews to projects that cost approximately $90,000 or less per year. Otherwise the project has to be sent out to bid, which can raise the cost and extend the timeline to deliver the project. To stay within the bid limit, we split the project in two phases – one in 2016, the rest of it next year in 2017. The city is aware that there would be some cost savings and efficiencies if we could mobilize the crew and finish it all at the same time. However, we are bound by the state’s law concerning limits on crew-completed work.”

And now you know.

VIDEO: Admiral Way Safety Project ‘Walk & Talks’


10:25 AM: We are at 49th and Admiral with about 20 residents and SDOT reps Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods for this morning’s first of two ‘Walk & Talk’ gatherings to talk about the upcoming Admiral Way Safety Project changes. No walking yet – all talking. (Added: Here’s our video of the first 14 minutes:)

The second session is supposed to start at the entrance to Schmitz Park on Admiral at 11:15. Main focus here: Pedestrian safety and what can be done to enhance it.


In general, those here are concerned about speeding. “This intersection is critical,” one person said.


10:42 AM: One group has gone on to Schmitz Park, while one that trailed, with Woods taking notes, is now at 53rd and Admiral, where Lander cuts off to Alki.


Woods is explaining that all three lanes here will narrow to 10 feet.

We are breaking off to move on with other events. SDOT says comments will be taken until September 2nd (contact info is at the end of their project webpage); restriping on Admiral will start a few weeks later.

SATURDAY: SDOT ‘Walk and Talks’ in Admiral Way project zone

Four weeks after SDOT went public with its final decision on changes for SW Admiral Way west of California, tomorrow’s the day for its two announced “Walk and Talks.” The announcement on the project webpage says the main goal of the walking tours is to talk about more possible “pedestrian improvements” for the street. The first one starts at 10 am Saturday on the south side of Admiral at 49th SW (map); the second one, 11:15 am Saturday, is set to start at the entrance to Schmitz Park at Admiral/Stevens (map). Last month’s announcement was more than a year after SDOT’s original plan was met with a multitude of concerns.

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