Numbers @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: 35th SW, Vision Zero, $900 million levy…

March 26, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 20 Comments

(From left, WSTC’s Joe Szilagyi & Amanda Kay Helmick, SDOT’s Scott Kubly & Jim Curtin)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition stuck with its agenda tonight, hearing from and talking with SDOT leaders about the proposed Move Seattle levy and two safety projects – Vision Zero citywide and 35th SW locally – instead of digressing into a discussion of Tuesday’s 9-hour Highway 99 blockage.

Co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick said WSTC would be writing out its concerns/questions for SDOT to consider regarding the incident. Otherwise, here’s how the meeting unfolded:

Click to read the rest of Numbers @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: 35th SW, Vision Zero, $900 million levy……

FOLLOWUP: Why did it take 9 hours to clear toppled truck from Highway 99?

March 25, 2015 at 12:01 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 58 Comments

(UPDATED 6:07 PM after followup conversation with SPD)

(Reader photo texted shortly after the crash)
12:01 PM: “Why did it take 9 hours?” is the big question today, one day after a truck full of fish went sideways on southbound Highway 99 in the stadium zone, leading to a 9-hour shutdown that clogged traffic citywide. We have some early answers from Seattle Police:

Lincoln Towing responded to the scene with two large tow trucks and one standard-size tow truck.

Eventually Lincoln Towing personnel were able to raise the overturned trailer. However, the load of fish in the trailer’s container had shifted, causing the truck to become unstable. At this point the trailer was upright, but still blocking all southbound lanes. Lincoln Towing determined the trailer’s cargo of would have to be off-loaded in order to stabilize the trailer.

City officials ultimately had to rely on personnel from Seattle Tunnel Partners, and used their heavy equipment to off-load a portion of the container. Once about half of the container’s cargo was removed, the trailer was deemed stable enough to be moved from the viaduct.

STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the Highway 99 tunnel project. All of the above is from a long update published a short time ago on SPD Blotter; it also includes a dispatch-log timeline and aggregated tweets (some of which were featured in our as-it-happens coverage Tuesday afternoon/evening) about the incident.

We also have an inquiry out to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee and has pursued extensive followups on earlier incidents, most notably last June’s 4-mile, 5-hour shutdown after a head-on crash on 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge. Some of the changes promised in this September followup report/”after-action plan” (embedded below) were clearly in effect yesterday – SPD/SDOT communication, longer hours for the SDOT traffic-management center communicator(s):

But Tuesday’s truck mishap was a completely different type of incident, without a major criminal investigation to complicate things, so it brings up different questions. We’ll update this report with anything more we find out today.

P.S. We’ll mention again that SDOT leaders including director Scott Kubly were already booked for tomorrow night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm Thursday at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, if you want to ask your own questions and/or hear the answers firsthand.

4:30 PM: Councilmember Rasmussen says he has the same info that you see above from SPD, plus, “I have already requested that SPD and SDOT prepare reports for the Council. We will be scheduling a presentation of their reports to the Council and are working on that date and time now.”

5:26 PM: We talked a short time ago with SPD’s media-relations/public-affairs Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, seeking answers to several followup questions:

First: Commenters asked, couldn’t they just drag the trailer/truck off the highway? No, says Sgt. Whitcomb, there was no way to do that. They tried towing it, dragging it, pushing it; it just wouldn’t work, it wasn’t stable enough, so finally they tried Seattle Tunnel Partners’ heavy equipment. “It was an engineering problem – getting the damaged, jack-knifed truck up on its wheels, stabilized, just took a great deal of time and consideration … determining that additional tools were needed was part of the problem-solving process.”

Could STP have been involved sooner? Maybe, but, “at the heart of it, this was a towing operation,” said Sgt. Whitcomb. The circumstances “would be hard to replicate – complicated by the damage (to) and the position of the truck. It was fortuitous that (STP) were just right there and could help when needed – a spirit of partnership between the state and the city.” (STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the tunnel project.)

He said it was cleared as soon as possible, in the end, and they were at one point afraid it could have taken even longer – “there was a two am conference call planned” at one point, to see what the prospects were for the morning commute. The mayor’s office was notified early on, and the information loop went all the way to the top at SPD, including consultation with Deputy Chief Carmen Best, #2 in command. Originally, he said, they had hoped it would be cleared by the evening commute, but at some point, everyone but those directly involved in the towing/clearing were “spectators.”

Sgt. Whitcomb didn’t have details handy on whose truck it was or what happened to the fish, though he recalled a truck spill in the past (full of Mountain Dew) in which the contents of the trailer had to be disposed of because once there had been a mishap, the items weren’t salable.

So what now? In addition to the reports about the 9-hour closure, the collision remains under investigation, Sgt. Whitcomb said. No indication of DUI, but, he pointed out, generally “somebody will be cited … ‘accidents’ don’t just happen, it’s either mechanical failure or operator error – a rule of the road has been violated and somebody will be cited.” And when it comes to commercial vehicle operation, that kind of ticket is “a big deal,” he notes.

West Seattle transportation updates: SW Roxbury project briefings, 35th SW enforcement, and more

March 23, 2015 at 8:35 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

Once again, there’s West Seattle news in the periodic report that SDOT director Scott Kubly will be presenting to the City Council Transportation Committee. His report for tomorrow’s committee meeting (9:30 am, City Hall) has been added to the agenda since its draft publication last week. Included in the report, some work updates including 19th/Webster stairway cleaning (before/after photos above) and dates for news on what the city plans to do to make Roxbury safer:

SW Roxbury Street:

*SDOT will announce preferred alternative and project implementation schedule at Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting on April 7
*SDOT will host an open house about the recommended changes on April 9
*Implementation set for the week of August 17

Two other updates: Regarding enforcement on 35th SW – a big topic in discussion of what was presented at the two most-recent meetings (WSB coverage here and here) – Kubly’s report says, “SDOT grant funds will provide extra safety patrols on 35th – currently developing MOA with SPD for more than 100 hours of OT patrols on 35th SW.” Also, regarding the Fauntleroy Boulevard project, he reports, “CM Rasmussen did a tour of the site with Deputy Director, Barbara Gray, and Jorge Carrasco, Director of City Light.” That would be regarding including undergrounding in the project, for which construction funding is still not certain – it’s NOT in the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle proposal unveiled by the mayor last week (WSB coverage here). Read Kubly’s full report, including updates from around the city, here.

P.S. Kubly and other SDOT reps will be at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s meeting this Thursday (March 26), 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way) – bring your questions.

The truth about parking: West Seattle Transportation Coalition seeking it, via your survey answers

March 19, 2015 at 9:52 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

So what’s the truth about parking in our area – how do you use it, if you do? Do we need more? Less? And why? The West Seattle Transportation Coalition is trying to shine a little light on many aspects of that hot topic by inviting you to take a quick survey – just launched; start here. It’ll be open for one week (until March 26th), and then WSTC expects to publish results within a few weeks.

UPDATE: Mayor proposes 9-year, $900 million transportation levy; March 31st meeting in West Seattle

March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 63 Comments

12:10 PM: Mayor Murray‘s just gone public with his nine-year, $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle ballot proposal, successor to “Bridging the Gap,” which expires this year. It’s proposed for the November ballot, but first, three meetings are scheduled around the city, including one at 6 pm Tuesday, March 31st, in the gym at West Seattle High School. And if you want to say something before then, you can use this online survey.

But first, here’s the brochure detailing the draft proposal, which the city says would cost the average homeowner (described now as a $450,000 home) $275 a year – a little more than double the $130 that Bridging the Gap had cost. (Here’s a slide-deck version, too.) The brochure’s named projects don’t include anything in West Seattle, but the Lander Street Overpass and East Marginal corridors are certainly of interest, and a variety of project markers are in the West Seattle area on this “investment map.” We’re still looking for the fine print detailing exactly what/where those markers represent – more to come.

3:56 PM UPDATE: Our request for the “what’s in it for West Seattle” details brought this list from SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan:

Bridge Replacement
- E Duwamish Waterway North Bridge Replacement

Bridge Seismic Retrofit
- Admiral Way North Bridge
- Admiral Way South Bridge
- Delridge Way Pedestrian Bridge
- SW Andover Pedestrian Bridge

Multimodal Corridor Project (including Bus Rapid Transit Investment)
- Delridge Way SW

Bicycle Master Plan Implementation
- 24th Ave SW Greenway
- 34th Ave SW Greenway
- 8th Ave S Protected Bike Lane
- 36th Ave SW Greenway
- Fauntleroy Way SW Protected Bike Lane
- SW Admiral Way Protected Bike Lane
- SW Brandon/SW Juneau St Greenway

Arterial Paving
- 35th Ave SW from Avalon to Roxbury
- SW Avalon from Spokane to 35th
- SW Roxbury St from 35th to 16th

Corridor Safety Project
- 35th Ave SW
- SW Roxbury St

In addition to the West Seattle-specific improvements listed above, the West Seattle area will see improvements from the following citywide investment categories:

- Safe Routes to School projects and education touching every public school
in Seattle
- Crosswalk repainting every four years
- Repairing damaged sidewalks
- Curb ramp and crossing improvements
- Paving spot improvements
- Bus speed and reliability spot improvements
- Optimized traffic signal timing on corridors
- Building new sidewalks on priority transit corridors
- Installing bicycle parking spots
- Freight mobility spot improvements
- Neighborhood priority projects implemented through the Neighborhood
Street Fund
- Tree planting
- Tree pruning rapid response

That list does *not* include a major project for West Seattle that’s been funded for design and was named in the mayor’s 10-year plan earlier this month, the Fauntleroy Boulevard plan. We’re checking with Councilmember Tom Rasmussen to see whether – or not – that means there’s an alternate plan.

5:24 PM: CM Rasmussen’s reply: ““The Fauntleroy Way SW project is important to many people in West Seattle. The project is listed in the Mayor’s Move Seattle vision plan, and the Council will be reviewing the levy proposal closely and making changes as necessary.”

How to pay for ‘Move Seattle’? Mayor announcing transportation levy tomorrow

March 17, 2015 at 3:31 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 8 Comments

When Mayor Murray announced the “Move Seattle” plan back on March 2nd (WSB coverage here), he said financing for its projects/goals would be announced later. Now, according to a media advisory we just received from the mayor’s office, “later” arrives tomorrow. The mayor will gather Wednesday morning southeast of downtown with councilmembers, SDOT director Scott Kubly, and unspecified-as-of-yet “community leaders” to announce a proposed transportation levy for the November ballot – successor to “Bridging the Gap,” which expires this year. We’ll be there too.

How much transit = no need for parking? Mayor says he’ll vet new proposed ‘Director’s Rule’

March 16, 2015 at 3:36 pm | In Development, Transportation, West Seattle news | 47 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Mayor Murray promised today that his office will review the proposed development-rule change regarding transit availability and offstreet-parking requirements, formally known as Department of Planning and Development Director’s Rule 6-2015, before it takes effect.

We wrote about this week before last, before the comment period closed. First, here’s the proposed rule:

We asked the mayor about this during a wide-ranging conversation at City Hall today, his first in a series of planned meetings with “neighborhood press” (the invitation was sent widely; along with WSB, journalists from CapitolHillSeattle.com and the Capitol Hill Times were there – photo above – we’ll have a full report on the entire event tonight).

The West Seattle-based group SeattleNERD. (Neighbors Encouraging Reasonable Development) contends the proposed rule runs counter to what city Hearing Examiner Sue Tanner said in her ruling last year on their appeal related to an on-the-drawing-board development at 3078 Avalon Way SW. SeattleNERD’s official comment is in this letter:

Note Tanner’s observation (see section 15 in her conclusions) that the distinction would have to be changed by legislation – in other words, by a new action the City Council. But Director’s Rules don’t go through the Council; the mayor noted in our conversation this morning, however, that the buck stops with him, since departments such as the DPD report to him, and so that’s why it won’t go forward without mayoral review.

This also is becoming a campaign issue; City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) candidate Lisa Herbold sent a news release saying she also has sent a letter to the DPD, saying in part:

I believe that the City Council did not intend for the DPD to interpret the Land Use Code in this way, and that the department should instead follow the Hearing Examiner’s December 1, 2014 decision. Further, the proposed rule will unnecessarily and unjustifiably reduce parking availability as West Seattle moves towards finding ways to make transit service more reliable, frequent, and consistent.

Read her letter in full here:

That is the point many have made here – while the ultimate goal of less car use and more transit use is supported by most, this area does not currently have the volume and range of transit, even with what Proposition 1 funding is about to pay for, to enable car users to renounce private-vehicle use en masse and eliminate the need for new parking to accompany new residential units.

So what are the next steps on deciding all this? We asked DPD that on Friday, and spokesperson Wendy Shark replied, “We will take the range of comments we received into consideration as we make final edits to the Director’s Rule. Then the Director will sign the final rule, it will be published on our website, and filed with the City Clerk.” (As for a timeline – we’re still waiting for the answer to our followup question about that.)

Here’s what happened at 35th SW safety-options meeting #2

March 13, 2015 at 9:40 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 46 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two days after SDOT debuted the 35th SW safety-design options (WSB coverage here), an afternoon encore presentation filled the upstairs meeting room at Southwest Branch Library.

While the information presented by SDOT’s Jim Curtin on Thursday afternoon was the same – most of it in this slide deck – the reaction and questions were not. And that wasn’t surprising, since Curtin asked for a show of hands by those who had already heard something about the proposals.

As we listened to the presentation a second time, different facts jumped out, beyond the big ones (five people killed and more than 1,000 crashes in a decade):

Click to read the rest of Here’s what happened at 35th SW safety-options meeting #2…

AS-IT-HAPPENED COVERAGE: 35th SW safety project ‘design alternatives’ unveiled, both lowering speed limit to 30 mph

March 10, 2015 at 6:53 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 68 Comments

6:53 PM: We’re at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center as SDOT’s Jim Curtin gets ready to unveil the “design alternatives” for “making 35th SW safer for everyone.” First, he’s recapping background about how we got to this point – including more than 1,000 crashes, 412 injuries, five deaths in the past decade on 35th SW between Roxbury and Alaska. The slide decks are up on the project page – this is the one with the alternatives:

Even before Curtin gets to those, he’s been asked questions such as “which of the deaths were the pedestrians’ fault?” None, he says. When countered with “but wasn’t one mid-block?” he explains that it’s legal to cross at midblock.

The background is in this slide deck (added – midway through the meeting, it’s clear that this deck also includes much elaboration on the proposed alternatives, intersection by intersection, so take some time to go through this one):

Curtin touches on enforcement and says SPD has obtained a grant to step that up. Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske couldn’t be here tonight but will be at the Thursday afternoon version of this meeting to talk about that, Curtin says. (With him at this meeting, by the way, is another high-profile SDOT employee, traffic engineer Dongho Chang.) He’s been asked about specific types of data and promises that will be made available; he also says that 35th will be monitored basically “forever.”

Somebody brings up rechannelized Fauntleroy Way and claims that it crawls at 15 MPH at certain times. Curtin says SDOT recently studied Fauntleroy and that more than 80 percent of the drivers are going 33 mph (two miles below the speed limit).

7:10 PM: Curtin has just declared that the speed limit on 35th will be cut to 30 mph, and the room erupts in cheers/applause, except for one participant who has already spoken out multiple times and claimed that higher speeds are safer. Curtin agreed that the speed limit alone won’t do it – that the road design must be made safer too. Shortly thereafter, he notes that Fauntleroy Way will be reduced to 30 mph this year too (as had been inferred in the Vision Zero plan announced recently).

What else will be done? he’s asked. The slide says “turn signals at some locations, signal optimization, reflective materials for most signals.” Also, “lane-line markers (buttons) throughout the corridor.”

Regarding bicycles, while “protected bicycle lanes are envisioned long-term for 35th,” Curtin says bicyclists have suggested that other routes be focused on first, so “that’s what we’re going to do.” A Neighborhood Greenway is planned for 34th SW, one block east, for 2017 implementation.

Now he gets to Design Alternative A, which will add 3 to 4 minutes delay during am/pm rush hours, he says. It would rechannelize 35th SW from Roxbury to Edmunds – one lane each way and a center turn lane.

Design Alternative B, projected to add 3 minutes’ delay in rush hours, would rechannelize between Roxbury and Raymond, but not north of Raymond, which instead would have peak-hour parking restrictions to create an extra lane only during those times. SDOT is still modeling this, Curtin explains, and the boundaries on this one might change.

Going into more background for the alternatives, he points out that 35th has no turn lanes right now, so all vehicles stop behind someone trying to turn. He puts up 35th between Henderson and Barton, showing how design alternatives will reduce lane changes that buses have to make, keeping them from “hanging out” in traffic. Then he shows how 35th/Barton would be affected. Asked if Metro might see a bus bulb – Curtin and Chang say no.

Next, 35th/Holden – “bus lanes through the intersection” might be considered, says Curtin, pointing out the signals at this odd intersection are “already delayed.” 35th/Webster, 8 of 9 crashes during the recent study period are related to left turns, so adding a left-turn pocket here can help – left turns off 35th.

35th/Morgan might get right-turn pockets. At 35th/Juneau, Option A could have a crossing “with turn restrictions” in the longer term, says Curtin, noting that 35th/Graham has similar conditions. That would mean no left turns, only right turns, he said in response to a question. Option B might not rechannelize this area, so a traffic signal might be needed to facilitate a crossing.

Curtin is asked about the in-pavement flashing lights that some other jurisdictions use to call attention to crossings. He says there’s concern about how they would be affected in snow/rain weather. Chang picks up, saying that he worked in Everett, which used five of them, and their lights can burn out without pedestrians being aware, giving them a false sense of security – four of the five in Everett are not working right now, he notes.

Next, he draws applause by saying a crossing is proposed at 35th/Dawson, where the community has long requested one (this is near Camp Long). In the longer term, he says, that could bring in low-cost “treatments” such as signs, pavement markings, flashing beacons, maybe even a “refuge island” midway across.

He says that Seattle’s 40 rechannelizations generally have “remarkable” results. Fauntleroy Way is an example given – 31 percent drop in collisions, 1 percent drop in 85 percent of the speed, 13 percent drop in 10+ mph speeders, volume change up a third of a percentage. “When the ferry lets out, are you really driving 35 mph?” asks someone in the audience. “There’s the data,” somebody else points out. The first speaker clarifies that she actually favors the rechannelization because Fauntleroy can be crossed a little more safely since it. (It was done in connection with repaving in 2009.)

Before Q&A, Curtin notes that a June meeting will unveil the “final” plan and take one last round of comments; implementation would begin in late summer.

First question – did the Fauntleroy rechannelization push traffic elsewhere? “Absolutely not,” said Curtin. (The slide a few minutes earlier had shown that Fauntleroy volume is actually up a bit since then.)

Another person has more of a comment, saying that he’s glad this might make it possible for both sides of 35th to be part of the same neighborhood, instead of, given its current freeway-like conditions, being a separator. That leads to some applause.

How much would this cost? More than $100,000 a mile, replied Curtin, for rechannelization, so this would cost at least half a million, not counting additional stoplights, etc.

8 PM: The meeting is breaking up now into a chance for one-on-one discussion with Curtin and Chang. This meeting will be repeated on Thursday afternoon at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson), starting at 3:15 pm; Curtin also noted that his e-mail address is on the project website, so if you have questions/comments, you can reach him that way – jim.curtin@seattle.gov (which is also up on the board right now with his phone number, 206-684-8874).

Reminder: Meetings this week to see what SDOT will propose to make 35th SW safer

March 8, 2015 at 8:20 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | No Comments

In case you missed the first announcement a week and a half ago: You have two chances this week to see the “design alternatives” that SDOT is proposing to make 35th SW safer, 6:30 pm Tuesday (March 10th) at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way), and 3:15 pm Thursday (March 12th) at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson). These will be the first standalone community meetings since the project kickoff in October (WSB coverage here), which in turn followed the February 2014 city announcement of a long-sought safety initiative for the arterial, after much talk but no action despite five deaths in seven years. What happens after these meetings? The process is laid out on the project page.

Another transportation note: You can apply now for city’s new Transit Advisory Board

March 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

If you’re interested in being on the city’s new Transit Advisory Board, it’s time to make your move, since the City Council officially approved its creation with a vote this afternoon. Ahead, the announcement, including how to apply:

Click to read the rest of Another transportation note: You can apply now for city’s new Transit Advisory Board…

UPDATE: What’s proposed for West Seattle in just-announced ‘Move Seattle’ plan

March 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(WSB photo: SDOT director Scott Kubly at podium, next to Mayor Murray)
12:30 PM: At a media event in Ballard, Mayor Murray is officially unveiling “Move Seattle,” the city’s transportation focus for the next decade. It includes 24 major projects citywide; those listed as priorities for the next decade in West Seattle include:

FAUNTLEROY WAY/CALIFORNIA TRANSIT CORRIDOR – projected to cost at least $70 million
*Transit improvements including a “full transit station on Fauntleroy Way near the West Seattle Bridge
*Also described as “add(ing) real-time arrival information at all bus stops and transit centers” and “link(ing) discontinuous bus-only lanes along the corridor to complete the transit-priority system
(added) *Page 62 in the PDF

FAUNTLEROY WAY SW BOULEVARD – projected to cost at least $13 million (separate from the cost of undergrounding, as has been discussed recently)
*This project is now at 60 percent design, but funding hasn’t yet been discussed/identified
(added) *Page 63 in the PDF

DELRIDGE COMPLETE STREET – projected to cost at least $38 million
*This is described as adding “transit lanes and improv(ing) transit speed and reliability”
*”Includes protected bike lanes, sidewalk improvements, and amenities for walkers and transit riders along the corridor”
*”Streamlines traffic operations and improves multimodal connections between transit, freight, people who walk, and general-purpose vehicles”
(added) *Page 47 in the PDF

All three of those projects are described as likely requiring “Bridging the Gap replacement funding” to happen. Also of major interest to our area:

LANDER GRADE SEPARATION/RAILROAD CROSSING – projected to cost at least $100 million
*This is a long-shelved project that West Seattle leaders have targeted as vital to mobility between West Seattle and SODO/downtown

1ST AVENUE/1ST AVE. S. CORRIDOR - projected to cost at least $10 million

EAST MARGINAL WAY CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENTS – projected to cost at least $40 million

In a briefing before the mayor’s announcement, SDOT director Scott Kubly discussed the plan with reporters – his topline, “It’s not about doing a new plan, it’s about integrating the plans we have.” He started with trends, including the decline in driving, particularly among millennials, quoting a study as saying that up to a third of that generation doesn’t want to own a car. He segued from there into principles starting with safety.

With a nod to the city’s recently unveiled “Vision Zero” strategy, Kubly reminded, “Speed kills.” While the number of crash-related deaths has dropped – 40 deaths a year a decade ago, down to 15 a year now – more needs to be done, he said. Another principle: The city is working to “re-orient to a multi-modal system … one that works for everybody.” That includes bringing transit service within walking distance of as many Seattle residents as possible, and making city streets safer for bicycle riders of all ages and abilities – Kubly used City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw (who rode in Delridge as the greenway project was getting under way) as an example of the atypical bicycle rider. Freight mobility is a key value for SDOT too, he said, as is affordability – including “lower out-of-pocket transportation costs” for people. The average household spends 17 percent of its budget on transportation, he said. Affordability also relates to the city budget, he noted, so the city will do more repair/maintenance work, including microsurfacing, which has been done extensively in Arbor Heights.

Kubly also said the city intends to “innovate in how we reach people,” saying the traditional public meetings held regarding proposals and projects only reaches a narrow slice of the population. And he discussed an intricate prioritization process, starting with overlays of the city’s various transportation-related plans, to see where priorities intersect. That’ll be the role of a new Project Development Division, he noted, as part of an intradepartment reorganization.

We’re now listening in on the mayor’s part of the briefing, and will add details here afterward, including weblinks with more details.

1:13 PM UPDATE: The mayor’s briefing, outside Swedish Hospital in Ballard and alongside busy Market Street (used as a backdrop to emphasize the city’s continued growth), is over. No additional details on the specific projects as mentioned above, but he did say that details of the proposed funding – ostensibly a ballot measure – will be made public within a few weeks. Full video of his briefing should be on Seattle Channel‘s website a bit later, and we’ll add the video here when we find it. The official webpage for Move Seattle is here; the full document with details on the projects mentioned above (and others around the city) is here, as a PDF.

@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: SDOT’s new transit director isn’t just about buses

March 1, 2015 at 8:01 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments


By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Seattle Department of Transportation‘s new Transit Division isn’t just about buses, its new leader told the West Seattle Transportation Coalition.

It’s about many aspects of getting around the city, Paulo Nunes-Ueno told the WSTC in his guest appearance during their monthly meeting Thursday night – more aspects that were mentioned in the announcement of his hiring back in December.

With the new division’s deputy director Bill Bryant, formerly of Metro, at his side, Nunes-Ueno told WSTC their division’s work is about transit and mobility, including parking, streetcars, bike-share and car-share operations, all part of “building a transportation network.”

Click to read the rest of @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: SDOT’s new transit director isn’t just about buses…

47th/Admiral signal: Construction to start ‘as soon as the week of March 9th’

February 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

As mentioned here a week ago, SDOT director Scott Kubly told the City Council Transportation Committee that the 47th/Admiral signal was on the brink of construction – and now, a city alert says construction could be just days away:

As soon as the week of March 9, the Seattle Department of Transportation will begin construction of the project to build a new signal, crosswalks and updated curb ramps at the intersection of 47th Avenue SW and SW Admiral Way in West Seattle.

This project aims to improve the flow of traffic in this area and you can expect to see the following changes at this intersection:

Click to read the rest of 47th/Admiral signal: Construction to start ‘as soon as the week of March 9th’…

Followup: Future West Seattle Water Taxi, M/V Doc Maynard, taking shape

February 25, 2015 at 12:14 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Seen at sea, Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

(Click picture to see larger image)
With the county launching Water Taxi Watch and planning the debut of the new Vashon Island Water Taxi M/V Sally Fox for late March, we asked how construction is proceeding with West Seattle’s new vessel, the M/V Doc Maynard. In response, the county Department of Transportation shared the photo taken at All American Marine in Bellingham, where, KCDOT spokesperson Rochelle Ogershok says, “Last week the engines were inserted into the hull and the cabin was also attached to the hull. We are still on target for delivery of the vessel this fall.”

When the new vessels are both in service, the county plans to keep Spirit of Kingston, the current West Seattle Water Taxi, as a backup. It has already stopped leasing the SoK’s predecessor Rachel Marie – which went into service on the West Seattle run in 2010 – and will do so with the current Vashon vessel Melissa Ann. The two new boats’ cost will total $11.8 million, 80 percent of which is being covered by federal funding.

P.S. The Water Taxi’s 7-day-a-week schedule resumes April 6th.

How to make 35th SW safer? See the possibilities at March 10th, 12th meetings

February 24, 2015 at 6:14 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

The dates are now officially set for two meetings at which you can see and comment on the proposed design alternatives for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project, just hours after SDOT director Scott Kubly told the City Council Transportation Committee he expected an announcement within a few days. From the project website:

Please join us at our upcoming Design Alternatives Review meetings:

Tuesday, March 10, 6:30 to 8:30 PM
Neighborhood House, Room 207, 6400 Sylvan Way SW

Thursday, March 12, 3:15 to 5:15 PM
Southwest Library, Second Floor Meeting Room, 9010 35th Avenue SW

Here’s our coverage of the project kickoff meeting last October. Thanks to Chris Stripinis from the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council for the tip.

Wondering where the boat is? King County now has ‘Water Taxi Watch’

February 24, 2015 at 2:27 pm | In Seen at sea, Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments


(Screengrab from Water Taxi Watch)
Wondering where your Water Taxi is? Just announced:

The King County Marine Division (KCMD) is excited to announce that we have gone live with our Water Taxi Watch system.

Water Taxi Watch, modeled after Washington State Ferries’ (WSF) very popular VesselWatch, allows you to track vessels on our routes in real time, including their position, speed, and direction. You can also find arrival and departure schedules and other useful information on the site. Hopefully the next foggy morning you are down at the dock and cannot see your vessel, you will be able to use this new tool to track the status of your boat.

This project was funded by a Federal Transit Administration technology grant and is a collaborative effort between WSF and the King County Marine Division. Please visit our website at kingcounty.gov/watertaxi for a link to this exciting new feature!

(Note: The site currently lists the vessel’s estimated arrival time. This is an estimate based on the scheduled crossing time added to the actual departure time and does not account for weather or other delays during the crossing)

The direct link is here – it’s hosted on the Washington State Ferries website (you’ll notice that it lists WSF vessels as well), and as noted in the announcement, is reachable via a button from the Water Taxi homepage.

SIDE NOTE: While there’s no official announcement from the county yet (we’re checking), BikeVashon says the first new Water Taxi, M/V Sally Fox (which will be on the Seattle-Vashon route), is expected to be dedicated March 28th.

Followup: West Seattle project updates, Highway 99 lane closure concerns @ Transportation Committee

February 24, 2015 at 11:26 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

Just wrapped up at City Hall, SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s briefing for the City Council Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. We previewed it here last Friday when his written updates arrived along with the meeting agenda; some changes and additions in the briefing, monitored via Seattle Channel‘s live webcast (update: here’s the archived video):

99/AURORA LANE CLOSURES: WSDOT has been warning about weeks of lane closures on 99 just north of downtown, starting as soon as March 7th, because of foundation installation for future messaging signs; Kubly said it appears southbound traffic will be affected the most. City Councilmember Mike O’Brien expressed concern that RapidRide E Line will be caught in the delays and wondered if the project could be postponed until additional transit service starts in June. “(The signs) are for a tunnel that’s been delayed 2 years,” he pointed out. This might all be brought up at next Monday’s council briefing meeting.

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: As previously reported here, design for the Fauntleroy Boulevard project between 35th and Alaska is paused at 60 percent until a decision is made about undergrounding utilities, which would add ~$6 million to the price tag.

Rasmussen told Kubly he’ll be meeting with City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco, including a tour of the area, and Kubly offered to join them.

35TH, ROXBURY SAFETY PROJECTS: The official dates for the next meetings on these West Seattle projects will likely be in mid-March, not the potential early March dates mentioned in Kubly’s written report; the announcements are expected within a few days. Speaking about citywide corridor safety projects in general, Kubly said the problem to be solved is that the city’s road network was designed in the ’50s and ’60s for just one transportation mode, the car. So what’s happening now is “not really a war on cars, (but) trying to (re)design our streets to reflect the diversity of ways people want to get around Seattle,” and increasing safety since the current road designs encourage speeding.

47TH/ADMIRAL SIGNAL: With construction starting soon, Rasmussen mentioned concerns about notification of how parking removal will affect Alki Mail and others in the area. Kubly said that notification had first gone out last August that parking would be removed within 50 feet of the intersection (as noted on the project page).

Earlier in the meeting:

TRANSIT BOARD: The committee voted on the resolution creating a new 11-member citywide Transit Advisory Board, which goes to the full council for final approval next week. One topic of discussion – how to ensure that it will have representatives from around the city? Geographic representation is “not mandatory, but aspirational,” observed Rasmussen. O’Brien suggested tweaking the resolution language to further encourage geographic diversity.

(Photo: Screengrab from this morning’s Seattle Channel webcast)

Highway 99 tunnel-machine update: ‘Taking a break’ for cleanup

February 20, 2015 at 5:35 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

(Image downloaded from repair-pit camera after 5 pm today)
22 feet down, 35 to go for the Highway 99 tunnel machine, one day after it broke through the wall of the pit from which its cutterhead will be lifted for repairs. But it’s idle for now, as explained in this late-afternoon update from WSDOT:

After a few days of steady digging, Seattle Tunnel Partners is taking a break from mining so crews can clean out the bottom of the access pit. As expected, a mixture of dirt, concrete and water came into the pit along with the tunneling machine during Thursday’s breakthrough. Crews are using vacuum trucks and other tools to remove the material.

Once Bertha’s cradle is cleaned off, crews will continue moving the machine forward. Bertha must travel an additional 35 feet before STP and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen can begin the disassembly process. Since mining resumed late Tuesday, Bertha has moved nearly 22 feet.

Meantime, the SDOT director’s report we mentioned in an earlier story includes a few related notes. For one, SDOT director Scott Kubly writes, the city’s plan to independently evaluate the Alaskan Way Viaduct is proceeding: “Initial consultant scope, to be completed by early to mid-March, focuses on technical review of 2010-2014 studies of the viaduct and serviceability/safety for use of the viaduct structure.” Later in the report, he writes, “Bridge engineers responded to a report that concrete had fallen off the Alaskan Way Viaduct near Seneca Street. No significant defect was noted and it appears to be the continued minor deterioration of the aging structure.” (The date when this happened wasn’t mentioned.)

Admiral, 35th, Roxbury, Fauntleroy updates among West Seattle notes in SDOT director’s report to City Council

February 20, 2015 at 1:52 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 18 Comments

Toward the end of each week, the following week’s City Council meeting agendas go public, and they often yield interesting reading. This afternoon, we found several West Seattle notes in the agenda-attached report that SDOT director Scott Kubly will officially present to the council’s Transportation Committee next Tuesday:

47TH/ADMIRAL SIGNAL: Construction is approaching; Kubly’s report says “pre-construction” is planned for next Tuesday (February 24th), and the “notice to proceed” is expected the second week of March.

35TH SW CORRIDOR SAFETY PROJECT: Mark your calendars – proposed design alternatives will be shown within a few weeks, if this schedule is kept: “Dates for our second round of 35th meetings have been tentatively set for March 4 and 5.”

SW ROXBURY SAFETY PROJECT: Right after 35th, we’ll find out what’s in store here: “Staff aiming to release recommendations to the public on March 10 or 11 and highlight improvements aligning with Vision Zero.” (That’s the new city initiative that was much-discussed following our report last week.)

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: This update has a list of bullet points, as follows:

*The project team met with two businesses last week to discuss the 60% design and impacts to their property frontage

*In addition, the project team met with SPU to discuss project drainage requirements

*One property owner has continually expressed his disagreement with the bicycle facility and reduction in left-turn access for small businesses

*The project manager is meeting with SCL to determine cost and scope of designing the civil improvements associated with the undergrounding of the power distribution

*The design is on hold until cost of SCL undergrounding is resolved

The SDOT director’s report also includes notes on construction projects’ effects on the right of way, including this one that’s just getting started in West Seattle:

3210 CALIFORNIA SW CONSTRUCTION: Demolition for this 134-apartment, block-long building is wrapping up – our photo is from the end of last week; this week, debris-clearing has been under way. We learned this week from the contractor that this project will NOT have a crane; Kubly’s report explains why, saying, “Contractor unable to obtain crane easement from neighbors – no flyover rights.” The report also notes that “sidewalk and parking lane (will be) closed the next 11 weeks.”

The Transportation Committee meeting during which this report will be presented also includes the resolution creating a Transit Advisory Board, among other items; it’s at 9:30 am Tuesday at City Hall, and will also be live online and on cable, via the Seattle Channel.

VIDEO: Highway 99 tunnel machine breaks through access-pit wall

February 19, 2015 at 11:39 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 29 Comments

11:39 AM: If you’ve been on the Alaskan Way Viaduct this morning and noticed a dust cloud – the Highway 99 tunneling machine is “preparing to break through” the wall of its repair pit, according to a Twitter update a few minutes ago. Earlier this morning, WSDOT published a web update saying the machine had moved 14 of the 20 feet it needs to go to break into its repair pit. It had warned that they expected the machine to overheat and have to stop down, but aside from a stopdown reported last night so other work could be done in the pit, there’s been no word of that happening. WSDOT says it’s switched the pit camera to more frequent updates – every five minutes – so you can check in here (left-center frame).

12:44 PM: And while we were away from the desk for a bit:


Online, WSDOT adds:

This is just the beginning of the repair effort being led by Seattle Tunnel Partners and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen. The machine will continue to move forward in 6 ½ foot increments, stopping to build rings on its way into the pit. When the front end of the machine is fully exposed, crews will begin the disassembly process. STP has told us that taking the machine apart and lifting it to the surface will take significant time and effort.

ADDED 5:22 PM: WSDOT offers this video including the first glimpse of the machine’s cutterhead (most visible around 1:15 in):

When will RapidRide C/D split? And other Metro-funding followups

February 18, 2015 at 10:23 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

Questions followed our short Tuesday update on how the new Seattle-voter-approved funding for Metro will be spread out – and thanks to Anthony Auriemma from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office, we have some answers.

(WSB photo: RapidRide C Line bus photographed today on California SW)
WHEN WILL RAPIDRIDE LINES C AND D SPLIT? That’s scheduled for next year, with 20,000-40,000 more service hours to be funded to cover what it’ll take to “extend and split the 2 lines,” Auriemma says, adding, “Councilmember Rasmussen is interested in finding ways to speed up the implementation of the planned split.”

WHAT ABOUT THE 21? Along with the 100 hours to improve Saturday reliability, the 21EX “will also see another 250 hours of service to improve weekday reliability (essentially, to ensure that the 21EX will arrive when it is actually scheduled to arrive, instead of being chronically late),” according to Auriemma. And that’ll be it for the 21 this year.

GENERAL QUESTIONS/INFO: The website for the Seattle Transportation Benefit District has been updated with more information on the upcoming service changes, including an FAQ – go here. Granular details such as schedule specifics aren’t available yet, but “will be rolled out as we move closer to the June service changes.” As noted in our Tuesday update, June is when the new car-tab fees will be added, while the tenth-of-a-percent sales-tax increase starts in April.

Update: Highway 99 tunnel machine now a third of the way to the pit

February 18, 2015 at 9:47 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

(UPDATED LATE WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON with progress report)

9:47 AM: Last week, WSDOT said the Highway 99 tunnel contractor would likely start the process this week of trying to get the tunneling machine to move 20 feet ahead so its damaged cutterhead can be pulled from the 120-foot-deep pit dug next to the Viaduct. This morning, there’s word the process has begun. As of 7 this morning, according to WSDOT’s announcement, the machine had made it about three feet forward:

The machine must mine through 20 feet of unreinforced concrete to reach the pit. The duration of this effort will depend on the machine’s ability to mine through the concrete while operating with a damaged seal system. STP anticipates the machine may overheat, as it has during their most recent attempts at mining. If the machine becomes too hot, they will take a break for it to cool down before resuming.

The image above is from the WSDOT page displaying several “live” construction cameras. (P.S. The south side of the pit, where it’s expected to break through, is on the left side of the photo.)

4:32 PM: WSDOT has just posted another update – saying the machine has now gone six feet.

West Seattle Metro routes that will get money from ballot measure

February 17, 2015 at 3:33 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 27 Comments

This afternoon, three votes (by the City Council meeting as itself and as the Transportation Benefit District board, and by the County Council) comprised final approval to the first list of bus routes that will get more service from the money raised by the recent transit-funding measure. In West Seattle, they are:

C Line
21
21EX
37
55
56
57
60
120
125

The full list of specific increases in service is here. “This is a huge boost to public transportation in Seattle,” declared West Seattle-residing Tom Rasmussen as the TBD meeting wrapped up a few minutes ago.

Meantime, if you’re wondering when we start paying for it – as reiterated when the council meet as the Transportation Benefit District Board, the 1/10th of a percent sales-tax increase starts April 1st, and the $60 car-tab fee starts with June renewals.

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Post-holiday Tuesday updates

February 17, 2015 at 6:16 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 5 Comments

(WS high/low bridges and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Good morning! Traffic might still be a bit lighter today because it’s the final day of a four-day weekend for Seattle Public Schools (though many independent schools are back in session). Otherwise, transit services are back to normal. Speaking of transit:

BUS BUCKS: At its afternoon meeting today, the City Council is scheduled to vote on the plan for what extra bus service will be bought with the transit funding approved by voters last year. It’s spelled out here, including local routes 21, 21X, 55, 56, 57, 60, 120, 125, C Line. Find out even more about it at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s next meeting February 26th.

8:01 AM: Still nothing unusual reported on outbound routes. So here’s a check of travel times from 35th SW just before the bridge, via the SDOT map:

1st Ave Offramp 4 min.
4th Ave Offramp 5 min.
Ballard 29 min.
Crown Hill 34 min.
Greenlake via SR-99 27 min.
I-5 NB/SB 6 min.
Lower Queen Anne 24 min.
Shoreline via SR-99 36 min.
South Lake Union 20 min.
SR-99 Offramp 4 min.
Stadiums via 1st Ave 11 min.
Stadiums via 4th Ave 9 min.

8:07 AM: Transit note – We checked out a tip about police at the bus stop by Roxhill Park across from Westwood Village. All gone by the time we arrived (and we’re not far) except for one transit officer who would say only that it was a “minor” incident, “over fast.”

12:01 PM: Via Twitter:


Highway 99 tunnel-project updates: More viaduct settlement; repair update

February 13, 2015 at 6:34 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(Added 9:27 pm: New image from camera over ‘access pit’ built to retrieve part of tunnel machine for repairs)

WSDOT has published another update on the Highway 99 tunnel project. You can read the entire update here; we’re excerpting two parts of it, starting with word of more Alaskan Way Viaduct settlement:

Survey crews have confirmed that the Alaskan Way Viaduct between South Main Street and Railroad Way South has settled up to ¼ inch in the past month. Our bridge experts are confident this minor, uniform settlement does not pose any new safety risks to the public. The viaduct remains vulnerable to earthquakes, but it is still safe for everyday use. If we had any reason to believe the structure was unsafe, we would not hesitate to close it.

These latest measurements only apply to this section of the viaduct. We have not measured any similar trends elsewhere on the viaduct, in nearby buildings or the ground surface. We expect the viaduct will continue to experience minor settlement until it is removed. Viaduct settlement has made headlines in recent months, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t a new issue. The viaduct has been settling for years, as you can see in our inspection log. Hundreds of monitors have been installed in the ground and on the viaduct to help us monitor settlement, and we will continue to keep a close eye on the structure’s condition as construction continues.

WSDOT also says the operation to move the tunnel machine into the repair pit could start within days:

Click to read the rest of Highway 99 tunnel-project updates: More viaduct settlement; repair update…

‘Vision Zero’ to reduce speed limits on 5 West Seattle arterials; maybe another school-zone speed camera too

February 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 108 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Death and injury on our streets is preventable.

So declares the online overview of the city’s new Vision Zero road-safety initiative, which lays out changes ahead, including reducing speed limits on arterials, with this year’s list including five in West Seattle.

The mayor announced Vision Zero on Thursday in Lake City; the fine print includes a relatively long list of changes ahead for West Seattle. So today, we’re taking a closer look. In addition to what’s in the document made public by SDOT, we’ve also followed up to get more information on the timetable for changes, and along the way we’ve learned of at least one potential new speed-camera location for West Seattle.

First, the plan for lower speed limits. The Vision Zero plan notes that 9 of 10 pedestrians hit by drivers going 20 mph survive – but that survival rate plummets to 1 in 10 if hit at 40 mph. So, a big part of the city’s plan focuses on reducing speed limits on city streets.

20 MPH PROGRAM

Click to read the rest of ‘Vision Zero’ to reduce speed limits on 5 West Seattle arterials; maybe another school-zone speed camera too…

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