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FERRIES: Triangle Route Task Force members make their ‘should we stay or should we go’ decision

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The big decision has been made: The Washington State Ferries citizen advisory committee known as the Triangle Route Improvement Task Force will continue.

Its mission will change.

The decisionmaking opened the task force’s every-month-or-so meeting Wednesday afternoon/evening at Fauntleroy Church, near the easternmost terminal of the Triangle Route (Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth). It was entirely up to the members, most of whom – three from each community on the route – expressed willingness to continue on for at least another year, though a few admitted they had “gone back and forth,” mostly because the task force’s first round of work had drawn more scrutiny and controversy than had been expected.

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FOLLOWUP: 2017 sidewalk projects you won’t see until 2018

(City-provided map from March 2017)

Back in March, we mentioned three West Seattle sidewalk projects were in the works for this year; the city-provided map above accompanied the announcement. With the year almost over, we found that two of them have slid to 2018: The city is currently seeking bids to build the sidewalk along 35th SW between SW 100th and SW 106th in Arbor Heights and a shorter stretch near Sanislo Elementary on Puget Ridge, plus a project outside West Seattle in the same solicitation. No word on the status of the third project, one block of SW 104th in Arbor Heights.

FOLLOWUP: Mayor Durkan signs Sound Transit partnering agreement for West Seattle, Ballard light-rail planning

That “partnering agreement” between the city and Sound Transit, to get going on West Seattle (2030) and Ballard (2035) light rail, has now been signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan, whose office sent this announcement:

With the support of all Seattle-area Sound Transit Board Members, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan signed an agreement for an expedited plan to build the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions. The agreement, which was unanimously affirmed by City Council on Monday, provides a framework for Sound Transit and the City to work closely during the next 18 months to identify a preferred route alternative. Early identification of a preferred alternative along with other alternatives to study in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a key strategy to meet the aggressive schedules for speeding up service to West Seattle in 2030 and Ballard in 2035. In addition, the agreement creates a new leader within the Mayor’s office to coordinate Sound Transit including a review of City codes, policies and permitting requirements.

“I am honored to appoint Mayor Durkan to the Sound Transit Board of Directors – she will be a strong partner as we keep our projects moving forward and tackle our transportation challenges,” said King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Member Dow Constantine. “People want light rail, and they want it now. During the ST 3 campaign I repeatedly pointed out that the timelines could be shortened if local jurisdictions and Sound Transit work together. Today, for West Seattle and Ballard, Seattle is a big step closer to making that happen, fulfilling my promise and showing the way for other cities.”

“If we want to remain the economic engine of the Northwest, with opportunities for all residents to thrive, we must have continued investment in light rail and other investments in public transportation. The West Seattle and Ballard to Downtown corridors will be areas of high ridership, and most importantly, will help our diverse communities stay connected. We are united in making this a top priority,” said King County Council Chair and Sound Transit Board Member Joe McDermott.

“We need better transit as quickly as possible. By expediting light rail to West Seattle and Ballard, we will be transforming our city for decades to come. As both Mayor and a member of the Sound Transit Board, I will work to cut red tape to provide faster, more reliable transit service to neighborhoods sooner. By working closely with key members of our community, region, and the Sound Transit Board, we will be able to make public transit more convenient and accessible to those who visit or live and work in and around Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor and Sound Transit Board Member Jenny Durkan. “I’ll also work to bring on better bus service to help immediately, as we build our next generation of transit.”

“We heard loud and clear that Seattle voters want light rail and they want it as soon as possible. This agreement will help the City and Sound Transit deliver the transit infrastructure our region demands,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4, NE Seattle) and Sound Transit Board Member. “We know that good transit reduces household costs, connects families to good jobs and helps protect our environment, and I am thrilled we are taking action today to bring those benefits to more Seattleites.”

The agreement will go before the Sound Transit Board on Dec. 21. It includes specific commitments from each agency that include working together with stakeholders to build early consensus around project elements; developing environmental review documents that both agencies can use for required project development approvals and permitting decisions; and streamlining permit review and processing.

If you skimmed through, go back and note the “better bus service” mention in the third-to-last paragraph. We’ll be checking on that.

FERRY ALERT UPDATE: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth returning to 3 boats

11:22 AM: Just in from Washington State Ferries:

The Issaquah has been taken out of service to repair a water pump seal leak in the #1 engine. Repairs have been scheduled between the morning and afternoon commutes to minimize impact to our customers. Two-boat service will continue on the regular schedule with the Cathlamet and the Sealth until repairs to the Issaquah are completed. The Cathlamet departed Vashon for Southworth at 10:45 am and the Sealth departed Vashon for Fauntleroy at 10:15 am to begin temporary service modifications.

We’ll update when this changes.

2:44 PM: Repairs aren’t done yet; WSF continues 2-boat service with Cathlamet and Sealth: “The Cathlamet runs the #1 position with the following departure schedule … 2:50pm SW-Va-Fa, 3:35pm Fa-SW, 4:05pm SW-Fa. The Sealth remains in the #2 position with the following departure schedule … 3:00pm Fa-Va-SW, 3:45pm SW-FA.”

3:24 PM: Back to three boats – details here.

About the crane at the Fauntleroy ferry dock

Thanks to the reader who sent that photo and asked what the crane is doing at Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy dock. We asked WSF, and spokesperson Ian Sterling replied that it’s there for “routine annual maintenance work that we’re doing at a bunch of terminals and it just happens to be Fauntleroy’s turn.” He says the crane is expected to be at Fauntleroy for about a week and a half and its work is not expected to affect dock operations. The WSF website describes the work as “Landing Aid Repairs, Steel Pile in trestle, Hanger Bar Replacement.”

UPDATE: Admiral/California signal fixed

12:21 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s messaged about the Admiral/California signal flashing red – a recurring problem lately. We checked with SDOT‘s 24-hour dispatch line (206-386-1218) and they told us, “We’re on it” – took a while because they had to call in a crew. Meantime, remember that a flashing signal means stop all ways!

1:42 PM: Just went through to check; fixed.

NEW DATES: RapidRide H Line open houses in January

Metro has just set the new dates for its RapidRide H Line open houses next month – one in White Center, one in Burien:

Wednesday, January 10th from 5-8 p.m.
Burien Community Center, Shorewood Room
14700 6th Ave SW, Burien

Thursday, January 11th from 5-8 p.m.
Mount View Elementary School, Cafeteria/Multi-purpose Room
10811 12th Ave SW, White Center

These are the open houses promised when Metro went public three weeks ago with a survey asking you to get specific about feedback as they plan the conversion of Route 120 into the H Line – that survey is still open if you haven’t taken it yet.

TUNNEL TOLLS: State Transportation Commission gets briefing next week

(WSDOT photo: Southbound tunnel portal near the stadium zone, photographed 2 weeks ago, shared to WSB Flickr group)

Though the Highway 99 tunnel is a little over a year from replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the tolls aren’t set yet – though the $1 vicinity was recommended almost four years ago. So what will they be? The next step toward decisions is set for next week, when the state Transportation Commission meets in Olympia, with the agenda for its two-day meeting including:

On December 12, the Washington State Department of Transportation Toll Division will present initial traffic and toll revenue projections for the tunnel replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct portion of SR 99. The Washington State Legislature has directed that tolls raise $200 million toward project construction costs over time. Although the commission will not adopt toll rates until fall 2018, the data will be used to determine how toll rates will vary by time of day to manage congestion on the facility and impacts on surface streets.

You can see the full agenda here. The full meeting announcement notes that the tunnel toll rates are not expected to be finalized until fall of next year. (If you follow the link, you’ll see the two-day meeting includes some other hot topics, including the pilot project for a road-usage charge, and getting ready for “self-driving” vehicles.)

COLUMBIA STREET: Work starts next week to get ready for its future as a 2-way transit pathway once tunnel opens

What started on Columbia Street downtown with a bus-stop relocation will continue with major work that starts next week. Since so many West Seattleites use Columbia to get to The Viaduct, we got a preview today in a conversation with Metro and SDOT reps.

The project is officially called the Columbia Street 2-Way Transit Corridor. Columbia will eventually be the main route that transit from Highway 99 and Alaskan Way gets into and out of downtown. It’ll be used three different ways in three phases over the span of about 4 years, from fall 2018 to summer 2022, but first, here’s what’s going to happen starting next Monday:

*Columbia will be narrowed between 1st and 3rd Avenues, to two travel lanes. No on-street parking in work zones. Buses will follow the same routes they do now. Work will start on the north side of the street between 1st and 2nd, with a lane closed around the clock (minimal impacts expected for the sidewalks), and some full-weekend street closures – no dates yet.

*The street will get new concrete pavement to better handle the increased bus traffic that’s in its future.

*While the street’s dug up, the city also will replace the old water main beneath both blocks of Columbia from 1st to 3rd – they’ve been working to synergize that kind of upgrade with major road projects, to reduce the chance it’ll have to be done later.

*This phase of the work is expected to continue into June 2018. When it’s done, Columbia will go back to its current configuration – the 2-way configuration will be done in the future.

So all this work will be done between now and next June. The three phases of how bus routing will be handled are:

*During the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s month-or-so pre-demolition closure while Highway 99 is being connected to the tunnel, possibly as soon as November 2018, there’s a “SODO surface routing” that’s being planned, as shown on the map. This will affect Metro Routes 21x, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 121, 122, 123, 125, C Line. (yellow on the map)

*While the Viaduct is being demolished, roughly February 2019-February 2020, 1st Avenue routing into the heart of downtown is planned. (blue on the map)

*Once the Viaduct is demolished and more work on Columbia west of 1st is complete, the permanent 2-way pathway into and out of downtown will be operational. Columbia will be the connector between Alaskan Way and 3rd Avenue. (green on the map)

But again, in the short run, all you’ll notice is the construction starting next Monday. Drivers who want to avoid the resulting congestion on Columbia will want to get to the Viaduct on-ramp via 1st, from the south or north, or avoid the Viaduct and access the West Seattle Bridge other ways. Bus riders already have seen their stop relocated, and this won’t affect it.

FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD: If you’re wondering when work will start…

(Fauntleroy Boulevard ‘final design’ – click here to see full-size image on city website)

Since SDOT has long been saying that work on the Fauntleroy Boulevard project could start in “early 2018” but has yet to announce a date or even the final construction-routing decision, we’ve been asking about the status, noting that the timeline must have slid since there’s been nothing official. (When the rechannelization-and-medians project was “re-initiated” a year ago, the estimated start was “late 2017.”) More than two weeks after our first inquiry, we finally got a response:

You are correct, there haven’t been any recent communications about the project; only because there haven’t been project changes or updates to inform people about. The most current information is still what is included on the SDOT website. We’re in the early construction planning phase and continuing to coordinate with Sound Transit on timelines. The project team plans to send a year-end update by the end of December to the email list and stakeholders.

The most-recent update was two months ago, when SDOT announced the final design, including a left-turn break at 37th SW. The announcement at that time had included “This fall, we’ll begin pre-construction outreach, including sharing more information about traffic routing during construction,” but with SDOT’s word of a “year-end update,” that outreach has slid to winter. (The Junction Neighborhood Organization has told us they’re expecting a briefing at their quarterly meeting in January.)

The last formal public briefing about the project in West Seattle was this one at the Chamber of Commerce’s May lunch. In June, SDOT had said they’d share the construction-routing decision when the final design was revealed, but that didn’t happen. The alternatives have been described as keeping one lane open each way, which would lengthen the construction process, or detouring eastbound traffic while keeping Fauntleroy open westbound.

2030 light rail, 2017 action: Sound Transit’s latest West Seattle moves

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Light rail to and from West Seattle is still 13 years away. But the process of making it happen is accelerating.

Two signs of that: Sound Transit‘s “partnering agreement” with the city will be discussed by councilmembers this week. And for the second time in two weeks, ST sent a team to West Seattle for a community-group briefing.

First, the “partnering agreement.” It’s on the agenda for the Tuesday meeting of the Sustainability and Transportation Committee (2 pm, Council Chambers at City Hall, 600 4th Ave.). As the slide deck atop this story shows, it covers the entire West Seattle to Ballard extension plan (while WS is scheduled to open in 2030, Ballard is planned for 2035).

Components of the agreement would involve streamlining permits, as has been mentioned at previous discussions of the plan for the 4.7-mile extension into West Seattle. You can read the full 46-page agreement here or below:

The agreement addresses matters beyond the transit line itself – such as redevelopment, on page 8:

The Parties will work together to identify and evaluate opportunities for transit-oriented development (“TOD”) in station areas, including direct integration of transit facilities with development done by others. The Parties further agree to consider strategies for advancing equitable development outcomes in their planning activities, including but not limited to opportunities for development of affordable housing on publicly-owned land

Among other things, the agreement also asks the city to designate a single point of contact for the project; the Sound Transit point of contact is Cathal Ridge, the Central Corridor Project Manager who led both recent West Seattle briefings, including the one at last Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting. We were at both; here’s what happened that night:

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WATER TAXI ALERT: Delays tonight, with regular boat out of service

(Added: Texted photo – Spirit of Kingston at Seacrest tonight)

Thanks to the person who texted about a delay in the West Seattle Water Taxi’s departure from downtown around 5 pm. We hadn’t found the reason until this alert just came in:

The West Seattle and Vashon routes of the Water Taxi could be delayed at least 10-15 minutes tonight as all route departures will use the north side of the Pier 52 dock. The Doc Maynard has been taken out of service due to mechanical issues. West Seattle will resume service with the 5:25 pm departure from Pier 52 on the Spirit of Kingston.

WEST SEATTLE ROAD WORK: Speed humps and more, extending Highland Park Greenway down SW Trenton

(WSB photo: Looking west on Trenton from east of 14th SW)

Jeff asked us on Twitter about the speed-hump installation on SW Trenton, so we checked out the work and checked in with SDOT. From 18th SW eastward, they’re going in on an average of one per block, along with other features to make the street more walking/biking friendly, as an extension of the Highland Park Greenway. SDOT’s Dan Anderson says it’s a continuation of the work described in this alert that was sent to area residents a while back.

The speed humps on SW Trenton St are part of an extension of the existing neighborhood greenway to Highland Park Elementary School and playground. … SW Trenton St and 11th Ave SW will get our typical neighborhood greenway traffic calming treatment of about one speed hump per block. We’ll add pavement markings in about a month – weather permitting – and we’ll be adding stop signs for side streets and other wayfinding and safety signage.

The speed-hump installation is moving eastward – when we took a look earlier this afternoon, SW Trenton was closed east of 13th, while work west of there continued with the road remaining open.

FOLLOWUP: Dates set for RapidRide H Line open houses, as online survey continues

UPDATE, DECEMBER 1ST: Metro says it’s canceled the dates reported below and will set new ones in January. Meantime, the survey remains open.


UPDATE: One-day strike for First Student school-bus drivers today, back to full service Thursday

{Picketers at South Park bus yard – photo from Al)

5:57 AM: As announced Tuesday afternoon, drivers for First Student, which provides yellow-school-bus service for Seattle Public Schools, are out today on a one-day strike. That means no buses for about 12,000 students around the city. School IS in session, so those students’ families have to get them to their schools some other way. Teamsters Union Local 174, which represents the drivers, says the strike is a protest of “First Student’s unilateral change and implementation of an inferior medical plan for its employees,” adding, “Bus service should resume on Thursday, November 30; however, a longer strike can be called at any time if a deal is not reached.” The district says it expects to confirm the end of the strike with messages to families and the public later today.

12:08 PM UPDATE: The district says some buses did run this morning, though it doesn’t say where, and that those buses will run again this afternoon. (You might have seen video of one bus going through the picket line in South Park; we have a version of that – added above.) Affected families will be notified directly by phone, according to the district. Meantime, the district still says it’s expecting full service to resume tomorrow.

5:42 PM: If your child(ren) use yellow-bus service to get to Seattle Public Schools, you likely have already received a message with the district confirmation that First Student yellow-bus service is expected to be back to full strength tomorrow after today’s one-day strike.

SCHOOL-BUS STRIKE: First Student drivers plan one-day walkout Wednesday

2:17 PM: Just in from Seattle Public Schools: No yellow-school-bus service tomorrow (Wednesday, November 29th) because school-bus drivers plan a one-day strike. (Thanks to those who just called and texted to make sure we had heard!) Here’s the announcement on the SPS website:

The First Student bus drivers have stated they are going on a one-day strike, effective Wed., Nov. 29.

This means there will be no yellow school bus service on Wed., Nov. 29. Families will need to make other transportation arrangements to get their child to and from school.

We anticipate the First Student bus service will resume Thurs., Nov. 30.

We recognize the inconvenience this will have on Seattle families and have gathered answers to questions families may have.

You can read those answers on this page. As noted here back on Sunday night, this has been a possibility for months – the drivers, represented by Teamsters Union Local 174, have not reached agreement with First Student (who is their employer, not the district) on health and retirement issues.

ADDED 2:27 PM: Here’s the union’s announcement about the strike, which also describes it as a one-day action, and says picketing is planned Wednesday at two locations, including the big First Student bus yard in South Park (8249 5th Ave S.).

WEST SEATTLE TRANSPORTATION COALITION: Washington State Ferries, Sound Transit this Thursday

From the West Seattle Transportation Coalition:

We survived #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday … but what about #TransportationThursday?

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition November meeting is this Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. at Neighborhood House High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

We have a great program on tap. Washington State Ferries Senior Planning Manager Ray Deardorf will be there to talk about the ferry system’s future plans and Sound Transit will also be on hand with a high-level view of ST3. Please join us for what promises to be a very informative evening.

This will be our last meeting of the calendar year. Our next meeting will be on Thursday, January 25, 2018.

If you missed WSTC’s last meeting – a special forum about transportation alternatives, particularly for the mobility-challenged – here’s our coverage.

School-bus strike still possible, so Seattle Public Schools reminds families to be on standby

Seattle Public Schools is continuing to remind families that there COULD be a school-bus-driver strike at any time, and one reader suggested we should publish an update.

First Student is the company that provides yellow-bus service for SPS students. It’s been two months since the Teamsters Union Local 174 members who work for First Student voted to authorize a (potential) strike, as explained on the union’s website. And that followed what the union says were “several months of negotiations” over health care and pensions.

The most-recent update on the union website is from November 15th, reporting that mediated talks had broken down.

Just before Thanksgiving break, the district published an update on its website, reminding families:

… First Student and the bus driver union have not resolved their labor dispute and continue to negotiate. All families who use yellow school bus service need to have alternative plans to get their student to school in the event of a strike.

Any potential strike affects yellow bus riders. If your student gets to school using other district-provided methods (e.g. taxi, American Logistics), those services will not be disrupted. …

No updates on the bus service’s website. The district promises notification as quickly as possible if it gets word of a walkout, and we would of course publish it here too. So far, though, no changes, so this is just a reminder that it’s still a possibility.

FOLLOWUP: State grant denied for Highland Park Way roundabout, but SDOT says design will continue

(Early design for proposed Highland Park Way roundabout)

Just in from Highland Park Action Committee co-chair Michele Witzki – word from SDOT is that the hoped-for state grant to help pay for a roundabout at Highland Park Way and Holden did not come through. Witzki forwarded this response she received from SDOT’s Jim Curtin, after asking for an update on the grant status:

Somehow, we did not receive the grant for this project. We are extraordinarily disappointed and I know you are as well. I have raised this issue to leadership here at SDOT. We will be meeting soon to discuss our next steps. As you know, we have allocated more than $200k in local funds for design and survey/design will continue into 2018. I hope to have more information soon.

As reported here in September, there was big support for the $1 million-plus state Transportation Improvement Board grant that SDOT had sought to supplement $500,000 in money that it had allocated. Part of that had been announced by Councilmember Lisa Herbold during last May’s Find It, Fix It Walk in Highland Park – after Witzki recounted the long history of problems at the intersection and disappointment in trying to get it fixed:

The roundabout was first proposed by Highland Park community advocates almost five years ago, as a way to calm the dangerous and increasingly busy intersection at the top of the Highland Park Way hill.

‘Uptick in cancellations’ expected to end soon, Metro says

After another alert about a Metro Route 56 cancellation this morning – the fourth such alert we had seen in less than a week – we asked Metro what’s going on.

Turns out that today’s “canceled” trip did run after all, spokesperson Jeff Switzer found out after our inquiry, as did one last Wednesday for which there was also an alert, but runs in other areas were canceled today, as you’ll notice if you scroll through @kcmetrobus on Twitter. The Route 56 trips that really didn’t run last week had “no available operator,” Switzer explains.

But he tells WSB they’re staffing up:

In the past month, we have trained and deployed 70 new full-time drivers and 20 new part-time drivers. The most recent class of 35 full-time drivers graduated on Friday and are expanding the routes they are qualified on, so they can cover more work as needed.

We’re about a week away from operating more normalized service with fewer cancellations. We forewarned that a month-long uptick in canceled trips through today, and experienced some good days and some rougher days. Now we are seeing that a few more days of canceled trips are possible.

We’re at 2,850 bus drivers and providing over 99% of our 13,500 scheduled daily bus trips. We continue to hire and have a new rhythm of driver training in an effort to produce more drivers for service.

Two years ago, we took an up-close look at how the system – and the distribution of drivers – works. Switzer says what was pointed out then regarding alerts is still the case – “We notify customers of canceled trips when they are on routes with a low number of commute trips, so riders can adjust as needed. When we cancel trips on other more frequent service, riders can catch the next bus that comes along in the schedule.” He acknowledges today was “rough … on some routes and we apologize for the inconvenience, but we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the uptick in cancellations.”

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

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

First: A brand-new online survey for you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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