(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.
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
(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.
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)
(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 CouncilFebruary 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.
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:
The top of my cutterhead has broken through the wall. I'll dig 2 more ft. before stopping to build a ring. pic.twitter.com/SVcThsimnv
— Bertha (@BerthaDigsSR99) February 19, 2015
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):
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.
(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.
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:
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.
(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:
@westseattleblog Stalled truck on crown of WSB in right shoulder heading west. Sticking out a bit into traffic lane so use caution.
— mjs1980 (@mjs1980) February 17, 2015
(Added 9:27 pm: New image from camera over ‘access pit’ built to retrieve part of tunnel machine for repairs)
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:
‘Vision Zero’ to reduce speed limits on 5 West Seattle arterials; maybe another school-zone speed camera tooFebruary 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 107 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
West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen thinks so. Here’s the announcement of what’s being proposed:
With improved bus service coming soon to Seattle, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen unveiled legislation before Council’s Transportation Committee today to create a Seattle Transit Advisory Board. Last fall Seattle voters approved Proposition 1, raising approximately $45 million per year to improve Metro bus service in Seattle.
The Advisory Board will serve as a public oversight committee.
Metro ‘service change’ on February 14: 2 West Seattle routes have non-WS changes; reminder of upcoming fare changesFebruary 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments
One week from today, it’s Metro‘s next three-times-a-year service change. Two routes that include West Seattle have changes, but the changes are not IN West Seattle. The service-change announcement also brings news of a fare increase and the new low-income fare*, plus a change in customer service. Read on for details:
What will regional transit be like in 25 years? That’s the question the county says is at the heart of the long-awaited long-range-planning process for Metro Transit, just announced: “We’ll Get You There: Our Vision for the Future of Public Transportation.”
(WSB photo: Route 21 northbound on 35th at Morgan)
According to the official announcement, this will all unfold over the next year and a half. Metro promises multiple ways for you to get directly involved, starting with:
First: Take this online survey.
Second: Apply by February 18th to join the community-advisory group “that will collaborate regularly with Metro to ensure that the final plan represents a diversity of needs and perspectives.” The first of its every-two-months meetings is set for March 12th.
Ultimately, this will result in a draft long-range plan for public review early next year, and a final version for the County Council to consider in fall 2016.
(M/V Tillikum with Seahawks-fan flags in September 2013; photo by Paul Brannan)
Just like last year, Washington State Ferries is giving its vessels honorary temporary names on Sunday, as a show of support for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Here are the three that sail out of Fauntleroy:
M/V Issaquah: “M/V Russell Okung”
M/V Tillikum: “M/V Kevin Williams”
M/V Evergreen State: “M/V Byron Maxwell”
6:43 PM: From the “in case you were wondering, too” file: A reader e-mailed today with the observation, “I noticed a construction sign and cement barriers up this morning on Delridge, north of Andover Street,” so we went over for a photo, then asked SDOT, and got this reply from Maribel Cruz:
The barriers you reference were installed to facilitate installation of four new Seattle City Light poles prior to the start of construction of pedestrian safety improvements along Delridge Way SW between SW Andover Street and the West Seattle Bridge Trail.
The pedestrian safety improvements project is scheduled to begin the third week of February and to last for approximately six weeks. It will improve the connection for pedestrians and bicyclists from the West Seattle Bridge multi-use trail to the signalized intersection at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St., and beyond to the Delridge and West Seattle neighborhoods. Most importantly, this project will improve safety for all roadway users.
Project elements include:
* Widened sidewalk along the east side of Delridge Way SW
* Curb ramps at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St
* Redesign of 23rd Ave SW where it meets Delridge Way SW to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance and provide uninterrupted sidewalk
Cruz promises another update soon.
ADDED 9:06 PM: This SDOT webpage has a little more information, including a simple map.
@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Reviewing the city’s responses to the Top 5; mitigation money; more…January 28, 2015 at 1:25 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Four months ago today, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition informed the city of what it considers the five “most pressing transportation issues” for the peninsula, and set a deadline for responses on what could/would be done about them.
In some cases, the answers boiled down to “not much, without spending a ton of money,” as you might have seen in our report earlier this month, featuring the replies sent to the WSTC right at the wire.
Meeting for the first time in 2015, the WSTC said in essence, that’s not good enough. Its list of 5, meantime, is down to 4. Here’s how the discussion, and other hot transportation topics, unfolded:
Tonight’s the first meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition on its new night – to reduce conflicts with the standing neighborhood-council meetings on second Tuesdays, it’s now meeting on fourth Thursdays. Same start time – 6:30 pm – and location, Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Tonight’s agenda:
6:45-7:30: Proposed By-Law Changes:
· Create a Legislative Agenda Committee. The committee’s function will be to develop the WSTC’s “Legislative Agenda” as a policy and lobbying actions guide. This Committee will also maintain changes to the Agenda as goals are achieved and broadened.
· Review and amend function and by-law language of standing Committees.
Existing Committees and Language:
a) Outreach Committee: Engagement with businesses, community groups, special interest groups and individuals for recruiting into the coalition, education, and to collect feedback for the coalition to act upon.
b) Communications Committee: Manages the WSTC’s online presences; conducting annual/bi-annual Issues Surveys; writing press releases; managing and facilitating communications between other advocacy groups.
c) Research & Solutions Committee: Develops and adjusts the West Seattle Peninsula Transportation Master Plan by receiving and disseminating research info from Outreach, Communications & Meetings. Works directly with various governmental and private agencies for research on technical, planning, and transportation solutions.
d) Action Committee: Meets with officials (elected and otherwise); agencies; goes to and holds rallies; engages directly with whomever is required for the West Seattle Peninsula to get commitments for solutions.
7:30-8:30: Review City of Seattle responses to our September 2014 “Five items” list; Discuss potential ST 3; Discuss Seats on the West Seattle Transportation Corridor and Seattle Transit Oversight Committee; Discuss end of Viaduct mitigation money as of June 2015.
Some of the “five items” responses were included in this WSB report last week.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Should the Fauntleroy Boulevard project include undergrounding utilities – considering that could cost an extra $6 million or so? That’s the question Councilmember Tom Rasmussen raised at this month’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting.
The undergrounding cost was first mentioned publicly a week earlier, at the Southwest District Council meeting (WSB coverage here), with SWDC’s immediate past co-chair Sharonn Meeks reporting on a conversation with Rasmussen. This is the first time he had subsequently discussed it publicly with a West Seattle group. Taking utilities underground, he noted, “can be … transformational,” but the project has to be designed that way, and it’s now at a crossroads, with about two-thirds of the design completed: Should it be designed with underground utilities or not? The councilmember says he’s looking for community feedback. A few points to consider:
West Seattle traffic-alert update: What’s being done to prevent 3rd day of port-truck backups on FridayJanuary 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 106 Comments
(SCROLL DOWN for updates – as of our firsthand check at 4:20 pm, the backup’s cleared; 4:50 pm, added list of city/port traffic-reduction measures; 10:19 pm, adding new SDOT news release with yet more details)
(Thursday morning photo by Don Brubeck)
For a second day, a major backup of port-bound semi-trucks is backing up the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct to I-5, as well as surface streets – photos like these continue to come in:
This of course isn’t the first time a queue of port-bound trucks has affected traffic. But it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve heard of this magnitude of backup, persisting on into the day. So we contacted the Port of Seattle and SDOT to ask about the cause and what if any management steps have been taken. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw’s response:
The terminal operator is working very hard to get cargo moving on and off their docks while handling three large vessels. What we’ve been seeing here the past couple days is a surge of export commodities– goods from eastern Washington. So between the extra loads and the ongoing work disruption, we’re seeing an unusually high amount of back-ups. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things today, working with our transportation partners and the terminal operator to move cargo as quickly and safely as possible.
DOT’s Marybeth Turner says the city is concerned:
SDOT has expressed its concerns to the Port of Seattle about the truck queuing occurring on city roadways. We will meet with both the port and the terminal operator today about these impacts and potential solutions those parties can employ.
McGraw’s mention of “ongoing work disruption” refers to the situation we first mentioned two months ago – West Coast terminal operators and longshore workers are in mediated contract talks, eight months after their contract expired. An ILWU news release circulated earlier this week says the terminal operators’ organization reports they’re running out of room for containers on the West Coast docks; that organization, the Pacific Maritime Association, continues to accuse the union of slowdowns. Since last November, large ships at anchor, waiting to get into either Seattle or Tacoma, have been visible from West Seattle; right now MarineTraffic.com shows eight in all – three in Elliott Bay, and five outside Manchester (some shown in this photograph from early today):
(Photo by James Bratsanos)
ADDED 1:21 PM: Yet another vantage point of the truck backup:
— Scott Sweeney (@ssweens) January 15, 2015
3:39 PM UPDATE: Commenters (and people we’re hearing from on Twitter, too) say it hasn’t gotten any better. We’re going out for a firsthand look. Check the comments for some travel advice. SDOT advises avoiding the westbound Spokane St. Viaduct.
4:13 PM: We’ve just traveled the eastbound bridge – no more truck backup visible on Spokane St. Viaduct. Got off at 1st and noted that a motorcycle officer appeared to have lower Spokane blocked, westbound, just west of 1st. We’re circling back around to check.
4:20 PM: The officer is out of the road, in the median, and westbound Spokane is open again, no backup or slowdown. We have also crossed the low bridge and it’s open and clear.
4:50 PM: From Anthony Auriemma in Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office, an update on what’s being strategized:
SPD will have an officer working traffic from 7 am-3 pm during the slowdowns. Their primary job will be to assist with cross traffic and assist with preventing the intersections from getting blocked.
· SDOT is working on updated signage and traffic alerts. You may have noticed that SDOT this afternoon began advising drivers to avoid the Spokane Street Viaduct and to use alternate routes such as 1st Avenue South.
· SPD is joining SDOT at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to help with traffic conditions. As you may recall from the Transportation Committee briefing, this is part of the improved incident management protocols that SPD and SDOT agreed to after the June 99 meltdown. Councilmember Rasmussen visited the TMC this afternoon to check out conditions and make sure SDOT was working to find solutions.
· SDOT is attempting to secure Terminal 5 for remote parking as an interim solution.
· Other engineering and enforcement solutions are still being worked out between SDOT, SPD, and the Port.
And just after we published this, Auriemma e-mailed again to say that T-5 has been secured for parking starting tomorrow.
ADDED 10:19 PM: Rare late-night news release, just in from SDOT, with a few more specifics of what’s happening:
To ensure that traffic flows safely and efficiently near Port of Seattle facilities, the City of Seattle will take measures Friday to address trucks backing up onto city and state roadways due to Terminal 18 delays.
Based on discussions with the port, starting Friday morning trucks will be detoured off city streets into a holding area at nearby Terminal 5, where they will stage for entry into Terminal 18. Truck drivers will be directed to this holding area using fixed and variable messages signs.
Also on Friday SDOT will install “No Stopping, Standing or Parking from 3:00 AM to 6:45 AM” signs on Harbor Island to ensure vehicles stage at Terminal 5 prior to the opening of Terminal 18’s gates. The Seattle Police Department is providing officers to support traffic flow and prevent the West Seattle Bridge, Spokane Street Viaduct and intersections near Harbor Island from being blocked by commercial vehicles.
“The City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle are working jointly to address traffic issues created by delays at Terminal 18,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “These measures will allow the port to process its trucks without creating congestion for drivers and transit riders.”
“I have been working with SDOT, SPD and the Port of Seattle to address the congestion created by port facilities, and will continue to work on this problem as long as the delays continue,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “I appreciate these quick measures being taken by the Port and the City, which will ensure drivers and transit riders can make their trips without unnecessary delay.”
(WSB file screengrab of SDOT camera looking toward bridge’s offramp to 99)
While today’s big bridge-traffic concern is the Port-bound truck backup (working on a separate story), the ongoing point of contention is usually the eastbound weekday-morning jam. Physical improvements to the bridge are unlikely anytime soon, says the city, so simpler, quicker improvements can and must be pursued, suggests City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, saying that if the right people/agencies get together and talk about operational changes and coordination, that could make a difference.
Toward that end, the West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force will be launched, he has announced, adding that Mayor Ed Murray has promised his support. (This is what Rasmussen staffer Evan Clifthorne was hinting at during the December West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.)
Before we get to details of the task force, here’s why nothing is likely to change physically on the bridge any time soon, explained in documents provided by Rasmussen’s office in response to questions from the WSTC, in their declaration of priorities last September. One big question involves whether one of the bottlenecks off the eastbound bridge could be expanded. The SDOT response says basically, no:
Before raising the 12th Man flag at noontime today, King County Executive Dow Constantine had an announcement intended to draw cheers from transit users:
Delivering on his initiative to better coordinate transportation services, King County Executive and Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine today announced the launch of a free smartphone app that makes it easier for riders to plan trips with 11 transit agencies across Puget Sound.
The Puget Sound Trip Planner — available for Apple and Android mobile devices — allows riders to plan a trip that includes buses, rail, ferries, streetcars, and water taxis. It merges popular features available on existing trip planners and offers real-time predictions for bus arrivals.
More info, and the full list of participating agencies/services, can be found here.
(Photo of today’s foggy sunset, by Chi Krneta)
Take the Water Taxi from Pier 50? Or state ferries from Colman Dock? Downtown-waterfront access is changing downtown from next Monday through mid-May, as announced today:
(Photo from Seacrest at sunset, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
All vehicles will enter the Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock via Yesler Way as part of temporary changes being implemented by the State Route 99 Tunnel Project and the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. Terminal access will also shift for pedestrians, bicyclists and King County Water Taxi passengers and remain in place through May 2015. Through traffic north and south on Alaskan Way remains unchanged. Drivers/riders exiting Colman Dock via Yesler Way may see some intersection modifications this week as construction crews prepare for the Monday shift.
View a detailed map of the following temporary changes near Colman Dock:
· Drivers will turn left or right into the WSF terminal from Alaskan Way at Yesler Way.
o For southbound traffic, one lane of Alaskan Way in front of the ferry terminal will be dedicated to ferry access.
o A left-turn lane will accommodate northbound traffic at Yesler Way.
o Vehicles will exit the ferry dock onto Yesler Way or Marion Street.
· Pedestrian access through the Seawall Project construction zone will be maintained to the WSF terminal in two ways: the current pedestrian bridge at Marion Street, and at street level immediately west of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Street level access will be maintained at all times, although it will shift at various points during construction.
· Bicyclists will enter and exit the ferry terminal on the north side of Yesler Way via the shared-use path.
· King County Water Taxi riders will enter and exit via Yesler Way.
· Passenger pickup and drop-off (including access for people with disabilities) will be shifted to the west side of the roadway between Marion and Columbia streets.
· Taxi waiting areas are also available at the current location on the east side of Alaskan Way between Marion and Columbia streets. A new taxi waiting area will – be added on Marion Street between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue.
(WSB photo: Ferry between Fauntleroy and Vashon during Christmas Day sunset)
The Washington State Ferries winter schedule starts tomorrow (Sunday, December 28th). Here’s the WSF roundup of major changes systemwide. For the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, the biggest change is the usual seasonal shrinking of the number of weekend runs, plus a change to the emergency two-boat schedule – here’s a printable PDF. Separate from the schedule change, WSF also is warning that at some point in the not-too-distant future, you’ll see longer wait times, temporarily:
As early as Sunday, Dec. 28 through early February, customers traveling on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route are advised to prepare for longer than usual wait times due to a vessel downsizing. The temporary downsizing is needed to maintain a full, system-wide sailing schedule while the Yakima and Kitsap are out of service for necessary repairs and maintenance.
Whenever that happens, you can use this page to check Fauntleroy wait times. P.S. The F/V/S route is on a regular schedule on New Year’s Day.
SDOT announced today that the ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’ project proposed for Fauntleroy Way between 35th and Alaska is at 60 percent design, but still isn’t scheduled for construction until and unless funding is found, so there’s no chance work would start any sooner than fall 2016. Here’s the official update:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is continuing design work for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, an improvement project along Fauntleroy Way SW between SW Alaska Street and 35th Avenue SW.
We recently reached the 60% design stage, and we anticipate completing project design work in spring 2015. The project is not currently funded for construction. In order to advance the project into construction, the Seattle City Council would need to allocate construction funding. If construction funding is secured, the earliest construction would begin is fall 2016.
We have been meeting one-on-one with area business and property owners and members of community organizations since early design work began in the summer of 2014. The 60% design reflects changes to meet specific business access needs raised during the outreach process.
We compared the cross-section above with the one that was circulated when the project was at 30 percent design three months ago – no major differences that we can see. We have a followup question out asking for elaboration on the “changes” SDOT says it made, and will add whatever we find out.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
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