West Seattle, Washington
The concept of transforming Fauntleroy Way SW into a “boulevard” through The Triangle (between 35th and Alaska) has been kicking around for many years. But now there’s money in the city budget and construction could start before year’s end, as announced last fall. We’ve shown general concepts many times … the renderings above and below are the newest ones SDOT has made public, from the “60% design” phase:
So what about the details, such as how access will change for businesses and side-road users, for example? This Thursday is your chance to hear firsthand, and to ask questions, as an SDOT rep from the project will be featured at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting. “WSTC has been expressing concerns (about the plan) since 2013 – within West Seattle, and with successive (project) teams, SDOT management, the mayor, and City Council,” says WSTC co-chair Martin Westerman. “Concerns include, but are not limited to, issues around project design and cost, and coordination between successive (project) teams and SDOT-Move Seattle, Seattle City Light, Sound Transit, and West Seattle stakeholders.” The meeting starts at 6:30 pm Thursday (February 23rd) at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Westerman also notes, “All are welcome — from community associations, interest groups, businesses, and members of the public.”
(TOPLINE: After a 2 1/2-day closure to clear slide debris, Highland Park Way is open again as of just after 5:30 tonight)
ORIGINAL REPORT, 2:52 PM: Our photo taken a short time ago shows some slide cleanup still under way on Highland Park Way, and now there’s word from SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero that it will NOT be open before the PM commute after all:
Highland Park Way SW remains closed due to slides and is expected to reopen this evening.
SDOT completed removal of the remaining debris earlier today. SCL is installing a new power pole. SDOT crews will then install ecology blocks to buttress the hillside.
This work is expected to last into the PM commute. Please continue to use detours.
The hill between Holden and West Marginal Way has been closed since the sliding happened around 5 am Wednesday (here’s our original report; here’s a Thursday report with a closer look at just how much slid).
5:39 PM: Kelly tells us it’s open. We are en route.
5:47 PM: Just drove the hill – yes, it’s open again, all lanes. And Metro says Route 131 is back to its regular route.
ADDED 6:48 PM: A couple of postscripts. First, we asked SDOT this afternoon if they had determined any cause other than the heavy rain – a commenter had noted earlier, for example, that WSDOT had blamed one of its recent freewayside slides on a drain problem. But SDOT spokesperson Romero checked and said, no other factors were involved here. Meantime, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who lives in Highland Park and was among those whose travel was affected by the closure – wrote about the slide in her latest e-mail-list update, which went out this afternoon. After an update on the cleanup, she added:
… I’ve asked SDOT what kind of assessment they’ll be doing about the long-term safety of this area from future slides, and what improvements we can expect after the cleanup.
I thank King County Metro for their quick rerouting of Route 131 to accommodate bus riders in the area (myself included). The incident highlights for me – once again – the need for an emphasis upon improvements on Highland Park Way. So many people (from all over West Seattle) use this corridor to get off the peninsula. What might have once been a little-known egress is not any longer.
The Highland Park Action Committee has long been an advocate for improvements to the Holden and Highland Park intersection to slow down and make traffic flow more efficient. The focus of those efforts has been on the design and development of an arterial roundabout. SDOT agrees that improvements to this corridor are warranted. It is not funded at this time. I have inquired with SDOT about the funding estimate for the design portion alone to see if I can help identify some funding to give the project some momentum.
Though the focus of the community has been on the roundabout, I am inquiring with SDOT whether they’ve considered lane separation as an improvement. Many people I know who are familiar with this road drive in the outermost lanes and avoid the opposite direction inner lanes because of the driving practices of people less familiar with the route, or practices of those who are familiar but speed hazardously nonetheless.
Last October, we reported on a survey asking your opinion on proposed additions to late-night Metro bus service in Seattle. Today, the plan was officially announced, and the West Seattle components are the same ones in the draft plan from last fall:
*Additional late-night service at about 2 a.m. on Route 120 serving Delridge, White Center and Burien
*Hourly all-night service on the RapidRide C, D, and E Lines, which currently operate all night but with less than hourly frequencies
The full list of additions to late-night bus service in Seattle would cost about $730,000, with two-thirds coming from the city via the voter-approved Transportation Benefit District. If the County Council gives its final approval, the changes would take effect in September.
4:10 PM: The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route of Washington State Ferries is back to reduced capacity again because of a boat breakdown. M/V Sealth is having steering troubles and is out of service for repairs TFN. Updates and schedule alerts are here; you can monitor boat status via Vessel Watch here.
4:50 PM: Via e-mail, WSF says there’s now a two-hour wait at Fauntleroy.
6:46 PM: WSF says the Sealth is now back in service.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At one point during last night’s inaugural meeting of the new Washington State Ferries Triangle Improvement Task Force, its nine volunteer members were reminded why they were there:
One of the WSF staffers painted a verbal picture of the longrunning frustration with trouble on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth (aka Triangle) route peaked on hot summer days, in idling cars, backed-up traffic, with people furious over delays in getting home to their families, even as part-empty boats departed in an effort to catch up to the schedule.
In contrast, the new citizens advisory committee convened in the quiet, comfortable confines of the Fauntleroy Church Fellowship Hall, with four WSF employees and a handful of onlookers.
The pressure was palpable, though – they have two months to come up with “quick wins” along the road to fixing the route. Read More
At the very end of last week, you might have seen some headlines go by about “One Center City.”
It’s about downtown … but unless you literally never leave the peninsula, it’ll affect you. So listen up.
It’s specifically about transportation through downtown Seattle, and some big changes ahead. (This slide deck lays it all out.) The Highway 99 tunnel, and the Viaduct demolition and waterfront redevelopment that will follow, is only part of it. The biggest component, we’re told, is that buses will be kicked out of the Downtown Transit Tunnel next year; it’s going to be light-rail-only. The bus moves aren’t expected to happen before September 2018 – but decisions about downtown traffic/transit flow/routing will have to be made way before then, so you’re being asked for your opinion now, regarding a variety of options for how to accommodate the buses on the surface, and how to get through the area with other projects and changes factoring in. Without making some changes, the project team says, downtown traffic and transit will slow to near-gridlock.
First step in finding out what’s ahead and offering your opinion is this: An “online open house,” now up and running at onecentercity.participate.online. Go there and start clicking through. Don’t drop out too soon – the two “surface streets” pages are where things really get interesting. And after that comes the page about potentially restructuring bus service downtown. That section includes this packet of maps, with one specifically focused on possible changes involving routes to/from here:
So once you’ve gone all the way through the “online open house,” they’re asking for feedback via the pages or via e-mail at email@example.com. The “open house” will be up and running for about three weeks. Then the partner agencies will have a list of potential changes that they’ll float for more input. Transit service changes, for example, would have to be approved by the services’ governing agencies – the King County Council for Metro, the Sound Transit Board of Directors for ST services. The peak time for all this potential congestion – “maximum constraint” – is expected to be late 2018 through 2022.
At this stage of the “engagement” process, they’re not planning standalone meetings, but if you are interested in a briefing at a meeting you’re already having – community council, etc. – contact the One Center City group – same address as above – firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Image from community grant application)
One more reminder if this isn’t already in your Saturday-morning plan: You are invited to a community workshop 10 am-noon tomorrow to talk about the future of the “Triangle Bus Park” in South Delridge (as first previewed here two weeks ago). Here’s what the workshop at the Highland Park Improvement Club is all about:
Centrally located in the Westwood-Highland Park Urban Village, the “Triangle Bus Park” was aptly named for lack of any true identity. For years it has been noted as a badly conceived space attracting illegal dumping and suspicious activity while repelling community members from proper use. We aim to change the trajectory of this space.
Through the City of Seattle’s Find It Fix It Walk for the Westwood/Roxhill neighborhood, the community has been awarded a small grant of $1500 to kick-start the process of reclaiming and redeveloping the Triangle Bus Park.
With SDOT, the workshop will explore and document community-led findings centered on the space’s history, safety needs, envisioned improvements, and community identity of the area. Community members will be shown examples of best practices in urban design to spark and inspire innovative ideas.
This is just a first step toward figuring out what could and should be done, but there’s no second step without a first step, so all are invited to come get things started. Doors at HPIC (12th SW/SW Holden) open at 9:45; the schedule for the 10 am-noon workshop, and more backstory, can be seen here.
A collision on 3rd Avenue downtown has blocked that major bus route, and we’re hearing about it from West Seattle-bound riders. Metro’s official advisory is: “Buses are rerouted off NB 3 Av between Spring/Union Sts. Use stops on 3 Av south of Spring St/north of Union St.”
Mechanical trouble has put Washington State Ferries’ Vashon terminal out of service:
A mechanical problem with the operating slip has caused us to be out of service at Vashon. Repair crews are en route and will make repairs as soon as they arrive. Service between Fauntleroy and Southworth is still available.
At this time of night, only a few remaining runs were scheduled to/from Vashon anyway, but the South Vashon (Tahlequah-Point Defiance) run is already done for the night, so there’s no alternative. Check here for updates.
2:05 AM: As of a few minutes ago, WSF says, repairs are done and the terminal is in service again.
2:56 PM: Just announced by Washington State Ferries: Its new Triangle Improvement Task Force will have its first meeting in Fauntleroy, 7 pm next Monday (January 30th). The public’s welcome, according to the WSF announcement about the debut of this nine-member citizen advisory committee, the next step in a process of trying to fix problems on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route. Monday’s meeting is at the Fauntleroy Church Fellowship Hall (9140 California SW).
5:22 PM: We asked WSF who’s on the task force. While the list isn’t online yet, spokesperson Brian Mannion provided the roster:
Gary Dawson, FAC
Tim O’Mahony, FAC (Alternate FAC representative: Andrew Hamilton)
Greg Beardsley, FAC (Alternate FAC representative: Jan Stephens)
Washington State Ferries is out with its ridership numbers for last year, and says it hit the “highest level in a decade.” Here’s the breakdown, route by route:
(If you can’t see the document via Scribd, here’s the PDF, on the WSF site.) The busiest route is Seattle-Bainbridge, with 4.5 million people last year, while Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth came in fifth, with 3 million people and 1.7 million vehicles. The South Vashon to Tacoma route (officially Tahlequah-Point Defiance) had the biggest growth rate, WSF says.
We’ve received numerous inquiries about transit plans for Saturday, when tens of thousands of people are expected to participate in the Womxn’s March on Seattle. First: No, the Water Taxi will NOT be running – it doesn’t run on Saturdays this time of year and does not add extra service for special events. But Metro will be running extra buses – here’s the announcement they’re making this afternoon:
Plan ahead and leave early if you’re riding King County Metro Transit Saturday to join the Womxn’s March on Seattle. Tens of thousands of participants are expected to attend the event, which will start at 10 a.m. with a rally at Judkins Park. Transit riders should prepare for significant delays.
Metro will operate on a normal Saturday schedule and will have additional buses assigned to provide extra service on key routes. However, those buses will not have regular schedules, will not appear in the Metro’s online Trip Planner or One Bus Away, and will be dispatched based on demand. Riders should prepare for overcrowding and buses that are too full to accommodate more passengers. Sound Transit plans to operate all three-car Link light rail trains and extra trains to help with expected crowds.
Transit riders should use regularly published timetables, plan ahead, allow plenty of time and prepare for traffic delays. Metro will have extra supervisors to monitor crowds in downtown, the International District, and Pioneer Square, and will adjust to accommodate transit needs when possible.
The march is expected to leave Judkins Park at 11 a.m. and proceed through downtown to Seattle Center. Those planning to ride transit to the march can use Metro’s online Trip Planner to find service to the vicinity of Judkins Park. Service that travels to or near the area includes routes 4, 7, 14, 48, and Sound Transit Express routes 550 and 554. When planning your trip, check Metro’s Service Advisories page to find out about any known revisions to your routes.
Transit users also can follow these tips:
· Plan to arrive early to avoid traffic congestion and full buses.
· Prepare for overcrowding on buses.
· If possible, ride transit to locations near Judkins Park and walk into the park. Judkins Park is about 1.3 miles east of the International District along South Jackson Street.
· Prepare for significant delays – as tens of thousands march through downtown, buses may be stopped up to an hour at some locations.
· Have your transit fare or an ORCA card ready
· Sign up for Transit Alerts on Metro’s website.
Metro spokesperson Scott Gutierrez adds these specifics for our area:
For West Seattle residents planning to take transit – depending where their trip starts — they can take the C Line, 21, 120 or 125 to Third Avenue and catch routes 4 or 14 SB on 3rd Avenue. Route 7 also is a possibility but it will get them a few blocks farther from the park.
Still a few things to catch up on from yesterday’s very busy news day – and here’s one. With Lynne Griffith retiring at the end of the month as the head of Washington State Ferries, her successor has been announced. Amy Scarton is WSDOT’s assistant secretary for Community and Economic Development and will become assistant secretary for WSF next month. The news release quotes state Transportation Secretary Roger Millar as saying, “Amy’s national experience managing programs and projects across all transportation modes, combined with the top-notch crews, will help ensure the ferry division remains on course.” That experience includes, WSDOT says:
… senior roles in both the Obama and Bush administrations at U.S. Department of Transportation; legal counsel to former Chairman James Oberstar of the U.S. House of Representatives Highway and Transit Subcommittee; and managing the WSDOT offices that support the agencies’ rail, freight, aviation, local programs, planning, and public transportation activities.
Scarton takes over at a time when major initiatives include figuring out how to solve recurring problems with the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route; formation of a task force is one of the next announced steps.
West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold says the mayor made “the right call” in announcing late today that the city will scrap its bicycle-sharing program for now, rather than replacing the failed Pronto system with something different.
Last March, she was one of two council votes against the bike-share buyout. So last month, we asked her about the bike-share situation during our wide-ranging interview looking back at her first year in office and ahead at her second year; she replied that she didn’t hold much hope the program would be scrapped, and restated concerns that a new version still wouldn’t serve our area.
Tonight, she published this statement after the mayor’s announcement:
This was absolutely the right call. With limited public dollars, these resources are better used to develop safe routes to schools for our students. Now is not the time for public investment in a bike share system.
I’m glad to see these funds are proposed toward implementing the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, and School Safety projects, in line with my proposal last year to re-direct $4 million in funding away from expansion of the Pronto system toward these existing needs. I regularly hear from constituents about school crossing safety, most recently regarding Genesee Hill Elementary.
During last year’s budget cycle, I sponsored a budget action the Council adopted to remove $900,000 in funding for operation of the Pronto system in 2017 and 2018, to preserve funding for these existing needs.
Here’s how the mayor announced the bike-share change, redirecting $3 million to other pedestrian/bicycle programs.
40 feet long, with a range of 25 miles, and a 10-minute charging time. Those are the baseline stats for the additional battery-powered Metro buses announced today, following up on the testing announced back in 2015. King County Executive Dow Constantine says Metro is buying “up to 73 all-electric battery buses from Proterra at a cost of up to $55 million, starting with 20 buses totaling $15.12 million. Charging stations to support the initial orders of those buses will range from $5.5 million to $6.6 million.” The first eight will go into service this year, likely in Bellevue. But that’s just part of the plan, according to the news release:
As part of today’s announcement, Metro will acquire up to nine long-range electric buses from different manufacturers to test the battery technology with a range of about 140 miles. With this approximately $7 million acquisition, Metro is challenging the industry to produce buses that can travel farther. Metro also is calling on the industry to develop 60-foot long buses, better able to replace the articulated buses that make up 55 percent of its fleet.
That’s the length of many buses you see in West Seattle – RapidRide, Route 120, Route 21, among others. Read today’s announcement in its entirety here.
The challenges of getting to, from, and around our peninsula make transportation a hot topic just about any time. So here’s our view of the top 10 transportation stories, for another 2016 lookback:
#10 – UNDER-THE-BRIDGE PROJECT WINS NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FUND
(May 2016 photo contributed by Chris, showing one traffic-choked morning at south section of the project zone)
In October, West Seattle Bike Connections found out that its proposal for the Harbor/Avalon/Manning/Spokane intersection, basically under the west end of the West Seattle Bridge, would be funded. This will help with safety and flow at an increasingly busy confluence of paths, roads, and bridge on-/off-ramps.
#9 – FAUNTLEROY EXPRESSWAY CUSHIONS RE-REPLACED
(WSB photo, June 2016)
674 quake-safety cushions under the deck of the Fauntleroy Expressway (southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge) had to be re-replaced because of a design flaw. The work started in May and, despite requiring more than a few bridge closures, proceeded fairly painlessly, traffic-wise, over the ensuing two months.
#8 – WASHINGTON STATE FERRIES VOWS TO FIX FAUNTLEROY-VASHON-SOUTHWORTH
After a summer of problems that made things miserable for many trying to get to and from Vashon – and for Morgan Junction/Fauntleroy drivers/riders trying to get around the traffic – WSF launched a process to gather comments and make an action plan, including an October open house. Next step, launching a task force – including ferry users.
#7 – ADMIRAL WAY RECHANNELIZATION
A year and a half after announcing a controversial plan to rechannelize Admiral Way between The Admiral District and Alki, SDOT finalized it, announced it in summer, and restriped the road in fall.
#6 – DOC MAYNARD BECOMES WEST SEATTLE’S WATER TAXI
What began with an Argosy Cruises vessel in the ’90s finally got its own brand-new vessel in 2016, as M/V Doc Maynard officially took over King County’s West Seattle to Downtown Seattle run in January (four months after its dedication).
Just in from Washington State Ferries – final confirmation that Vashon Island will be back to two ferry routes as of first thing tomorrow:
Point Defiance dock repairs have been successfully completed and service on the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route will resume on Saturday morning 12/31, beginning with the 5:55 am departure from Point Defiance. Thank you for your patience throughout the unexpected terminal closure and please accept our apologies for the inconvenience this caused.
The dock was damaged while the ferry Chetzemoka‘s crew dealt with a Christmas Eve medical emergency involving its captain, who WSF says is expected to fully recover.
Washington State Ferries says it’s now expecting the South Vashon-Tacoma (Tahlequah-Point Defiance) route to resume service on Saturday, after a weeklong shutdown:
Due to ongoing dock repairs at the Point Defiance terminal, the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route is now expected to remain out of service through Friday, December 30, and reopen Saturday, December 31. Our crews are working as quickly as possible to restore service, and we will provide updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please use alternate routes, Southworth and Fauntleroy, for travel to and from Vashon Island.
The Point Defiance dock was damaged while the crew was dealing with a medical emergency involving the captain of M/V Chetzemoka. Yesterday’s WSF update said the captain is expected to fully recover.
This year’s West Seattle Junction Hometown Holidays (with sponsors including WSB) wrap up Saturday night with New Year’s Eve celebrations. If you are planning to celebrate in The Junction, and getting there via your own vehicle, the West Seattle Junction Association is covering overnight parking in its lots:
The West Seattle Junction merchants feel it’s important to stay safe while celebrating incoming 2017. On Saturday, December 31st, from 7 pm through Sunday, January 1st, 10 am, we invite you to leave your car overnight in one of our FREE Junction parking lots. Please pick up your car by 10 am, though, so we have plenty of parking for the January 1st brunch crowds. Happy New Year from the merchants!
Those are the lots marked “free 3-hour” on this page of The Junction’s website – at 44th/Oregon (southeast side of intersection), 44th/Alaska (southeast side of intersection), midblock on the east side of 44th between Alaska and Edmunds, and 42nd/Oregon (southwest side of intersection). WSJA also is spotlighting some of the Junction venues with special NYE events, here.
Earlier this month, someone called to say they had seen a driver going down Alki Avenue SW, stopping and spray-painting multiple no-parking signs. We advised calling 911 if they hadn’t already, and we mentioned it on Twitter, but we neglected to follow up until Ken sent the photo at right this week, asking if the painting had been done by SDOT to signal a change in parking policy. Short answer: No. After the holiday, we asked SDOT spokesperson Sue Romero if and when the city planned to clean or replace the vandalized signs (we counted 10), and today she tells us a crew was out this morning to replace them.
Last week, we reported on SDOT’s online survey looking ahead to 2017 work on the much-used SW Thistle stairway east of Lincoln Park, and nine other stairways around the city. That led to a variety of questions, and today we have answers, thanks to a comment from, and followup e-mail exchanges with, project manager Greg Funk. First:
Funk sent those photos in response to our question about when it was built. While he hasn’t found the exact date, he says records show that it “was approved in May 1945” and that the photos show “the stairway was close to being done in February 1948.”
He also notes that the Thistle stairway includes historical materials: “The stairway is constructed of concrete slabs that used to be the base for the old streetcar, and the R/R tracks were cut up into sections for the rail posts and painted white. The slabs are stacked on top of each other with a brick spacer to give a roughly 6-7 inch rise.”
Since Funk’s comment mentions what sounds like extensive work – “The stairs will be updated so there will be more consistent run rise and upgraded rail on both sides” – we asked what will happen to those historical materials: “If we can, we will build over the existing stairway – it saves on disposal cost, and that’s the plan for this location. Old rail will be cut and scrapped.” (No lighting changes, he says, in case you were wondering.)
As for the project timeline and duration: “It will be closed for about 2-3 months; we have not set a date, but we want to try and be done before summer kicks in, as this is a heavily used stairway.” (Among those who use it – the project manager himself.)
P.S. He says that next year, they’ll get word out earlier about the stairway-work list for 2018 – you should see that list by next March. And if you haven’t responded to the stairway survey for 2017, it remains open through Friday.
The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route will remain the only way to get to and from Vashon Island until Friday, according to the newest update from Washington State Ferries on the aftermath of the Christmas Eve incident that took the other Vashon route out of service:
The Point Defiance/Tahlequah route remains out of service through the morning of Friday, December 30 due to ongoing dock repair at the Point Defiance terminal. The damage to the dock occurred when the captain of the M/V Chetzemoka suffered a major medical emergency as the vessel was preparing to depart the Point Defiance ferry dock. The captain collapsed and hit the control panel as he fell, causing the vessel to break away from the dock and damage the dock apron (the articulated ramp at the end of the dock). No passengers on the Chetzemoka were injured, and the captain of the Chetzemoka is expected to make a full recovery. However, the damage to the dock is significant, and as a result, the Point Defiance/Tahlequah route is expected to remain out of service until December 30 while crews work around the clock to repair the apron.