VIDEO: Impact fees, fish-truck crash, and levy outreach @ City Council Transportation Committee

April 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

That’s the Seattle Channel video of this morning’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting, which included several items of interest. One was a briefing on the city’s ongoing study of development impact fees. Staffers from several departments participated. One reminded the councilmembers that impact fees are meant to raise “new capital for new needs created by new construction,” and that the areas in which they could be applied are “transportation, parks, schools, and fire … necessitated by new development and reasonably benefiting new development.” One example of what money from impact fees couldn’t be used to cover: Filling potholes. No vote, let alone decision, on the issue, but the studies continue.

Then came the discussion of the “after-action report” about the 9-hour Highway 99 closure last month because of an overturned truck full of fish. We published the first version of the report when it was circulated two weeks ago; today’s discussion, which included Seattle Police Deputy Chief Carmen Best and SDOT director Scott Kubly, brought a few more things to light. For one, the two departments use different traffic management systems that prioritize incidents in slightly different ways – and if not for that, different decisions might have been made as on-scene crews struggled with getting the truck out of the roadway. It was also pointed out that an insurance-company rep was on the scene relatively quickly, and that the rep was advocating for saving the $750,000 truckload of fish (“whitefish, not salmon, for the record,” it was pointed out today), which ultimately did not happen. Kubly said this would lead to some further refinements such as possibly positioning certain types of response equipment in certain areas of the city, and creating a tiered system to prioritize incidents depending upon a road/highways’ importance.

When presenting his written report, featured here last Friday, Kubly didn’t say much about the West Seattle components – except a reiteration of the walking tour times (35th SW 9 am-noon on May 16th, SW Roxbury 5:30-7:30 pm on May 20th) – but did discuss how outreach on the draft transportation levy is going, with a new draft to be presented to the mayor this week. He said the in-person traditional community meetings hadn’t drawn many, and described those drawn by those meetings as “disproportionately white, male, older,” but said 5,000 responses had come in to the online survey. Last week’s online meeting, he said, had 30 participants.

Curious about commuting by bicycle? Free workshop Monday

April 24, 2015 at 9:20 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | No Comments

One week from today, it’s May 1st, the start of Seattle Bike Month (which includes Bike To Work Day on May 15th). If you’re curious what it’s like to commute by bike from West Seattle – or to add it to your transportation options some other way – Monday night (April 27th) at Delridge Branch Library, it’s your chance to find out more. West Seattle Bike Connections is hosting a workshop, 6-7:30 pm. No charge, and no registration required – just show up, 5423 Delridge Way SW.

Revised Transportation Levy goes to mayor Wednesday, per SDOT report that also outlines Admiral bike-lane status & more

April 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

A revised version of the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle will go to the mayor next Wednesday, according to the report prepared for SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s City Council Transportation Committee briefing a day earlier. The report adds, “Outreach metrics to date include 4,700 survey respondents and over 1,500 people talked to in person through meetings, briefings, and outreach at events like farmers markets.” And in fact, SDOT is scheduled to be at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market again this Sunday (10 am-2 pm, 44th/Alaska), if you have something to say. (Or take the survey ASAP!)

Kubly’s report also includes these notes of West Seattle relevance:

*35th Avenue SW Road Safety Corridor Project: “Final recommendations for 35th will be presented to the community in late May/early June”

*SW Roxbury Street Road Safety Corridor Project: “Staff hosted a lightly attended drop-in session on April 16 … Implementation scheduled to occur starting August 17″

*In a grid laying out upcoming paving work around the city, the only West Seattle spots on the list are two curb-ramp sites on Alki Avenue, scheduled for early May: 1500 and 1700 blocks.

The most detailed West Seattle-related section of the report:

SW Admiral Way (California Ave SW to 63rd Ave SW)
*SDOT staff attended the Admiral Neighborhood Association (ANA) /West Seattle Bike Connections meeting on April 14th

*Plan will accommodate existing maximum on-street parking occupancy

*The community briefing was very well attended and set record ANA attendance.

*Community feedback was mixed:

—-Most of the controversy was about the loss of half the on-street parking between 57th and 60th Ave SW and the number of vehicle run-off collisions with parked cars

—-Some people also expressed support for the project because it will provide a safer, calmer connection between Alki and the California Ave SW business district

*Next steps:

—-SDOT staff will repeat the parking occupancy study when the weather is nice to better capture Alki Beach spillover parking

—-SDOT staff will brief the SW District Council on May 6

—-SDOT staff will host a community open house on May 21

—-Installation planned for August 2015

You can see Kubly’s report in its entirety here (PDF). The presentation is scheduled toward the end of the City Council Transportation Committee meeting at 9:30 am next Tuesday (April 28) and will be live on Seattle Channel (online or on cable).

FERRY UPDATE: Issaquah back in service on Fauntleroy route

April 21, 2015 at 9:59 pm | In Fauntleroy, Transportation, West Seattle news | No Comments

Washington State Ferries says the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route is back to three boats now that the Issaquah is repaired. As noted in today’s traffic/transit watch, it’s been out of service since midday.

@ Fauntleroy Community Association: All about the followups

April 16, 2015 at 9:27 pm | In Fauntleroy, Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Traffic trouble and green spaces top the toplines from this month’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting.

(WSB photo from March)
GREEN SPACES: The push to keep the surplus substations (including Brace Point, above) and some other city-owned properties as open, green spaces continues. From what’s now the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, FCA’s Marty Westerman said he and SGSC’s Mary Fleck will be outside Fauntleroy’s The Original Bakery on Sunday morning at 10 am for at least an hour to gather petition signatures, urging the city not to sell off these pieces of public land.

Click to read the rest of @ Fauntleroy Community Association: All about the followups…

Admiral Way Safety Project, WSHS-vicinity 20 mph, more @ Admiral Neighborhood Association

April 16, 2015 at 4:22 pm | In Neighborhoods, Transportation, West Seattle news | 24 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two SDOT projects were at the heart of this month’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, which filled the basement meeting room at The Sanctuary at Admiral with more than 25 people.

ADMIRAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT: This was the marquee presentation of the night, led by SDOT’s Emily Ehlers. A few hours earlier, we had published a preview with information and maps the city had sent – see that here. Much more information was contained in the slide deck that was presented during the meeting – you can scroll through it atop this story.

What was said, and asked:

Click to read the rest of Admiral Way Safety Project, WSHS-vicinity 20 mph, more @ Admiral Neighborhood Association…

SDOT walking tours, open house ahead for Roxbury, 35th SW plans

April 15, 2015 at 10:55 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | No Comments

While sending a reminder about tomorrow’s “open house” drop-in info session about the SW Roxbury plan announced last week, SDOT also announced walking tours in May, for the 35th SW project updated last month as well as for Roxbury. Here’s the lineup:

*Tomorrow (3-4:30 pm), Roxbury project open house @ Southwest Library (35th/Henderson)

*May 16th (9 am-noon), 35th SW walking tour (details/meeting place TBA)

*May 20th (evening), Roxbury walking tour (details/meeting place TBA)

Along with our coverage links above, here are SDOT’s project pages:

*SW Roxbury
*35th SW

‘We can’t rely on the parking strategies of the 1950s,’ says mayor as city’s parking study arrives

April 13, 2015 at 6:14 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 50 Comments

The DPD/SDOT study of the city’s parking policies – and recommendations for if/how to change them – just hit the inbox. Above, read the report. That’s what we’re still doing, and we’ll add toplines shortly. You can also go ahead (after the jump, if you’re reading this from the home page) and read the official news release sent with it:
Click to read the rest of ‘We can’t rely on the parking strategies of the 1950s,’ says mayor as city’s parking study arrives…

FOLLOWUP: Original 35th SW safety petition reopened, in response to opposition petition

April 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 59 Comments

In last Friday’s report on the online petition launched by opponents of two key components of the city’s under-development 35th SW safety plan, we mentioned the plan itself had started taking shape in the wake of a very different petition. That petition circulated early last year and was closed after more than 600 signatures and city leaders’ promise of safety improvements, in response to requests that traced back at least six years, to fall 2007.

Today, supporters of the changes SDOT is pursuing – a speed-limit reduction to 30 mph and some form of rechannelization – have reopened the petition from early 2014. Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections sent the announcement from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:

If you are FOR safety on 35th Avenue SW, please sign this PRO-safety petition. You may have seen a petition circulating to STOP the safety improvements planned for “I-35″. There are several hundred signers who may be deceived by the petition claims that 35th is safe as is, and speed is needed, or actually saves time. It is hard to believe that they would be more willing to risk their neighbors’ lives rather than lose a few seconds of car travel time due to 5 mph lower speed limit; a signal at Graham; a greenway on 34th; pedestrian safety islands; a left-turn lane to avoid rear-ending and left-hook car crashes.

If you are FOR Safety, please sign this PRO-safety petition, signed by over 600 concerned neighbors in 2014, and re-opened now.

SDOT continues accepting comments about the proposed alternatives, which are outlined in the slide deck below:

The alternatives were presented in two meetings last month, both of which we covered – March 10th here, and March 12th here – as well as at the March 26th West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting. SDOT said it would return to the community with final recommendations in June and is still accepting direct comments – e-mail jim.curtin@seattle.gov.

SURVEY: Metro is asking you to join in an international effort

April 13, 2015 at 3:42 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

In case you didn’t already get this via the Metro alert system:

As part of an independent international survey effort by transit agencies serving 11 cities around the world, Metro is inviting customers to tell us their thoughts about the bus service we provide.

The survey is available in English and Spanish. The deadline for submitting it is May 10, 2015.

The 11 transit agencies will compare the results of their surveys in order to learn from one another and work toward providing even better service.

Why did it take 9 hours to move one truck off Highway 99? Newest report has explanations, recommendations, revelations

April 10, 2015 at 9:51 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Remember the truck-on-its-side incident that closed southbound Highway 99 for nine hours last month (WSB coverage here), leading to domino-effect backups around the city and trapping drivers/riders on the Alaskan Way Viaduct?

(March 24 photo courtesy Chi Krneta)
The city went public today with its first version of an “after-action report” looking at the intricacies of why it took so long and what could change before the next one:

(Note the fine print at the bottom of the cover page, saying “The City of Seattle will be utilizing an external consultant to fully investigate this incident …”)

Reading through the report, you’ll note it includes a more detailed timeline than was released shortly after the incident.

(March 24th photo, included in report)
Part of what that reveals: Nobody contacted Seattle Tunnel Partners, whose equipment-laden worksite was yards away, until 6:30 pm, four hours after the crash. Within ten minutes of that contact, STP offered equipment to help clear the wrecked truck. But no STP equipment was used until almost 9:30 pm, when the tunnel contractor’s “Sky Jacks” were used to unload part of the truck trailer’s load of fish so it could be moved. (By the way, the report identifies the fish as cod, not salmon as we were told the day it happened, worth “$450,000 to $750,000.)

The report goes into a list of what needs to happen by June 30th – as “SPD and SDOT will expeditiously develop protocols that prioritize incident response decision making on arterial streets” – and that list gives hints as to what didn’t work so well during the March 24th response, including:

… Ensure that City personnel have requisite expertise to make sophisticated on-scene assessments or have access to necessary external expertise. For example, if onscene personnel had access to on-scene engineer, more critical information and analysis could have been incorporated into the decision-making process.

…(Be aware of w)hat other resources (equipment, personnel, or private sector relationships) could be brought to bear on incident management. For example, would prior agreements and protocols have made STPs loan of Skyjacks to unload the trailer easier and quicker? If prior agreements were in place with the Port of Seattle or other private loading companies, could additional heavy equipment been utilized?

f. Ensure that current communications systems are adequate to ensure accurate and timely responses to incidents. For example, was there a delay in the arrival of heavy class tow-truck?

“Engineering problem” was in fact how SPD spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb described it in a conversation with WSB the day after the crash (included in our followup report). He also said at that time that a citation would likely be issued; the report released today says, in fact, “The operator would later be cited by SPD for exceeding reasonable speed.”

Online petition launched by opponents of 35th SW speed-limit cut, rechannelization

April 10, 2015 at 2:41 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 114 Comments

An online petition was part of the community campaign to get the city to make safety improvements on 35th SW.

More than a year later, another online petition is asking the city not to reduce the speed limit or rechannelize 35th – both of which are key parts of the “design alternatives” announced in two March meetings (which begin on page 22 below):

We covered both meetings – March 10th here, and March 12th here – as well as the March 26th West Seattle Transportation Coalition briefing. It all traces back to an announcement by Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen more than a year earlier.

Neel says it goes too far. In feedback to SDOT, he wrote:

35th has been the major West Seattle arterial since West Seattle was platted! Everyone else who depends on it to help them get outta town don’t want it choked with “safety” improvements that, plain and simple, aren’t needed. Your own data shows that there isn’t much of a problem here, except for some concerns for pedestrian crosswalks toward the north end. So go fix that — don’t mess up the whole transportation system to ‘fix’ a problem that doesn’t exist. …

We like 35th just the way it is, but are also open to changes that will improve our throughput while maintaining proper regard for safety. And by this I mean the efficiency of the driver, not the road. I really don’t care how many vehicles per unit time you can accommodate (the road’s efficiency). I only care about the transportation efficiency — covering the maximum distance in the least amount of time. That’s the true measure of productivity: maximizing desired outcome(s) with the fewest resources.

The specific objections – and potential counterproposals – are all in the text of the petition, which you can see here. The city says it will present the final plan in June; in the meantime, comments are being taken by project manager Jim Curtin at jim.curtin@seattle.gov.

Told the city what you think about the transportation levy yet? If not …

April 9, 2015 at 9:27 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 3 Comments

Another transportation note: SDOT is trying to make sure you can’t say you weren’t asked for your thoughts on the draft 9-year, $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle before it’s shaped into a final November ballot measure by the mayor and council. It circulated a reminder tonight about ways you can have a say:

RIGHT NOW: Online survey – take it here

IN PERSON, IN WEST SEATTLE: SDOT director Scott Kubly will be at next Wednesday’s Delridge District Council meeting, 7 pm April 15th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center; SDOT reps will be at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market on April 19 and 26, 10 am-2 pm at 44th/Alaska

ONLINE MEETING: Can’t get out to an in-person meeting? SDOT’s trying an online meeting at 6 pm April 20th (sign up right now, here)

Water Taxi riders & other Seacrest users: Friday parking crunch

April 9, 2015 at 8:17 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Thanks to Carolyn for the heads-up on this: From Seacrest east/southeastward, a sizable stretch of parking on the water side of Harbor Avenue SW (she estimated 25 spaces) will be off-limits tomorrow, 10:30 am-7 pm. The “no parking” signs were up when we went by this afternoon to verify; they list an unnamed “production shoot.” The Water Taxi is of course served by free shuttle buses as well as Metro Route 37; get the bus schedule via a tab on this page.

Want to be one of the first to see the SW Roxbury plan?

April 6, 2015 at 2:01 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Instead of a standalone meeting, SDOT is coming to tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council to announce the plan for making SW Roxbury safer, after 223 crashes left 112 people hurt just in the past three years.

At two meetings last year – which we covered, on July 31st and on August 4th – SDOT rolled out a proposal including rechannelization between 17th and 35th and a mix of changes east of there. One more round of community consultation, focused on Roxbury businesses, was due to follow that.

Tomorrow’s meeting is at 6:15 pm at the Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson); the Roxbury presentation is set for 6:30; all are welcome.

Something missing in ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,’ say West Seattle advocates: Stairways

April 5, 2015 at 11:59 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

After we reported Friday night on SDOT‘s plan to use goats to clear weeds/brush from the SW Holden stairway between 20th and Delridge, our area’s best-known stairway users/advocates pointed out two things: For one, this isn’t the only stairway that needs TLC, note Jake and Cathy Jaramillo, the West Seattleites who wrote “Seattle Stairway Walks.” For two, a stairway plan is missing in the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. With a city survey about the levy open right now, they say it’s an opportunity to fix that:

An Open Letter To Our Stairway Friends:

The mayor’s proposed Transportation Levy has a lot of things going for it, but it completely misses one of Seattle’s most important everyday modes of transportation: our stairway network.

West Seattle is particularly blessed with numerous stairways that play an important role in the everyday life of our community. Some of them are sadly deteriorating, and all of them need ongoing TLC!

Seattle possesses a historic built legacy of more than 650 publicly accessible stairways. Many of them are more than one hundred years old, yet even today they still connect our citizens to transit, parks and everyday neighborhood businesses.

Stairways provide scenic byways in the city for exploration and outdoor exercise. They’re a “third place” for neighbors to meet casually. In short, our stairway network remains incredibly relevant to our city’s function and quality of life.

Back in 2011 the city’s budget for stairway maintenance was only about $1.1 million. This inadequate level of funding shows, despite the hard work done by SDOT rehab and replacement crews (see picture below).

Roughly forty percent of this amount will be lost when the current Bridging the Gap levy expires, leaving a yawning gap in the funds needed to keep up our stairway network.

We’re appealing for concerned residents to do two simple things, right away:

1) Please take a moment to give your feedback to Mayor Murray and the city, using the brief SDOT online survey, at moveseattlesurvey.com.

There’s a key juncture where the survey asks: “Are there other transportation investments you feel should be a top priority for funding through this levy?” Adding a quick note here, such as “To make walking easier and safer, the levy must add specific funding for our deteriorating public stairways” can go a long way to putting stairways on the city’s radar – provided enough of us speak up.

2) Please forward this message to your own networks, to get others to amplify your voice!

See you on the stairs,

Jake and Cathy Jaramillo
Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods

While stairways were mentioned when Mayor Murray announced his overall transportation vision in early March, they did not get a specific shoutout when the draft levy to fund part of that plan was made public a few weeks later.

AS-IT-HAPPENED: Find out about proposed ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle’ @ WSHS

March 31, 2015 at 6:18 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

6:18 PM: We’re in the commons at >West Seattle High School tonight, for the first official West Seattle meeting on the “Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,” proposed as a successor to the expiring Bridging The Gap levy. The presentation is scheduled to start around 6:30, so you have time to get here if you’re interested; until then, people are circulating around info-boards, writing sticky notes with ideas and comments, etc. You can even set up your idea of an ideal road:

More to come.

6:39 PM: After a 4-minute introductory video, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stepped to the microphone.

He says the council will have “our own meetings and public hearings” after the mayor sends them his final proposed levy. Estimating about 40 people here. Rasmussen hands the microphone to SDOT director Scott Kubly, who says they want to hear what’s “missing” in the levy, “anything you’d like to see less of, anything you’d like to see more of.” He says city staffers are here to circulate to ask people if they have questions or comments, and he talks about the boards around the room.

Kubly mentions that the mayor announced the “Move Seattle” overview before the draft levy. He then describes this as a “renewal” though it’s $900 million over 9 years compared to BTG’s $365 million in the same period. The slide deck behind him notes that “safe, affordable, interconnected, vibrant” are the values around which this is organized. Toward the first value, he mentions the new “Vision Zero” plan, which among other things will cut speed limits on many streets, including some of West Seattle’s arterials (shoutout from Kubly to 35th and Roxbury – the plan for the latter will be unveiled at next Tuesday’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting). Toward the second value, he mentions road maintenance – it’s cheaper to fix it than to rebuild it, so this plans to “maintain and modernize 250 lane miles” of arterials. For “interconnected,” he mentions better connections to light rail (none of which is in West Seattle yet), and “we’re going to make it a lot easier to walk and bike in the city.” And under “vibrant,” there’s a promise of improving “mobility for freight and delivery vehicles,” and investment in Neighborhood Street Fund projects.

Here he brings up the Lander Street Overpass, mentioning coal and oil trains on the rise, and the need to get buses up over those tracks in SODO, plus South Park drainage improvements in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities.

Now before sending people off to look at the boards and write down comments and notes, he says they’ll also be having coffees around the city. Here’s the timeline:

*End of May – Mayor submits proposal to Council
*’Possible City Council action’ from mid-July to mid-August
*Send measure to King County in August, for November ballot

6:55 PM: This has broken back up into an open house after word that a mural artist is standing by on the side of the room. If people have questions, Kubly says, they can talk to him one on one, or anybody else around the room. There was no call for general Q/A while attendees remained seated as an audience, but this is supposed to continue until 8 pm if you’re interested in stopping by with something to say and/or ask. We’re going to circulate and see what people are asking/saying.

9:22 PM: Photos added above and below. We spotted three City Council District 1 candidates at the meeting:

From left, Tom Koch, Amanda Kay Helmick, Chas Redmond. Taking a look at the sticky-notes and other written comments left on boards and the future mural, we noted the prevalence of requests for light rail, and even a wistful wish for a monorail:

Missed tonight? Bring comments and questions to tomorrow night’s Southwest District Council meeting (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle, Wednesday, April 1st). And remember the online survey.

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

March 26, 2015 at 10:03 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 22 Comments

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

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

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

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

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

March 25, 2015 at 12:01 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 60 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SW Roxbury Street:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 18, 2015 at 12:10 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 64 Comments

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

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

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

Bridge Replacement
- E Duwamish Waterway North Bridge Replacement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read her letter in full here:

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

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

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

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

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 8, 2015 at 8:20 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

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

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