(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Just announced: A special meeting about the West Seattle Bridge Corridor – not just about what’s in that new city “action plan” first reported here a week ago, but also about what you think should be done to fix its often-snarled state. We just found out about this from the office of City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who’s hosting the meeting; they’ve scheduled it with three weeks’ advance notice so you have time to make plans to be there if you’re interested. The basics: 6:30 pm Monday, October 19th, at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle), southeast corner of SW Oregon and California SW. If you missed the report and its 27 possibilities for improving the flow in what the city is now calling the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor, follow the link above, or take a look at the “white paper”:
@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Port candidates; bridge ‘action report’ concerns; support ‘Move Seattle’ or not?September 24, 2015 at 8:42 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two big topics for tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – a candidates’ forum for the two Seattle Port Commission races, and a discussion of the newly released West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor “action report” – which veered into a debate about the group’s stance on the Move Seattle levy.
Chair Amanda Kay Helmick started the meeting with a moment of silence for victims of the Aurora Bridge crash. Then it was on to politics:
PORT COMMISSION CANDIDATES: For Position 2, incumbent Courtney Gregoire canceled at the last minute (with a note about staying home with a sick child), leaving Goodspaceguy for that position; for Position 5, which has no incumbent in the race, both Fred Felleman and Marion Yoshino were in attendance. Each got about a minute for an opening statement, and we recorded all three on video:
Questions followed (our summaries below are highlights, not full verbatims). First – “what transportation system improvements are needed to better serve the West Seattle peninsula and the Port?”
FOLLOWUP: Big ‘action report’ for West Seattle Bridge gets little discussion @ busy council-committee meetingSeptember 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 1 Comment
That’s the Seattle Channel video from this morning’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting, where the big “action report” for the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor received relatively little examination, since everything else ahead of it on the agenda had taken so much time. (Advance the video to 2:17:34 to get right to it; it’s the final 15 minutes of the meeting.)
We brought you the first look at the report, with its 27-item project list and an even weightier “white paper,” on Sunday night – if you haven’t seen it already, take a look here for direct links as well as embedded versions of the three project documents.
West Seattle-residing, and soon-departing, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – the committee’s chair – reminded those on hand this morning that ours is “the busiest traffic corridor in Seattle.” As the report notes, the number of “incidents” (crashes, stalls) in the corridor isn’t high – but any incident’s impact IS, affecting traffic for an estimated 47 to 55 minutes on average.
A few “highlights” mentioned by SDOT staffers from the project list, in the brief briefing:
*Red bus-lane markings (happening now) – “we’ve seen some promising results” from elsewhere in the city, SDOT says. Rasmussen reinforced that more enforcement will be sought.
*ITS improvements (messaging-board signage, signal adjustments, etc.)
*Enhanced crossing improvements at the notorious 5-way intersection
*4th Avenue improvements, especially to make it more viable for transit, particularly looking ahead to the post-Viaduct Highway 99 future
Some of the changes won’t require more money – just more training, for incident-management protocol changes, for example. Some ITS changes will require more money, though, and that’s part of November’s Move Seattle levy, the committee was reminded.
Rasmussen asked about a long-sore subject – working with the U.S. Coast Guard on reducing low-bridge openings during peak times, or at least during incidents – SDOT’s Bill LaBorde did not sound terribly optimistic. It’s still “voluntary compliance” with the request to reduce some of those openings. (Rasmussen led multiple attempts to change this in recent years, and the feds said no each time – saying maritime takes precedence.)
So what happens to all these ideas now? We asked Councilmember Rasmussen that last night, during a short interview in the bus-lane-marking zone. He said he’s glad to get all this out there – but others will need to step forward to hold the city accountable. (He didn’t say it, but whomever’s elected to the District 1 City Council seat – which he decided not to seek – is a prime candidate, obviously.)
(For starters, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which pushed for much of this even before its first year was out, will be talking about it at its meeting this Thursday, September 24th, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way SW.)
RELATED NOTE – TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT: Preceding the bridge-report presentation, Heather Marx from SDOT said 17 of the recommendations have now been acted on. She handed the baton to Mark Bandy, an urban-traffic-corridors specialist hired by SDOT from WSDOT, as mentioned in our followup a month ago on the incident-management recommendations.
One night later than planned, because of last night’s rain, the first meant-to-discourage-lawbreaking red markings are being applied right now to the bus lane approaching, and on, the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. Our quick Instagram clip takes a closer look:
During a brief hard-hat-required photo op with the SDOT crew and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, first thing we learned was that “markings” is the word because it’s NOT paint. “Paint” was the word used in the city announcement we published – but shortly after arrival in the work zone tonight, talking with crew leaders, we were informed 2′ x 3′ red plastic strips comprise the markings. They’re laid down after the surface is pressure-washed, and then they’re sealed.
Street paint would wear off quickly, it was explained. The plastic is tinted throughout, so it holds its color even as some of the surface wears away. And this is a bright “traffic red” color, in case you were in the contingent thinking red wouldn’t show on a dark, rainy morning/night. In addition, a reflective material tops the plastic strips – looking like frost, to our eyes:
That’ll catch your headlights in those dark hours. The crew started work tonight on the bus lane right after it heads east at the corner of Spokane/Avalon, and were headed toward the high rise when we left. Councilmember Rasmussen said (video) he was glad to see the start of work on one of the items on the 27-project West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor action plan (reported here last night) that his Transportation Committee will review tomorrow – but he also spotted a few things, as we stood along the south side of the bottom of the onramp, such as missing pavement – “you need to get someone out here tomorrow to fix that,” he admonished – and one tattered item suggesting the sidewalk might not have been swept in a few years:
A few decades, maybe. Anyway, if you drive the eastbound bridge – and/or eastbound lower Spokane, east of Avalon – you’ll see red for at least a few years, which is how long the $200,000 application is expected to last.
TRANSIT UPDATES: Reroutes for Chinese president’s visit; rescheduled briefing on Metro cancellationsSeptember 21, 2015 at 5:56 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
5:56 PM: Two quick transit-related notes:
REROUTES FOR CHINESE PRESIDENT’S VISIT: As first reported back on Friday night, traffic and transit challenges are expected between tomorrow morning and Thursday morning while the president of China visits the area. He’s flying into and out of Paine Field in Snohomish County and staying in a downtown Seattle hotel. Metro has just published its full list of expected reroutes; no West Seattle-downtown routes appear to be involved, but for those who transfer and/or work in the area, here are the details.
CITY COUNCIL BRIEFING ON METRO CANCELLATIONS: In our followup last week on Metro‘s recent cancellations, which have seemed to be disproportionately affecting West Seattle routes, it was mentioned that Metro GM Kevin Desmond would brief the City Council Transportation Committee tomorrow. That agenda’s gotten busy, including the new West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor report (covered here last night), so the briefing/discussion has been postponed until next week – Monday, September 28th, at the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (full council wearing different hats) meeting, which follows the afternoon City Council meeting. No specific time yet – we’ll be tracking it.
ADDED 6:52 PM: Regarding the first item above – Bill asked in comments about the president’s arrival time. Haven’t found an official direct source so far but the Everett Herald, closest major publication to the arrival airport, says 9:30 am tomorrow. We’ll have the newest information in our daily traffic/transit update first thing in the morning.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though rain has just led to postponement of what was to be SDOT‘s second night of work to add red markings to the bus lane on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we’ve obtained a little light reading for everyone interested in what else the city is pursuing for improving traffic in what’s now dubbed the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor.
The bus-lane markings are the first of 27 potential action items comprising the heart of a report to be presented during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. It traces back to January, when Rasmussen announced the city would launch a “West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force.” Then at the end of July, he said its recommendations would emerge this month – and here they are.
The report includes three documents – first, a slide deck; second, a project list, third, a “white paper,” which includes declarations such as, “Traffic volumes on the West Seattle Bridge and Spokane Viaduct are projected to increase 26-33% over the next 20 years.” None of the possibilities are particularly dramatic; it’s more incremental – such as the long-expected upgrade of Delridge Way to a RapidRide corridor; possibly turning the West Seattle Water Taxi into a two-boat run for more-frequent service.
The slide deck has the toplines:
The project list elaborates on them (click “zoom in” in the lower right of the Scribd embed, and you should be able to read the details):
And the “white paper” goes even further, adding some other possibilities, as well as facts you might not have heard before (such as “King County Metro currently operates 13 routes over the West Seattle Bridge during weekdays. There are 29,300 total riders and 765 buses in the corridor each weekday.”).
In those documents, you won’t see what SDOT had already long since ruled out, adding another lane to the eastbound-bridge-to-northbound-99 bottleneck. But the “white paper” does mention the possibility of looking at re-adding a 4th Avenue onramp to the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the WS Bridge (the last one was closed in 1993).
The “white paper” also goes extensively into the long-contentious issue of low-bridge openings for marine traffic during commute times, particularly as they affect bicyclists, who don’t have a nearby alternative as do motorized vehicles, and freight. It acknowledges some improvements in the way things have been working, and suggests a few more, most intriguingly, in the last paragraph of the entire “white paper”:
The Swing Bridge control system is a computer based programmable controller system. There are over 2200 individual commands and steps in the process to completely open and close the bridge. Through careful critical path analysis of the opening and closing sequence there is an opportunity to reduce the electrical/mechanical functional time. We cannot control the time necessary for a vessel to safely transit the waterway, but if we can reduce the overall opening time by only 30 seconds, it can save over 15 hours of delay time per year.
WHAT’S NEXT? The Tuesday-morning meeting at which this will be presented is at 9:30 am at City Hall. (Councilmember Rasmussen was still reviewing the report when we talked to him earlier today; we were going to ask him for comment at what was supposed to be a photo opportunity in the bridge-painting zone tonight, but that’s now been postponed for weather, as mentioned above.) If you can’t be at Tuesday’s meeting, Seattle Channel will carry it live, online and on cable channel 21. As you review the documents, you’ll note that some of the suggestions have funding, more don’t, so these will be potential issues in both the upcoming city budget process and the campaign for the Move Seattle transportation levy, as well as issues to bring up with the candidates for West Seattle/South Park’s City Council District 1 seat.
MONDAY MIDDAY P.S. As pointed out in comments, you’re invited to come discuss the overall West Seattle egress/ingress issue at this Thursday’s WS Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).
(WSB video & photos by Katie Meyer)
That’s the public meeting that wouldn’t have happened if not for community demand. At the first open house for SDOT’s SW Admiral Way Safety Project back in May at Alki Elementary (WSB coverage here) – at which many concerns were detailed, sometimes testily – Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting stood up and asked SDOT reps to commit to a second public meeting, then and there. They did. And so, nine days after going over plan revisions at the ANA’s regular monthly meeting on September 8th (WSB coverage here), SDOT held a standalone open house at Hiawatha Community Center this past Thursday.
It started and ended with discussion time around the room, where these boards were shown – with some options that weren’t in the deck at the ANA meeting:
The slide deck included in the presentation on our video is here:
The only thing we can’t show you is what Mayor Ed Murray told attendees at the start of the meeting – we had equipment trouble, so our video picks up shortly after that. He told those gathered that their concerns had caught his attention. He didn’t stay, but as you can see in the video, SDOT director Scott Kubly did, as did the staffers who led the presentation, Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods, and traffic engineer Dongho Chang.
The points of contention continue to be whether proposed changes are necessary and/or whether they will address the key factor in collisions along the road, drivers losing control (and/or impaired) and hitting parked cars. The need for bicycle lanes continued to be debated; while the road is not heavily used by riders now, the city, and riders, say that’s to be expected because it’s not a safe/comfortable option in its current configuration. While the city’s new options would keep much of the on-street vehicle parking that was previously proposed for removal, the potential loss of a center turn lane as a result drew some concerns.
If the goal is to slow drivers down, why not use speed humps? Chang explained that they’re dangerous on slopes.
The questions/answers continued; SDOT says it’s still open to comments on the revised plans until October 1st – a link for e-mail feedback is on the project webpage – then they will work on a “final” design, with fall/winter implementation and “evaluation” next year:
Since the city sent first word Friday afternoon of the plan to paint red markings in the bus lane on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we’ve followed up to get the work schedule, which wasn’t in the announcement. If you’re driving the eastbound bridge overnight any time in the next four nights, be on the lookout for crews. SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah tells WSB it’ll be done over the next four nights:
The prep will begin Saturday night at 9 pm and go probably until 5 am. Then the painting is scheduled to begin Sunday night at 9 pm until 5 am to have the least impact on traffic. The work will continue Monday and Tuesday nights same hours and expected to be completed and ready for the Wednesday morning commute.
The city has marked bus lanes with red paint in four other spots so far. This is apparently one of the action items in the long-awaited “West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor Action Report” that will be presented at the City Council Transportation Committee‘s meeting on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am; the report itself is not yet attached to the agenda.
Just in from SDOT:
Starting on Saturday, September 19, 2015, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will mark the existing eastbound bus-only lanes on the West Seattle Bridge with high visibility red markings. Similar to those installed in locations such as Battery Street and NE Pacific Street, these markings raise the profile of the transit-only lane and improve driver compliance with the restriction.
And with that, the M/V Doc Maynard was officially welcomed to the King County Water Taxi fleet – though it’s not expected to join the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle run until December – after filling in for its twin M/V Sally Fox on the Vashon run for a while, and after some work is done at Seacrest to accommodate its size and configuration. The celebration at Pier 50 downtown included speeches and even stories – King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, drawing on a past gig as an Underground Tour guide, told the tale of the boat’s namesake:
After the speeches and bottle-smashing, it was out onto the bay for a test run. Here’s a quick look around the top deck at the stern (there’s room for more than 30 to stand at the bow, too) – mouse over the Instagram image to bring up the “play” button:
Interior, main deck, new West Seattle Water Taxi. pic.twitter.com/wV8tnXGu2b
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) September 18, 2015
We have lots of photos, video, and info to add once we’re back at HQ.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: More from the event – first, the group shot of West Seattleites who took the short “maiden voyage” after the ceremony, out into the bay and back:
(Photo courtesy KCDOT)
The county points out that the space on the bow is one thing differentiating Doc Maynard from Sally Fox – since the DM will travel mostly in calmer Elliott Bay waters, rather than across the heart of the sound as SF does to get to Vashon Island. Here’s what it looks like on the inside upper passenger deck, which has a view directly into the wheelhouse:
On the outer lower deck, at the stern, some of the bicycle storage:
The event wasn’t just a celebration of the new boat – funded mostly with a grant from the federal government (which had a rep on hand too) – but also of the Water Taxi’s history. It was pointed out that it now goes back 17 years, into the late 1990s, at which time then-King County Councilmember Greg Nickels championed it as a “demonstration project.” Introduced as “the father of the Water Taxi,” he spoke today too:
Nickels noted that the fellow West Seattleites with whom he stood, County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember McDermott, also worked with him back in the Water Taxi’s early days. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll recall other boats that have handled the Water Taxi’s run; while the way-back boats weren’t present for the ceremony, the other three current boats were out on the water as the Doc Maynard pulled away:
Besides the Sally Fox, you saw in that clip the current West Seattle boat, the Spirit of Kingston, and the current backup, the Melissa Ann, which is leased. SofK will be the backup boat once Doc Maynard goes into service.
Metro has just announced details of its next “service change,” scheduled to take effect on September 26th (one week from Saturday). You can see all the changes here; here are the area routes we see listed (please let us know if we’re missing one), plus a big change for holiday service, with several local routes involved:
Route 21 daytime and evening service frequency will also improve to every 15 minutes on Sunday as all southbound Route 5 trips will be connected to Route 21 operating to Westwood Village and all northbound Route 21 trips with be connected to Route 5 operating to Shoreline CC.
Route 113 to Shorewood will start from the bus stop on 2nd Ave just south of Bell St. It will no longer serve the bus stop eastbound on Blanchard St just east of 1st Ave.
CHANGE IN HOLIDAY SERVICE
Beginning Saturday, Sept 26, reduced weekday schedules will be eliminated on the following routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 36, 40, 41, 43, 44, 50, 56, 60, 64, 70, 76, 77, 124, 131 and 132. These routes will operate regular weekday service on holidays.
If you’d rather scroll through a text list of all the changes around the region, find it here.
Two tales of heroism on board local waterborne transit this weekend.
FAUNTLEROY FERRY CREW SAVES MAN: Just before 3:30 pm Sunday, a medical call brought emergency vehicles to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Tonight, the Kitsap Sun, while telling the story of a variety of ferry-schedule interruptions, explains what it was about: An 84-year-old Vashon Island man was found unconscious in his car aboard the M/V Cathlamet after it docked at the island. Two deckhands started CPR and used a defibrillator. An ambulance was called to the boat, which continued on to Fauntleroy, where the man was rushed to a hospital.
WATER TAXI CREW RESCUES KAYAKER: Shared by King County Executive Dow Constantine via Twitter, a report from Paul Brodeur, director of the KC Department of Transportation’s Marine Division, about an incident Saturday evening: “We pulled a borderline hypothermic kayaker out of the water at Seacrest, brought him on board to warm up, called 911, fire department came, assessed him, took him into their care. We left on the 1800 run ten minutes late but made up the time. Kudos to G.W. and Scott for quick thinking and providing good care to the young man.”
You might have missed this if you don’t read the daily road-work alerts in the traffic/transit coverage we publish each weekday morning: SDOT crews are due back out on Roxbury and 35th tonight, as marking, restriping, and “hydroblasting” removal of the old striping continues in both projects. We saw this crew on 35th north of Thistle less than an hour ago:
As we showed in this morning’s traffic/transit notes, the Roxbury rechannelizing north of White Center was mostly finished overnight. That’s far from the entirety of the Roxbury project, which is detailed in this presentation first shown at the April meeting of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, and has been in the works for more than a year and a half:
Jim Curtin, managing both projects for SDOT, says, “Our crews will be out on Roxbury again tonight since there’s still some work left,” as well as working on 35th (plan below, as announced two months ago):
If it does rain Wednesday, that could delay some work, Curtin adds: “We can remove paint in the rain but re-painting is impossible.”
How’s your bus route doing this week? We haven’t seen any Metro texts/tweets about West Seattle cancellations in the past few days, unlike last week. In addition to the Metro explanation we published, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was looking into it, and has shared two things – first, a response he received from Metro general manager Kevin Desmond; second, Rasmussen’s response to that, including a note about a briefing ahead. First, from Desmond to Rasmussen:
Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I hope this information helps clarify Metro’s readiness and commitment to provide daily bus service across King County and Seattle and increased service planned as part of the September service change. We also want to describe the lengths our organization goes to each day to provide our customers with transit service they depend on.
We are in a transition time of rapid growth in transit service, which unfortunately has seen a fluctuating number of individual peak commute trip cancellations that is higher than we would like.
SDOT has just gone public with the revised SW Admiral Way Safety Project plan, ahead of a briefing at tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. This is the plan that originally stirred controversy for seeking to remove more than 200 parking spaces along parts of Admiral Way west of California SW. Some residents launched a petition drive and campaign, with concerns including SDOT having made decisions based on a parking study conducted in the winter. SDOT agreed to do another parking study in the summer, and this is the revised version just announced:
Our revised proposal maintains on-street parking on both sides of the street, constructs a buffered bike lane, adds a new crosswalk and a westbound radar feedback sign. It also helps motorists maintain speeds closer to 30 mph by reducing travel lane widths. We are doing this by removing the center turn lane, while maintaining left turn pockets at four intersections with high left turn demand. Providing these left turn pockets would require removing a limited amount of on-street parking at 59th, 49th and 47th Avenues SW (no changes proposed at California Ave SW). The design is not at a point where we know how many spaces, but as you can imagine it will be much less than the initial concept shared in May.
While the revised proposal significantly reduces impacts to parking, we still wanted to honor our commitment to studying parking during the peak summer season. A parking study was conducted from July 30 through August 11 along SW Admiral Way by an independent consultant. Here is an overview of what we learned (the full report is available online).
We are looking forward to engaging the community in a conversation about the revised proposal. A public meeting is being held on September 17 from 6:15 to 7:45 PM at the Hiawatha Community Center and more information is available at our project website. We will be taking comments until October 1, 2015.
Your first opportunity to do that will be at tonight’s ANA meeting, 7 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd SW & SW Lander).
Final details are now all worked out for the rescheduled microsurfacing in Arbor Heights. Here are full details from SDOT:
The pavement on many Arbor Heights streets is about to improve. On Wednesday, Sept. 9 or Thursday, Sept. 10, SDOT will be applying a microsurfacing overlay to local roads, weather permitting. This preventative maintenance work was scheduled originally for Monday, Aug. 31, and Tuesday, Sept. 1, but SDOT postponed the work due to rainy weather.
SDOT understands Wednesday, Sept. 9 is the first day of school. Please review the map above and the notes below, and contact us if you foresee any complications with your transportation and access needs during the work period. This week, SDOT’s contractor, VSS International, distributed a final notice confirming the work with neighbors on streets scheduled for microsurfacing.
To ensure the microsurfacing treatment has time to properly cure and dry, streets receiving the treatment are closed, on average, for 4 hours between 7 AM and 5 PM on the day work is scheduled. In rare cases, streets may be closed for up to 8 hours to ensure proper curing and drying. If you live, work or play on a street scheduled for microsurfacing, please note the following:
• Please follow posted “No Parking” signs and detours
• Cars must be relocated off the road and planting strip area prior to the start of work. Cars parked within the posted work area will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you wish to use your car on the day you are scheduled for microsurfacing, we recommend you move it to an unaffected street prior to 7 AM.
• If work coincides with your regular garbage, recycling or yard waste pick-up, please have your bins to the curb before 6 AM to ensure collection. We will not affect pick-up.
• Streets generally reopen within 4 hours of closure, but in some cases, may take up to 8 hours to reopen
• If a street is not completed on the day it is scheduled, it will be completed on our make-up day, Friday, Sept. 11. If for any reason SDOT is unable to maintain this schedule, you will be re-notified of the new date to resurface your street.
• Emergency vehicles will have access through the project area at all times without delay
Please note, SW 104th St east of 35th Ave SW is scheduled for microsurfacing on Thursday, Sept. 10, not Wednesday, Sept. 9 as indicated on some final notices distributed in the neighborhood.
Microsurfacing is a preventative maintenance method that extends the life of pavement for 7 to 10 years. Similar to painting a house, microsurfacing creates a protective layer which preserves the underlying structure and prevents the need for more expensive repairs in the future. To be effective, the treatment must be applied in dry weather and dry completely before being driven or walked upon again.
SDOT successfully completed a microsurfacing pilot project in Arbor Heights in 2014. More information on that project is available here.
Questions? For more information:
Art Brochet, Seattle Department of Transportation
2015Microsurfacing@seattle.gov | 206-727-3669
Thanks to @smokeycretin9 for tweeting the tip: An SDOT crew is working on SW Roxbury right now, putting down markings for the upcoming rechannelization. They’re working westward toward 35th SW and the crew supervisor told us they’re expecting to be out most of the day.
The bulk of the work, he confirmed – including the “hydroblasting” to remove the old lane stripes – will start a week from Monday, which is the time frame that project manager Jim Curtin gave the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council earlier this summer. As unveiled at WWRHAH’s meeting last April, SDOT’s plan will rechannelize the road between 17th and 35th, along with other safety measures along the entire length, eastward to Olson.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
No, the city’s new strategies for clearing crashes more quickly won’t compromise investigations.
So promised Seattle Police traffic section Capt. Eric Greening during the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting. He and SDOT’s Traffic Management Center manager Adiam Emery were there to talk about the city’s new emphasis on Traffic Incident Management (TIM), as first detailed in an August 3rd media briefing downtown focused on a new analysis by consultants.
WSTC also heard on Thursday night from the transit-advocacy group Seattle Subway, which is encouraging West Seattleites to join them in pushing Sound Transit for a bolder vision/plan than is currently being explored for next year’s “ST3″ ballot measure.
About those Metro cancellations: ‘We are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service’September 1, 2015 at 9:58 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 40 Comments
If you ride the bus from/to West Seattle, you might have been affected by a cancellation lately. Today in particular, Metro texted/tweeted four cancellations on West Seattle-serving routes, as noted in our daily transit/traffic coverage. WHen we asked the county about cancellations recently, the explanation involved a personnel shortage. After what happened today, we asked King County Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeff Switzer if it was still a staffing issue and if so, what efforts are under way to remedy it. Here’s his reply, including an explanation of the notifications, which he says are new:
The alerts for cancellations aren’t all in West Seattle, and not all canceled trips are receiving alerts at this time as staff fine tune how to best to accurately communicate canceled trips in a timely fashion. We’ll look into what might have led to the coincidence of cancellations the past few days; 55/56/57 operate out of Central Base and they might have had fewer available operators today for some reason. …
As Metro began implementing the system’s largest service increases this past June, and more in September and March to help meet demand, we’ve been hiring and training at an unprecedented pace: We’ve hired and trained hundreds of part-time drivers and promoted and trained part-time drivers to become full-time drivers – all part of the transition to putting more service on the road.
Today we have more than 2,500 operators – about 1,600 full-time and 900 part-time. Right after Prop 1 passed, we got started on hiring to implement the new planned service. We have hired 212 part-time operators from January through August, and promoted 173 operators to full-time, and are increasing staffing in our rail section in advance of U Link and First Hill Streetcar. We anticipate hiring an additional 225 part-time operators and promoting an additional 96 operators to full time through March 2016. We have attended career and hiring fairs and will be back on college campuses this fall recruiting people interested in becoming part-time drivers. Growing our ranks is essential to growing service, but it means some growing pains during these times of transition.
Coordinators at the bases and control center work to fill individual bus trips whenever an operator becomes sick, or is in training classes or otherwise unavailable. They use the workforce available to backfill any missed trips as best they can. They rely on some standby operators but also seek available drivers willing to take on extra work.
Riders don’t even notice that this goes on every day as coordinators work to make the service perform smoothly. In the event a replacement operator isn’t available, some trips unfortunately go unfilled, which can mean more riders boarding the following bus. A new effort in its infancy now tries to notify riders via email and twitter when a trip isn’t expected to be filled. Even then, we have recently canceled some trips via transit alert, only to soon find an operator and “uncancel” it. Alerts are not yet sent for every canceled trip, but staff are working to improve this new effort at better customer communications. Better still, we’re hiring to avoid canceled trips altogether.
In some cases, a bus trip will operate very late with a replacement driver; however, a rider may already have made other arrangements or boarded on the following bus. The perception is that the trip never showed up. We send these buses out because even operating late helps ease any lingering crowding issues, provided it can get into the mix in a timely fashion. This is essential for first and last trips, where riders are especially dependent on our operations.
West Seattle isn’t alone and trip cancellations are occurring in places across the system, and vary from base to base on different days. Here’s a recent tally of West Seattle trips which did not operate for lack of a driver, not including any mechanical problems/ substituted coaches. This list shows 9 bus trips unfortunately canceled in the past three weekdays, with no canceled trips Aug. 22-28.
· Alerts show we canceled one Route 56 trip Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, we canceled a trip on the 21X, one on Route 56, one on Route 57.
· Alerts show we canceled and then filled a Route 55 Monday morning. We canceled one southbound Route 55 trip and one northbound Route 56 trip.
· Last week (Aug. 22-29), Route 55 had one canceled morning trip and one canceled afternoon trip, both Friday; there also was one morning Route 56 cancelation Friday.
Some weeks this summer have been a bigger challenge than others. We operate more than 11,000 trips each weekday, and over 55,000 each work week. Using backup drivers and asking drivers to work extra has kept more than 99 percent of trips on the street. We make every effort to avoid canceling back to back trips, or first and last trips, and are mindful that some areas of the county have infrequent service. We expect that as we continue to hire drivers and encourage available drivers to pick up extra trips if they can, service will smooth out and we will see fewer cancellations in coming weeks. Until then, we work day-in, day-out to put service on the road for riders.
We apologize for the inconvenience canceled trips cause riders and want to assure our customers we are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service by hiring good, professional customer-focused drivers. That effort continues and we graduate more drivers into the workforce every few weeks at the conclusion of each class.
Customers can sign up for transit alerts to receive notifications when possible of transit disruptions or canceled trips.
After almost a week with reduced capacity on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, Washington State Ferries announced this afternoon that M/V Cathlamet has replaced the out-of-mothballs M/V Evergreen State – that’s a 124-car vessel replacing an older, slower 87-car vessel. That’s expected to lessen some of the recent round of delays.
(The webcam view 24 hours ago, when part of the repaired front end was still visible above the pit’s rim)
Just in from WSDOT:
Seattle Tunnel Partners and crane crews from Mammoet have successfully lowered the 2,000-ton front end of the SR 99 tunneling machine to a platform at the bottom of the access pit.
Crews will now use the crane to fine-tune the position of the piece. When that process is complete, they will begin reconnecting the piece to the portion of the machine that remains in the ground.
The effort to return the tunneling machine’s front end to the 120-foot-deep access pit began early Monday morning. Crews started by vertically lifting the piece, which includes the machine’s cutterhead, motors and the new main bearing assembly. The crane then moved horizontally on its rails to the north. When the piece was above the pit, crews rotated it to a semi-vertical position and lowered it partway into the pit before breaking for the evening. Work resumed early Tuesday morning, with the piece reaching the bottom of the pit Tuesday afternoon.
Three pieces of the machine’s shield that remain at the surface will be lowered and reinstalled in the coming days, according to STP’s latest schedule. After the machine has been reassembled, STP and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen will conduct a series of tests will follow reassembly to ensure the machine is ready to resume mining.
STP has said it hopes to do that in November, by which time it will be almost two years since the machine overheated and was stopped – longer than the tunnel-boring itself is supposed to take.
1:45 PM: A relatively brief power outage that closed Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy terminal is over, according to WSF, but it’ll take a while for service to get back to the normal three-boat schedule – one run had to be routed to downtown because of “an emergency medical transport.” That run was with the route’s biggest vessel, M/V Issaquah, so WSF says that until Issaquah’s back, “the Evergreen State and the Tillikum will provide non-schedule service.” (The “live” online VesselWatch map shows Issaquah now at Vashon, so that might not take too long.)
2:53 PM: WSF says that 3-boat service has been restored, as of the “2:15 pm departure from Fauntleroy, 2:20 pm from Vashon, and a late 2:45 pm departure from Southworth.”
If you’ve been southbound on the Alaskan Way Viaduct recently, you’ve probably seen the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s repaired/reassembled front end sitting by the “access pit,” as WSDOT’s contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners prepared it to be lowered into the pit for reattachment. This morning, WSDOT says STP has started the process, which could last at least 14 hours:
Contractor crews will use the super crane next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct to:
-Lift Bertha’s repaired cutterhead and cutter drive unit from its surface-level platform
-Move the entire piece horizontally over the access pit
-Rotate it into a vertical position
-Slowly lower the cutterhead and drive unit on to a platform inside the access pit
“Lifting more than 2,000 tons is a long, slow process,” notes WSDOT in its announcement. If you want to check in from time to time, here’s the link to the webcams, whose images update frequently. It’s been five months since the machine’s front end was brought out of the pit to be fixed.
Curious about city’s new plan to clear traffic incidents sooner? SDOT & SPD @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition this weekAugust 23, 2015 at 5:44 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments
Most West Seattle community groups skip meetings in August, but not the one dealing directly with what many consider the peninsula’s biggest challenge. Next Thursday (August 27th), the West Seattle Transportation Coalition will hear from SDOT and SPD about the city’s new plan for traffic-incident management, detailed in a downtown briefing on August 3rd (WSB coverage here) and a City Council committee briefing August 13th (WSB coverage here). Also on the WSTC agenda, reps from the advocacy group Seattle Subway. The meeting’s at 6:30 pm Thursday at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).
Your chance to commute via a battery-powered bus like that one is getting closer. At a media event today that otherwise was about its new electric trolley buses, Metro also had an update on the battery-powered-bus test that’s been on the way since a federal $4.7 million grant was announced five years ago:
… Over the next four to six months, Metro will take delivery of three 40-foot prototype heavy-duty battery-electric buses with fast-charging batteries, manufactured with a composite body by Proterra, Inc.
The new 38-seat buses can travel up to 23 miles between charges, and remain on the road up to 24 hours a day. Batteries take 10 minutes or less to charge. The prototype bus is expected to get 15 miles more from an equivalent unit of energy than a diesel-hybrid coach. A battery-charging station has already been set up at the Eastgate Park-and-Ride lot.
Metro will test the performance and efficiency of the new technology for up to a year on local streets and roads, to determine whether battery electric buses can be a future replacement option for Metro. The three prototypes will likely be tested on short routes serving the Eastside and downtown Seattle.
Among a series of new SDOT-placed signs staked beside the bicycle/foot trails along Harbor and Alki Avenues are at least two with that design – silhouettes of two people on a bicycle, without helmets, which are required by law.
After the signs were pointed out by Jackie from Upper Alki, which has a safety controversy of its own going on, we went out to see for ourselves, and then asked SDOT about the signs. Marybeth Turner said they’ll be fixed:
This sign is one of a set of five signs, each with a different image. One of the signs shows a silhouette with a retro image of two people without helmets on a tandem bicycle. My understanding is that sets of five signs were placed at six trails around the city. The signs inform people about the Seattle Trails Upgrade Plan (see SDOT web page about this).
A different bicycle image was originally planned for the set, but was replaced by the image you’ve seen by project staff and did not get our usual thoughtful review for public information materials. Although the image seems to portray bicyclists at a time before helmets were commonly used, we definitely want to promote helmet use, and would not normally approve an image of bicyclists without helmets. We are adding helmet stickers to the signs.
Only one of the sign designs we saw was clearly a promotion for the trail:
The others (including silhouettes of a runner, a dog walker, and someone with a small child on their shoulders) bore only the logos for SDOT and for the city’s Vision Zero safety campaign, including the one with the unhelmeted riders.
That slide deck shown to the City Council’s Transportation Committee today shows the progress SDOT says it’s making after the critique that basically said the city had no coherent plan for Traffic Incident Management (TIM) – the overall science of having policies in place so crashes, stalls, and other backup-inducing problems can be cleared as quickly as possible.
The critique by a consulting firm was presented to the media two weeks ago – we went to the briefing downtown; our subsequent story includes video as well as the consultants’ full report. SDOT director Scott Kubly told councilmembers today that nine of the nearly 70 recommendations have already been implemented. A few that stood out have to do with management accountability – for one, he spoke of having a “duty officer” assigned at all times, someone from SDOT management who is on call to be point person in case of a serious traffic incident, no matter when it happens. This job is rotating between SDOT managers, one week at a time. He also said SDOT is hiring an urban-traffic-corridors expert from WSDOT, Mark Bandy, to lead the department’s newly stepped-up “day-to-day transportation focus.”
In the big picture, the long list of recommendations is being worked on with the goal of a January update on what more will be done and when. But in the short term, the city says, it’s already proceeding with the new priority of getting traffic moving again in case of an incident instead of focusing on preserving property.
(Side note: Anecdotally, we’ve noticed this in a variety of ways in the West Seattle traffic incidents we’ve monitored/covered in recent weeks – including more-urgent radio discussion of what needs to be done to clear the road and how soon it’ll happen, and SPD’s automated tweetstream now including far more traffic-collision information than before.)
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