West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you still haven’t told Sound Transit what you think about the draft ST3 plan – which includes a light-rail line to The Junction, in 2033 – today is your last chance: 5 pm tonight (Monday, May 2nd) is the (slightly extended) deadline.
Not sure what to say? Here’s what happened when Sound Transit reps talked with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition last Thursday night, two nights after their one-and-only draft-plan meeting in WS:
Tomorrow night at 10 pm, the onramps to the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 start closing. Within two hours – by 12:01 am Friday – the entire stretch of 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel will be closed. More vehices will be on the “low bridge” – officially, the South Spokane Street Swing Bridge – than usual, both bicycles and pedestrians, which have no other nearby path across the Duwamish River, and motor vehicles, because of detours.
(2015 photo by Don Brubeck – bicycle riders waiting while barge goes through opened ‘low-bridge’)
The “low bridge” will continue to be opened for vessel traffic. One difference from the 2011 weeklong Highway 99 shutdown: Those openings are now communicated via Twitter, @SDOTBridges. But the tweets tend to be sent just as the bridge starts to open, meaning they’re no help with advance planning, if you’re leaving your residence and wondering if an opening is imminent.
With that in mind, a WSB commenter wondered if there is any way for SDOT to tweet sooner about impending bridge openings. We asked SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan, who talked with the Bridge Division and replied:
We are required by federal law to open a bridge when a boat makes a request for an opening. Typically, we have less than three minutes notice from the boat making its request to an opening occurring. Part of the opening process is to alert our Transportation Operation Center, which then puts the information out via Twitter.
The presence of a boat on a nearby waterway does not necessarily mean that an opening is required. Boats will sometimes stop prior to the Ship Canal bridges or the lower Spokane Street Swing Bridge and not request an opening at all.
We will continue to tweet notices of bridge openings as soon as they are requested and look for opportunities to speed up the transmission of that information.
We’ll be adding the bridge-opening tweets to our expanded commute coverage during the Viaduct closure. You can also find the link any time on the WSB Traffic page (which will have some renovations before Friday).
6 PM: That’s a look around the West Seattle High School Commons (mouse over the image to bring up the “play” button) as our area’s meeting about the Sound Transit 3 draft plan – currently envisioning light rail to/from West Seattle in 2033 – and the Metro Long-Range Plan got under way. The presentations are about to get under way; among those who will be speaking, Mayor Murray. We’ll be updating as this goes. Even if you can’t make it to the meeting (which is expected to continue until at least 7 pm – the moderator says it’ll go back to open-house format around 6:45), you can comment on these plans via their respective agencies – more on that post-meeting.
6:04 PM: Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff speaks first, declaring this “a great crowd. … The crowds that have been turning out and the level of engagement is indicative of the hunger this region has” for more transit. “This is about the future of our region. … The feedback that you give us about this plan is very important. … Census data tells us that this region … is going to have nearly a million more citizens by 2040. … When you’re faced with growth like that, you’re going to have to plan for it, or be overwhelmed by it.” He then throws a line to the crowd, “In an area like this, where the whole region seems to revolve around the West Seattle Bridge” – rueful laughs rippled around the crowd – light rail would seem like something positive, Rogoff said.
6:17 PM: The third of three Sound Transit Board members to speak, City Councilmember Rob Johnson, is speaking now.
— Rob Johnson (@heyrobbyj) April 27, 2016
(CM Johnson’s tweet of the standing-room-only crowd)
He followed Mayor Murray and County Council Chair Joe McDermott – we got both of their mini-speeches on video (both added as of 6:43). Murray noted that the region made a decision to reject a major transit initiative decades ago, and hopes that mistake will not be repeated now.
Johnson is now followed by the overview of the draft ST3 plan, courtesy of an ST planner, who gave some backstory about how the agency got to this point, looking to finalize a plan to send to voters in November. The proposed plan would have 112 miles of light rail, “west to West Seattle and Ballard, north to Everett, east to Redmond and Issaquah, south to Tacoma, Tacoma Link to Tacoma Community College.” They also expect “bus rapid transit” on I-405 and Highway 522, “bus on shoulder” on four regional highways, and other system improvements.
Mentioned after that – “to improve bus speed and reliability … capital improvements to RapidRide C and D Routes.” This was mentioned at last month’s unveiling of the draft plan but has not been explained in detail.
Next, the “central corridor” proposals including the light-rail line to West Seattle, with stations at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction (specific locations have not yet been proposed). ST would also study extending the line south to Burien and then a possible connection to the Tukwila International Blvd. station, which is on the ST “spine” between Everett and Tacoma, “the main trunk, if you will, to our system.” She then elaborates that the West Seattle line would go over the Duwamish River on a new bridge, elevated to a station at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction – that’s entirely elevated on this side of the river. She mentions that this is a “representative project,” which means some things could change during the environmental-study stage, if ST3 is approved by voters. ST wants to know “are we going to the right areas.”
6:28 PM: Next, a Metro rep comes up to talk about their long-range plan, which has been stuffed into this meeting for some reason. “Metro has been working for 18 months to define, what is the role of Metro as the region continues to grow.” Metro hasn’t had a long-range plan in more than 20 years. Key point: 20 percent of the region’s residents have access to rapid service right now; they want to bring that up to 70 percent. By 2040, they hope to have 26 RapidRide lines (one for every letter of the alphabet) by 2040, including a new one on Delridge (which, it’s been said, would replace the 120 – and some community members have voiced concern that fewer bus stops, the RapidRide design, would be bad for eastern West Seattle).
“The vision of 2040 can bring you more opportunities – how far you can go within an hour at noon.” Get online and find out more – the draft Metro Long-Range Plan is open for comments until May 20th.
6:33 PM: The moderator says they’ll extend the question period until 7 pm, since the speakers ran long.
First question is from a man in Tukwila, the “ST1 zone,” he calls it, who says his house is being shaken, and that he has been trying to get ST to do something about it for eight years. CEO Rogoff offers to talk with him on the sidelines.
Second question is from an attendee who wants to know, “Is there some way to be able to continue to have these conversions to make improvements for all the people?” long after a meeting like this. Rogoff says that the ST website shows all the projects, including ones that were counted out for various reasons. “For every one, there is a public vetting process that has to engage the community, an environmental process … it all involves community engagement (and) comment periods, and very rarely is the project precisely as envisioned the one that gets built.” (The first questioner shouts, “EIGHT YEARS!” from the gallery at that point.)
Third question: “How was the order of who will go first and who will go last devised? (West Seattle) voted at least three times for the monorail .. (and) we’re the closest to downtown … so I wonder why we have to wait at least 17 years before we see something.” At this point, applause and cheers. “In the meantime,” she continues, “for example, when the C Line (Metro) was adopted, all the other routes were dropped back …” and she says that’s made it harder to get around, or to get back here from another part of the city at night.
Rogoff says first, regarding the timeline, “it can go quicker and we are determined to make it go quicker if we have (cooperation) between the municipalities … engage the community, move quickly through permitting. 17 years like I say is a planning factor – with cooperation it could go more quickly.” Rogoff says that 17 years is actually one of the earliest “rail deliverables” in ST3.
Murray then comes up and mentions the city vote to allot more money for bus service, and says that while he is committed to trying to accelerate the timeline, “it’s buses that are going to get us there” until rail is ready.
Fourth question was also about moving up the timeline and streamlining the permitting process. Murray takes the microphone again and says he plans to introduce legislation to enable streamlining. That draws applause. Rogoff says, “That’s the kind of cooperation we’re talking about.”
Next question is a man who says that they should be listening to comments, not questions, when the moderator tries to tell him he needs to ask something, not say something. A smattering of applause for that. He says that there needs to be budgeting for roads to support the transit system, as damage already has been done (he mentions Avalon, which supports much of the RapidRide C Line). Murray takes the microphone for this one, too, and says that the MoveSeattle levy passed last year “will allow us to catch up,” though, like ST3, he points out, it’s a plan spread out over years, so the money isn’t all available immediately.
Next: Someone who wonders why everything is tied to property taxes – “is there a plan to pay for it some other way?”
Rogoff replies: “There are three (separate) tax increases in the plan – these were given to us by the Legislature – it’s a mix of sales tax, an increase in the motor-vehicle excise tax, and the smallest piece by dollars actually is a piece of property tax – this is the first time that property taxes have entered into the mix, and this is a mix given to us by Olympia; they were trying to get a mix that, since the sales tax has a certain regressivity to it, balances it out … we can only bring (to the voters) what Olympia allows us to.”
That is the answer to the next question, about money, too: “These are the revenue options (legislators) gave us.”
Following that: Someone from Hillman City, who says they’ve “already been waiting for our station for 20 years” and this plan shows it to be another 20 or so away – the Graham Street Station, up on the screen as 2036-2038. “What can you do to speed it up? You’re doing it,” says Rogoff – “come to meetings, talk to your elected officials,” etc.
Next: “How do we as a city dangle the carrot to the federal government and have them (look at Seattle for funding) when many other cities (have needs too)?” Rogoff, a former federal official, says the way for cities to make themselves look most appealing is “whether they have their local funding match in place … that, frankly, is what the ST3 vote is about. … No factor is more influential.”
Then: “What are the capital improvements you’re talking about for the C Line?” The Metro rep answers first by saying C Line use has gone up, “and we’re going to be looking at speed and reliability improvements.” She hands the microphone over – “Some of those improvements depend on SDOT. Signal improvements, queue jumps – opportunities for buses to get ahead of the traffic that’s coming – we also want to look at with Metro and SDOT, opportunities for the 99 loop as it goes off the West Seattle Bridge .. we’re looking at the chokepoints, the bottlenecks for those corridors.” Murray then chimes in and mentions the Lander Street Overpass, “another way we can improve the whole corridor’s movement.” (This answer is pretty much what we got after the draft-plan announcement in March.”
Next questioner mentions that large employers are beneficiaries of this, “so I wonder if they have been approached to maybe give us an interest-free loan, or just invest in the system out of their pockets … ahve they been approached?” Much applause for that. Rogoff says the answer isn’t exactly “no” but they are “in a dialogue with some of the major employers” regarding the “benefits” that their campuses would get. He says he won’t identify them. “But we can partner with other entities to help us bring money forward to accelerate the system.”
6:55 PM: Next (with a warning from the moderator that there’s only time for a few more questions) question is about the regressive tax structure: Rogoff says that the feds don’t really care how the money is raised, only that it is raised (the aforementioned local match).
Next: Does the $50 billion price tag include interest. “I don’t want you coming back to me saying you need another $20 billion.” Rogoff says the $50b is “the capital investment figure,” and yes, there will be payments above that “over time.” He says that in June the board will adopt “a very detailed financial plan” when they adopt a final plan. “I’d encourage you to start by reading the financial plan for the ST2 plan, there’ll be one for ST3, we welcome the scrutiny.” He says they do budget for inflation.
Then: If the plan is passed and the federal government fails to follow through, what happens? Rogoff again goes back to ST2, saying it figured on an 18 percent federal contribution, and this plan lowers that to about 12 percent – “we’re growing but it may not be reasonable to assume that the federal contribution will grow with us … and there’s a lot of stress … on the federal budget right now … and we want to be sure we can deliver on what’s promised.” If somehow the program they’ll rely on ceased, they’d have to figure out how to make up the funding.
Final question at 6:59 pm: An attendee mentions costs of various lines outside the US, in Europe and Canada, at far less per mile than what Sound Transit is suggesting this will cost. So, he says, he wants to ask Metro: What could it do with a $2 billion capital budget? The Metro reply: “You’re asking a very specific question – but you’re right, we’re seeing that high-capacity transit on buses is very productive, and we’re seeing a 96 percent increase on the C Line, and that’s what makes it a very good high-capacity corridor, and future light-rail corridor.” For the $2 billion “what would you do” question, she invites him to “come over to our boards” and see what’s in the Metro long-range plan. “That vision you’re talking about, high-capacity transit … that’s what we’re planning for.”
The moderator invites people to provide feedback online or on paper, or to go back into open house mode and talk to the people who are here from the various agencies, and with that, the Q&A ends.
8 PM: Back at HQ now and adding a few more photos, notes, and links.
First: The conversation about ST3 continues at Thursday night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Bring your questions and comments.
Next: For ST3, the official comment period continues until Friday (April 29th). At the very least, please take this online survey.
In case you’ve missed our multitude of mentions since the Sound Transit 3 “draft plan” was announced one month ago (WSB coverage here) – tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26th) is the one and only Sound Transit public meeting planned in West Seattle before ST comes up with its final plan to send to regional voters in November. A West Seattle light-rail line is in the plan – for 2033. Yes, that’s a long time. But it could be longer, as there is some clamor elsewhere in the city to move it back and move other parts of the draft plan forward. But – it also could be sooner. Whatever you think about it, the more people show up for tomorrow’s 5:30 pm meeting at West Seattle High School, the more of a show of support there is. The latest voice exhorting you to be there is that of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which just sent this:
Do you want less traffic on the West Seattle Bridge?
If so…come to this meeting on April 26th.
We need Light Rail and we need our voices heard.
IF YOU COME…THEY WILL BUILD IT!
Show up and make a HUGE difference.
Tuesday, April 26th at 5:30 pm at West Seattle High School.
The more people who show up for this meeting, the louder our voice is.
The louder our voice is, the more likely we are to get what we need: LIGHT RAIL TO WEST SEATTLE!!!
Just showing up is half the battle.
It’s no substitute for a big showing, but ST is also asking you to fill out the survey you’ll find online at soundtransit3.org. Tomorrow’s meeting, by the way, also includes a presentation about Metro’s Long-Range Plan – that and the ST presentation are at 6 pm, following a half-hour of “open house.” It’s not just a light-rail-yay-or-nay situation, by the way – if you would like to advocate for aspects of the plan, including tunneling or no tunneling, where the West Seattle stations should be, etc., this is the place. See you there.
Most of the time, after publishing the initial announcement of projects that will at least temporarily affect how you get around, our subsequent reminders are in our weekday Traffic/Transit Today updates, first thing Monday-Friday mornings.
Tonight, we’re thinking an extra reminder is in order, because of the big week ahead. So here goes:
TOMORROW (MONDAY 4/25), 26TH SW BETWEEN ROXBURY AND BARTON: The pummeled pavement panels along this stretch of southbound 26th SW, in sorry shape after the past few years of dramatically increased bus traffic, will be replaced over the next week. The work will start on the south half, between Cambridge and Roxbury, as SDOT’s advisory says, southbound 26th will be closed to all traffic. There are no bus-stop changes, because the southbound side has no stops, but the rerouting to get around it will add a few minutes to trips, Metro says.
ALSO MONDAY: Delays are possible for Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry riders, because one of the two slips on Vashon will close during the day for ongoing work, tomorrow through the end of May. Explanation here.
ONE MORE THING FOR MONDAY: Not West Seattle, but some local commuters might be interested: The Highway 520 floating bridge will open to eastbound traffic early Monday morning, and that completes the phasing-in of the new bridge, both ways.
NOT HAPPENING WEDNESDAY AFTER ALL: If you missed our first word of this on Thursday and the city’s reiteration on Friday, SDOT finally decided to postpone the Fauntleroy Expressway seismic-pad-re-replacement work.
It WAS supposed to start this Wednesday, with dozens of overnight closures of the west end of the high bridge as well as some lane closures on surface Spokane St., but has now been pushed back until at least mid-May, mostly because of what starts on …
FRIDAY: At some point between midnight and the start of the morning commute on Friday April 29th), WSDOT will close Highway 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge. As of our last check with WSDOT, spokesperson Laura Newborn told us they have 12:01 am penciled in as the start time until they get a more concise time from contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners as to when they expect to start tunneling toward and under the Alaskan Way Viaduct. All week long, we’ll be taking closer looks at the plans for alternative ways to get around during the closure; if you still have questions about it, we’ll do our best to get answers.
Again, the closure is expected to last “about” two weeks, but it all depends on the progress the tunneling machine makes. That progress is set to be updated online at least once a day. Other closure-related info – detour maps, etc. – is here.
Ferry commuters are one step closer to a more reliable system as Washington State Ferries celebrates a major milestone for the Chimacum, the fleet’s third Olympic Class vessel. The Chimacum’s 1,110 ton superstructure, which took 18 months to construct at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, will transit to Seattle tonight, Wednesday, April 6.
The announcement continues after the jump: Read More
(Map from July 2015 slide deck about 35th SW plan)
More than half a year after the much-discussed changes on 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury, Phase 1 of the 35th SW Corridor Safety Project, you might be wondering when we’ll hear the timeline for Phase 2, north of Morgan. After Kevin e-mailed to ask for an update, we checked in again with SDOT‘s project manager Jim Curtin. His reply: “We will host a couple of meetings about 35th in May – likely the weeks of the 9th and/or the 16th. We definitely want to chat with residents living immediately adjacent to 35th and provide other street users with an opportunity to chat about our work moving forward.” Phase 2 was outlined in the Phase 1 announcement last July (WSB coverage here), including a declaration of no channelization changes north of SW Edmunds, but the timeline hadn’t previously been specified.
Construction of the Delridge-Highland Park Greenway is done, SDOT announced this afternoon – aside from “a few minor tasks,” such as:
*Finish sign installation and road striping
*Replace temporary handrail with permanent handrail on the new stairway on 17th Ave SW
*Reseed planting strip on 21st Ave SW just north of where 21st Ave SW and 22nd Ave SW merge
Seattle City Light will turn on the new signal at 15th Ave SW and SW Holden St
And Seattle Public Utilities continues with the Delridge Natural Drainage Project. If you live/work in, and/or frequently travel through the greenway area, you’re invited to answer this survey. Meantime, scroll down the project webpage for the city’s before/after images of spots along the greenway.
(ST3 draft-plan map section with proposed West Seattle light rail)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Today – five days after the draft Sound Transit 3 plan went public – the monthlong comment period officially begins.
That will include a community meeting at 5:30 pm April 26th at West Seattle High School, it’s just been confirmed.
And more information is being added today – fleshing out what was outlined last Thursday – to the official Sound Transit 3 website.
Of course, commenting informally started the moment the plan was circulated that afternoon.
Hours after the announcement downtown, it was a hot topic at the March meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition – though not until about two hours in – and while group members had opinions, the question of an official position wasn’t settled. (The agenda also included the Metro Long-Range Plan – more on that in the second half of this report.)
Washington State Ferries is changing concessionaires for its food and beverages, including on-board galley service. Eight firms made proposals; Connecticut-based Centerplate was chosen. WSF’s announcement says features of the new contract include:
·Consistent hours of service across the system, with additional service in the San Juan Islands.
·Creative, fresh and healthful product offerings, including local brands such as Hempler’s beef and ham, Uli’s sausage, Beecher’s cheese, and Stimson Estate Cellars wine.
·Creative concepts for using existing spaces, such as opening additional coffee and beer kiosks on the Jumbo Mark II class ferries.
·Promotions and incentives, such as commuter-reward programs.
Centerplate also provides concessions at Safeco Field and Tacoma Dome, WSF’s announcement notes. The transition from current concessionaires is expected to be completed by mid-June.
Six months ago, when SDOT held a second open house, by community request, for the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, the resulting “final design” was expected shortly thereafter, “implementation” was expected by year’s end, and “evaluation” was expected this year.
The year’s one-fourth over, and the design hasn’t even gone public yet. That was pointed out at this month’s Alki Community Council meeting, when one attendee said she hadn’t been able to get the SDOT project manager to answer her questions about where the project stood.
If the project name doesn’t bring an image to mind, it’s the reconfiguration >originally proposed almost a year ago for Admiral Way west of California SW. It was first shown to the Admiral Neighborhood Association in April 2015, with added bicycle lanes, narrowed general-purpose lanes, and some parking removal. After subsequently contentious-at-times reaction – especially regarding the revelation that initial decisions had been made based on wintertime parking usage, not summertime – the project was modified a bit and brought back to the community in fall (along with summertime parking data).
With half a year now past since the September meeting, and after hearing the frustration voiced at the ACC meeting, we contacted SDOT to ask for a status update. Project spokesperson Dawn Schellenberger replied, “We are in the process of revising the design and do not yet have a final design nor implementation date.” The online information has changed slightly since we contacted her – the timeline box now says “implementation” in spring this year and “evaluation” in spring of next year – but no word on what will be proposed for in the next design revision.
Two weeks after first word of a new SDOT safety project at Avalon/Yancy/30th/Andover, we have an update – work starts as soon as next Monday. This information was distributed in the immediate area today, SDOT says, and will be going out to the project e-mail list tomorrow:
We wanted to let you know that as soon as next Monday, March 28, crews working for SDOT will begin constructing pedestrian-safety improvements at the intersections of 30th Ave SW with SW Avalon Way and SW Avalon Way with SW Andover and SW Yancy streets. Construction is anticipated to take about 6 weeks to complete, but the schedule is weather dependent.
People can expect the following impacts during construction (more detail in the attached construction notice):
Temporary closure of SW Andover St at SW Avalon Way for the first three weeks of construction, depending on the weather. Local access will be maintained from 32nd Ave SW.
Temporary closure of SW Yancy St and 30th Ave SW at SW Avalon Way for the last three weeks of construction. Local access will be maintained from SW Genesee St. The duration of this closure is also weather dependent.
King County Metro routes will not be impacted.
Pedestrian detours around work zones. People following the sidewalk detours will not need to cross SW Avalon Way.
Temporary closure of bike lanes on SW Avalon Way. People riding bikes will be directed to merge with vehicle traffic.
Weekday work hours, 7 AM to 5 PM.
(TOPLINE: ST3 draft would run light rail to The Junction, with Delridge & Avalon stops, in 2033 – here’s the map)
1:40 PM: We’re at the Sound Transit board room at Union Station downtown, where the draft plan for this fall’s ST3 ballot measure will be made public during the board meeting that’s about to begin (agenda here). We’ll be updating with West Seattle-specific details. You can watch the meeting live here; you can also watch our Twitter feed, here or via the box on the right sidebar of all WSB pages.
1:52 PM: Still awaiting the draft plan. After some discussion of Sound Transit’s big events last weekend, the board is now hearing about this letter from its Expert Review Panel that looks at “cost per rider.” John Howell from the panel also says their look at the development of cost estimates for potential projects concluded that “sound” methodology was used. He also mentions the importance of “transparency” regarding how taxpayers are advised of what the forthcoming ST3 package will cost PLUS what they’re paying for previous ST packages/projects.
2:18 PM: The board just heard a report about last weekend’s U-Link launch; next, an update on its East Link launch. Then, they’ll get to ST3.
2:37 PM: And now, the agenda reaches ST3. “The journey has been all-consuming,” says Constantine, adding that he thinks it “delivers on the promise of a truly regional mass-transit system for generations to come. It is an ambitious plan for an ambitious region.” He says the decades-long debate over mass transit in this region is “OVER. .. In this proposal, we go big, and not because everyone at this dais relishes the opportunity to vote for taxes … We go big, because the need is big.” People need to get out of traffic. It’s a 25-year program “that completes the regional spine to Tacoma, to Everett, to Redmond, and connects Ballard and West Seattle. .. This program will catalyze dynamic communities around stations.”
Now, the proposal:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
For West Seattle, it’s the line to The Junction, with stops listed in Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction. The plan also proposes studying extending light rail from West Seattle to Burien at some later time.
As for the proposal on how it would be paid for:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
MVET is “motor vehicle excise tax.” (added, from a handout) More translation of what’s above:
Sales tax of 0.5 percent ($.50 on a $100 purchase) in addition to the 0.9 percent currently collected.
Motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) of 0.8 percent of vehicle value ($80 annually on a $10,000 vehicle) in addition to the 0.3 percent MVET Sound Transit is collecting through 2028.
Property tax of 25 cents for each $1,000 of assessed valuation ($75 annually for a $300,000 house). A property tax was identified as a new way to establish a more progressive revenue source for regional transit investments that reduces reliance on the sales tax
One detail we just went back to notice – the West Seattle light-rail line would open, under this proposal, in 2033. That’s five years before Ballard would get its line, accompanying a new downtown rail tunnel, in 2038.
3:13 PM: The briefing continues. Here’s the total cost, as requested by a commenter:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
This is where the briefing is going now, too. Meantime, something else of note for West Seattle, while we await 2033 (assuming this goes forward as proposed and gets voter approval in the fall) – “King County Metro Rapid Ride C and D Capital Improvements” are also a project, described as “transit priority improvements along King County Metro’s Rapid Ride C and D lines that provide BRT service to Ballard and West Seattle as an early deliverable to provide improved speed and reliability in advance of light rail starting operations to these areas.”
Another part of the handout also has further elaboration on how light rail would get to and from WS: “a light rail connection from Downtown Seattle to the vicinity of West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood, including an alignment primarily on an elevated guideway, and a new rail-only fixed span crossing of the Duwamish River. This project would include five new stations including a transfer connection at SODO.” Pending the materials’ availability online, here’s a shot of a page with a closer look:
Next: Board members’ comments about the draft plan, and their decision about whether to send it out for public comment.
3:43 PM: Mayor Murray (an ST board member) notes that we’re finally doing something about West Seattle and Ballard, though “the timelines give me pause.” As does the cost, he says: “We need to be sure the public understands what they are buying.” Without doing this, though, he says the region has only said half a “yes” to transit, to make up for the “no” recognized as such a mistake back in 1970.
Also commenting, board member, and West Seattleite, King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, saying he’s “bullish on Sound Transit.”
Meanwhile, the materials shown here are showing up online:
*Here’s the system map (PDF)
*Here’s the list with a little more elaboration (PDF)
*Slide deck from today’s meeting (PDF)
*Proposed financing, including FAQ
4:47 PM: The post-meeting media Q/A with board members has wrapped up. We asked for more elaboration on the potential Rapid Ride improvements that are mentioned. The topic was tackled by City Councilmember Johnson, who said it would be tweaks like making it possible for buses to queue-jump. But if you have specific suggestions, be sure to put them forward in the comment process that’s now beginning. Also, it was suggested that the timelines for some of these projects MIGHT move up. Video:
We also should mention that discussion of this is on the agenda for tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – all welcome – 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Know who your Community Police Team officer is?
Officers on the CPT handle issues that generally aren’t 911 emergency responses – but due to their persistence, may affect a neighborhood far more than a crime here and a crime there.. The CPT officer whose turf includes the Admiral District talked about several ongoing issues at the Admiral Neighborhood Association‘s March meeting.
Officer Jon Flores first talked about the Mobile Precinct van that the Southwest Precinct has been deploying (we showed it to you when it arrived) – it’s “popping up” all around West Seattle and South Park, and precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis wants it to be for the entire area. “It has a deterring effect – when our kids see it, they don’t necessarily want to hang out around it,” so it’s spent some time by the Admiral Safeway, which has had some “issues.” And of course the Mobile Precinct will spend time on Alki as the weather warms – “it’s a way for us to have a presence without having three or four different patrol vehicles deployed in an area.” CPT Officer Clayton Powell is the “designated mobile-precinct officer” and you’re invited to introduce yourself if you see the van around.
CPT officers also have been working to have “more meaningful interactions with schools around the West Seattle area,” though CPT is not school-resource officers, Flores cautioned. “We want to get into all the schools – we’re not going to be there daily or even once a week but we’re making a more concerted effort to get out and meet the principals, the students, get into the classrooms,” as they recently did at Concord International in South Park, “to build positive relationships with our youth.”
The CPTs also work on issues with transients and homeless people. In Admiral, Flores said, the vacant ex-Life Care Center property at 47th/Admiral/Waite has had squatter trouble, so its owner Aegis Living has now signed up for the vacant-building trespass warning program – a new program like the trespass program that exists for businesses, “giving us the ability to deal with the many vacant properties we have around West Seattle and the city,” said Flores.
3:38 PM MONDAY: With some changes, the much-discussed Pronto bike-share buyout has just won Seattle City Council approval, 7-2, with West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold voting “no” (along with at-large Councilmember Tim Burgess). Herbold said, among other things, that she didn’t think it was wise for the city to buy equipment they wouldn’t likely want to keep. Among the amendments that passed was one by West Seattle-residing at-large Councilmember Lorena González, as noted and tweeted by Seattle Times reporter Daniel Beekman:
— Daniel Beekman (@DBeekman) March 14, 2016
So far, there is no definite plan to expand the bike-sharing program to the peninsula. We’ll add the summary and meeting video later when they’re available.
ADDED TUESDAY: Here’s the meeting video, as published on the Seattle Channel website today:
(Bus headed southbound on 26th SW, north of Roxbury; watch for the damaged pavement panels after it passes)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One of the side effects of Westwood Village becoming a de-facto transit center is something that residents just to the south say they’re living with day in and day out, night in and night out – buses rumbling by almost continuously, leaving behind damaged pavement and causing their homes to settle.
More than a dozen residents brought their concerns to last night’s meeting of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (as we tweeted during the meeting). WWRHAH’s transportation committee is headed by Chris Stripinis, who lives in the area, and has created a website with a clearinghouse of information about the problem, at westwoodbus.wordpress.com.
In his introduction on that site, Stripinis wrote:
Severe visible road damage – On Barton, 26th Ave. and Roxbury, concrete panels in bus lanes are misaligned, cracked and subsiding under the weight of the buses.
Shaking of homes – Residents of Roxbury, 26th Ave. and Barton have reported significant, earthquake-level shaking in their homes as buses pass by. A seismic sensor designed for monitoring earthquake activity has recorded earthquake-level shaking in one Roxbury Street home.
Pavement Condition Index (PCI) numbers – On Barton and 26th Ave., PCI numbers supplied by SDOT show markedly lower ratings for lanes used for bus travel.
Bus weight waiver – Transit buses are overweight for local roads but operate under federal and state waivers to allow them on surface streets not engineered to handle these loads.
The panels over which the buses travel on 26th, as seen in our video clip above, look like this:
Last night, the problem was discussed with both Metro and SDOT reps in the room:
Before we get to the second of two big transportation topics from last night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (the first one, a Roxbury rechannelization report card, is here) – one issue that came up during the discussion, of interest to people all over West Seattle (and likely elsewhere in the city): Those road patches left behind after construction crews dig up part of a street to get to utility connections.
The subject came up while Westwood residents were expressing frustrations about pavement damage since transit service has increased in the area. One asked why the city allows “the backfilling … with (non-concrete material)” such as asphalt or rocks.
SDOT pavement engineer Benjamin Hansen was there and gave a frank reply saying he’s frustrated too: “Historically the way utility cuts have been restored .. a pipe crew, from a utility, will come out – a building has a number of connections, and the folks doing the pipe work have a certain skill set. Working with concrete or hot-mix asphalt is another skill set. So what happens is that they do that work and then they have this cold-mix asphalt that doesn’t take much work to handle, and they put it over the top as a temporary surface, and the idea is that after everyone has done their connections in that area, in that neighborhood, a paving crew with expertise will sweep through and restore those areas, and that’s the most efficient way …”
He said that may change: “We’re working at SDOT right now trying to remake some of the rules about how that’s done, to get away from, especially on the arterial streets, the number of temporary cuts we have, to shorten the time of restoration that a utility (is given) to do that work. Right now that temporary patch is allowed to stay in place up to a year. And there’s no way it can hold up to heavy loading, like on a bus route, for (that long).”
Hansen added that he is hoping to see some sort of synergy that could bring the pavement crew out closer to when the construction crew is done, so they don’t have to go through a second round of disconnections, shutoffs, reconnections to make the permanent fix. We will be checking in with SDOT soon to find out more about the potential rule changes.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two major transportation-related topics at tonight’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting, too big for one story, so we’re tackling them separately.
In this first report: A SW Roxbury Safety Project report card, six months after changes including the rechannelization of its western mile-plus, to one travel lane each way plus a center turn lane, presented with information about what’s yet to come.
Jim Curtin, SDOT’s project manager for Roxbury (and the concurrent 35th SW changes), brought new stats, half a year after preps for the restriping began, along with an update on what’s next.
As Curtin explained tonight, “It was an effort to improve safety, and it all came up because this neighborhood council sent a thoughtful letter asking us to take a look at the corridor … as anyone in the neighborhood knows, walking along Roxbury was not a fun thing. We had two lanes in each direction; if you had a vehicle of any substantial size in that curb lane, they were going 30 to 40 mph literally inches away from you as a pedestrian. We took a look at the data and found out there was a high injury rate – that’s something we don’t like to see; the speed data showed an egregious speeding problem; we have two schools, Holy Family at 20th SW and Roxhill Elementary at 30th SW … As somebody who lives in Arbor Heights, I drop the kids off at day care every morning and (see these roads). … Wider streets encourage faster speeds.”
They reviewed, as he reminded everyone, the entire corridor from 35th to Olson. “Most of the changes have been on the western end of the corridor, but we’re gearing up to do some things further east” – not further rechannelization, he said, because the eastern part has too much volume for that, “one of the busiest streets in West Seattle.”
Here’s the latest data (with a formal report to come in September, along with recommendations):
SPEEDING: Down “significantly,” Curtin said.
At 20th SW (Holy Family), the 85th-percentile speed pre-rechannelization, was 37.5 mph – 7.5 mph over posted speed limit. Since the rechannelization, the 85th-percentile speeds have dropped by 3.7 mph, just a bit under 10 percent reduction.
At 30th SW (Roxhill Elementary), a “big drop in speeds” – pre-project, 85th percentile was 41.3 mph, 11.3 mph over posted speed limit; post-project, 34 mph – a 7.3 mph (17 percent) reduction in speed.
CRASHES: At 26th/Roxbury, which is still being evaluated for possible changes such as turn signals, there were 17 collisions in the 3-year period pre-rechannelization; post-project, zero, Curtin said: “We’re thinking that’s a good change at this point.”
As a whole, 17th to 35th SW on Roxbury, grand total of two collisions in the six months post-rechannelization, both “property damage only” crashes – zero injuries, zero serious injuries, zero fatalities. Curtin’s assessment: “We are certainly liking where those numbers are taking us.”
TRAFFIC VOLUMES: Steady, almost exactly what they were before, 475 per hour is the busiest it gets.
TRAVEL TIMES: Interns are doing what they call “floating car surveys” on all the SDOT rechannelization projects, “driving the corridor during peak hours with a passenger with a stopwatch, recording times.” So far, Curtin said, travel times are basically unchanged, with a maximum delay of 23 seconds over pre-project travel times: “Very little change or impact to vehicular traffic out there.”
FEEDBACK: After Curtin finished, two participants brought up issues such as having to wait a long time to back out of driveways or to merge into traffic. “The floating tally doesn’t include that,” one man suggested. What’s the likelihood of changes at 26th/Roxbury? Curtin was asked. It’s functioning well now, he said, but “I think we can take a look at it” – looking at, for example, lengthening the north-south “green time” on 26th. Some other questions led to Curtin wondering if possibly a “signal loop” in the pavement had failed, so he said they’ll take a look.
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold arrived during the briefing and asked about the analysis Curtin mentioned for fall, as well as the feedback on 35th SW. Can citizens help define how it’s analyzed? she said, urging a “partnership” between SDOT and the community. “That’s how this project got started in the first place,” Curtin pointed out.
One attendee noted, in support of the changes, that people who “can no longer speed” certainly are experiencing a slower commute, so “their opinion might not be as valid. … I’m just amazed at 6:20 in the morning at how many people are ready to, like, shoot me for going the speed limit.”
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROXBURY CORRIDOR: SDOT is up to 90 percent design for the new stretch of sidewalk coming to the south side of the street, east of 30th SW; a bit of it is in the city, but mostly in King County. They’ll take it out to bid in April and then build “400 linear feet of sidewalk,” which will “complete the sidewalk network” in the area (which has already seen new sidewalks as part of the Safe Routes to School program).
Also: Look for two new radar speed signs between 4th and 12th SW; they’ve made some modifications at the crash-prone 8th SW intersection, Curtin said, and they’re working to reduce the speed limit to 30 mph there.
At Olson and Roxbury, where Roxbury curves into Olson Place, SDOT will “fully signalize the crosswalk at that intersection” this year.
They’ll be rebuilding the sidewalk and improving barriers at Myers Way and Olson Place – ramps and other pedestrian improvements in the works.
And, looking back to the west a ways, “we’re still working on pavement and ramps in the section where the pavement is the worst” at 17th and 18th, in tandem with King County, because it’s “mostly theirs,” plus a City Light vault.
“Otherwise, I’m totally open to everyone’s comments and suggestions,” said Curtin. (You can reach him at email@example.com – and in addition to a Roxbury report this fall, you can also watch for news about the northern section of 35th SW in the months ahead.)
What about the slickness on the Roxbury/Olson hill area? asked a motorcycle rider. Another SDOT rep present said they thought they had it solved by tracing it to a particular model of Metro bus that seemed to be causing an “oil issue” at various spots around the city, but it’s not completely corrected, he acknowledged, so there may be something else in play.
SPEAKING OF BUSES: Report #2 will focus on the discussion of a problem that residents of 26th SW south of Westwood Village have been experiencing since RapidRide and other changes transformed the area into a major transit center without a significant amount of planning – damaged pavement and curbs, and settling/sinking houses.
Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, co-chaired by Amanda Kay Helmick and Eric Iwamoto, now meets on first Mondays, 6:15 pm, at Southwest Library.
Starting this month, the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meets on a new night – first Monday of the month. So that means Monday (March 7th) is its next meeting, and it’s your chance to hear from, and ask questions of, SDOT and Metro reps. Co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick just sent this note with agenda highlights including that part of the discussion:
Seattle Department of Transportation and Metro Transit: Bus Loop pavement conditions are causing rapid deterioration of the streets, houses on the loop are experiencing sizable shaking. We will also be discussing the Roxbury re-channel project. We will get an update on the addition of lighting at the bus hub as well and the addition of an Adaptive Street project at the Barton and Longfellow Creek crosswalk.
The meeting starts at 6:15 pm Monday, upstairs at Southwest Library, 35th SW and SW Henderson.
That’s the northbound school-zone beacon on Fauntleroy Way by Gatewood Elementary, and it hasn’t been working for the past few days. Several people mentioned it to us (206-293-6302 – text/call any time!) because, while the beacon wasn’t flashing, the school-zone speed cam associated with it WAS photographing passing cars.
This morning, after yet another report, we went over for a photo and also checked with SDOT to be sure that the problem was on their radar (so to speak) and to ask whether drivers would indeed be ticketed. Here’s the reply from spokesperson Norm Mah:
SDOT is aware of the situation and working to resolve the issue. Though the camera is still taking photos, no citations will be issued while the beacons are offline.
Community members are welcome to contact SDOT if there are SZSC [school-zone speed camera] related issues regarding the operation of existing beacons, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-684-7583.
This is one of three school zones in West Seattle with fixed speed cameras. All three – and other school zones that just have beacons, without cameras – are shown on the map you’ll find on this city webpage.
FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: SDOT says the beacons are working again as of this morning.
Six years ago, the issue of Metro bus-driver safety was raised here when a 56-year-old Alki woman was attacked while on the job as a driver in Tukwila. (Her teenage attacker was arrested and convicted.) Metro has since installed cameras in almost half its buses, and says the number of driver assaults is down by more than half since 2008 – 77 last year – but now after another high-profile attack (yesterday in Auburn), County Executive Dow Constantine is calling for more cameras. He announced this afternoon that he “will request funding in the supplemental budget to install cameras in 80 percent of Metro’s bus fleet by early 2019 and 100 percent by early 2021.” More details here.
It’s time for your comments on part of the soon-to-start West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor) expansion project – one that isn’t part of the building itself. This announcement from the Y explains:
As part of the West Seattle YMCA’s upcoming Expansion and Renovation project, the Y is coordinating the process for the proposed Triangle Festival Street designation on SW Snoqualmie between 36th & 37th Ave SW.
The idea for a community festival street came out of the city’s 2009 – 2011 Triangle Planning Committee. The Y Board decided to incorporate the concept in our expansion planning by shifting the Y’s entrance to SW Snoqualmie and incorporating some key improvements in the right of way, access and utilities.
The Festival Street designation allows closure for community events throughout the year (most will be in summer, on weekends or evenings). All adjacent landowners have given their support to the proposal.
Most of the time, this will be a regular street with cars driving, bikes, parking, and pedestrians on sidewalks. When active, the Triangle Festival Street could host outdoor concerts, dances, games, festivals and other community events.
A public presentation with opportunity for questions and public comment will be held at the Southwest District Council meeting on March 2nd, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon St. As part of the designation process, the SWDC could vote on the proposal two weeks after the presentation, which then would go to the SDOT director.
You can review more detailed information and submit online comments at OurNewY.org until March 18th.