Fauntleroy Boulevard update: Design at 60%, with ‘changes to meet specific business-access needs’

December 19, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In Transportation, Triangle, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

SDOT announced today that the ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’ project proposed for Fauntleroy Way between 35th and Alaska is at 60 percent design, but still isn’t scheduled for construction until and unless funding is found, so there’s no chance work would start any sooner than fall 2016. Here’s the official update:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is continuing design work for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, an improvement project along Fauntleroy Way SW between SW Alaska Street and 35th Avenue SW.

We recently reached the 60% design stage, and we anticipate completing project design work in spring 2015. The project is not currently funded for construction. In order to advance the project into construction, the Seattle City Council would need to allocate construction funding. If construction funding is secured, the earliest construction would begin is fall 2016.

We have been meeting one-on-one with area business and property owners and members of community organizations since early design work began in the summer of 2014. The 60% design reflects changes to meet specific business access needs raised during the outreach process.

We compared the cross-section above with the one that was circulated when the project was at 30 percent design three months ago – no major differences that we can see. We have a followup question out asking for elaboration on the “changes” SDOT says it made, and will add whatever we find out.

Light rail for West Seattle someday? First step just taken: WS added to Sound Transit’s map as potential light-rail corridor

December 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

3:48 PM: It’s by no means a guarantee that light rail is headed this way – but it’s a necessary first step: The Sound Transit board has just approved ST’s Long-Range Plan Update, and part of it included an amendment to the ST map so that it will now show Downtown Seattle to West Seattle to Burien as a (potential) light-rail corridor.

4:41 PM: Some background – the talk about this possibility really started to intensify a year ago, when ST offered an online survey about its Long-Range Plan Update. In May, we reported on a presentation to the ST Executive Committee about the study of potential south-end corridors, including routes featuring West Seattle. Then in June, another survey was taken in connection with the draft environmental-impact statement for the Long-Range Plan Update. In July, ST reps spoke to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce; and in October, the two West Seattleites on the Sound Transit board, County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott, announced they would work to get WS into the Long-Range Plan Update.

So what happens now? ST has to figure out what it wants to propose for its next ballot measure, dubbed ST3, which might not go to voters until November 2016. Today’s vote is no guarantee that the newly added West Seattle light-rail corridor will be included, but if the board hadn’t voted to add WS to the map today, there would have been zero chance of it making the next ballot measure.

Followup: SDOT ‘shelving’ RapidRide reroute in The Junction

December 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

12:19 PM: SDOT is “shelving” its unpopular proposal to reroute Metro‘s RapidRide C Line onto California between Alaska and Edmunds. That’s the word from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, with whom we just spoke. He says he asked the department to stop pursuing the plan, and that SDOT agreed, which he says is “a real win for the community.” While SDOT had said one minute would be saved each trip by moving the buses onto that block, instead of jogging westward from Edmunds to 44th and then eastward on Alaska, we’ve covered two public discussions at which multiple concerns were raised, with alternative time-savings suggested. The most recent discussion was this past Tuesday at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting (WSB coverage here), during which opponents of the proposal said a lot more could be done by fulfilling the longtime promise to get transit-signal prioritization along the route.

We first reported the reroute proposal four months ago; its first public airing was at November’s meeting of the Southwest District Council (WSB coverage here), where commenters also voiced a host of concerns.

ADDED 2:03 PM: An official statement from Rasmussen was sent from City Hall, including:

“I appreciate that the Department is working to improve reliability of busses through West Seattle. However, it is important that transit efficiencies not have a negative effect on our business districts or major pedestrian areas such as the Junction. Improved bus service will be coming to West Seattle in June because of the passage of Proposition 1 without changing the C Line route as has been proposed by SDOT.”

Today’s Viaduct-and-vicinity updates: See the ‘settling’ map; King St. crack in Pioneer Square

December 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

(SCROLL DOWN for newest updates)

2:58 PM: That map (click the image to see the full-size version) is the main Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 Tunnel update so far today, six days after first word that some areas in the vicinity have “settled” more than an inch. You might have seen a version of the map on Publicola this morning; the version released by WSDOT this afternoon has added context and a slightly different color scheme. It shows settling of almost an inch and a half in some areas, but does not show the areas of “uneven” settling, says WSDOT, and the text of their update makes it clear this does not show what’s happened on The Viaduct itself:

Crews from WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners are conducting ongoing surveys of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and ground to determine whether settlement is continuing near the SR 99 tunnel access pit. In general, the surveys include:

Twice daily manual measurements at the bottom of both the east and west columns of the viaduct.
Approximately every other day measurements of deep survey points. These are survey points more than 80 feet underground.

Ground surveys of sidewalks and streets from Alaskan Way to Second Avenue and from Yesler Way to South King Street. Some areas are surveyed twice a day; other areas are surveyed once every two to three days.

Surveys of some buildings. Data is collected both manually and automatically and monitored daily.

The data from the ground surveys and deep survey points are represented on a survey point data map. This map does not represent data from building surveys or the surveys of the viaduct.

The map is a computer-generated approximation to show visually the survey results that were shared with the public on Dec. 5, which indicates approximately 1.4 inches of ground settlement near the access pit and a lesser amount of settlement in the surrounding area. It does not show differential settlement, which is uneven settlement that occurs underneath a particular building or structure.

Lastly, the map does not present conclusions about the effect of dewatering. Additionally, the colors have been modified to better show the change in settlement from high to low.

We asked WSDOT earlier today if the tunnel contractor was continuing with access-pit digging, estimated two days ago to have another day to go before they reached a point where they’d stop to evaluate. The reply said only that the December 9th update still applied. We’ve been watching the “live” construction camera, and the excavation equipment does seem to have been in action as the day goes on.

ADDED 4:15 PM: New development – a crack in King St. downtown, not far east of the “rescue pit.” A briefing by the mayor is expected soon.

West Seattle Transportation Coalition report #2: Speed up RapidRide C, yes; reroute in The Junction, no

December 11, 2014 at 1:05 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Midway through the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s comment period for the proposed RapidRide C Line rerouting in The Junction, WSTC co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick called for a show of hands: Anybody in favor of this?

Two-dozen-plus people were in the room – from WSTC members to first-time attendees – but none offered any show of support.

The reception Tuesday night for the SDOT-initiated suggestion of moving the route onto California SW between Edmunds and Alaska, to save a minute per trip, indeed seemed just as chilly as it had been during November’s Southwest District Council meeting (WSB coverage here). Thanks to a reader tip, we had first word of the proposal back in August.

Maybe chillier: Marci Carpenter, a WSTC member who had a spotlight at the podium with political leaders celebrating last month’s transit-funding vote, asked sharply, “Why in the world would you break up the West Seattle transit center with this?”

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Transportation Coalition report #2: Speed up RapidRide C, yes; reroute in The Junction, no…

West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new ‘corridor’ designation

December 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

So much information emerged at last night’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, it’ll take us three stories to report it all. For starters, there’s a hint of progress on the issue of “low bridge” vessel openings during commute periods.

Updates were from WSTC’s Marty Westerman, who’s been focused on the issue, and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s legislative assistant Evan Clifthorne (above left).

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new ‘corridor’ designation…

SDOT Traffic Management Center expanding hours, councilmembers told during review of Highway 99 crash closure

December 10, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Four miles of closure for five hours, six months ago. The June 10th crash/investigation closure of Highway 99 finally got its airing before the City Council Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and the presenters from SDOT and SPD declared that major changes had resulted.

If you want to just watch for yourself but didn’t see it in real time, full video of the discussion is in this Seattle Channel clip, starting 1 hour and 48 minutes in.

If not – toplines follow:

Click to read the rest of SDOT Traffic Management Center expanding hours, councilmembers told during review of Highway 99 crash closure…

‘One inch of ground settlement’ detected for Alaskan Way Viaduct, tunneling-machine repair pit

December 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

(Added: Recent WSDOT photo of access pit, shared via Flickr)
5:13 PM: WSDOT says it will be inspecting the Alaskan Way Viaduct and vicinity this weekend after detecting more ground settlement. Seattle Times (WSB partner) transportation reporter Mike Lindblom reported it earlier this afternoon, and now WSDOT has this statement on its website:

Public safety is our top priority, which is why we installed a state-of-the-art settlement monitoring system as part of the SR 99 Tunnel Project. Recently, that system detected approximately one inch of ground settlement near the pit Seattle Tunnel Partners is building to access and repair the tunneling machine. We have also seen the same amount of settlement on the Alaskan Way Viaduct; the amount of settlement lessens in the surrounding area.

Some settlement was expected during tunnel construction and while the tunneling machine repair work was underway. This settlement appears to have occurred in the last month.

We have observed no new damage to the viaduct nor have we observed any effect on buildings or utilities in the surrounding area. WSDOT crews are conducting additional surveys this weekend to verify this information, including an inspection of the viaduct and a visual inspection of the adjacent areas.

While we are conducting this additional work, we are confident that there is no risk to public safety. We will provide an update early next week.

Even before the tunneling project began, Viaduct managers had noted ongoing settlement, usually described as minor (as in this 2010 report). Nothing about settlement was mentioned at the regional stakeholders’ meeting we covered last Monday, but we imagine it’ll come up when the City Council’s Viaduct Committee meets early next week.

6:08 PM: We asked WSDOT spokesperson Laura Newborn if this is the reason the Saturday night/early Sunday Viaduct closure was expanded to both directions, and she confirmed that was done “so extra survey work could be completed.”

When will Highway 99 tunneling resume? That question & more addressed as stakeholders’ group meets

December 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(From the slide deck shown at Tuesday’s stakeholders meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While the Highway 99 contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners hopes to make its goal of opening the tunnel by the end of 2016, the state’s point person for the project says that might be “tough.”

To say the least.

WSDOT’s Matt Preedy briefed the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project Stakeholders’ Advisory Group on Tuesday afternoon, during their every-quarter-or-so meeting at Safeco Field. He talked about what STP is doing while it’s not tunneling, and where the work toward fixing the tunneling machine is now.

The ring of pilings around the “access pit” is done, he said, and the dewatering system is on – the blue lines are wells:

The recently restarted excavation is now halfway down, about 70 feet. Once it’s done, a “concrete cradle” will be put in, and the tunneling machine will rest atop it after advancing about 20 feet under its own power. Then the big job to lift a 2,000-ton piece of the machine will begin.

The red mobile “lift tower” to bring it up is under construction now, Preedy said, pointing out that when it’s done, it will protrude a few feet above the top of the Viaduct, just a few feet from the elevated highway – “it will be an interesting visual impact for drivers on the Viaduct.”

Components have been brought in “from throughout the globe” to put together the lifting mechanism. But even once the piece is out, that’s just the start…

Click to read the rest of When will Highway 99 tunneling resume? That question & more addressed as stakeholders’ group meets…

Traffic alert for next weekend: Overnight Viaduct closure

November 30, 2014 at 10:04 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | No Comments

Quick note looking ahead to next weekend, as this one concludes: The southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to be closed overnight next Saturday night, from 11:59 pm December 6th until about 5 am December 7th, according to the newest “construction lookahead.” The reason for the closure between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge is described as “… crews remov(ing) a crane from the adjacent job site.”

Followup: Bridge backup from hour-and-a-half tow-truck wait = Case of ‘confusion’

November 21, 2014 at 10:51 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

10:51 AM: Remember last week’s high-bridge backup, involving a lane blocked by a crash-damaged car that didn’t get towed for an hour and a half?

(Our screengrab from just before the tow truck arrived – note the police car toward the right)
City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has just published his tale of trying to sort out how that happened, and the bottom line is:

SPD told him they thought they are legally at the mercy of whatever the driver wanted to do about getting towed.

But – the City Attorney told Rasmussen – they weren’t.

So, Rasmussen writes, SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole promises she will “have officers trained to eliminate the confusion.”

You can go here to read what he went through to find this out (including the behind-the-scenes timeline of last week’s incident, which largely matches what we had reported, including a mention at one point of a possible 2-hour tow-truck wait).

P.S. Rasmussen adds that an even-longer delay from earlier this year – remember the 4-mile, 5-hour Highway 99 closure in June? – will get a review in the council Transportation Committee, which he chairs, at 9:30 am December 5th, along with “SDOT and SPD’s new emergency incident response plan for these types of major closures.” (You can read the “after-action report” about that incident here.)

ADDED 10:39 PM: Councilmember Rasmussen shares this forwarded e-mail sent department-wide by Chief O’Toole tonight:

From: O’Toole, Kathleen
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 5:33 PM
Subject: Impeding Traffic

The ability to move vehicles and people about the city can be seriously impeded by a single blocking vehicle. During a recent incident on the West Seattle Bridge, traffic was unnecessarily delayed for hours pending the arrival of a tow truck. Officers should know that a vehicle may be impounded WITHOUT prior notice if “the vehicle is impeding or is likely to impede the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.” (SMC 11.30.040) If an owner’s selected tow company is not able to respond in a timely manner, the officer should request an impound via Communications to have the impeding vehicle removed from the scene promptly.
(http://www.seattle.gov/police/publications/manual/06_120_impounding_Vehicles.html)

If disabled vehicles are not impeding the flow of pedestrian or vehicle traffic, owners may request tow companies of their choice.

Kathleen M. O’Toole
Chief of Police

Arbor Heights microsurfacing: Last call to tell SDOT what you think

November 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm | In Arbor Heights, Transportation, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

It’s been spotlighted on the SDOT website … it was brought up at this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting … and we’ve received a nudge from the city about it: If you have anything to say to the city about the microsurfacing work on Arbor Heights this past summer, please take a few minutes and answer this online survey – which also gets into the broader topic of microsurfacing vs. chip seal vs. full road replacement (and even sidewalks).

Of bridges, buses, and boulevards: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s November toplines

November 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

(Photo tweeted by @reeseryan at 7:39 am Wednesday)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Just hours before this morning’s “high bridge” mess – one immobile car blocking a lane for more than an hour and a half because a tow truck wasn’t quickly available – the West Seattle Transportation Coalition was talking about exactly that kind of scenario, and whether transportation authorities were ready for it.

WSTC is now pushing even harder for solutions, not just for that, but for the often-in-tandem situation of the “low bridge” shutting down to non-vessel traffic during commute hours – something Councilmember Tom Rasmussen confirms to WSB that he is now formally pursuing, for the third time.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves:

Click to read the rest of Of bridges, buses, and boulevards: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s November toplines…

First-ever ‘strategic plan’ in place, to steer King County Water Taxi service’s future

November 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While Metro bus funding and Sound Transit light rail have held the spotlight here lately, plans are being shaped for another transportation service’s future: The King County Water Taxis.

They’re in the just-approved, first-ever “strategic plan” for the King County Ferry District, which operates Water Taxi service on the downtown/Vashon and downtown/West Seattle runs – read the final version here or below:

One of the first steps to be taken is to end the Ferry District’s existence as a separate entity. The County Council is scheduled to vote on “assuming governance” of the district during its 11 am meeting tomorrow, one week after, sitting as the Ferry District Board chaired by West Seattle’s Councilmember Joe McDermott, it approved the strategic plan.

Another big decision ahead: Funding, with the plan describing the service as “”currently financially unsustainable given annual revenue, service costs, and current and near-term capital improvement needs.”

Consolidating the district into county government will help, according to the plan, because it “will eliminate redundant functions of the District and County. Separate District contracts for Legal and Accounting services can be terminated and Ferry District staff will not be needed. The annual savings from consolidation can go directly to providing services.”

But that won’t cover the gap, the report suggests. From the plan, here’s a chart showing what’s happened:

Click to read the rest of First-ever ‘strategic plan’ in place, to steer King County Water Taxi service’s future…

Fauntleroy talks traffic. City reps listen. But did they hear?

November 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm | In Fauntleroy, Transportation, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

From last night’s traffic/transportation forum organized by the Fauntleroy Community Association: Residents voiced frustration at what they saw as a history of all talk/no action, leaving them bringing up the same problems year in, year out. So here’s what was talked about, in that context:

Click to read the rest of Fauntleroy talks traffic. City reps listen. But did they hear?…

Election 2014: Transit taxes passing – what will your money buy?

November 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 36 Comments

(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
West Seattle Metro riders will get more buses with the money from Transportation Benefit District Prop 1, which got 59 percent of the first round of the November 4th vote. That’s according to the “framework of an agreement on transit funding and service delivery between Seattle and King County,” as distributed at today’s post-election briefing downtown, with city and county leaders including Mayor Ed Murray, County Executive Dow Constantine, and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, plus local transit advocates. We recorded it all on video (added, 3:05 pm):

Here are the West Seattle highlights, as promised in a 2-page doc distributed today (see it here):

*A list of “neighborhoods that will get more buses” includes Admiral, Alaska Junction, Alki, Arbor Heights, Delridge, Fauntleroy, Gatewood, Morgan Junction, Pigeon Point, Roxhill, Westwood Village

*”More buses on … chronically overcrowded routes” including RapidRide C Line, starting next June

*”Revised schedules on … chronically unreliable” routes including RapidRide C Line, 21X, 21, 37, 55, 56, also to start next June

*”Better frequency with more trips per hour on at least 28 high-demand routes” including RapidRide C Line and 125; this is to be “phased in between June and September 2015″

Also promised: An “expanded network of frequent transit,” defined as every 15 minutes or better.

So how will you be sure you’re getting something for your money? Another handout sheet (see it here) promises:

The agreement will:

-Require robust ridership and performance data reporting by Metro
-Allow for regular financial reviews and independent third-party audits of Metro finances and performance data
-Reduce city responsibility for county administrative overhead
-Credit Seattle for higher farebox revenue roduced on city trolleybus routes
-Pay only the annual share of new buses required for increased service
-Protect against supplanting

Constantine reiterated at today’s event that the extra funding is only a “bridge” until the Legislature fixes transportation funding someday.

Transit advocates who were there included West Seattleite Marci Carpenter:

(By the way, we learned today that Carpenter is now the president of the National Federation of the Blind-Washington – congratulations!)

P.S. In case you forgot the details of Proposition 1, here’s the heart of it, from the ballot:

To fund transit service in Seattle, the Seattle Transportation Benefit District seeks voter approval to impose an annual vehicle-license fee up to an additional $60 per vehicle, with a $20 rebate for low-income individuals, and an additional sales-and-use tax of no more than 0.1%. Each would expire no later than December 31, 2020. Combined, they would raise approximately $45,000,000 annually.

After administrative costs, including the rebate program, revenue will be used to fund: (1) Metro Transit service hours on routes with more than 80% of their stops within Seattle, with funding first being used to preserve existing routes and prevent Metro’s proposed service cuts and restructures scheduled to start in February 2015; (2) up to $3,000,000 annually, to support regional transit service on bus routes that enter or terminate service within the City of Seattle; and (3) up to $2,000,000 annually, to improve and to support access to transit service for low-income transit riders.

Any remaining revenues may be used to address overcrowding, reliability, and service frequency within the City of Seattle. Revenues will not supplant other funding for any routes partially or completely operating within Seattle that Metro would otherwise provide in accordance with the adopted Metro Transit Service Guidelines. More about this proposal can be found at: http://www.seattle.gov/stbd/documents/resolution_12_s.pdf

Highway 99 tunnel: Digging resumes at ‘rescue’ pit site

November 3, 2014 at 2:40 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

2:40 PM: A week and a half after the discovery of shells stopped excavation at the Alaskan Way Viaduct-side pit where the tunneling machine’s damaged cutter head will be pulled out, the digging has resumed. So announced WSDOT this afternoon, saying archaeologists gave the tunnel contractor clearance on Sunday to get going again. According to the announcement, they “believe the shell deposits are the product of commercial shellfish activities carried out by early Seattleites around the turn of the 20th century.” Therefore, they weren’t believed to be “culturally or historically significant,” and work was allowed to resume.

3:37 PM: Any further delay for the timeline? we asked WSDOT spokesperson Laura Newborn. Her reply: “STP has not given WSDOT an updated timeline. As recently as last month, STP said it expected it would get the front end of the machine up and out of the ground sometime in December, and that it still expected repairs to be finished by the end of March.”

Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Constantine, McDermott announce they’ll seek to get WS into ST’s updated plan

October 30, 2014 at 3:47 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

Will light rail for West Seattle be written into Sound Transit‘s forthcoming long-range-plan update? Two West Seattle-residing elected officials said at a ST board meeting today that they will support amending the plan to call for “high-capacity transit service” for WS in that update: County Executive Dow Constantine (who chairs the board) and County Councilmember Joe McDermott (who’s a board member). Here’s the news release:

King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine and King County Council and Sound Transit Board member Joe McDermott today moved to add future high-capacity transit service to West Seattle and Burien to the Long-Range Plan now being prepared for Sound Transit.

Click to read the rest of Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Constantine, McDermott announce they’ll seek to get WS into ST’s updated plan…

West Seattle scene: 35th SW meeting, afternoon edition

October 28, 2014 at 6:02 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

The second of two meetings for the 35th Avenue SW Safety Project has wrapped up at Southwest Branch Library. We stopped by during the feedback session, post-presentation (if you missed the former, our report on the first meeting includes both video of the entire presentation plus the slide deck). SDOT’s project manager Jim Curtin says about 40 people attended – that’s what we counted at meeting #1 – but this group had some different interests, including parking. Listening to attendees who were invited to look at drawings of the road and write their thoughts next to specific areas, we heard continuing concerns that a “road diet” is in the cards. And again, Curtin said no plan’s been drawn up yet, but if a road diet is tried and doesn’t work – as happened in The Junction some years back – it can be undone by repainting the road.

WHAT’S NEXT: SDOT plans to continue “outreach” while creating design concepts, November through January; then in February (no specific dates announced yet) design alternatives will be unveiled and reviewed during another round of meetings. Questions or comments? jim.curtin@seattle.gov is the address to use.

West Seattle sinkhole followup: Sewer-line repair under way

October 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm | In Transportation, Utilities, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo from Monday morning as SDOT arrived to block off the sinkhole site)
Following up on the sinkhole first reported here Monday morning, on 45th SW between Alaska and Edmunds west of The Junction: Seattle Public Utilities confirms a broken sewer line is to blame, and says repair work is under way, likely to continue a few days. Here’s the notice they’re distributing in the neighborhood today:

Neighbors pointed out that the area had been patched before, but suddenly yesterday morning, it turned into what the city calls a “void.”

Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue pit digging on hold after 3 days

October 23, 2014 at 6:47 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 38 Comments


As reported here just three days ago, WSDOT announced digging had begun for the pit going down 120 feet to rescue the Highway 99 tunnel-machine cutter head. Tonight, WSDOT has announced the digging is on hold. Here’s the entire update:

On Oct. 23, WSDOT archaeologists monitoring the access pit excavation observed a deposit containing shell material that requires further evaluation and may indicate the presence of cultural materials. No artifacts or human remains were found. WSDOT has very strict protocols when archeological material is discovered and those protocols were followed today. Excavation activities in the access pit have stopped and we are now coordinating with the Federal Highway Administration and tribal governments, and the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to determine the next steps. As more information is available to share with the public, we will pass it along.

The image above is a screengrab from the project’s monitoring cameras, which are online “live” here.

1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street

October 23, 2014 at 3:45 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 62 Comments

By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers

(September 2006 reader photo, memorial at 35th/Graham)
Susanne Scaringi

Oswald Clement

Gregory Hampel

Andrew Seffernick

James St. Clair

Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35″ had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.

“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”

What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.

(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.

willowspeed.jpg

(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.

Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:

Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:

(PDF version is here.)

Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:

(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.

(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)

The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).

Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.

(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.

In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.

One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.

But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)

Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.

Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.

That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.

After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.

The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.

WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:

(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (jim.curtin@seattle.gov) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”

What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.

Tale of two pits: Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue update; Murray CSO tank site overview

October 20, 2014 at 12:47 pm | In Transportation, Utilities, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

Whole lot of digging going on around the city these days. Two new views:

TUNNEL-MACHINE RESCUE: WSDOT says digging has officially begun for the pit they’ll use to pull up the Highway 99 tunnel machine’s cutting head for repairs – the photo is a screengrab from one of their live construction cameras. Tons of info in this update. The pit will be 120 feet deep, which is twice as big as the West Seattle pit we’re updating next:

OVERFLOW TANK PIT, HALFWAY THERE: Last Wednesday night, in our coverage of the Morgan Community Association‘s quarterly meeting, we reported the county’s update on the excavation by Lowman Beach: They’re halfway to what’s expected to be a 60-foot-deep pit for the million-gallon Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project storage tank. (It’s known as Murray after the nearby street, which also is namesake for the pump station beneath the southeast side of Lowman Beach Park.) So we went over for a look (map). We’re also checking on whether the delayed start of the extra digging sessions on Saturdays means a delayed end date.

ADDED 3:28 PM: According to county Wastewater Treatment Division spokesperson Doug Marsano, “Crews are making good progress – they’re over 40 feet down now (about 2/3rds of the way) – but the rains forecasted for this week could hinder their progress. Currently, the project team expects to work 2 more Saturdays, extending into early November.”

Fauntleroy Community Association invites neighbors to talk with city leaders about transportation challenges

October 17, 2014 at 2:48 pm | In Fauntleroy, Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Ongoing transportation/traffic concerns in Fauntleroy will get an airing in front of city reps including SDOT’s new director in three weeks: Thursday, November 6th, is the time/date just announced by the Fauntleroy Community Association for its long-in-the-works community conversation about issues from speeding to sidewalks to parking, and beyond. FCA president Mike Dey says SDOT director Scott Kubly, DPD director Diane Sugimura, Mayor Murray’s transportation adviser Andrew Glass Hastings, and City Council reps have all confirmed they’ll be there, 7 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy.

Making 35th SW safer: SDOT adds second community meeting

October 17, 2014 at 10:22 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

(WSB photo from 2008: One of many safety rallies/demonstrations on ‘I-35′)
Just in from SDOT: Two meetings are now planned to kick off the 35th SW safety-improvement program. The 6:30-8 pm meeting next Wednesday (October 22nd) at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center was announced back in August; now, they’re adding a meeting on Tuesday, October 28th, 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library. Plans for the “multi-year” safety project were first announced back in February, after years of crashes and concerns along what’s been dubbed “I-35.”

Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans

October 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm | In Development, Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Seattle Comprehensive Plan

West Seattle Junction Hub Neighborhood Plan

West Seattle Triangle Streetscape Concept Plan ..

Seattle Transit Master Plan

Seattle Bicycle Master Plan

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

Seattle Right of Way Improvements Manual

Seattle Pedestrian Retail Areas plan

Fauntleroy Boulevard plan

One thing was clear during last Saturday’s “walkshed” tour of the Junction/Triangle area, with Seattle Planning Commission reps listening to local community reps: There’s no shortage of plans and documents covering the area, but there’s a shortage of understanding in how they interact, interface, intersect, and what they mean.

The tour itself was linked to the Planning Commission’s ongoing work on the city Comprehensive Plan update, dubbed Seattle 2035. The next big milestone for that is the environmental-impact statement, expected to be out early next year. And this is no bureaucratic bit of wonkiness to ignore: As was pointed out at the start of Saturday’s event, this type of discussion preceded the 1990s-generated plan for “urban villages” including The Junction/Triangle – much of which is only now coming to pass, as was underscored by the current, future, and recent development sites passed (and often discussed) along the way.

But the topic wasn’t just the dense heart of the Junction/Triangle, but also its single-family zones – like a stretch of 40th south of Edmunds and the major project sites bordering it on the north.

For backstory on the tour, see our coverage of last month’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting (which included a slide deck setting the stage). To see what happened during the tour – read on:

Click to read the rest of Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans…

Update: West Seattle Transportation Coalition votes to endorse transit-funding measure, but no position on monorail

October 14, 2014 at 9:06 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 11 Comments

Two toplines so far from tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting: WSTC voted to endorse the bus-funding measure on the November 4 ballot, officially Transportation Benefit District Proposition No. 1. And it voted NOT to endorse the monorail measure on the ballot, officially Seattle Citizen Petition No. 1. More to come.

ADDED WEDNESDAY MORNING: More toplines from the WSTC meeting:

Click to read the rest of Update: West Seattle Transportation Coalition votes to endorse transit-funding measure, but no position on monorail…

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