West Seattle Blog... » Transportation http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sat, 25 Oct 2014 14:15:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue pit digging on hold after 3 days http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/highway-99-tunnel-machine-rescue-pit-digging-on-hold-after-3-days/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/highway-99-tunnel-machine-rescue-pit-digging-on-hold-after-3-days/#comments Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:47:09 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289704


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.

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1,065 crashes in 10 years on 3 miles of ‘I-35.’ Safety project begins, to create a ‘more forgiving’ street http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/1065-crashes-in-10-years-on-3-miles-of-i-35-safety-project-begins-to-create-a-more-forgiving-street/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/1065-crashes-in-10-years-on-3-miles-of-i-35-safety-project-begins-to-create-a-more-forgiving-street/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 10:45:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289605 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.

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Tale of two pits: Highway 99 tunnel-machine rescue update; Murray CSO tank site overview http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/tale-of-two-pits-highway-99-tunnel-machine-rescue-update-murray-cso-tank-site-overview/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/tale-of-two-pits-highway-99-tunnel-machine-rescue-update-murray-cso-tank-site-overview/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 19:47:08 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=289328 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.”

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Fauntleroy Community Association invites neighbors to talk with city leaders about transportation challenges http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/fauntleroy-community-association-invites-neighbors-to-talk-with-city-leaders-about-transportation-challenges/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/fauntleroy-community-association-invites-neighbors-to-talk-with-city-leaders-about-transportation-challenges/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 21:48:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288979 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.

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Making 35th SW safer: SDOT adds second community meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/making-35th-sw-safer-sdot-adds-second-community-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/making-35th-sw-safer-sdot-adds-second-community-meeting/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:22:53 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288951

(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.”

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Touring the Junction/Triangle ‘walkshed’: Proliferation of plans http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/touring-the-junctiontriangle-walkshed-proliferation-of-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/touring-the-junctiontriangle-walkshed-proliferation-of-plans/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 19:51:13 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288643

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:

First, Jeanne Krikawa (above, 3rd from left) and Luis Borrero (above, left), the West Seattle-residing Planning Commissioners who had come to JuNO in September to explain their work and deliver the invitation, were there for the tour. So was Jesseca Brand, the commission policy analyst who had accompanied them to JuNO. Two of the commission’s highest-ranking people introduced themselves as well – executive director Vanessa Murdock, and commission co-chair Amalia Leighton. A future commissioner, too.

Many of those – but not all – who came to join them were familiar faces from neighborhood groups, not just in The Junction, but elsewhere in West Seattle – Admiral, Morgan, Fairmount, Genesee – as well as cross-neighborhood groups such as West Seattle Transportation Coalition and Seattle Green Spaces Coalition. There was some business representation – Frances Smersh from Click! Design That Fits (WSB sponsor) in The Junction. And a regionally known pedestrian advocate – author Cathy Jaramillo from Seattle Stairway Walks.

As the group gathered at Junction Plaza Park at mid-morning Saturday, Leighton explained the importance of looking back as well as ahead – “where did we miss the mark” to “what do we want for the next 20 years?”

Krikawa stressed that they hoped to hear thoughts and ideas: “This isn’t about us talking ‘to’ you.”

Specifically to the point of the Junction “walkshed,” Leighton said they hoped to “understand what YOU think is important regarding walkability.” Ultimately, the work might lead to some kind of algorithm, but it couldn’t be created without input on topography, pedestrian structures (sidewalks, ramps, etc.), waiting times. intersection visibility.

It didn’t take long for talk to turn to some of the plans and designations, even as eyes were cast ahead to that upcoming comprehensive-plan update. Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting mentioned the Pedestrian Retail Areas project that has brought a city rep to almost every neighborhood council on the peninsula in recent months. Leighton tried to say that was about zoning, while this was about transportation – possibly designating the Junction as a “Transit Community” – Whiting said the pedestrian-zone project had a lot to do with transportation and how it would be available and functional in neighborhoods.

Borrero expressed concern about pedestrian-zone boundaries, calling the lack of continuity in some spots “absurd.” The group soon had walked west to Walk-All-Ways at California/Alaska and down the west side of California south of Alaska, pausing outside Puerto Vallarta. Krikawa pointed out how the group – more than two dozen – had had to “funnel” along the sidewalk. On the positive side, she pointed to the raised crosswalk at midblock (there will be a midblock passage on the other side after construction of 4730 California is complete).

The group crossed California at Edmunds and headed east to 42nd SW, where the view proved instructive. On the west side of the street, which continues to redevelop, with Mural completed five years ago and the east building of the Equity Residential project under way, the sidewalk is wider, and there is street-level interest with businesses such as Wallflower Custom Framing (WSB sponsor) and Fresh Bistro.

Look on the east side, with Jefferson Square and Safeway, and you see a narrower sidewalk and the blank wall alongside Safeway and its parking lot, until you get past the entrance to its lower-level lot.

From the 42nd/Edmunds corner and eastbound down Edmunds, tour attendees called the Planning Commission reps’ attention to the new and future development – especially the Alliance Realty project at 40th/Edmunds, and The Whittaker to the east – that likely will turn Edmunds into a much-busier arterial. JuNO’s Commons mentioned the park site that the city has “landbanked” north of the Alliance project. Transitionally, someone else pointed out, it will be temporary home to Fire Station 32, which itself is being rebuilt at its 38th/Alaska site in The Triangle.

Transition was a keyword for the walk – and for the ongoing state of The Junction and Triangle.

The group turned southward and walked down 40th into what is mostly a neighborhood of single-family houses (after the southeast 40th/Edmunds corner, which is proposed for commercial development at the old site of Bella Mente preschool, which moved to Morgan Junction).

So many different types of housing and zoning in such a relatively small area – a “patchwork,” as one person described it – so, how to address their diverse transportation needs? some wondered. Looking at the area in the cup-half-full spirit: A place where families could and do live; family-size apartments are in short supply, it was noted.

Looking east, Click! co-proprietor Smersh voiced hopes the Junction and Triangle will “converse.”

Several participants were part of the process that resulted in a plan for The Triangle, primarily involving streetscapes – Sharonn Meeks from the Fairmount Community Association (south of The Triangle), Josh Sutton from the West Seattle Y (WSB sponsor). The tour headed into The Triangle next. Meeks mentioned newly reopened Fairmount Park Elementary, the closest school, a few blocks south on Fauntleroy, and the stairway some students use at Edmunds to come down from her neighborhood above. The challenges posed by stairways and sidewalks in disrepair became a topic; Leighton wondered how many were aware that sidewalk maintenance is generally the responsibility of the adjacent property owner. The city’s Find It Fix It app got a mention here.

“Transition” was again the prevalent atmosphere as the group turned to Fauntleroy and walked north to Alaska, past The Whittaker’s site – where major demolition has continued in the days since the tour – with Spruce (the former “Hole”) in view to the north, and the proposed CVS drugstore site on the east side of Fauntleroy. (Since that first surfaced in July, in case you wondered, no new documents or other activity has come up publicly, but the CVS projects in other parts of Seattle and in Burien have been proceeding.)

At the Fauntleroy/Alaska RapidRide stop, JuNO’s Commons (at right in photo above) pointed out the cars zooming by: “This is a freeway.” She offered a vision for a transit center instead of a drugstore, with businesses where people could stop to shop and dine – maybe a public market, food trucks. “Missed opportunity,” she says.

The tour was now solidly in The Triangle, continuing east past Les Schwab – another of the converted ex-Huling properties, as is Trader Joe’s to the north – to 38th, crossing by Link, another newer development, apartments over a child-care center, restaurant, fitness studio. The group was headed to 37th/Snoqualmie for a look at the West Seattle YMCA (WSB sponsor), getting ready for an expansion project.

Y executive Sutton spoke, saying almost as much about his facility’s surroundings as about the Y itself. To the south, SK Center – a food-processing business – has long been up for sale, he pointed out. To the north and south, he referred to properties owned by the Sweeney family – Alki Lumber, the renovated motel. (Asked their thoughts about the lumber yard’s relationship to everything around it in the transitional Triangle, many agreed it’s important to have a local business playing a role like that – it’s the last of its kind, where the area used to have more: “We need a local place for lumber.”)

Back to the Y’s plan – Snoqualmie is in the new Triangle Plan as a “festival street,” Sutton noted, and yet sometimes when they deal with the city, that seems to be forgotten, so they “have to keep reminding” city departments about the vision spelled out in that plan.

What about bicycle infrastructure? The Fauntleroy Green Boulevard being designed for Fauntleroy Way, barely a block north, is expected to have protected lanes. That brought up the subject of what seemed to be conflicts with the city’s Bicycle Master Plan: “Do the overlays talk to each other?” One Planning Commission rep then brought up the city’s Right Of Way Improvement Manual. Commissioner Krikawa observed that the “relationship between all these plans” was difficult to ferret out.

Yes, plans exist, but Sutton observed that they are “not very community-friendly, because we don’t live in that wonky world.” Even engaged neighborhood advocates like those on the tour “have trouble understanding how to make change.”

Some plans might be missing key components; when talk turned to area parks, and the lack of greenspace in The Triangle itself – though Camp Long and West Seattle Stadium are directly east – Leighton noted the Comprehensive Plan is missing a “parks element.”

Another issue of coordination came up – components of private projects, and how they relate to public infrastructure. Example: The hillclimb that’s planned as part of the 4535 35th SW mixed-use project now under construction (at left in rendering above), likely to be a major connection from The Triangle to the stadium/Camp Long area, not to mention the RapidRide stops at 35th/Avalon. How is that plan acknowledged and addressed when all the others are brought up?

No answers, but lots of questions, and much to think, and to keep talking, about, in this time of transition.

Those interested in continuing the morning’s conversation moved on to a Junction coffee shop; we weren’t able to stay for that, but here are some ways to speak up:

*As mentioned above, the environmental-impact statement for the Seattle 2035 comprehensive-plan is in the works. Thoughts about where the city should be going? Here’s how to send in yours.

*For the specific area traveled on the tour, get involved with the Junction Neighborhood Organization, whose next meeting is Tuesday (October 21st), 6:30 pm at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

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Update: West Seattle Transportation Coalition votes to endorse transit-funding measure, but no position on monorail http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-transportation-coalition-votes-to-endorse-transit-funding-measure/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/west-seattle-transportation-coalition-votes-to-endorse-transit-funding-measure/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 04:06:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288713 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:

Before making endorsement (or non-endorsement) decisions, there was spirited discussion. WSTC’s Chas Redmond suggested a protest vote – yes monorail, no transit funding – to send the message that people are not happy with the way things are going.

Advocates for both sides on both issues spoke as well. Monorail-measure creator Elizabeth Campbell said her initiative, raising money to start planning one again, empowers citizens, in the face of a need for more transit. It would be planned by people outside the usual inner circle that gets called on for transportation issues, she contended.

On the no-monorail side, Jonathan Hopkins from SeattleSubway.org called it a 15-year-old idea that would repeat past failures, with no provisions to build anything after the studies that the tax would fund.

Arguments for and against the transit-funding measure – which has now become a “restore cut service/add more service” campaign, with future Metro cuts shelved – came from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen on “pro,” WSTC member Michael Taylor-Judd on “con,” as they had done at last week’s Southwest District Council meeting in West Seattle.

Bottom line, Rasmussen contended this measure is the clearest, best shot at transit improvement now; Taylor-Judd says it’s a regressive tax that will hurt those who can least afford it.

Redmond, a declared candidate for next year’s first-ever City Council District 1 (West Seattle/South Park) election – as is Rasmussen – also criticized the regressive nature of Prop 1′s money-raising tools. He also pointed out that West Seattle voters gave the lowest approval margin to the countywide version of this last April.

WSTC chair Joe Szilagyi wondered if approval of this, and potential similar steps by other municipalities, might break the Olympia logjam on transportation funding. Maybe, Rasmussen said, but also consider that if Seattle doesn’t pass this, legislators could draw the conclusion that city voters can’t be bothered, so they won’t worry about it further.

And again, here’s how the votes came out, as summarized later on WSTC’s Facebook page:

The WSTC membership vote on endorsing Petition 1 – monorail, failed 1-10-1. The WSTC does not endorse the monorail vote. The WSTC membership vote on endorsing Prop 1 – bus funding, passed 7-2-1. The WSTC endorses a Yes vote on Prop 1 to fund buses.

ALSO: WSTC’s letter to city leaders – featured here September 28th – was recapped.

NEXT WSTC MEETING: Tuesday, November 11th, 6:30 pm.

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Followup: RapidRide on California in The Junction? 2 briefings http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/followup-rapidride-on-california-in-the-junction-2-briefings/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/followup-rapidride-on-california-in-the-junction-2-briefings/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 21:06:52 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288059 Back in August, following up on a reader tip, we reported that SDOT is considering moving the RapidRide C Line route in The Junction onto California between Edmunds and Alaska. At the time, SDOT told us “outreach” was planned in the fall. Now that it’s fall, what’s the status? we asked SDOT’s Marybeth Turner, who replied:

SDOT staff is scheduled to meet with the West Seattle Junction Association on Oct. 22, and the SW District Council on Nov. 5 about California and Alaska, including the needs of cars, buses, and pedestrians.

In November they will mail information to some of the nearby businesses and residents, and talk in person to some of the businesses.

Turner says the recent re-sequencing of the California/Alaska signal (reported here Saturday) is NOT related to this – she describes that as having been done to improve “safety,” and is still working to get us more information from department engineers.

UPDATED P.S., CORRECTING MEETING INFO The aforementioned WSJA briefing is for the group’s membership (businesses in The Junction), but the Southwest District Council meeting is open to everyone, 6:30 pm Wednesday, November 5th, at the Senior Center of West Seattle (Oregon/California).

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Seattle, Tacoma ports to ‘unify management’ with Seaport Alliance http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/seattle-tacoma-ports-to-unify-management-with-seaport-alliance/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/seattle-tacoma-ports-to-unify-management-with-seaport-alliance/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 19:07:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=288052

(Photo by Peter West Carey, shared via Twitter)
On Thursday, the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce hosts Port of Seattle co-president Stephanie Bowman at its monthly lunch meeting. Questions about the future of shuttered Terminal 5 were already expected – and now there’s something new: Today’s announcement that the Seattle and Tacoma ports are forming a “single Seaport Alliance.” Here’s the news release from the Port of Seattle:

The Seattle and Tacoma port commissions plan to unify the management of the two ports’ marine cargo terminals and related functions under a single Seaport Alliance in order to strengthen the Puget Sound gateway and attract more marine cargo for the region.

The Seaport Alliance will manage marine cargo terminal investments and operations, planning and marketing, while the individual port commissions will retain their existing governance structures and ownership of assets.

This unprecedented level of cooperation between the state’s two largest container ports is a strategic response to the competitive pressures that are reshaping the global shipping industry.

Taken together, marine cargo operations at both ports support more than 48,000 jobs across the region and provide a critical gateway for the export of Washington state products to Asia.

“The ports of Seattle and Tacoma face fierce competition from ports throughout North America, as shipping lines form alliances, share space on ever-larger vessels and call at consolidated terminals at fewer ports,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich. “Working together, we can better focus on financially sustainable business models that support customer success and ensure our ability to reinvest in terminal assets and infrastructure.”

“Where we were once rivals, we now intend to be partners,” said Stephanie Bowman, co-President of the Port of Seattle Commission. “Instead of competing against one another, we are combining our strengths to create the strongest maritime gateway in North America. The Seaport Alliance is the result of our shared commitment to maintaining the economic health of our region through a thriving maritime industry.”

The Seaport Alliance is the outgrowth of talks held under the sanction and guidance of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the U.S. international ocean transportation system.

Subject to further FMC review and approval, the two port commissions will enter into an Interlocal Agreement (ILA), which is intended to provide the ports with a framework for a period of due diligence to examine business objectives, strategic marine terminal investments, financial returns, performance metrics, organizational structure, communications and public engagement. Following the due diligence period, the two port commissions intend to submit a more detailed agreement for the Seaport Alliance to the FMC by the end of March 2015.

During the due diligence period, John Wolfe, Port of Tacoma CEO, and Kurt Beckett, Port of Seattle Deputy CEO, will co-lead the planning work and coordinate with both port commissions.

Commissioners from both ports expect to hold a public meeting next spring to hire Wolfe as the CEO of the Seaport Alliance following the FMC’s approval of the agreement.

The two commissions expect to formally adopt and move to submit the ILA to the FMC at a joint public meeting Oct. 14.

Citizen and stakeholder public review of this proposal will be undertaken throughout the due diligence period. Information about public meetings, how to submit written comments and other related news will be regularly updated on the Port of Tacoma and Port of Seattle websites.

By the way, if you’re interested in the aforementioned WS Chamber lunch on Thursday, it’s at port-owned Jack Block Park, 11:30 am – more info here.

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Reader report: New sequence at ‘Walk All Ways’ intersection http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/reader-report-new-sequence-at-walk-all-ways-intersection/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/10/reader-report-new-sequence-at-walk-all-ways-intersection/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 05:22:26 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287857


(“Walk All Ways” signage in 1956; click image to see full-size Seattle Muni Archives photo)
It’s not often news when a traffic signal is tweaked. But in this case, we’ve now received several reader reports of a sequencing change at the most-famous intersection in West Seattle – and since tomorrow is usually its busiest day of the week, with Farmers’ Market shoppers and brunchgoers (among others), we’re sharing the FYI. First word came from Kathleen, who explained:

The sequence of red/ green lights and “walk” signs has changed sequence. I walk up to the Junction nearly every day and it has always been: green light going east on Alaska across Calif.: then green light going west; and then green light for the traffic going north/south on Calif; THEN the walk all 4 ways signal.

(Thursday) I couldn’t figure why so many cars were running through the intersection at the wrong times. I almost missed going across the street because I was waiting for the north/south traffic to go before me. It has been changed so the 4-way walk is now BEFORE north/ south cars can go. Confusing to anyone who has done it the old way forever!

We’ll be asking SDOT about this on Monday.

P.S. The history of “Walk All Ways” here is part of this HistoryLink.org essay about The Junction, which says it was installed in 1952, removed in 1974, brought back in 1988.

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5 ‘most pressing transportation issues,’ as the West Seattle Transportation Coalition sees it, starting Year 2 http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/5-most-pressing-transportation-issues-as-the-west-seattle-transportation-coalition-sees-it-starting-year-2/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/5-most-pressing-transportation-issues-as-the-west-seattle-transportation-coalition-sees-it-starting-year-2/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 05:01:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=287180 The West Seattle Transportation Coalition is about to start its second year. After one year of meetings, conversations, discussions, and outreach, WSTC has announced a list of “the five most pressing transportation issues for the West Seattle peninsula, which are within the power of the City of Seattle to directly address and resolve,” and sent a letter about them to city leaders.

First, the WSTC list:

#1

(WSB file screengrab of SDOT camera looking toward bridge’s offramp to 99)
Expand vehicle capacity from the West Seattle Bridge to SR-99.

#2

(Photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Develop a “West Seattle Peninsula” emergency relief plan.

#3

(WSB file photo of the sign that marked the former 4th Ave. onramp spot until 2008.)
Increase access to the westbound Spokane St. Viaduct from SODO.

#4

(City file photo of Lander tracks)
Complete the Lander Street Overpass.

#5

(December 2013: De-icer-slick, closed-to-traffic bridge; WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Immediate mitigation of traffic events to West Seattle peninsula chokepoints.

WSTC says it has sent a letter outlining “… these issues, possible resolutions, and (calls) for action …” to Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, City Council President Tim Burgess, and City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen. It asks for a response with the “plan of action” by January 9, 2015. You can read the letter on the WSTC website, or below:

Agree? Disagree? Get involved! The WSTC meets on second Tuesdays and invites all to its next meeting, October 14th, 6:30 pm, at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

SIDE NOTE: This will also be a busy season on some of the problems for which WSTC and local neighborhood councils already have pushed for action – next launch is the 35th Avenue SW Road Safety Corridor project, with a community meeting October 22nd.

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Bus a no-show? Metro staff reductions leading to missed trips http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/bus-a-no-show-metro-staff-reductions-leading-to-missed-trips-here-and-there/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/bus-a-no-show-metro-staff-reductions-leading-to-missed-trips-here-and-there/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 04:45:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286725 None of the Metro routes scheduled for service cuts or deletions starting this Saturday are in this area. But you might have experienced some related, if temporary, effects of Metro getting ready for reductions. WSB reader Holly did: “I thought I’d pass this along since I wasn’t aware it was happening, until it happened to me. The 56 bus route from Admiral didn’t come last week and this is the response I got from Metro – basically that routes here and there are being canceled due to driver shortages.” Ahead, the reply Holly received after e-mailing a comment to Metro, and the results of our followup:

Holly filed a report last Friday and received a reply this past Monday from a customer-service rep:

Thank you for contacting Metro Transit’s Customer Information Office. We appreciate your use of public transportation and regret the circumstances that made it necessary for you to write us. Our research shows that the #56 due at California and Admiral at 8:01 AM was cancelled on September 19th due to a shortage of operators available to driver the route.

I want to assure you that Metro Transit values its customers and we strive to provide reliable service. However, despite best efforts, we find ourselves currently having to cancel some trips at each of our bases. The problem is an unprecedented shortage of available transit operators; the results of a hiring freeze due to budget concerns. Until our manpower shortages are resolved, there will be occasions where some trips may be cancelled. We will do everything possible to minimize cancellations.

Our Operations Base staff has been reminded of the need to be especially attentive in their daily planning and to not cancel first trips of the day or consecutive trips on the same route – - and never cancel the same trip on consecutive days! Hopefully, these actions will alleviate some of the problem described in your email. Our communications technology section is currently working with Transit Operations staff to implement a customer alerting program for cancelled trips. Their goal is to have a system in-place by the beginning of our Fall Service Change.

We didn’t recall hearing about the personnel shortage either, so we asked about it. Metro spokesperson Jeff Switzer explained:

We’re a few days away from Sept. 27 service cuts and – without any layoffs – Metro has achieved operator staff reductions necessary for the unprecedented September service reductions.

Metro estimated it needed to reduce about 100 positions and stopped hiring part-time operators in May and full-time operators in June.

On May 30, there were 2,648 active operators. As of Sept. 19, there are 90 fewer operators: 2,558 active operators, of which 1,630 are full-time drivers and 928 are part-time drivers.

The goal was through attrition to establish the size of workforce needed for service levels after Sept. 27 service cuts.

The challenge of canceled trips is expected to rectify itself Sept. 27 when the amount of bus service is reduced.

A recent tally showed 115 canceled trips during the week of Sept. 13-19. Metro provides 12,000 daily trips. Metro works hard each day and fill needed route assignments as openings emerge, meeting its target of providing 99.9 percent of scheduled trips daily. The effort to provide electronic notifications of canceled trips is still in development.

Again, the routes to be cut/deleted starting this Saturday are all outside West Seattle.

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Miss the Fauntleroy (Way) Boulevard open house? Here’s what you missed, and what’s next http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/happening-now-questions-about-fauntleroy-way-boulevard-project-go-ask/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/happening-now-questions-about-fauntleroy-way-boulevard-project-go-ask/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 01:20:45 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286712

6:20 PM: As of 6 pm, midway through the two-hour SDOT open house for the Fauntleroy Way SW Boulevard project, about 45 people had dropped by. You still have until 7 pm to go to the Senior Center of West Seattle and get a closer look at the newest renderings for how this project would change Fauntleroy Way between SW Alaska and 35th SW (they’re also now available on the official webpage), with project manager Thérèse Casper and others standing by to answer your questions, as well as several ways to comment (from sticky notes to computer terminals).

The project is on its way to 60 percent design; if the $500,000 that’s in the mayor’s budget for the remaining 40 percent is approved, that will proceed, and then the city has to figure out how to pay to build the project’s features.

7:02 PM: Here are the renderings that were up on boards around the room at the meeting:

This is the official updated project info-sheet:

Something to say? Say it sooner rather than later – here’s one way to do that. Casper says they’re continuing to meet with local businesses and organizations and have already met with some businesses multiple times, to go over points of concern.

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Ferry update: WSF down one boat, trying to catch up, on Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/ferry-update-wsf-down-one-boat-trying-to-catch-up-on-fauntleroy-vashon-southworth-route/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/ferry-update-wsf-down-one-boat-trying-to-catch-up-on-fauntleroy-vashon-southworth-route/#comments Sun, 21 Sep 2014 04:15:40 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286403 M/V Tillikum remains out of service on Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, explained only as “due to operational constraints.” In the newest update, WSF says it’s adding more sailings on M/V Evergreen State to try to catch up. This all comes on the eve of WSF’s fall schedule taking effect tomorrow; no word yet on whether they’ll be back to 3 boats by then.

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What’s along ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’? Highlights of JuNO’s briefing, before you get a look at next Tuesday’s community open house http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/whats-along-fauntleroy-boulevard-highlights-of-junos-briefing-before-you-get-a-look-at-next-tuesdays-community-open-house/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/09/whats-along-fauntleroy-boulevard-highlights-of-junos-briefing-before-you-get-a-look-at-next-tuesdays-community-open-house/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 03:43:55 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=286280

It’s been six years in the making, but the “Fauntleroy Boulevard” plan is still in the “early design” phase – which is why, if you are interested in the future of Fauntleroy Way between the bridge and SW Alaska, you’re going to want to go to next Tuesday’s community meeting.

SDOT’s Fauntleroy Boulevard Project manager Therese Casper and consultant Mike Hendrix (from Perteet) came to this week’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting for one last community-council-level briefing before that meeting, which, by the way, will be in open-house format, so don’t worry if you can’t get there right when it starts at 5 pm – drop in for a look at the plans any time before 7 pm.

We’ve written about it before – going back to 2008 – and Casper noted that its origins go back even further, to the West Seattle Junction Plan of 1999, and now the Bicycle Master Plan‘s goals have been folded in, designating this as an area for protected bicycle lanes, as well as the “community needs” in the Triangle Streetscape Plan, and enhancement of Fauntleroy Way’s role as a gateway to West Seattle.

The Fauntleroy Boulevard plan has reached 30 percent design, and has funding through 60 percent design. The city budget process that kicks into high gear next week, with Mayor Murray presenting his proposal on Monday afternoon, will determine what happens next – will there be money to finish the design and build the project?

Its typical cross-section is the same one we first showed in July: 6′ sidewalks, 6′ protected bike lanes (asphalt), landscape strip, outside lanes of roadway maintained at 12′ (to facilitate freight needs), 10′ travel lane inside, then middle turn lane OR planted median. You can see it and the block-by-block concept on this info-sheet, also from July:

Here’s the latest on some key points – with many more details promised at next Tuesday’s open house:

*Casper told JuNO that they had just received approval for trees in the median island. The space for that will not come from existing travel lanes but some street parking will be removed, Casper said. There’s a water main down the middle, about 17 feet underground, and the type of trees that’ll be approved will take that into consideration.

*The “free right turn” at Oregon will be removed.

*Median midway through Trader Joe’s to 38th.

*At every intersection they will realign, to tee up, minimize crossings for pedestrians at side streets and increase safety

*At 38th, a fire-station signal – will be converted into a pedestrian signal

*Median island between 38th and Oregon

*Another median island between Oregon all the way up to Avalon

*At intersections of 37th, will again “T-up” those intersections – the protected bike lane connects to Avalon and will connect to future greenway on 36th – sidewalks and raised median up to 35th

*Avalon will become fully signalized

*The Whittaker‘s commitment to a crossing of Alaska between its corner (where the former gas station is now) and Spruce’s corner will be part of shortening the distance that pedestrians will have to cross, Casper said. She says they’re working with Spruce – though pointing out, it’s already got a permit to build what it’s buiding – to try to change the configuration.

In addition to briefing community groups, Casper said, they’ve been talking to businesses all summer, with some “expressing a lot of concern about some of the driveways we’re eliminating as well as the medians, affecting the flow.” They’ll continue to meet with some businesses, “with some, we’re on our third meeting,” says Casper.

They expect to reach 60 percent design next month.

“Is anything going up that would be ‘welcome to West Seattle’?” asked one attendee. Not in the plans, was the reply.

Again, the open house with full details on the Fauntleroy Boulevard’s project is next Tuesday (September 23rd), 5-7 pm, at the Senior Center of West Seattle – drop in whenever you can. Since the project is still in “early design,” this is the time to comment.

P.S. The JuNO meeting this past Tuesday included one other major agenda item, a discussion of the Junction-area “walkshed,” with two Seattle Planning Commissioners who are both West Seattleites. We’re writing that separately; look for it here this weekend.

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