West Seattle Blog... » Transportation http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Thu, 24 Jul 2014 04:34:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 County Council changes Metro bus-cut plan; West Seattle ‘deletions’ no longer certain http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/county-council-changes-metro-bus-cut-plan-west-seattle-deletions-no-longer-certain/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/county-council-changes-metro-bus-cut-plan-west-seattle-deletions-no-longer-certain/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 01:50:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280160 Separate from the November vote on Seattle taxes to avoid Metro Transit cuts in the city limits, the King County Council has reached a deal today that changes the timetable for cuts. While the September cuts are still on as planned, and the number of hours scheduled to be cut February are to stay the same, here’s the biggest news for West Seattle: The round of cuts that was going to hit our area the hardest – originally scheduled for September of next year, involving route deletions – is not necessarily a sure thing; it will be worked out during the next round of county budgeting. (Here’s a document from last May showing which routes were to be affected in which phases.) The February cuts will be examined by a newly created committee, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s version of today’s announcement. Here’s the County Council‘s version of the announcement, which includes the following explanation:

The ordinance approved today implements ONLY the service reductions originally proposed for September of this year, with a focus on cutting bus routes that are in the bottom 25 percent of productivity in accordance with the County’s adopted Transit Service Guidelines.

The adopted legislation also authorizes 188,000 hours of service to be cut in February 2015, but does not approve the specific routes to be eliminated or revised. The 188,000 hours would be adjusted based upon the recommendation of an ad-hoc committee created to review the July and August economic forecasts and additional financial data from Metro Transit. When the service reductions in February are set, the County Executive would transmit a service reduction ordinance for consideration by the County Council. …

The ordinance also calls for a report from the County Executive by September 30, 2014 describing revenue and expense reduction options available to avoid service reductions proposed for 2015. This report will build on existing work to identify further savings and additional revenue already underway by the County Council, including an independent audit of Metro’s operations, finances and fund balance policies, changing fare policies to increase revenue, and a peer review of Metro.

This isn’t because the county is suddenly flush with money; sales-tax revenues were actually down a bit in the last forecast, the county says, and it won’t get a new one until next month. But councilmembers pressed to shelve at least some of the cuts until the financial picture clarified. This doesn’t necessarily mean the cuts planned for fall of next year won’t happen – but the plan won’t be final until it gets closer.

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More information about President Obama’s Seattle visit Tuesday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-information-about-president-obamas-seattle-visit-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/more-information-about-president-obamas-seattle-visit-tomorrow/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 22:37:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280146 (LOOKING FOR NEWEST INFO ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL VISIT? GO HERE)

(WSB photo of Air Force One at Boeing Field, July 2012)
Even if they don’t include public events, presidential visits are usually of high interest for reasons including traffic effects and Air Force One sightings. So here’s the latest information about President Obama‘s planned Seattle visit tomorrow (Tuesday, July 22nd): Boeing Field has just published an advisory that confirms Air Force One will be landing there. While some of the ground and air restrictions in the advisory span the time period of noon to 8 pm, most of what’s listed suggests that the heart of the visit will be in the 3-7:30 pm vicinity. No open-to-the-public events have been announced; the visit is reported to be fundraising only, including, according to SeattleTimes.com, an event in Madrona. If any more information emerges tonight, we’ll update this item, and as always we’ll have the key points in our daily traffic watch first thing in the morning.

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How can SW Roxbury change to become safer? Find out July 31st http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/how-can-roxbury-change-find-out-on-july-31st/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/how-can-roxbury-change-find-out-on-july-31st/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 05:55:12 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=280100 After a campaign launched by community advocates one year ago, the city promised to make SW Roxbury safer. Wondering how? SDOT is almost ready to unveil options. It’s announced two meetings at which it plans to show “several different engineering options to improve safety for all modes.” The first one is on the West Seattle side, Thursday, July 31st, 6 pm at Southwest Branch Library. Second one is on the White Center side, Monday, August 4th, 6 pm at the Greenbridge YWCA. These meetings were promised during a round of community meetings last winter (WSB coverage here). The project’s official page is here; check out the maps linked from the left side, including this one showing speeds, volumes, and intersections with the most crashes.

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Want West Seattle to be on Sound Transit’s long-range map? Speak up now, ST rep tells WS Chamber http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/want-west-seattle-to-be-on-sound-transits-long-range-map-speak-up-now-st-rep-tells-ws-chamber/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/want-west-seattle-to-be-on-sound-transits-long-range-map-speak-up-now-st-rep-tells-ws-chamber/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:58:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279664 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“It’s very timely to be here today,” opened Rachel Smith from Sound Transit, speaking to about 20 people at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly lunch meeting.

The timeliness is because there’s a week and a half left for you to comment in the current stage of ST’s Long-Range Plan Update process – which could ultimately pave the way for light rail to/from West Seattle – and if you would like to see that, she said, you really need to speak up now.

She reminded the Chamber attendees first that LINK Light Rail – 16 miles with 13 stations so far, and partnering with Seattle on the First Hill Streetcar to open later this year – Sounder commuter rail, and ST Express buses are Sound Transit’s three “lines of business” around the three-county area they serve, and that the board is chaired by a West Seattleite, King County Executive Dow Constantine. (Another West Seattleite, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, is on the board as well.) “Ridership has just been going through the roof,” she added.

70 percent of Sound Transit’s revenue comes from sales tax, and it’s “down $4.7 billion” through 2023, she said – that’s a 30 percent drop over the lifetime of the 15-year plan running through then. But the system has bright spots, $100 million under budget with University Link and six months ahead of schedule. (This is a “twin-bore tunnel project,” she adds.)

Now, for West Seattle: ST is currently in its Long-Range Plan Update – the current LRP is from 2005.

And she warns that “currently Sound Transit has leveraged all of its taxing authority to build what’s (in the pipeline now)” so Legislative approval would be needed to add more taxing authority.

(Click image for full-sized ST 2005 Long Range Plan map)
“The key thing is that … you need to let (Sound Transit) know that you want to be on (its) map … if you do,” she noted, standing in front of a slide showing the current ST map (part of which is shown above), which is devoid of West Seattle light rail.

At this point, she mentioned the corridor studies that are “helping us understand what the options COULD be,” stressing that they don’t represent anything that WILL necessarily happen without further discussion, acting, funding, etc. Right now, West Seattle is part of the South King County HCT Corridor Study – we showed some of that here two months ago:

Its key findings, she said, were “strong overall ridership” in the West Seattle to downtown corridor, also stretching to Burien and beyond, but “market characteristics vary” between those areas. And for “realistic headways” with bus rapid transit, you’d have to have a bus arriving almost every minute. Also big:

High potential right-of-way impacts for the surface and elevated segments from West Seattle to Burien and in Renton because of existing development patterns.

They didn’t find any major effects on the “natural environment,” but they did find a “high potential for equity issues given diverse population groups.”

Then she showed the routing possibilities that came up in the study, as seen here. The A5 option, which would include a tunnel but would not serve the Delridge corridor, would be “100 percent exclusive running” on its route, she said. Overall, she said, the possibilities shown there are mix-and-match and “information that can be used to ultimately put together a project that is feasible, affordable, supported by the voters …”

So, now what? She mentioned that after “scoping,” ST released its draft supplemental Environmental Impact Study a month ago – you can see it here – and is taking comment until July 28th – that’s a week and a half. It’s been having open houses around the area and the last one is tonight at Everett Station. You can comment through this survey, or by e-mailing or sending comments (this page shows how – e-mail, postal-mail, phone info are on the right side). The feedback will be evaluated, and shared with the ST board;

In a brief round of Q/A, Smith was asked questions including, what about parking? “That’s a question that we as an agency answer very differently around the region,” she replied – for example, Sounder commuter rail has parking at every station, and “the demand is huge.” In the city of Seattle, city government does not favor parking in connection with stations, but she says people do use a variety of modes to get to transit so “it would be a community conversation that we would need to have.”

Asked specific questions such as “could you build elevated rail down the middle of 35th,” the reply boiled down to, too soon to tell. Could rail go on the existing bridge or would it have to be a new one? Most likely, if they built a new bridge, it would have to be one that can open – but using the existing (high) bridge has not necessarily been ruled out, she said.

In the end, the Long-Range Plan Update will result in a map – and anything that would go to the voters would have to be on that map. The more people who speak up saying they want West Seattle to be on the map, the “bigger impact” will be made, Smith said.

OTHER CHAMBER ANNOUNCEMENTS: Board chair Nancy Woodland announced that the Chamber has upgraded its software in the “members area.” And it’s now offering stickers that Chamber members can display in their office windows (or on their cars, or …), with an online counterpart so that members can display it on their businesses’ websites. The Chamber also is distributing the newest copy of the “community resource guide” that it publishes each year – maybe you picked up a copy at the Info Booth at West Seattle Summer Fest last weekend. … No monthly Chamber lunch in August but the September lunch will be an update from the Port of Seattle.

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4-mile, 5-hour closure, followup #2: SDOT’s response to councilmember’s questions; promise of ‘change in protocol’ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/4-mile-5-hour-closure-followup-2-sdots-response-to-councilmembers-questions-promise-of-change-in-protocol/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/4-mile-5-hour-closure-followup-2-sdots-response-to-councilmembers-questions-promise-of-change-in-protocol/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:26:35 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279336

(Above, SDOT tweet with traffic-cam screen grab shortly after crash happened)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Five weeks after the 5+-hour closure of a four-mile stretch of Highway 99 during a crash investigation, another city agency has answered City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s questions about decisionmaking during the incident, which led to a domino-effect multi-neighborhood traffic jam.

We published the response from SPD – which had the decisionmaking authority – back on June 23rd, a week and a half after the councilmember’s original letter.

Now, Rasmussen has received and shared the SDOT response, which defers in spots to SPD, and adds that city agencies are working on “protocols” for interdepartmental coordination in any such future incidents.

Since this response was made inline to his original note, we are publishing the entire document below:

SDOT’s Cheryl Swab also told Rasmussen, “We are participating in a citywide process to better coordinate efforts between SPD, SCL, SPU, SDOT, and Fire during incidents such as these. The EOC is assisting this discussion and we are hopeful it will lead to a change in protocol that allows for more information exchange between departments when a significant closure is needed. We will report back to you once this process is complete.”

Councilmember Rasmussen says he will be following that protocol-change process and will report to you and us when more information is available – we’ll track it as well.

Meanwhile, we are checking with SPD to see if the report on the original crash is available yet – sometimes it takes months before reports are complete on major crash investigations – so that we can find out whether charges were recommended against anyone.

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New look at Fauntleroy Way ‘Boulevard’ in-progress design http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/see-what-fauntleroy-way-might-look-like-as-a-boulevard-through-the-triangle/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/see-what-fauntleroy-way-might-look-like-as-a-boulevard-through-the-triangle/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:37:47 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279458

That’s a “typical cross-section” from a brand-new update on the long-in-the-works Fauntleroy Way SW “Boulevard” project, focusing on Fauntleroy Way through The Triangle, between 35th SW and SW Alaska. Right now, the plan is more than halfway still in the early stages of the design process, and SDOT is stepping up the public communication. Spokesperson Maribel Cruz tells WSB they’re meeting with property owners and community organizations in the area. Here’s the brand-new fact sheet from SDOT:

(Click here if you can’t see the embedded version above.) While $1.3 million for design was worked into the current city budget (as reported here last year), the construction funding isn’t yet nailed down, nor is a timeline. But the design is scheduled for completion early next year, and a community open house is planned (no date yet) for this fall. Watch the official project webpage for updates.

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West Seattle weekend scene: Local ‘STP’ bike ride http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-weekend-scene-local-stp-bike-ride/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/west-seattle-weekend-scene-local-stp-bike-ride/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 03:14:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279267

(Photos by Don Brubeck)
While thousands finished the legendary Seattle to Portland (STP) bicycle ride today, dozens of West Seattle riders showed solidarity with their own version. West Seattle Bike Connections president Don Brubeck shares the report:

We had about 30 riders of all ages on the West Seattle STP bike ride today. A beautiful day for a fun ride from SW Seattle Street to SW Portland Street in about an hour, then back to the Junction for West Seattle Summer Fest.

The group included a three-generation family and several “family bikes” or bikes with trail-a-bikes. Ride leader was Stu Hennessey, with help from Al Jackson, Jeff Hallman, and Eric and Michael from Stu’s shop.

See a few more of Don’s photos in the WSB Flickr group pool.

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Special weekend edition – road closures, bus reroutes http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/traffictransit-today-special-saturday-edition-road-closures-bus-reroutes/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/traffictransit-today-special-saturday-edition-road-closures-bus-reroutes/#comments Sat, 12 Jul 2014 14:47:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=279064 (EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published Saturday, but it all still applies Sunday)

Before we get to the big list of everything happening today – a separate list of road closure/bus reroutes, and it’s not just The Junction:

ROAD CLOSURES TODAY: West Seattle Summer Fest continues, so California SW remains closed between Edmunds and Genesee, with east-west traffic allowed through on SW Oregon; also closed, SW Alaska between 42nd and 44th. Regionally, the 520 bridge across Lake Washington is closed all weekend.

BUS REROUTES TODAY: In addition to the Summer Fest-related reroutes in West Seattle, two local buses are affected by changes this weekend downtown, so we’re including them in this list. (Thanks to @MJS1980 for pointing this out via Twitter; Metro’s full systemwide list, from which these links are taken, is here.)

*RapidRide C Line
*Route 50
*Route 55
*Route 57
*Route 128
*Route 773 (Water Taxi shuttle)

Downtown-construction related:
*Route 21
*Route 120

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TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Summer Fest Eve edition, with street closures, bus changes starting tonight http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/traffictransit-today-summer-fest-eve-edition-with-street-closures-bus-changes-starting-tonight/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/traffictransit-today-summer-fest-eve-edition-with-street-closures-bus-changes-starting-tonight/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:42:46 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278834

(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Happy Thursday! It’s the eve of West Seattle Summer Fest, with Junction street closures and bus changes starting tonight. From 6 pm until late Sunday night, California SW will be closed between Edmunds and Genesee and SW Alaska between 44th and 42nd. Here again are the announced Metro reroutes – each link goes to the Metro PDF explaining the temporary changes;

*RapidRide C Line
*Route 50
*Route 55
*Route 57
*Route 128
*Route 773 (Water Taxi shuttle)

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‘Head tax’ and parking tax for transit? Councilmember Licata pitches 34th District Democrats on Wednesday http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/head-tax-and-parking-tax-for-transit-councilmember-licata-pitches-34th-district-democrats-on-wednesday/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/head-tax-and-parking-tax-for-transit-councilmember-licata-pitches-34th-district-democrats-on-wednesday/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 05:38:32 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278711 If Seattle’s going to increase taxes to raise money to avoid bus cuts, which (if any) taxes would you prefer? As reported here two months ago, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant are proposing commercial parking and employer “head” taxes instead of the sales-tax increase favored by Mayor Murray. Licata will be at the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy tomorrow night to pitch the idea and seek the group’s endorsement, after the proposal comes up for a discussion and possible vote by the Council Finance and Culture Committee (which he chairs) at 2 pm – read the proposal here. In short, the proposal would raise commercial-parking taxes 5 percent, to 17.5%, and create a “head tax” of $18 per employee per year. The council could pass it without sending it to voters. Here’s the resolution the 34th Dems will consider at their meeting; the agenda is here.)

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Followup: Bike-corral breakthrough in The Junction; installation soon http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-bike-corral-breakthrough-in-the-junction/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-bike-corral-breakthrough-in-the-junction/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 23:35:36 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278678 FIRST REPORT, 4:35 PM: A week and a half ago, we published an open letter decrying the delay in installing the planned West Seattle Junction bike corral. Today, in a comment on that letter, an SDOT spokesperson says there’s a resolution and installment is nigh:

We’ve been working with the developer at this corner on a system for requesting temporary closure or removal of the corral should construction require access to the entire frontage curb space. In the meantime, we are planning to move forward with the installation of the corral on the east side of California Ave SW, immediately south of Alaska St, and expect this to happen later this month.

The city already has 25 bike corrals (see the list, and a photo of what they’re like, by scrolling down this page) – but none in West Seattle; this will be the first.

ADDED 9:55 PM: West Seattle Bike Connections has been working to make this happen and sent this news release tonight:

The West Seattle Junction is gaining a new amenity for our community. A “bike corral” for on-street bike parking will be coming soon to California Avenue SW at SW Alaska St in the heart of the West Seattle Junction. More customers will have convenient parking without congesting the sidewalks or taking away any car parking or loading zones.

Bikes are good for local business districts. When we travel by bike, we shop and dine locally, instead of at malls and big boxes. That is why Junction merchants and West Seattle Bike Connections have been working for this one for the past 18 months.

As Chair of the Transportation Committee, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen helped navigate the many layers of SDOT to avoid another year of delay. According to Rasmussen’s staff, SDOT shared the following with the Councilmember: 

”We will be issuing a work order to install the bike corral at the location agreed upon by the WS Junction Association and WS Bike Connections on the SE corner on California Ave SW at SW Alaska St.

• This location is currently no parking anytime, so there is no impact to on-street parking.
• The corral would prevent right turns on red at this all-way walk so it is a safety improvement.
[right on red is already illegal here]
• This location is in the heart of the business district.
The adjacent property is currently under construction and the developer had requested that we delay installation until after the building was completed. We initially agreed, however, in light of the demand for on-street parking and bicycle parking we are moving forward with the installation. We will be working to develop a policy for temp removals due to construction.

I don’t know the specific date of the installation, but my understanding is that the work order is underway.”

This project has the support of the West Seattle Junction Association, the Junction Neighborhood Association (JuNO), West Seattle Bike Connections and West Seattle Transportation Coalition. Of at least 25 bike corrals installed by SDOT since 2012, this will be the first in West Seattle.

More information at http://westseattlebikeconnections.org/2014/06/27/one-bike-corral-for-west-seattle-now/

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Followup: More details of the Fauntleroy Expressway re-do plan http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-more-details-of-the-fauntleroy-expressway-re-do-plan/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/followup-more-details-of-the-fauntleroy-expressway-re-do-plan/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 18:40:14 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278645

(2012 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
How did more than 600 “bearing pad” cushions get installed on the Fauntleroy Expressway end of the West Seattle Bridge with a design flaw that made them too soft? The City Council Transportation Committee got a few more answers in a briefing this morning. The agenda including that briefing is what led to our report last Friday about the problem, which means that much of the work done two years ago, requiring multiple nighttime closures so the bridge deck could be jacked up for bearing-pad installation, will be re-done next year.

First: What exactly was the problem?

The committee was told that SDOT caught the flaw – the wrong number requiring the necessary “stiffness” for the bearing pads – when it reviewed the design consultant’s specs. The consultant was told to fix that numerical error. But it didn’t – and the city did not re-check the specs, so didn’t know that the bearing pads were made to the too-soft specification.

The design consultant’s failure to fix the number cost them $1.9 million. But, as reported here on Friday, the city decided that since the pads had to be re-replaced anyway, it might as well get them built to a newer toughness standard that had emerged since the original order. The new pads, the committee was told this morning, cost three times as much – they include steel. So that extra cost, plus the cost of some repairs needed on the Fauntleroy Expressway, means the city will spend an additional $2.6 million. (And that number could change – downward or upward – the council committee was told today.)

It was reiterated in the briefing that the bridge is safe; as an SDOT spokesperson told us last Friday, it’s an issue of wear and tear – the bridge will last longer with tougher bearing pads.

As for the additional repairs the bridge is going to get – the briefing this morning mentioned falling concrete and cracked girders, because it’s “an older bridge.” If it’s not fixed, water will get into the rebar and potentially lead to a “real structural problem.” (This part of the bridge was built in 1963 – more than 20 years before the main part of the high-level bridge, completed in 1984.)

Also mentioned at the briefing: You’ll see some crews out this month doing inspection as part of the preparation for this work, which could require up to 20 nighttime closures; SDOT says it won’t be as impactful as last time, when some of the closures were combined with closures needed for work on the Spokane Street Viaduct project, which has long since been completed. (This WSB report from 2012 takes a closer look at how the work was done.)

And yes, SDOT has learned a lesson, it was acknowledged at today’s briefing: When they ask a consultant to fix an error, they’ll check to make sure it got fixed.

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Light rail for West Seattle? 2 chances for Q/A with Sound Transit http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/light-rail-for-west-seattle-2-chances-for-qa-with-sound-transit/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/light-rail-for-west-seattle-2-chances-for-qa-with-sound-transit/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 04:52:34 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278558 Will a light rail route including West Seattle be part of Sound Transit‘s next long-range-plan update? Possibilities are being studied, as noted here two months ago, when the ST Executive Committee got a progress report on the study. But it’s by no means a sure thing. And ST is still rounding up input on future directions – including via a survey that’s open for three more weeks, first noted here last month. So this regional transit organization is at the heart of many West Seattle conversations right now – and you’re invited to be part of two of them.

First, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is expecting two Sound Transit reps at its meeting next Tuesday (July 8th), 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center – chair Joe Szilagyi tells WSB that ST planner Chris Rule and ST government/community-relations officer Rachel Smith have confirmed. All are welcome.

Smith is also booked as guest speaker at the next West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting, 11:30 am Thursday, July 17th, at The Kenney (WSB sponsor). All are welcome to this, too, but there’s a charge because it’s a luncheon (WSCC member and non-member rates) and you need to RSVP – more info here.

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Remember the Fauntleroy Expressway earthquake-strengthening project? Hundreds of parts to be replaced because of design flaw http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/remember-the-fauntleroy-expressway-earthquake-strengthening-project-hundreds-of-parts-have-to-be-replaced-because-of-design-flaw/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/remember-the-fauntleroy-expressway-earthquake-strengthening-project-hundreds-of-parts-have-to-be-replaced-because-of-design-flaw/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 23:41:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278211

(January 2012 photo by Christopher Boffoli for WSB)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Remember the work done to toughen up the Fauntleroy Expressway end of the high bridge in 2011-2012, to make it more earthquake-resistant?

We’ve just learned that much of it has to be re-done because of parts that weren’t as strong as they should have been.

This is revealed in the slide deck that accompanies an item on next Tuesday’s City Council Transportation Committee agenda (thanks to the texter who pointed it out before we’d gotten a chance to read the agenda, which was just published this afternoon).

We’re still working to find out more – a challenge with government shutting down for a 3-day holiday weekend – but here’s what we know so far:

The problem, according to the slide deck, is with the bearing pads – cushions inserted between the bridge deck and supporting pieces such as columns – which should have been designed to be “stiffer.” This city webpage reminds us that more than 600 of those pads were replaced during the $2.7 million project. We took a closer look at the work in January 2012; much of it happened during overnight closures of the southwest end of the bridge.

One slide indicates this potential problem was noticed at final inspection of the work two years ago. Since then, it says, they’ve been working to develop a new pad design and putting together other logistics. That slide also mentions “Additional funding through existing Bridge Rehab Program; balance approx. $2.6M, pending design & additional scope.”

Preparation for replacement is scheduled for later this year; then the new bearing pads will be ordered and installation will begin next spring, with, “overnight & limited weekend structure closures.”

Again, we’re asking around right now to see if we can find out anything more before the holiday weekend. The Transportation Committee meeting with this item on the agenda is at 9:30 am next Tuesday (July 8th).

ADDED 6:07 PM: Our inquiry to SDOT was answered by manager Bill LaBorde. In a phone conversation, he confirmed that all 670+ of the bearing pads will be replaced, and that the $2.6 million cost is in addition to the original project cost.

One key clarification: He says that some of that cost – he didn’t have the breakdown handy, so we’ll expect it next week – is discretionary: The replacement bearing pads are being designed to an even-stronger (and costlier) industry standard that has come out since this project. Since they were redesigning and remaking them anyway, he says, they decided to go with the upgrade, which will extend the bridge’s life. Another part of the added $2.6 million will cover some “repair work” that needs to be done, separate from the bearing-pad replacement.

As for the original design flaw, he says that the design consultant was to blame, not city specifications – we asked, so if they had designed the bearing pads to what the city specified, no replacement would be needed? Yes, replied LaBorde.

Last but not least, we asked if this had been mentioned publicly since its identification as “an issue” in July 2012. LaBorde says it had been mentioned in SDOT directors’ reports at some previous Transportation Committee meetings. (We still have a message out to committee chair Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, and that’s one of our questions for him.)

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2 reports from Metro: Strategic Plan progress; RapidRide customer survey http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/2-reports-from-metro-strategic-plan-progress-rapidride-customer-survey/ http://westseattleblog.com/2014/07/2-reports-from-metro-strategic-plan-progress-rapidride-customer-survey/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 21:29:15 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=278189 Metro Transit has gone public with its annual Strategic Plan Progress Report, which its announcement says “provides data on 61 performance measures” and “includes opinions expressed by riders and non-riders, drawn from a survey of 2,500 King County residents. It also looks at how we stack up with peer transit agencies across the country.” This is in advance of upcoming assessments including an audit and “independent peer review.” Another recent report that might be of interest is the compiled customer-survey results on RapidRide, including the C Line. First: Toplines from the “progress report” announcement today by Metro general manager Kevin Desmond:

*Ridership continues to grow: We delivered 118.6 million passenger trips in 2013—a near record. An all-time-high 45% of King County households now have at least one Metro rider.

*85% of riders say they’re very or somewhat satisfied with Metro service. 90% of our riders say Metro is an agency they trust.

*Metro gets people to jobs: Almost all (97%) of Metro’s regular bus trips serve the region’s job and growth centers.

*Our buses were on time nearly 78% of the time. We continually monitor on-time performance so we can make adjustments to keep buses on schedule.

*Metro has significantly improved safety and security over the past 10 years and is holding on to those gains. Preventable accidents have steadily declined since 2011, and we’ve enhanced emergency response.

*Metro’s cost per hour grew 2.7% — above the inflation rate — but cost per passenger mile decreased by 3.1% as the job market improved and Metro buses carried more commuters.

*Fares covered 29.1% of Metro’s operating costs. Our farebox recovery rate increased by 8.8 percentage points in the past 10 years — more than most of our national peers.

*Energy use per bus boarding decreased 4.6% last year.

Read the full report here.

Next, the RapidRide customer-survey report. It was mentioned in passing in a Metro announcement last week but we didn’t happen onto the report link until today. Here it is. Skimming through, two points of note: From page 17, “Satisfaction with personal safety on RapidRide C Line remains significantly lower than it was on the routes it replaced.” And on page 22: “Dissatisfaction with the availability of seats on the RapidRide C Line is the primary factor driving lower overall scores” in the area of “satisfaction with things about the bus.” The surveys were taken on board RapidRide buses in April, according to the report, which also – after page 39 – looks at the D Line.

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