West Seattle Blog... » Transportation http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 13 Oct 2015 18:02:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 What would you do to fix West Seattle Bridge traffic? Come talk about it October 19th http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/what-would-you-do-to-fix-west-seattle-bridge-traffic-come-talk-about-it-october-19th/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/what-would-you-do-to-fix-west-seattle-bridge-traffic-come-talk-about-it-october-19th/#comments Tue, 29 Sep 2015 01:12:57 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=324369

(WSB file photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Just announced: A special meeting about the West Seattle Bridge Corridor – not just about what’s in that new city “action plan” first reported here a week ago, but also about what you think should be done to fix its often-snarled state. We just found out about this from the office of City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who’s hosting the meeting; they’ve scheduled it with three weeks’ advance notice so you have time to make plans to be there if you’re interested. The basics: 6:30 pm Monday, October 19th, at the Sisson Building (home of the Senior Center of West Seattle), southeast corner of SW Oregon and California SW. If you missed the report and its 27 possibilities for improving the flow in what the city is now calling the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor, follow the link above, or take a look at the “white paper”:

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@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Port candidates; bridge ‘action report’ concerns; support ‘Move Seattle’ or not? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-transportation-coalition-port-candidates-bridge-action-report-concerns-support-move-seattle-or-not/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-transportation-coalition-port-candidates-bridge-action-report-concerns-support-move-seattle-or-not/#comments Fri, 25 Sep 2015 03:42:59 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323997 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two big topics for tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – a candidates’ forum for the two Seattle Port Commission races, and a discussion of the newly released West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor “action report” – which veered into a debate about the group’s stance on the Move Seattle levy.

Chair Amanda Kay Helmick started the meeting with a moment of silence for victims of the Aurora Bridge crash. Then it was on to politics:

PORT COMMISSION CANDIDATES: For Position 2, incumbent Courtney Gregoire canceled at the last minute (with a note about staying home with a sick child), leaving Goodspaceguy for that position; for Position 5, which has no incumbent in the race, both Fred Felleman and Marion Yoshino were in attendance. Each got about a minute for an opening statement, and we recorded all three on video:

Questions followed (our summaries below are highlights, not full verbatims). First – “what transportation system improvements are needed to better serve the West Seattle peninsula and the Port?”

GOODSPACEGUY: He said he believes in “choice” for each person, regarding what transportation methods they want to use. “I’m opposed to the government forcing urban sprawl.” He moved on to say he supports the “capitalistic” economic system, and “skyhomes” – high-rise condos.

FELLEMAN: “Good intentions only go so far – you have to know how to implement them,” he began. Several immediate possibilities – “allow the Port to operate on the shoulder hours,” so truckers for example aren’t idling, waiting for it to open. The Lander Street Overpass – long planned, potentially finally to be built, depending on funding (including the November transportation levy) – could help too.

YOSHINO: She allowed that a professional traffic study would be the way to start, and she doesn’t know what’s been done already, but for one, she said, she’s been “horrified by the tunnel from the beginning,” saying it seems like a “boondoggle.” She said she hoped to work on grants for various projects.

Second – WSTC is working to reduce congestion at peak times – would you support reducing off-site Port truck activity at those times?

FELLEMAN: “The infrastructure for truckers is problematic” – if they have better facilities, facilitating off-peak work – like the bathroom facilities they’ve been asking for – then some issues will lessen. He’d like to have the Port assume responsibility for some basic services.

GOODSPACEGUY: Not familiar with the bridge, he said. He wanted to see cargo processed quickly and efficiently.

YOSHINO: She gave the WSTC high marks for engaging the community and said she agreed with Felleman that off-peak truck work could ease things, with basic services required. She also suggested fewer “closed-door discussions” would be good.

Third – “as the port moves to upgrade T-5, what are the positives and negatives?”

GOODSPACEGUY: He said the competition that will increase with the widening of the Panama Canal will be a good thing for consumers and “raising the living standard of the people.” Making this a “low-cost Port” is paramount, he said.

YOSHINO: She drew parallels with the building of the third runway and how it affected her community, Normandy Park. The community had people who felt strongly about both sides, she said. She said it would be important to keep asking questions – are these big ships really going to come here? for example. “Don’t pull the trigger until we’ve gone through a lot of process, and we’re sure we have shipping companies that are going to come through the door.”

FELLEMAN: He observed that WSTC has been a proponent of the Environmental Impact Statement process, and that he is very familiar, as a professional environmental advocate, with the process. In this case, the EIS “could be a real gold mine for you,” he suggested. Have it look at cumulative impacts, and then have a substantive discussion. The Port, he explained, has to do some “on-spec development” in order to attract a new tenant.

Fourth – Some of the port operations seem to be consolidated westward toward T-5. How is that going to affect West Seattle and cross-Harbor Island congestion, and what could be done to mitigate the effects of all that?

YOSHINO: Said she hadn’t had a lot of opportunity to study this. She thinks the budget will be fairly generous. But it’s important to keep “alleviating traffic congestion” high on the list of priorities.

FELLEMAN: He mentioned hearing that there’ve been suggestions for using T-5 as a transportation hub, and he referred back to the Century Agenda. So if the bigger ships are brought into fewer docks, “what are you going to do with the other docks?” You have T-18 and T-30 – which is more or less big-ship ready already – too, he observed. “The challenge here is that you want to keep industrial lands in industrial uses,” and that still could be accomplished with a transit/transportation use.

GOODSPACEGUY: “The Port is jobs, and jobs have the priority,” he began. He said he thinks of West Seattle as an island, even knowing it’s really a peninsula. And he posited that many in West Seattle don’t really have the port on their mind. He said he supports all forms of transportation and in fact rides a bicycle sometimes – something he thinks could work for others.

Fifth – Do you support alternative uses for T-5, and if so, what would those be?

FELLEMAN: T-5 does need to be modernized as the last chance for this to remain a major container port – “there’s no way as a port commissioner I couldn’t support keeping that in the container business – or try(ing) to keep it in the container business.” He said that if there was an alternate “some sort of marine transportation infrastructure”- he wouldn’t favor, for example, using it to build a hotel. He returned to the topic of an EIS, and said he thought that doing one would be better for the community.

YOSHINO: She also said she’d favor an EIS because “the more process the better.” She said it’s best to just keep ideas “out on the table and on the drawing board” just in case, for example, a tenant doesn’t surface. “Things in the world are changing dramatically and we just don’t know.”

GOODSPACEGUY: “I’m an advocate of brainstorming,” he said, including the possibility of determining an alternate use for T-5. “Currently it seems using it as a super-duper big terminal for super-duper big cargo ships is the best use,” A hotel, he suggested, did not seem to be a good idea for the site. But, he said, he had spoken about beautifying the Viaduct – so why not, maybe, beautify Terminal 5? Or, what if you built a railroad dock, to transfer cargo more cheaply than by ship?

Attendee Q&A:

What about moving some air traffic up to Paine Field in Snohomish County?

GOODSPACEGUY: Thought it had promise, as “people in the north end hate driving through Seattle to get to crowded Sea-Tac Airport.”

FELLEMAN: “Property is that citizens to the south were lied to about the third way, and suddenly the Port’s Century Agenda wants to double traffic” at Sea-Tac. He said Paine Field is the likely expansion candidate, not Boeing Field, so a public process to start talking about it should get under way.

YOSHINO: Thinks it’s a good idea.

Asked by former commission candidate Norman Sigler: With so many more tourists coming in via the airport, especially for the cruise industry, what has to be done to get people between those two sets of port facilities?

FELLEMAN: He didn’t see too much more expansion in terms of number of ships because permits for Glacier Bay are maxed out – so the cruise lines are bringing in much-bigger ships, and that does mean more people through the airport. Better highway connections and Pier 66 improvements would be needed; the latter doesn’t seem feasible, he said, so using Pier 91 land might be required.

YOSHINO: After offering warm words about Sigler, she talked about Alaska’s check-through baggage system, and TSA line backups in places. She thought economic partnerships might lead to improvements.

Next question was from a Terminal 5 neighbor about noise like train horns and backup beeps and how to mitigate that.

YOSHINO: “It’s not that expensive and not so hard to do,” she said (having referred earlier to the mitigation near Sea-Tac). “It’d be nicer also to have some restrictions” for the noise.

FELLEMAN: He mentioned screening and monitoring that would “have to be part of any expansion.” He said the issues are not just acoustic but also contaminants. Some types of vegetation – perhaps poplars – “could be an air improvement, an acoustic improvement, a visual amenity,” he suggested. “This is exactly the kind of thing the Port has to be on the hook for.”

There’s no shortage of suitors for T-5, pointed out someone in the audience.

FELLEMAN: That would seem to justify the amount of money to be spent on the modernization. “This is the point in time where if you had a wish list, you put it on the table for the port either to (spend the money) or get it in the lease” when signed with a tenant.

The Port races are part of the November ballot – yours should arrive in mid-October.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE CORRIDOR REPORT & ‘MOVE SEATTLE’ PRO OR CON: Helmick said she was disappointed they hadn’t received the report directly first, because it was a direct result of their agitation and advocacy. She thanked group members for their work. Some of the items were WSTC proposals, others she described as “interesting.” She pronounced it “a really good start” overall, that seemed to have some “time and energy” put into it: “But I don’t think it goes far enough.” Marty Westerman, a WSTC board member, said it looked more like an opening list than a final product. Board member Michael Taylor-Judd said that it seems to have what he would want to see on it, but, “rather than going out and having a dialogue with the community, the city (came up with its list) and then decided to check with the community, rather than the other way around,” a common tactic he sees when the city and neighborhood groups interact. One example: “I find myself irked that we’re spending $200,000 to put pretty red stripes on a bus lane when the bus lane already exists and none of us are under the impression that the scofflaws in that lane don’t realize they’re in a bus lane … so we’re spending $200,000 here yet, eight months ago now, when there was a whole community walk and outreach to look at the five-way intersection … some of (the community proposals) for a (smaller sum) are on the 7-to-10-year list.” So, why couldn’t that sum be spent for what citizens want now instead of the city project (that no one asked for)? he summarized. WSTC’s Deb Barker talked about being at the council committee meeting at which this was discussed on Tuesday – with two hours worth of other items meandering around the . “It was to me, preplanned and programmed as just a feel-good exercise, so I was pretty frustrated … it should have been a whole lot more,” said Barker. “… no discussion of meat … it’s a shame that other people didn’t stay to have discussion about it.” Westerman and Barker noted that the report had some errors, such as the number of vehicles using the bridge (103,000, not 107,000 as written, he said).

The ensuing discussion went along the lines of, how to make this happen; what leverage can the group, the community, have for that? “Between now and November, let’s look at this list – rip this apart, say ‘here’s what we need, we need the big projects’,” Helmick suggested – not the “piddly projects. … We can get partnerships in this,” with other organizations and businesses that would benefit from the projects, such as Nucor, the port, etc. “We could talk about having an incredibly huge alliance.” Those “big projects” for example would include improved flow at the I-5 interchange on the east end of the bridge and the long-long-long-sought Lander Street Overpass.

This segued into a vigorous discussion of whether the group will oppose or voice concerns about the Move Seattle levy. Some see the “action report” itself as something of a carrot/stick approach to getting this group, and the peninsula’s, support for the ballot measure. Co-chair Tom Linde suggested that WSTC put out a white paper laying out its concerns and observations. Taylor-Judd said if the group has strong-enough concerns, why not just oppose it? Or, if they don’t, then “just accept it and say nothing.”

In the end, the group decided to have an e-mail discussion of pros/cons/what’s missing with the levy. (This all had an undercurrent of urgency because Helmick is appearing at an upcoming forum about the ballot measure.)

TRANSIT ADVISORY BOARD: Marci Carpenter said it’s now meeting 4th Wednesdays at City Hall, 6 pm, all welcome, starting with first meeting last night. Not so many presentations because members had a lot of questions, she said. Its main mission is to monitor spending of money raised by Prop 1 – “but we’ll be a bit broader,” she said.

WSTC CO-SPONSORING DEBATE: October 13th is the City Council candidates’ debate – Positions 1, 8, 9 – co-sponsored by WSTC, with a format including the candidates asking questions of each other. It’s also co-sponsored by the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, whose website has full details.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets on fourth Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

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FOLLOWUP: Big ‘action report’ for West Seattle Bridge gets little discussion @ busy council-committee meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/followup-big-action-report-for-west-seattle-bridge-gets-little-discussion-busy-council-committee-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/followup-big-action-report-for-west-seattle-bridge-gets-little-discussion-busy-council-committee-meeting/#comments Wed, 23 Sep 2015 04:40:53 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323748

That’s the Seattle Channel video from this morning’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting, where the big “action report” for the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor received relatively little examination, since everything else ahead of it on the agenda had taken so much time. (Advance the video to 2:17:34 to get right to it; it’s the final 15 minutes of the meeting.)

We brought you the first look at the report, with its 27-item project list and an even weightier “white paper,” on Sunday night – if you haven’t seen it already, take a look here for direct links as well as embedded versions of the three project documents.

West Seattle-residing, and soon-departing, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – the committee’s chair – reminded those on hand this morning that ours is “the busiest traffic corridor in Seattle.” As the report notes, the number of “incidents” (crashes, stalls) in the corridor isn’t high – but any incident’s impact IS, affecting traffic for an estimated 47 to 55 minutes on average.

A few “highlights” mentioned by SDOT staffers from the project list, in the brief briefing:

*Red bus-lane markings (happening now) – “we’ve seen some promising results” from elsewhere in the city, SDOT says. Rasmussen reinforced that more enforcement will be sought.
*ITS improvements (messaging-board signage, signal adjustments, etc.)
*Incident-management protocols
*Enhanced crossing improvements at the notorious 5-way intersection
*4th Avenue improvements, especially to make it more viable for transit, particularly looking ahead to the post-Viaduct Highway 99 future

Some of the changes won’t require more money – just more training, for incident-management protocol changes, for example. Some ITS changes will require more money, though, and that’s part of November’s Move Seattle levy, the committee was reminded.

Rasmussen asked about a long-sore subject – working with the U.S. Coast Guard on reducing low-bridge openings during peak times, or at least during incidents – SDOT’s Bill LaBorde did not sound terribly optimistic. It’s still “voluntary compliance” with the request to reduce some of those openings. (Rasmussen led multiple attempts to change this in recent years, and the feds said no each time – saying maritime takes precedence.)

So what happens to all these ideas now? We asked Councilmember Rasmussen that last night, during a short interview in the bus-lane-marking zone. He said he’s glad to get all this out there – but others will need to step forward to hold the city accountable. (He didn’t say it, but whomever’s elected to the District 1 City Council seat – which he decided not to seek – is a prime candidate, obviously.)

(For starters, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, which pushed for much of this even before its first year was out, will be talking about it at its meeting this Thursday, September 24th, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, 6400 Sylvan Way SW.)

RELATED NOTE – TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT: Preceding the bridge-report presentation, Heather Marx from SDOT said 17 of the recommendations have now been acted on. She handed the baton to Mark Bandy, an urban-traffic-corridors specialist hired by SDOT from WSDOT, as mentioned in our followup a month ago on the incident-management recommendations.

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VIDEO: West Seattle Bridge bus lane getting its red markings – plastic, not paint http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-getting-its-red-marks-plastic-not-paint/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-getting-its-red-marks-plastic-not-paint/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 06:02:16 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323705

One night later than planned, because of last night’s rain, the first meant-to-discourage-lawbreaking red markings are being applied right now to the bus lane approaching, and on, the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. Our quick Instagram clip takes a closer look:

During a brief hard-hat-required photo op with the SDOT crew and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, first thing we learned was that “markings” is the word because it’s NOT paint. “Paint” was the word used in the city announcement we published – but shortly after arrival in the work zone tonight, talking with crew leaders, we were informed 2′ x 3′ red plastic strips comprise the markings. They’re laid down after the surface is pressure-washed, and then they’re sealed.

Street paint would wear off quickly, it was explained. The plastic is tinted throughout, so it holds its color even as some of the surface wears away. And this is a bright “traffic red” color, in case you were in the contingent thinking red wouldn’t show on a dark, rainy morning/night. In addition, a reflective material tops the plastic strips – looking like frost, to our eyes:

That’ll catch your headlights in those dark hours. The crew started work tonight on the bus lane right after it heads east at the corner of Spokane/Avalon, and were headed toward the high rise when we left. Councilmember Rasmussen said (video) he was glad to see the start of work on one of the items on the 27-project West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor action plan (reported here last night) that his Transportation Committee will review tomorrow – but he also spotted a few things, as we stood along the south side of the bottom of the onramp, such as missing pavement – “you need to get someone out here tomorrow to fix that,” he admonished – and one tattered item suggesting the sidewalk might not have been swept in a few years:

A few decades, maybe. Anyway, if you drive the eastbound bridge – and/or eastbound lower Spokane, east of Avalon – you’ll see red for at least a few years, which is how long the $200,000 application is expected to last.

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TRANSIT UPDATES: Reroutes for Chinese president’s visit; rescheduled briefing on Metro cancellations http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/transit-updates-reroutes-for-chinese-presidents-visit-rescheduled-briefing-on-metro-cancellations/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/transit-updates-reroutes-for-chinese-presidents-visit-rescheduled-briefing-on-metro-cancellations/#comments Tue, 22 Sep 2015 00:56:03 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323684 5:56 PM: Two quick transit-related notes:

REROUTES FOR CHINESE PRESIDENT’S VISIT: As first reported back on Friday night, traffic and transit challenges are expected between tomorrow morning and Thursday morning while the president of China visits the area. He’s flying into and out of Paine Field in Snohomish County and staying in a downtown Seattle hotel. Metro has just published its full list of expected reroutes; no West Seattle-downtown routes appear to be involved, but for those who transfer and/or work in the area, here are the details.

CITY COUNCIL BRIEFING ON METRO CANCELLATIONS: In our followup last week on Metro‘s recent cancellations, which have seemed to be disproportionately affecting West Seattle routes, it was mentioned that Metro GM Kevin Desmond would brief the City Council Transportation Committee tomorrow. That agenda’s gotten busy, including the new West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor report (covered here last night), so the briefing/discussion has been postponed until next week – Monday, September 28th, at the Seattle Transportation Benefit District (full council wearing different hats) meeting, which follows the afternoon City Council meeting. No specific time yet – we’ll be tracking it.

ADDED 6:52 PM: Regarding the first item above – Bill asked in comments about the president’s arrival time. Haven’t found an official direct source so far but the Everett Herald, closest major publication to the arrival airport, says 9:30 am tomorrow. We’ll have the newest information in our daily traffic/transit update first thing in the morning.

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27 possible ways to ease West Seattle Bridge (and vicinity) traffic, per new city report http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/27-possible-ways-to-ease-west-seattle-bridge-and-vicinity-traffic-per-new-city-report/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/27-possible-ways-to-ease-west-seattle-bridge-and-vicinity-traffic-per-new-city-report/#comments Mon, 21 Sep 2015 04:48:44 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323560 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though rain has just led to postponement of what was to be SDOT‘s second night of work to add red markings to the bus lane on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we’ve obtained a little light reading for everyone interested in what else the city is pursuing for improving traffic in what’s now dubbed the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor.

The bus-lane markings are the first of 27 potential action items comprising the heart of a report to be presented during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. It traces back to January, when Rasmussen announced the city would launch a “West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force.” Then at the end of July, he said its recommendations would emerge this month – and here they are.

The report includes three documents – first, a slide deck; second, a project list, third, a “white paper,” which includes declarations such as, “Traffic volumes on the West Seattle Bridge and Spokane Viaduct are projected to increase 26-33% over the next 20 years.” None of the possibilities are particularly dramatic; it’s more incremental – such as the long-expected upgrade of Delridge Way to a RapidRide corridor; possibly turning the West Seattle Water Taxi into a two-boat run for more-frequent service.
The slide deck has the toplines:

The project list elaborates on them (click “zoom in” in the lower right of the Scribd embed, and you should be able to read the details):

And the “white paper” goes even further, adding some other possibilities, as well as facts you might not have heard before (such as “King County Metro currently operates 13 routes over the West Seattle Bridge during weekdays. There are 29,300 total riders and 765 buses in the corridor each weekday.”).

In those documents, you won’t see what SDOT had already long since ruled out, adding another lane to the eastbound-bridge-to-northbound-99 bottleneck. But the “white paper” does mention the possibility of looking at re-adding a 4th Avenue onramp to the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the WS Bridge (the last one was closed in 1993).

The “white paper” also goes extensively into the long-contentious issue of low-bridge openings for marine traffic during commute times, particularly as they affect bicyclists, who don’t have a nearby alternative as do motorized vehicles, and freight. It acknowledges some improvements in the way things have been working, and suggests a few more, most intriguingly, in the last paragraph of the entire “white paper”:

The Swing Bridge control system is a computer based programmable controller system. There are over 2200 individual commands and steps in the process to completely open and close the bridge. Through careful critical path analysis of the opening and closing sequence there is an opportunity to reduce the electrical/mechanical functional time. We cannot control the time necessary for a vessel to safely transit the waterway, but if we can reduce the overall opening time by only 30 seconds, it can save over 15 hours of delay time per year.

WHAT’S NEXT? The Tuesday-morning meeting at which this will be presented is at 9:30 am at City Hall. (Councilmember Rasmussen was still reviewing the report when we talked to him earlier today; we were going to ask him for comment at what was supposed to be a photo opportunity in the bridge-painting zone tonight, but that’s now been postponed for weather, as mentioned above.) If you can’t be at Tuesday’s meeting, Seattle Channel will carry it live, online and on cable channel 21. As you review the documents, you’ll note that some of the suggestions have funding, more don’t, so these will be potential issues in both the upcoming city budget process and the campaign for the Move Seattle transportation levy, as well as issues to bring up with the candidates for West Seattle/South Park’s City Council District 1 seat.

MONDAY MIDDAY P.S. As pointed out in comments, you’re invited to come discuss the overall West Seattle egress/ingress issue at this Thursday’s WS Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).

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VIDEO: 2nd open house for SDOT’s Admiral Way Safety Project http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-2nd-open-house-for-sdots-admiral-way-safety-project-revisions/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-2nd-open-house-for-sdots-admiral-way-safety-project-revisions/#comments Sun, 20 Sep 2015 04:54:51 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323375

(WSB video & photos by Katie Meyer)

That’s the public meeting that wouldn’t have happened if not for community demand. At the first open house for SDOT’s SW Admiral Way Safety Project back in May at Alki Elementary (WSB coverage here) – at which many concerns were detailed, sometimes testily – Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting stood up and asked SDOT reps to commit to a second public meeting, then and there. They did. And so, nine days after going over plan revisions at the ANA’s regular monthly meeting on September 8th (WSB coverage here), SDOT held a standalone open house at Hiawatha Community Center this past Thursday.

It started and ended with discussion time around the room, where these boards were shown – with some options that weren’t in the deck at the ANA meeting:

The slide deck included in the presentation on our video is here:

The only thing we can’t show you is what Mayor Ed Murray told attendees at the start of the meeting – we had equipment trouble, so our video picks up shortly after that. He told those gathered that their concerns had caught his attention. He didn’t stay, but as you can see in the video, SDOT director Scott Kubly did, as did the staffers who led the presentation, Dawn Schellenberg and Sam Woods, and traffic engineer Dongho Chang.

The points of contention continue to be whether proposed changes are necessary and/or whether they will address the key factor in collisions along the road, drivers losing control (and/or impaired) and hitting parked cars. The need for bicycle lanes continued to be debated; while the road is not heavily used by riders now, the city, and riders, say that’s to be expected because it’s not a safe/comfortable option in its current configuration. While the city’s new options would keep much of the on-street vehicle parking that was previously proposed for removal, the potential loss of a center turn lane as a result drew some concerns.

If the goal is to slow drivers down, why not use speed humps? Chang explained that they’re dangerous on slopes.

The questions/answers continued; SDOT says it’s still open to comments on the revised plans until October 1st – a link for e-mail feedback is on the project webpage – then they will work on a “final” design, with fall/winter implementation and “evaluation” next year:

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TRAFFIC ALERT: West Seattle Bridge bus-lane marking work starts tonight, first of four nights http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/traffic-alert-west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-marking-work-starts-tonight-first-of-four-nights/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/traffic-alert-west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-marking-work-starts-tonight-first-of-four-nights/#comments Sun, 20 Sep 2015 01:29:30 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323425

Since the city sent first word Friday afternoon of the plan to paint red markings in the bus lane on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we’ve followed up to get the work schedule, which wasn’t in the announcement. If you’re driving the eastbound bridge overnight any time in the next four nights, be on the lookout for crews. SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah tells WSB it’ll be done over the next four nights:

The prep will begin Saturday night at 9 pm and go probably until 5 am. Then the painting is scheduled to begin Sunday night at 9 pm until 5 am to have the least impact on traffic. The work will continue Monday and Tuesday nights same hours and expected to be completed and ready for the Wednesday morning commute.

The city has marked bus lanes with red paint in four other spots so far. This is apparently one of the action items in the long-awaited “West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor Action Report” that will be presented at the City Council Transportation Committee‘s meeting on Tuesday morning at 9:30 am; the report itself is not yet attached to the agenda.

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West Seattle Bridge bus lane to get red paint tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-to-get-red-markings-painting-starts-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/west-seattle-bridge-bus-lane-to-get-red-markings-painting-starts-tomorrow/#comments Fri, 18 Sep 2015 23:01:37 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323344 Just in from SDOT:

Starting on Saturday, September 19, 2015, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will mark the existing eastbound bus-only lanes on the West Seattle Bridge with high visibility red markings. Similar to those installed in locations such as Battery Street and NE Pacific Street, these markings raise the profile of the transit-only lane and improve driver compliance with the restriction.

“As new bus service comes on line, this improvement will buses flow more freely from West Seattle to Downtown,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “Painted bus-only lanes have been effective in increasing driver awareness in other areas of the city, and we will continue to use the approach in other key transit corridors.”

The red lane markings and “BUS ONLY” legends will be installed at the beginning of the bus lane and spaced approximately every 500 feet. The markings are intended to make drivers more aware of the bus-only lane, making transit more reliable and a more competitive choice for thousands of bus passengers each day. This addition to the existing transit lane will help 378 buses each day reach their destinations more quickly.

“As West Seattle continues to grow and welcome new residents, it is critical that we continue to improve infrastructure and operations in this corridor,” said City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen. “We have been working with neighbors over time to make West Seattle roads safer and to create more transportation choices throughout the peninsula. We will continue to work with the community on this and future efforts to move Seattle in the right direction, and I look forward to this and other improvements that will keep vehicles moving safely and efficiently across the bridge,” Rasmussen concluded.

Last year, SDOT marked bus lanes with this treatment on Battery Street (Third Avenue to Denny Way) [photo here], Midvale Place, NE Pacific Street and Wall Street (Denny Way to Fifth Avenue). The most notable impact was on NE Pacific Street where violation rates have dropped from 59 percent prior to installing the treatment to 17 percent afterward.

“These are important first steps in providing effective solutions over concerns that have been raised by West Seattleites for a long time,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “Our goal is to improve the experience for those traveling in and out of West Seattle.”

The red bus lane is one of several priorities for improving traffic conditions and connectivity between the West Seattle Bridge corridor and downtown Seattle identified in a new report commissioned by Mayor Murray and City Council Transportation Committee Chair Tom Rasmussen.

This report compiles recommended improvements in traffic operations, transit enhancements, bike connections and new infrastructure from a variety of existing studies and project proposals, and prioritizes these improvements for funding and implementation over the next 10 years.

Along with the red bus lane, the report also recommends immediate implementation of various recommendations from a study on Traffic Incident Management jointly produced by the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Seattle Police Department. The entire report and list of prioritized improvements will be presented to the Council Transportation Committee at Council Chambers on Tuesday, September 22 at 9:30am.

The total cost of the improvements is estimated at $200,000, and will be paid for using Bridging the Gap levy funds.

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VIDEO: Celebrating West Seattle’s new King County Water Taxi vessel, M/V Doc Maynard http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-celebrating-west-seattles-new-water-taxi-mv-doc-maynard/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/video-celebrating-west-seattles-new-water-taxi-mv-doc-maynard/#comments Fri, 18 Sep 2015 19:49:24 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323305

And with that, the M/V Doc Maynard was officially welcomed to the King County Water Taxi fleet – though it’s not expected to join the West Seattle-Downtown Seattle run until December – after filling in for its twin M/V Sally Fox on the Vashon run for a while, and after some work is done at Seacrest to accommodate its size and configuration. The celebration at Pier 50 downtown included speeches and even stories – King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, drawing on a past gig as an Underground Tour guide, told the tale of the boat’s namesake:

After the speeches and bottle-smashing, it was out onto the bay for a test run. Here’s a quick look around the top deck at the stern (there’s room for more than 30 to stand at the bow, too) – mouse over the Instagram image to bring up the “play” button:

We have lots of photos, video, and info to add once we’re back at HQ.

ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: More from the event – first, the group shot of West Seattleites who took the short “maiden voyage” after the ceremony, out into the bay and back:

(Photo courtesy KCDOT)

The county points out that the space on the bow is one thing differentiating Doc Maynard from Sally Fox – since the DM will travel mostly in calmer Elliott Bay waters, rather than across the heart of the sound as SF does to get to Vashon Island. Here’s what it looks like on the inside upper passenger deck, which has a view directly into the wheelhouse:

On the outer lower deck, at the stern, some of the bicycle storage:

The event wasn’t just a celebration of the new boat – funded mostly with a grant from the federal government (which had a rep on hand too) – but also of the Water Taxi’s history. It was pointed out that it now goes back 17 years, into the late 1990s, at which time then-King County Councilmember Greg Nickels championed it as a “demonstration project.” Introduced as “the father of the Water Taxi,” he spoke today too:

Nickels noted that the fellow West Seattleites with whom he stood, County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember McDermott, also worked with him back in the Water Taxi’s early days. If you’ve been around a while, you’ll recall other boats that have handled the Water Taxi’s run; while the way-back boats weren’t present for the ceremony, the other three current boats were out on the water as the Doc Maynard pulled away:

Besides the Sally Fox, you saw in that clip the current West Seattle boat, the Spirit of Kingston, and the current backup, the Melissa Ann, which is leased. SofK will be the backup boat once Doc Maynard goes into service.

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Here’s how Metro bus service will change on September 26th http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/heres-how-metro-bus-service-will-change-on-september-26th/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/heres-how-metro-bus-service-will-change-on-september-26th/#comments Thu, 17 Sep 2015 00:12:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=323107 Metro has just announced details of its next “service change,” scheduled to take effect on September 26th (one week from Saturday). You can see all the changes here; here are the area routes we see listed (please let us know if we’re missing one), plus a big change for holiday service, with several local routes involved:


Route 21 daytime and evening service frequency will also improve to every 15 minutes on Sunday as all southbound Route 5 trips will be connected to Route 21 operating to Westwood Village and all northbound Route 21 trips with be connected to Route 5 operating to Shoreline CC.


Route 113 to Shorewood will start from the bus stop on 2nd Ave just south of Bell St. It will no longer serve the bus stop eastbound on Blanchard St just east of 1st Ave.


Beginning Saturday, Sept 26, reduced weekday schedules will be eliminated on the following routes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 29, 33, 36, 40, 41, 43, 44, 50, 56, 60, 64, 70, 76, 77, 124, 131 and 132. These routes will operate regular weekday service on holidays.

If you’d rather scroll through a text list of all the changes around the region, find it here.

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Crewmembers’ heroism aboard Fauntleroy ferry, West Seattle Water Taxi http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/crewmembers-heroism-aboard-fauntleroy-ferry-west-seattle-water-taxi/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/crewmembers-heroism-aboard-fauntleroy-ferry-west-seattle-water-taxi/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2015 04:59:21 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=322936 Two tales of heroism on board local waterborne transit this weekend.

FAUNTLEROY FERRY CREW SAVES MAN: Just before 3:30 pm Sunday, a medical call brought emergency vehicles to the Fauntleroy ferry dock. Tonight, the Kitsap Sun, while telling the story of a variety of ferry-schedule interruptions, explains what it was about: An 84-year-old Vashon Island man was found unconscious in his car aboard the M/V Cathlamet after it docked at the island. Two deckhands started CPR and used a defibrillator. An ambulance was called to the boat, which continued on to Fauntleroy, where the man was rushed to a hospital.

WATER TAXI CREW RESCUES KAYAKER: Shared by King County Executive Dow Constantine via Twitter, a report from Paul Brodeur, director of the KC Department of Transportation’s Marine Division, about an incident Saturday evening: “We pulled a borderline hypothermic kayaker out of the water at Seacrest, brought him on board to warm up, called 911, fire department came, assessed him, took him into their care. We left on the 1800 run ten minutes late but made up the time. Kudos to G.W. and Scott for quick thinking and providing good care to the young man.”

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ROAD WORK TONIGHT: Roxbury, 35th painting, marking, ‘hydroblasting’ continues http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/road-work-tonight-roxbury-35th-painting-marking-hydroblasting-continues/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/road-work-tonight-roxbury-35th-painting-marking-hydroblasting-continues/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2015 01:57:42 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=322926 You might have missed this if you don’t read the daily road-work alerts in the traffic/transit coverage we publish each weekday morning: SDOT crews are due back out on Roxbury and 35th tonight, as marking, restriping, and “hydroblasting” removal of the old striping continues in both projects. We saw this crew on 35th north of Thistle less than an hour ago:

As we showed in this morning’s traffic/transit notes, the Roxbury rechannelizing north of White Center was mostly finished overnight. That’s far from the entirety of the Roxbury project, which is detailed in this presentation first shown at the April meeting of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, and has been in the works for more than a year and a half:

Jim Curtin, managing both projects for SDOT, says, “Our crews will be out on Roxbury again tonight since there’s still some work left,” as well as working on 35th (plan below, as announced two months ago):

If it does rain Wednesday, that could delay some work, Curtin adds: “We can remove paint in the rain but re-painting is impossible.”

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FOLLOWUP: Metro GM’s response to bus cancellations; City Council briefing ahead http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/followup-metro-gms-response-to-bus-cancellations-city-council-briefing-ahead/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/followup-metro-gms-response-to-bus-cancellations-city-council-briefing-ahead/#comments Thu, 10 Sep 2015 00:59:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=322323 How’s your bus route doing this week? We haven’t seen any Metro texts/tweets about West Seattle cancellations in the past few days, unlike last week. In addition to the Metro explanation we published, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was looking into it, and has shared two things – first, a response he received from Metro general manager Kevin Desmond; second, Rasmussen’s response to that, including a note about a briefing ahead. First, from Desmond to Rasmussen:

Thank you for sharing your concerns with me. I hope this information helps clarify Metro’s readiness and commitment to provide daily bus service across King County and Seattle and increased service planned as part of the September service change. We also want to describe the lengths our organization goes to each day to provide our customers with transit service they depend on.

We are in a transition time of rapid growth in transit service, which unfortunately has seen a fluctuating number of individual peak commute trip cancellations that is higher than we would like.

After a year of driver attrition and a freeze on hiring drivers leading up to budget-related service cuts in September 2014, Metro quickly reversed and launched a hiring effort for operators after Prop 1 passed. Drivers are the backbone of providing service and our ongoing hiring efforts were necessary to prepare for expansion of service in Seattle in June and September 2015 and March 2016.

We have more than 2,500 operators – about 1,600 full-time and 900 part-time. Right after Prop 1 passed, we got started on hiring to implement planned service. We have hired 212 part-time operators from January through August, and promoted 173 operators to full-time, and additionally are increasing staffing in our rail section in advance of U Link and First Hill Streetcar. We anticipate hiring an additional 225 part-time operators and promoting an additional 96 operators to full time through March 2016. Metro is pursuing a wide variety of recruiting strategies beyond attending job fairs and going to local colleges and employment centers, such as developing a sophisticated ad campaign (“Secret Identity” videos) and an individualized “Drive for Metro” webpage that is being actively promoted through social media and other channels.

To increase our ranks of drivers, we promoted part-time drivers to full-time and recruited entry level drivers into the part-time ranks. This created gaps in our workforce during the hiring and training processes, as part-time drivers require five weeks of training and full-time drivers require 1-2 weeks of training. As the workforce shifted and drivers were unavailable during training, this put additional pressure during commute times on a limited pool of standby drivers and required us to draw in even more help from drivers willing to take on extra shifts and trips, a provision we worked out with ATU Local 587. In recent weeks, we have seen about 50 peak commute trips a week canceled for lack of an operator spread out across Metro’s entire service area – out of a scheduled 56,000 work week trips. As we reported in the West Seattle Blog, we go to great lengths to find replacement operators with the workforce we have when a driver is ill or otherwise unavailable. We also launched a new effort to alert customers when possible that a trip is canceled – even revising alerts when a driver is identified to pick up a trip.

Each trip canceled is unfortunate and regrettable, and can make travel difficult for commuters who count on us. It can cause crowding on following buses and frustration when buses are full. During this ramp up in transit service, we are aggressively managing our workforce to deliver. Overall, Metro provides more than 99 percent of the 11,211 trips each weekday, or 56,000 trips each work week. As service expands in September, the efforts outlined above will continue in order to maintain service. The increase in canceled peak commute trips is a temporary challenge we are working hard to address. Hiring more drivers is the key to solving this challenge and we foresee the next several weeks as the key transition window where cancellations will smooth out and drop. We expect improvements with each new graduating class of bus drivers. We assure riders that we are doing all we can to aggressively manage the challenge and use the resources we have to provide dependable service. We apologize for the temporary inconvenience as we ramp up transit service.

Now, from Rasmussen to Desmond in response:

I appreciate the importance of careful screening and training of transit operators as METRO ramps up to provide more service in Seattle. Safety should not be compromised.

I have requested the Seattle Department of Transportation to provide the City Council Transportation Committee with a briefing on the first three months of enhanced METRO service in Seattle. The meeting will be on Tuesday September 22, 2015 at 9:30 AM in the Council Chambers.

I would like to invite you to attend and participate. Please include information on the first three months’ experience from METRO’s experience. Please include in your briefing an update on the results of METRO’s efforts to provide the added service paid for by Seattle.

The briefing will be an open meeting, so you can attend at City Hall, or watch it live via the Seattle Channel. The cancellations on north West Seattle routes – and other problems – had been particularly galling to riders because those routes (55, 56, 57) had been listed in the June service change as getting city funding to “help improve on-time reliability.”

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JUST IN: New plan for SW Admiral Way Safety Project, announced ahead of tonight’s ANA meeting http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/just-in-new-plan-for-sw-admiral-way-safety-project-announced-ahead-of-tonights-ana-meeting/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/09/just-in-new-plan-for-sw-admiral-way-safety-project-announced-ahead-of-tonights-ana-meeting/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2015 22:34:54 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=322178 SDOT has just gone public with the revised SW Admiral Way Safety Project plan, ahead of a briefing at tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. This is the plan that originally stirred controversy for seeking to remove more than 200 parking spaces along parts of Admiral Way west of California SW. Some residents launched a petition drive and campaign, with concerns including SDOT having made decisions based on a parking study conducted in the winter. SDOT agreed to do another parking study in the summer, and this is the revised version just announced:

Our revised proposal maintains on-street parking on both sides of the street, constructs a buffered bike lane, adds a new crosswalk and a westbound radar feedback sign. It also helps motorists maintain speeds closer to 30 mph by reducing travel lane widths. We are doing this by removing the center turn lane, while maintaining left turn pockets at four intersections with high left turn demand. Providing these left turn pockets would require removing a limited amount of on-street parking at 59th, 49th and 47th Avenues SW (no changes proposed at California Ave SW). The design is not at a point where we know how many spaces, but as you can imagine it will be much less than the initial concept shared in May.

While the revised proposal significantly reduces impacts to parking, we still wanted to honor our commitment to studying parking during the peak summer season. A parking study was conducted from July 30 through August 11 along SW Admiral Way by an independent consultant. Here is an overview of what we learned (the full report is available online).

We are looking forward to engaging the community in a conversation about the revised proposal. A public meeting is being held on September 17 from 6:15 to 7:45 PM at the Hiawatha Community Center and more information is available at our project website. We will be taking comments until October 1, 2015.

Your first opportunity to do that will be at tonight’s ANA meeting, 7 pm at The Sanctuary at Admiral (42nd SW & SW Lander).

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