Transportation – West Seattle Blog… http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Sun, 18 Feb 2018 17:25:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Better Metro bus service for Admiral/Alki? Councilmember Herbold’s request to SDOT http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/better-metro-bus-service-for-admiral-alki-councilmember-herbolds-request-to-sdot/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/better-metro-bus-service-for-admiral-alki-councilmember-herbolds-request-to-sdot/#comments Sat, 17 Feb 2018 19:43:15 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909243

It’s been a hot discussion topic in WSB transit/transportation coverage for a long time – north West Seattle’s relative lack of Metro service compared to other areas. In her newest weekly update, Councilmember Lisa Herbold announced she is asking SDOT – via the letter embedded above – to find out what it would cost to fix that. (Though Metro is a county service, city dollars pay for some of the service.) If you haven’t seen it via e-mail or web, here’s her update:

As District 1 Councilmember, I regularly hear from residents of the Admiral and Alki neighborhoods about the lack of daytime and evening bus service to and from Downtown. Non-rush hour service on Bus Route 56, which connects Alki and Admiral to Downtown, was eliminated in 2012.

As a result, Admiral is the only Urban Village in Seattle without off-peak transit service to Downtown. It is also the only Urban Village not served by the Frequent Transit Network included in the Seattle Transit Master Plan. Urban Villages were adopted by Seattle in the 1994 Comprehensive Plan to direct growth to areas with enhanced services, so the lack of service is noteworthy, and unique. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an urban village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

I have written a letter to SDOT Director Goran Sparrman, requesting that SDOT assess the costs associated with improving off-peak transit service on Route 56, and inform me of the City’s funding capacity to meet this need with Seattle Transportation Benefit District funds passed by Seattle voters in Proposition 1 in late 2014, which directly funds bus service in Seattle. You can see the letter here. While King County Metro operates bus service, since 2015, with the passage by Seattle voters of Proposition 1, Seattle funds additional bus service.

Background information is included below about how the Admiral Urban Village fits into the city’s transportation and growth plans.

After the State Legislature passed the Growth Management Act in 1990, to stop regional sprawl and direct growth into designated areas. The City of Seattle adopted the Urban Village Strategy in its passage of the 1994 Comprehensive Plan. By 1999, the City had completed passage of neighborhood plans throughout Seattle, to implement the state Growth Management Act, and to direct growth into areas with enhanced services to match the growth.

Seattle has six Urban Centers, six Hub Urban Villages and eighteen Residential Urban Villages. Of those 30 areas targeted for growth in the 2035 Comprehensive Plan, only Admiral lacks off-peak transit service to Downtown.

Figures from the Seattle Transit Master Plan illustrate the unique status of the Admiral Urban Village. Figure 3-1 shows the City Capacity Transit Vision for High Capacity Transit Corridors. Figure 1-2 shows how these current and planned corridors align with the Urban Centers, Hub Urban Villages, and Residential Urban Villages adopted in Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan.

All of Seattle’s six Urban Centers and six Hub Urban Villages are included in a corridor—nearly all of which go to Downtown. In addition, 16 of Seattle’s 18 Residential Urban Villages are included in a corridor. The only ones that aren’t included in one of the transit corridors for RapidRide, Light Rail, Priority Bus Corridors, and the Streetcar are 1) Admiral and 2) South Park.

Figure 4-1 shows the status of the Frequent Transit Network as of March 2016; it notes a few areas on the map for “Priority Upgrade to Frequent,” including the Admiral Urban Village.

The Frequent Transit network included in the Transit Master Plan is designed to provide service every 15 minutes or better, 18-24 hours a day, seven days a week. This document shows bus routes that meet the frequent transit service level for land use purposes (SMC 23.84A.038), i.e. 15 minutes or less for at least 12 hours per day, 6 days a week, and transit headways of 30 minutes or less for at least 18 hours every day.

The current Frequent Transit Network using land use standards serves 29 of the 30 areas targeted for growth, but not Admiral.

Transportation Figure 5, from the Seattle 2035 Comprehensive Plan, shows the Planned Frequent Transit Network, which includes SW Admiral Way through the Urban Village.

It appears that among Seattle’s 30 Urban Centers and Urban Villages, the Admiral Urban Village is one of only two not included the High Capacity Transit Network, and uniquely 1) is not served by the current Frequent Transit Network, and 2) has no off-peak bus service to Downtown. In addition, it saw a decrease in bus service to Downtown, with the 2012 elimination of off-peak service to Downtown on bus route 56. No buses leave for Downtown after 9 a.m., and return buses from Downtown operate only during evening rush hour.

Given the geographic distribution of jobs and work patterns, direct access to Downtown is important. Unless we are able to provide sufficient bus service to the Admiral Urban Village, it is less likely it will be able to accommodate its share of growth.

Metro Service prioritizes crowding, schedule reliability and service frequency. Proposition 1 noted that revenues would be used for these purposes, consistent with the Seattle Transit Master Plan and Metro’s Service Guidelines.

However, I believe we are missing an important element of equity in not considering how we can increase ridership in areas with low ridership and minimal options available to improve ridership. The lack of off-peak service to Downtown for an Urban Village also does not seem consistent with our approach to managing growth.

While King County Metro’s Service Guidelines target a minimum service level of at least every 60 minutes, even an exception for less frequent off-peak service would be an improvement.

If you would like to talk with Councilmember Herbold about this or anything else, her next “in-district office hours” event is Friday (February 23rd), 2-7 pm at South Park Community Center (8319 8th Ave. S.).

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: See the open house maps/charts with draft height, cross-streets http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-see-the-open-house-maps-charts-with-draft-height-cross-streets/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-see-the-open-house-maps-charts-with-draft-height-cross-streets/#comments Fri, 16 Feb 2018 22:39:59 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909187

If you went to the Sound Transit light rail open house in West Seattle this past Tuesday – or the one last night in Ballard – you probably saw the maps/charts that were laid out on tables for sticky-note comments. They were a different way of presenting information about the “representative alignment” – the “starting point” routes and elevation – and so we asked ST if we could get digital copies to share. Today, they’re online, and with one more open house – downtown next Tuesday (February 20th), 5:30-7:30 pm – you might want to take a look. The West Seattle one is embedded above (and visible in PDF here); the SODO one is here; downtown, here; Ballard, here.

Also shown at the open houses, the Google Earth flyover of the draft plan – animated, but without narration – and it’s now available as a video clip:

The project is currently in what’s officially called the “early scoping” phase and Sound Transit wants to hear all your comments – about the draft plan, anything you would rather see instead, and any potential effects you envision – noise, traffic, whatever. You can also make those comments via the “online open house,” which will remain open until March 5th – go to wsblink.participate.online.

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What’s ahead at 59th/Admiral? SDOT rep @ Alki Community Council tomorrow http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/whats-ahead-at-59th-admiral-sdot-rep-alki-community-council-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/whats-ahead-at-59th-admiral-sdot-rep-alki-community-council-tomorrow/#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2018 22:53:04 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908949 (59th/Admiral, December 2017)

Some changes made … some promised … some requested. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about the intersection of 59th Avenue SW and Admiral Way SW in recent months. So what’s next? An SDOT representative is on the agenda for the Alki Community Council‘s meeting tomorrow night (7 pm Thursday, Alki UCC, 6115 SW Hinds), so if you’re interested, you might want to be there. The scheduling is a followup to discussion at last month’s ACC meeting.

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Water Taxi fares rise on March 1st: Here’s what you’ll pay starting then http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/water-taxi-fares-rise-on-march-1st-heres-what-youll-pay-starting-then/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/water-taxi-fares-rise-on-march-1st-heres-what-youll-pay-starting-then/#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2018 21:48:12 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908938 (WSB photo, July 2017)

A reminder from the King County Department of Transportation today – Water Taxi fares are going up March 1st. From the announcement:

For adults paying with ORCA, the one-way fare will be $5 per rider on the West Seattle route and $5.75 per rider on the Vashon Island route.

Adults paying with cash will pay $5.75 for West Seattle and $6.75 for Vashon Island.

Seniors and riders with disabilities will pay $2.50 for West Seattle and $3 for Vashon Island, a 25-cent increase over current fares.

Youth ORCA users and ORCA LIFT riders will now pay $3.75 a ride for West Seattle (25 cents more per ride) and $4.50 (50 cents more per ride) for Vashon Island. Children 5 years old and under can still ride the Water Taxi for free. To view all fare changes scheduled for March 1, visit our website and choose a route.

The fare policy was established when the Water Taxi operated under the King County Ferry District and was then adopted by King County. Fare increases have taken place every two years since 2012. Fare revenue helps King County meet fare box recovery targets and keep pace with rising costs to deliver safe, reliable and efficient Water Taxi service.

The King County Water Taxi continues to grow in popularity, providing riders with a congestion-free commute into downtown Seattle. In 2017, the Water Taxi carried nearly 600,000 riders combined on the West Seattle and Vashon Island routes. These two routes combined for more than 13,300 annual trip segments with over a 99-percent reliability rating.

Two more Water Taxi notes: The 5-day-a-week winter schedule runs through the end of March; and as noted in our morning commute coverage, remember that the Water Taxi will not be in service next Monday (Presidents Day).

ADDED 2:54 PM: We confirmed with KCDOT’s Brent Champaco that the spring/summer Water Taxi schedule really is starting on a Thursday (March 29th), different from years past. He explains that the date was chosen because it’s the Mariners’ home opener.

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YOUR VOICE, YOUR CHOICE: City gets 1,000 more park/street grant ideas; here’s how to help narrow down the list http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/your-voice-your-choice-city-gets-1000-more-park-street-grant-ideas-heres-how-to-help-narrow-down-the-list/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/your-voice-your-choice-city-gets-1000-more-park-street-grant-ideas-heres-how-to-help-narrow-down-the-list/#respond Wed, 14 Feb 2018 17:33:15 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908910 For the second year, the city invited park/street grant ideas through what it calls “Your Voice, Your Choice” – and citywide, it’s just been announced, 1,000 new ideas came in, in addition to almost 400 ideas getting rolled over from last year. Next up, you’re invited to “project development” meetings to help narrow the list down (which is also being done right now through city staff’s feasibility reviewing). Here’s where and when the meetings are in District 1 (West Seattle/South Park):

February 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
South Seattle College, Chan Education Center, Rm 202 – 6000 16th Ave SW

February 27, 6 – 8 pm
South Park Community Center – 8319 8th Ave S

March 12, 10 am – 12 pm
Southwest Youth and Family Services – 4555 Delridge Way SW

March 14, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
West Seattle Branch Library – 2306 42nd Ave SW

March 26, 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Southwest Branch Library – 9010 35th Ave SW

The “project development” process is explained here. After that, there’ll be a list you can vote on, so stay tuned for that in June-July. The citywide fund this year for all projects totals $3 million.

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first open house, report #1 http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/happening-now-sound-transits-first-light-rail-open-house-in-west-seattle/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/happening-now-sound-transits-first-light-rail-open-house-in-west-seattle/#comments Wed, 14 Feb 2018 02:45:43 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908852

6:45 PM: By our rough count, more than 150 people are already at the Sound Transit open house that’s on until 8:30 pm at the Masonic Hall in The Junction (4736 40th SW). What’s billed as a short presentation is about to begin, and then the commenting and one-on-one chats with ST staffers will continue.

ST staff stresses that written comments are what they’re looking for tonight (and in the rest of the “early scoping” period that continues through March 5th) so your comments can be part of the official record. You have several options for doing that here, including sticky notes on maps (photo above).

7:08 PM: The presentation is over, and it’s back to open-house mode. Other commenting options here include simply writing them on paper (photo above). Or, just gather all the info and ask all the questions you need to, and then get your comments in via e-mail or the “online open house” whenever you have time – the deadline in this round is March 5th. And if you didn’t get to this open house – the information (Ballard extension as well as West Seattle extension, since they are being planned concurrently) will also be presented, and comments accepted, at the next two open houses:

Ballard
Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th Street

Downtown Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson Street

Online ‘open house’: wsblink.participate.online

You can also comment by e-mail – wsblink@soundtransit.org – phone (206-903-7229) – and postal mail, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle 98104

7:50 PM: Still here, just to observe how it’s flowed, and there are at least 40 people still here talking, commenting, etc. Among those we’ve seen here are local neighborhood and transportation advocates, including Deb Barker, who is on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the project, and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is on the Elected Leadership Group – comments like the ones made here tonight will be filtering up through those groups. We also talked briefly with “Avalon Tom,” whose unofficial renderings of the potential elevated track through West Seattle generated a lot of discussion on WSB last month (and beyond, including at the recent Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting, and we’ve seen some printouts being viewed here too). You still have time to get here, ask questions, take a look at maps and boards, and make comments – until 8:30. We’ll have a separate report recapping what happened here and what’s next.

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Why NOW is the time to speak up, whatever you want to say – and how to do it http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-why-now-is-the-time-to-speak-up-whatever-you-want-to-say/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-why-now-is-the-time-to-speak-up-whatever-you-want-to-say/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 21:49:14 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908737 By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you have something to say about West Seattle light rail – ANYTHING to say – say it now.

Or should we say, NOW. In capital letters. Shouted.

With the “online open house” that you can use for feedback starting today, and the in-person open house in West Seattle tomorrow, these next three-plus weeks are when your comments, suggestions and concerns matter most in the year-plus process of getting to a “preferred alignment” for the West Seattle line (and Ballard too).

Sound Transit reps have made that point at various meetings (we’ve covered them all) and made it again this morning with a media briefing at their HQ downtown.

So, we asked ST executive Cathal Ridge – who’s been leading all the briefings lately – this is the time to throw out anything and everything you want them to consider?

Yes, he affirmed. “We’re really trying to encourage people to throw out the ideas now and we will evaluate it now … rather than wait a year to bring them up in the environmental process because then we will have wasted a year .. that’s really why we’re making a superhuman push to get out there (and hear from) the public. People often don’t engage in a process until it’s much closer … (but) the only way to meet the timeline is to start the process now. … We want to have people weigh in on the ‘representative alignment’ and also on the purpose of the project – let us know what concerns them about the project, what excites them about the project.”

The “representative alignment,” if you’re just tuning in, is the draft plan that envisions extending light rail this way from a new second station in SODO, across the Duwamish River on a new elevated bridge, continuing, elevated, to The Junction with three West Seattle stations along the way. Here’s ST’s Chris Rule showing it with a Google Earth map at this morning’s briefing, as he’s done at other recent meetings:

When you provide feedback on that and anything else you want to comment on, Sound Transit stresses that this isn’t just about big-picture ideas/concerns. Even the sort of thing that otherwise might not come up until the environmental studies, such as construction or noise impacts – the more they hear now, the better the chances of speeding this thing up (and 2030 is already sped up from the original timeline).

We also asked about the format for the open houses – tomorrow’s is 6:30-8:30 pm at the Masonic Hall in The Junction (4736 40th SW). If you can, get there toward the start, because there will be a presentation at about 6:45 pm. That’ll last about 15 minutes. They don’t expect to have a group Q&A after that – instead, Ridge said, lots of ST staffers will be there for you to ask questions one on one and to take your feedback.

Wondering what happens then? Good question. Feedback from the in-person and online open houses, plus a round of “neighborhood forums” in March, will be collected for an “early scoping report” that then goes to the Stakeholder Advisory Group – whose first meeting we covered last week. They will be involved in “screening,” and in turn providing their feedback to the Elected Leadership Group (whose first meeting we also covered). Then there’ll be second and third rounds of screening before the “preferred alternative” is settled on in spring 2019. Here’s the slate of how that all goes:

The final decision is in the hands of the Sound Transit board, but that’s after all those multiple rounds of feedback. Again – we have to say it again – NOW is the time to get everything out there on the table that you want to say, ask, etc., in the interest of acceleration. Ridge said that “a lot of the delay we’ve had in the past (on other light-rail projects) is when technical issues and stakeholder issues weren’t identified early on” so they have to retrace and redo some steps – “you think you know what you’re doing, and then you run into some kind of roadblock.”

So as distant as 2030 sounds, there’s a lot of deciding to be done right now, but this is the time to speak up.

HOW TO COMMENT: In-person open houses (you can go to the Ballard and downtown ones too – they’re all for the West Seattle to Ballard extensions, which are being planned in tandem though Ballard opens five years after WS):

West Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center, 4736 40th Ave. SW Street

Ballard
Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th Street

Downtown Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson Street

Online ‘open house’: wsblink.participate.online

You can also comment by e-mail – wsblink@soundtransit.org – phone (206-903-7229) – and postal mail, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle 98104

BACKGROUND INFO: Here’s how the project was outlined before the Sound Transit 3 vote in 2016, including some cost information; we’re asking for more and will add it when we get it.

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FOLLOWUP: 2 Neighborhood Street Fund projects going out to bid http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-2-neighborhood-street-fund-projects-going-out-to-bid/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-2-neighborhood-street-fund-projects-going-out-to-bid/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 09:02:44 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908726 Almost a year and a half after they were chosen for funding, two Neighborhood Street Fund projects proposed by West Seattleites are going out to bid. A notice in today’s Daily Journal of Commerce announces that the city is seeking bids on a package of five NSF projects meant to improve walking and biking safety, two of which are in West Seattle – the Chief Sealth Walkway Improvements and the Harbor Ave. SW/SW Spokane St. Intersection Improvements Project. The notice says bids will be opened March 7th; we’ll be checking with SDOT on the anticipated construction schedule.

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FOLLOWUP: New signage is up for side-by-side Highway 99 exits http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-new-signage-is-up-for-side-by-side-highway-99-exits/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-new-signage-is-up-for-side-by-side-highway-99-exits/#comments Mon, 12 Feb 2018 00:37:50 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908683 (WSB photo taken this afternoon)

As promised, SDOT did indeed install new signs this weekend to replace the ones that had been missing a while just before the side-by-side West Seattle Bridge/Harbor Island exits on southbound Highway 99. The verbiage for the bridge-exit sign is a little simpler, compared to what was on the old sign, as shown below in a Google Maps image from 2014:

(The blurring in that image is Google’s, not ours.) As reported here two weeks ago, the previous signs had been removed due to windstorm damage, the city said, while noting one sign was planned for replacement anyway.

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SCHOOL-BUS STRIKE: ‘Tentative agreement’ announced by First Student and Teamsters Local 174 http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/school-bus-strike-tentative-agreement-announced-by-first-student-and-teamsters-local-174/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/school-bus-strike-tentative-agreement-announced-by-first-student-and-teamsters-local-174/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 22:50:46 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908493 (Friday morning photo sent by driver Al)

On Day 7 of the school-bus drivers’ strike, there’s word it may be over. Just in via e-mail, what’s described as a “a joint statement” from the drivers’ employer and union:

After meeting with a federal mediator, Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks and First Student Senior Director Kim Mingo released the following statement regarding transportation for Seattle Public Schools:

“We are pleased to announce that First Student and Teamsters Local 174 leadership have come to terms on a fully-recommended tentative agreement.

We are confident that this contract will be ratified by union membership. The vote will take place tomorrow, Saturday, February 10 at 10:00 AM. Upon ratification, yellow bus service will resume on Monday.

The agreement provides an expanded benefits package and comprehensive health care coverage for our Seattle Public Schools yellow bus drivers and families. We feel strongly that this deal meets the goals set by all parties in these negotiations.

First Student labor negotiators and Local 174 leaders have maintained open lines of communication throughout this process. Though this tentative agreement took longer than we had hoped, what brings us all together is our shared commitment to provide safe and reliable transportation for Seattle Public Schools students and families.”

No further details – we’ll add anything more we find out. The same statement is published on Local 174’s website.

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DONE EARLY: Fauntleroy/Wildwood intersection has reopened http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/done-early-fauntleroy-wildwood-intersection-has-reopened/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/done-early-fauntleroy-wildwood-intersection-has-reopened/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 22:23:13 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908490

2:23 PM: The project that was supposed to close the Fauntleroy/Wildwood intersection for two weeks is done in less than one. The intersection is open again, and crews are removing the no-parking signs on the SW Trenton detour route. No official alert updates yet; we’ll update when that happens. The work involved replacing concrete road panels, plus a curb ramp.

4:48 PM: Metro has since sent a rider alert via text and tweet that it has resumed its regular route in the area.

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Here’s what happened at Stakeholder Advisory Group’s first session http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-heres-what-happened-at-stakeholders-advisory-groups-first-session/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-heres-what-happened-at-stakeholders-advisory-groups-first-session/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 19:56:49 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908406 (Sound Transit’s West Seattle-to-Ballard ‘representative’ map – draft ‘alignment’)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Your first official, Sound Transit-convened way to have a say on West Seattle light rail is now four days away.

But first – another of the two groups that are also meant to represent you in the process has just had its first meeting, last night at Union Station downtown.

What’s formally known as the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the West Seattle-Ballard Link Extensions spent two and a half hours together for introductions, presentations, declarations, and questions.

The full list (as approved/appointed by the Elected Leadership Group), made public the previous day, includes these six who live and/or work in West Seattle:
Deb Barker (who is a board member with West Seattle Transportation Coalition as well as president of the Morgan Community Association)
Willard Brown (executive with the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association)
Hamilton Gardiner (West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, not in attendance)
Brian King (introduced himself as a Delridge resident and daily bicyclist)
Greg Nickels (Admiral resident best known as Seattle’s 51st mayor)
Walter Reese (executive at the Nucor steel mill in West Seattle)

“This is a moment that’s been years if not decades in the making,” opened Sound Transit’s Don Billen. Next to him were Elected Leadership Group co-chairs County Council President Joe McDermott (a West Seattleite) and City Councilmember Mike O’Brien.

O’Brien said, “We are now moments away – in a geological sense – from light rail being delivered to West Seattle and Ballard.” And he noted that more than 100 people had applied to be part of the stakeholder group.

McDermott said, “If we learned anything during the ballot process for Sound Transit 3, we learned that not only do people want light rail, they want it now … they want it faster than we can deliver it.” The timeline already is “rapid,” as he described it, exhorting group members to bring all their best ideas to the process.

Before they made way for presenters, Nickels – who noted in the introduction round that he was a longtime Sound Transit board member, until 2009 (when he left office) – asked them, “How can we be most helpful to you?”

McDermott: “As many ideas as possible being brought to the group and work to evaluate as many of those ideas and possibilities as you can possibly gather … to have as many ideas vetted as soon as possible, rather than later.” O’Brien seconded that and said, “What we’re trying here is a bit of an experiment … to reach a consensus … more than a decade before the project being done. …Let’s get the ideas out there, understand the pros and cons and tradeoffs … have a dialogue out there in the community (and agree on) the best way to do this.” He also acknowledged that there may not be a community consensus.

Added Billen: “We’re going to be most interested in your collective opinion … (toawrd) a project that is affordable, environmentally feasible …” Of the project itself, he said, “It’s a crucial part of the regional transit system.” – especially pieces such as the new downtown tunnel. “We cannot operate the West Seattle and Ballard extensions unless we also install light rail further into Snohomish and Pierce Counties,” because of the additional maintenance facilities that will be built. “This project has regional implications and those projects have regional implications on your work.”

Facilitator Diane Adams introduced the project team. She also assured that future meetings “would be far more interactive,” but this one would be briefing-heavy. She also announced that the stakeholder group meetings would not have open-microphone public-comment periods, but would accept written comments; asked about that afterward, she said they had decided only to take spoken comments at meetings of the elected officials’ group (which doesn’t meet again until May).

THE BRIEFING: Cathal Ridge, project director for Sound Transit, went through some background, and where the system overall is going in the years ahead. We’ve covered this before, so we’ll spare you the play-by-play, but it’s worth noting again that in 2030, the same year West Seattle opens, light rail also is scheduled to reach south Federal Way, Fife, East Tacoma, and the Tacoma Dome. In 2031 – “infill stations” come online. In 2035, Ballard opens, along with the new downtown tunnel. In 2036, it extends to Everett; Sounder rail goes to DuPont and Tillicum. In 2041, ST3 ends with light rail to South Kirkland and Issaquah.

He recapped the term “representative project” as “what has emerged from the planning work to date.” And he focused on some past planning efforts like this one from mid-decade.

The West Seattle line to open in 2030 is currently envisioned in the “representative project” with four elevated stations (SODO, Delridge, Avalon, Junction). As he did at last month’s Elected Leadership Group meeting (WSB coverage here), ST’s Chris Rule presented the project flyover, noting that the new bridge across the Duwamish River that would carry light rail is expected to be “about the same height” as the current one.

West Seattle rep King told the ST team that he’s very interested in learning about elevations. He suggested more detail on their Google Earth maps.

Ridge stressed that what was presented is “the representative project, our starting point … We hope to identify a preferred alternative – it might be very similar … or it might be very different.” His presentation continued with a review of the project-development process. He said “a lot of work” has gone into this already in the past five years. As has been said at previous briefings, they hope to settle on the preferred alternative by April of next year, “before we get into the environmental-review process … then we can be more efficient than we have been in the past, in going through that environmental process.” He recapped the timeline, including environmental work to be complete by 2022, construction 2025-2030.

Consultant Jim Parsons got specific about steps to get to that preferred alternative in April 2019. “We’re going to do this in three steps:

#1 – Early scoping; study ST3 representative project and alternatives; screen alternatives (cut down to a smaller list – each step narrows the list and expands knowledge of “most promising ones”)

#2 – Refine and screen alternatives –

#3 – By late 2018/early 2019, more screening, conducting Environmental Impact Statement scoping, “a fairly detailed analysis of hopefully the most promising alternatives”

As part of step 1, ST is about to launch its first round of three open houses (West Seattle, Ballard, downtown), and then “neighborhood forums” in March, with the stakeholder group meeting twice in March and twice in April; the electeds group will meet again in early May and “entertain the recommendations from the stakeholders” and then the ST board will be briefed in early May.

The subsequent “steps” are intended to work similarly, he said, just with a greater level of detail. Four more meetings for this group – “no summer vacations!” – and yet another series of four meetings runs up to spring of next year. Formal EIS scoping, Elected Leadership Group in March 2019, then decision on preferred alternatives and other alternatives that would go into EIS for study, in April.

“It’s going to be a fairly intense effort,” Parsons warned. Asked by West Seattle rep Barker if this was exactly the same process detailed at previous meetings, he acknowledged there had been some changes.

At what point will the impacts on freight mobility be studied? asked freight rep Warren Aakervik.

“Throughout the process, we’ll be looking at impacts,” promised Parsons. “Freight impacts will be one of those.”

Will you discuss the impacts on B and C Lines? Parsons replied, “Obviously this will be replacing some existing bus service.” But since the need will keep increasing while the line is built, “we’ll be looking at some interim bus improvements.” ST3 has some money for “bus rapid transit,” Ridge affirmed.

Next up: The Community Engagement Guide was reviewed, explained as meant “to explain Sound Transit’s rules for public engagement, and how public feedback will help shape this project.” (You can see the 16-page document here.)

Asked “how does this group fit in with everything?” Ridge replied, “We hope you will take in and process all the information we throw at you,” and ST hopes the group members in turn will bring in what they learn and hear from other groups and individuals.

Barker wondered about the difference between the open houses and “neighborhood forums.” The open-house formats will include a short presentation, Q&A, and opportunities for conversation with project staff. Forums will be “more area-specific,” talking about issues such as “station-area planning and specific communities.” (We confirmed after the meeting that these meetings’ locations and dates have not yet been set – they are expected to start in late March.)

How is ST getting out the word about this early feedback phase? Postcards were sent to about 108,000 addresses “within half a mile of the entire alignment” (West Seattle to Ballard), and a “robust” advertising campaign is under way. (Noting here for disclosure – WSB is one of the many publications in which that advertising has been placed.) They also have a stakeholder contact list of about 2,500, and have had “mini-briefings” in a variety of venues in recent months (including some West Seattle community meetings we’ve covered).

And before closing, the group’s charter (see the draft version here) was reviewed – its job is to come up with recommendations to present to the elected group, which in turn will present recommendations to the ST board. Members are expected to represent their “constituencies” rather than focusing on personal opinions, and are expected to communicate with those constituencies. The group is not “a voting body” – its job is to “strive for consensus.” They are expected to “commit to support a process that is open, iterative, and transparent.” But they also are expected to not speak as a representative of the group, if approached by “the media,” facilitator Adams said, suggesting any such request be deferred to ST spokesperson Kimberly Reason.

Barker asked if ST has had stakeholder advisory groups on previous projects. No, Ridge replied.

After the charter discussion, the meeting wrapped – about half an hour short of the three hours allotted – with a chance for members to bring up other questions/issues. One asked if they would be briefed on the State Legislature bill that would reduce the amount of car-tab revenue ST receives and how that might affect this project. Don’t worry about that, Ridge suggested, replying: “Our mindset right now is that this (project) is going to happen, it’s funded, and let’s just work toward identifying the preferred alternative on the assumption that the funding is going to be intact.”

WHAT’S NEXT: The stakeholder group will meet again on March 14th – time and location TBA (the board room might not be the location for all meetings).

The project is in “early scoping” through March 5th (see the “early scoping information report” here). Key feedback components include:

-Online open house starting Monday (you’ll find it here)
-In-person open houses start Tuesday (February 13th, Masonic Hall in West Seattle, 6:30-8:30 pm, 4736 40th SW)

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FOLLOWUP: Installation planned this weekend for new SB 99 West Seattle Bridge/Harbor Island exit signs http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-installation-planned-this-weekend-for-new-sb-99-west-seattle-bridge-harbor-island-exit-signs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/followup-installation-planned-this-weekend-for-new-sb-99-west-seattle-bridge-harbor-island-exit-signs/#comments Fri, 09 Feb 2018 01:37:00 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908407 Two weeks ago, we published a report on SDOT‘s promise to replace the signs that have been missing for quite some time on southbound Highway 99 just before the side-by-side exits for the westbound West Seattle Bridge and Harbor Island. SDOT now has set the dates for installation. Here’s the announcement:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that SDOT crews will reduce the number of southbound SR 99 travel lanes on Saturday February 10, and Sunday, February 11 to replace overhead signs directing travelers on southbound SR 99 to West Seattle and Harbor Island.

This work will reduce the number of southbound travel lanes to create work zones for crews just north of the West Seattle and Harbor Island exits starting Saturday morning and continuing through Sunday afternoon. Please use extra caution during this time as lane closures will alternate depending on the location of signs being replaced. SDOT would like to thank the public for its patience while this work is being completed.

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Tonight SW District Council, tomorrow Planning Commission & Stakeholders Group, whose full roster is out http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-sw-district-council-tonight-stakeholders-advisory-group-and-planning-commission-tomorrow/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/west-seattle-light-rail-sw-district-council-tonight-stakeholders-advisory-group-and-planning-commission-tomorrow/#respond Wed, 07 Feb 2018 23:56:22 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908288 Even before we get to next week’s first open house for the Sound Transit West Seattle-Ballard light-rail extension, it will be part of three meetings tonight and tomorrow.

TONIGHT: Added to the Southwest District Council agenda (6:30 pm, Sisson Building/Senior Center, 4217 SW Oregon), the Junction Neighborhood Organization‘s presentation on what’s known so far about the “representative alignment” (here’s our coverage of the presentation at last week’s JuNO meeting).

THURSDAY AFTERNOON: The Seattle Planning Commission will be briefed on, and will discuss, the “representative alignment” for the West Seattle-Ballard extension during its 3-5:30 pm meeting in the Boards and Commissions Room at City Hall (600 4th Ave.). Here’s the draft agenda.

THURSDAY EVENING: 5-8 pm in the board room at Union Station (401 S. Jackson), it’s the first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Group that Sound Transit is convening, with members appointed by the Elected Leadership Group. Its mission is explained here. The full list of appointees was made public moments ago; we’ve been awaiting it since hearing earlier today from Deb Barker of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition that she will be a member of the group. Here’s the full roster:

• Abigail Doerr, Transportation Choices Coalition
• Andres Arjona, Community Representative – Ballard
• Becky Asencio, Seattle Public Schools
• Deb Barker, Community Representative – West Seattle
• Brian King, Community Representative – West Seattle
• Bryce Yadon, Futurewise
• Colleen Echohawk, Chief Seattle Club
• Dave Gering, Manufacturing Industrial Council
• Erin Goodman, SODO Business Improvement Area
• Ginny Gilder, Force 10 Hoops/Seattle Storm
• Greg Nickels, Former Mayor of Seattle
• Hamilton Gardiner, West Seattle Chamber of Commerce
• Jon Scholes, Downtown Seattle Association
• Julia Park, Community Representative – Ballard
• Katie Garrow, Martin Luther King Labor Council
• Larry Yok, Community Representative – Chinatown/ID
• Maiko Winkler-Chin, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation & Development Authority
• Mark Nagle, Expedia
• Mike Stewart, Ballard Alliance
• Paul Lambros, Plymouth Housing
• Peter Schrappen, Northwest Marine Trade Association
• Robert Cardona, Community Representative – Uptown
• Ron Sevart, Space Needle
• Savitha Reddy Pathi, Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
• Scott Rusch, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
• Steve Lewis, Alliance for People with disAbilities
• Walter Reese, Nucor Steel
• Warren Aakervik, Community Representative – Freight
• Willard Brown, Delridge Neighborhood Development Association

All three of the meetings we’ve mentioned above are open to the public.

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SCHOOL-BUS STRIKE: Day 5 on Wednesday; union asks district to fine First Student http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/school-bus-strike-day-5-on-wednesday-union-asks-district-to-fine-first-student/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/school-bus-strike-day-5-on-wednesday-union-asks-district-to-fine-first-student/#comments Wed, 07 Feb 2018 04:57:32 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=908221 (Tuesday morning photo courtesy of striking driver Al)

Tomorrow (Wednesday, February 7) will be the fifth day of the strike against First Student, which is contracted to provide yellow-bus service for Seattle Public Schools. Some drivers continue to cross the picket lines, and some local families are getting district notifications that their routes will be served – the district said in its Monday night update that about 70 of the almost 400 drivers had gone to work that day. Today, the drivers’ union Teamsters Local 174 published a call for the district to fine First Student, pointing to the text of a letter it said a district official sent the bus company three months ago, warning that it faced a fine of up to $1.2 million a day.

We asked district spokesperson Kim Schmanke about the contract; she confirmed that it “requires uninterrupted service, with liquidated damages as an option for the district,” which she added “is continuing to track and calculate” those potential damages, and “will address collection of those damages in conjunction with legal counsel as this situation unfolds.” (If you’re interested in contract details, here’s what went to the School Board for approval a year ago.)

ADDED 11:02 PM: One more note – the teachers’ union, the Seattle Education Association, plans a show of support for the striking drivers on Wednesday, after classes end for the day (Wednesdays have been early-release days all year), and are planning to wear red as part of it.

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