West Seattle Blog... » Transportation http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Tue, 21 Apr 2015 00:11:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 @ Fauntleroy Community Association: All about the followups http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/fauntleroy-community-association-all-about-the-followups/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/fauntleroy-community-association-all-about-the-followups/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 04:27:56 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307301 Traffic trouble and green spaces top the toplines from this month’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting.

(WSB photo from March)
GREEN SPACES: The push to keep the surplus substations (including Brace Point, above) and some other city-owned properties as open, green spaces continues. From what’s now the Seattle Green Spaces Coalition, FCA’s Marty Westerman said he and SGSC’s Mary Fleck will be outside Fauntleroy’s The Original Bakery on Sunday morning at 10 am for at least an hour to gather petition signatures, urging the city not to sell off these pieces of public land.

WALKING TOUR FOLLOWUP: Westerman is also point person with the city on followup from the walking tour around Fauntleroy back in January with FCA, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, and SDOT reps.

(WSB photo from January walking tour)
He’s working to clarify what action actually is feasible – during the tour, they got lots of positive feedback from SDOT, he says, but now they’re being warned about “cost factors.”

Speaking of followups, some of the ongoing issues:

MOTORCYCLE NOISE: FCA president Mike Dey has been talking to police and the City Attorney’s Office about the ongoing concern with the daily exodus of loud motorcycles from the ferries. He’s been told the city is currently working on an overhaul of the noise ordinance in general because current laws are so wide-ranging, enforcement is difficult at best.

FERRY DOCK TRAFFIC: Money to restore traffic-directing help at the dock is in the State House version of the budget, FCA’s Gary Dawson said, but the State Senate version is still in play, so they don’t know how this is going to turn out.

Fauntleroy Community Association business meetings are held on second Tuesdays most months, 7 pm at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse. Inbetween, watch fauntleroy.net for updates.

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Admiral Way Safety Project, WSHS-vicinity 20 mph, more @ Admiral Neighborhood Association http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/admiral-way-safety-project-wshs-vicinity-20-mph-more-admiral-neighborhood-association/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/admiral-way-safety-project-wshs-vicinity-20-mph-more-admiral-neighborhood-association/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:22:06 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307067

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two SDOT projects were at the heart of this month’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting, which filled the basement meeting room at The Sanctuary at Admiral with more than 25 people.

ADMIRAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT: This was the marquee presentation of the night, led by SDOT’s Emily Ehlers. A few hours earlier, we had published a preview with information and maps the city had sent – see that here. Much more information was contained in the slide deck that was presented during the meeting – you can scroll through it atop this story.

What was said, and asked:

Ehlers said that speeds along the stretch “are consistently higher than the posted speed limit.” Volume ranges from 6,000 daily at the bottom of the hill to 14,000 at the top. 22 of the 45 crashes involved “vehicle runoffs,” going too fast and veering off the road. Ehlers did not know the daypart breakdown, nor a count for bicycles.

With 441 on-street parking spaces along Admiral between California and 63rd, they tracked space utilization in December and determined it’s underutilized, Ehlers said. It was pointed out to her repeatedly as the meeting continued that they should measure in summer, when usage would almost certainly be higher. Ehlers agreed.

She showed six cross-sections, starting with 63rd to 60th, removing the two-way left-turn lane, preserving parking on both sides – 63 spaces – and adding a buffered bike lane., while reducing the lane width to 11 feet.

From 60th to Stevens, climbing the hill, maintain the 2-way left turn lane, reduce travel lanes from 12 feet wide to 10 feet wide, and consolidate parking on the north side – most of it is there anyway, and most homes on the south side, Ehlers said, have alternate access. 58 parking spaces would remain.

Cross-sections in the slide deck (see above) included:

-Lander to 47th, they’re consolidating parking on the south side, and will retain 71 spaces.

-47th to 44th, the street narrows,

-44th to California, no change to parking. Bicycle lane makes way for a shared lane.

Timeline: Once a plan is finalized, implementation is expected in August.

Concerns:

ANA member Mark Jacobs – who described himself as a frequent bicycle rider – said the corridor works fine the way it is.

Don Brubeck, an Admiral resident who is also president of West Seattle Bike Connections and described himself as a car and bicycle owner, says he will feel much more comfortable with buffered bike lanes. “There will be more people feeling they can (engage in everyday activities on bicycles)” with this change. “I think it’s something we can live with.”

Admiral resident Dennis Ross asked: How will consolidation of the parking spaces work – how will they be sure people don’t park in the areas where it will no longer be allowed? Ehlers: Well – it won’t be a legal parking space. She said most places where parking will be removed have alley access or other options. There are 800 on-street spaces within a block of Admiral, she said.

Another attendee wondered if studies of bicycle traffic were available (no, was the reply). How much will these changes cost? he asked. “It’s just paint, so we estimate $50,000 to $75,000,” Ehlers said. “How do we find out if it’s money well-spent?” Jody pressed – specifically, if more bicycles use it? Ehlers said there wasn’t a simple way to measure that but she said SDOT will try.

Transit advocate Marci Carpenter called attention to usage patterns around the former Life Care Center site at 47th/Admiral/Waite, where Aegis will be building another retirement center. ANA president David Whiting said the new facility will have a different entrance, so patterns might be different.

Area resident Jackie Ramels said that her neighborhood has no alleys; parking will remain on the north side there, she was told. She said people don’t park there because she and neighbors have had cars hit, repeatedly. Most of the crashes, other neighbors chimed in, are on the downhill side, and at night. Ehlers said that this re-engineering of the street will make it safer. The residents park on the south (uphill) side because it’s not safe on the north side, they stressed.

Another resident of that area spoke up next and talked about the “double curve’ in the area, suggesting there are more crashes than likely are shown in city records. “You either park in front of your house where your car is going to get hit sooner or later, or you park across the street and walk across four lanes, which I do every day – it’s dicey, because people come flying down the hill.” He said the street “totally changes in the summertime,” and people start parking on both sides. “I’ll end up having to park (up to) four blocks from my house sometimes.”

Ehlers at that point promised they will recount parking in June. She also said they could petition the city for an RPZ.

Kathy Dunn, saying she has been bicycling in that area for 20 years now, says she’s anecdotally seeing increased bicycle traffic. She lives within view of 63rd/Alki and sees speeders in the summer time – “the road is so wide, it looks like a speedway to them” as they head away from the beach and toward the bridge.

Another resident identifying herself as a pedestrian who lives in the Admiral business district area pointed out that parking around the Schmitz Park area is heavily used during the summer and wonders if that was taken into account. “How far does it spill past the park in summer?” Ehlers then asked. Way up the hill, she was told.

Jacobs then said, what about a protected bicycle lane going uphill, and shared bicycling going downhill, like on the stretch of Admiral Way north of the West Seattle Bridge? Ehlers said they’ll look at that.

A resident from 61st south of Admiral said the whole area is filling up for blocks year-round. In his view, removing the left-turn lane through the west stretch of Admiral would make it more hazardous because it’s used by many people. He also said the uphill path would make more sense than adding one on both sides and removing parking, and that he feels the best use of money in that area would be to fix sidewalks – which he said he uses all the time to walk on the hill.

Another resident who identified himself as a traffic engineer asked for more details on the parking counts. Ehlers said she didn’t have full details on exactly when they did it, but she believes that staffers went out early in the morning last December on two weekdays and a weekend day, not on a holiday.

Gary wondered about alternate routes for bicycles – such as through Schmitz Park. “When I bike, I prefer not to be on the arterial, because you’re breathing all the exhaust fumes.” Ehlers noted that 45th is identified as a future neighborhood greenway.

ANA’s Dave Weitzel said that doing this without studying the area during the peak time didn’t seem right.

Concerns were raised about the condition of the pavement where bike lanes are proposed. Ehlers said they thought it looked pretty good when they checked it, but that they had received photos from Brubeck showing otherwise.

Another question clarified that speed humps are not an option here because it’s an arterial.

Next person said that speed doesn’t seem to be the main danger on the stretch – it’s distracted driving – “at least speeders are looking up,” he said.

SDOT’s Sam Woods agreed that distracted driving is an increasing hazard. She rides her bicycle to work on an arterial (not in WS) every day but says, “the reason we want (buffered bike lanes) is that it gives you more space if someone IS distracted.” Distracted driving, she added, is “changing the way we design streets.” She added that maybe pedestrian-crossing improvements can be considered where people will have to cross the street to access parking.

It was stressed that, along with taking comments by e-mail – emily.ehlers@seattle.gov – there are other chances to discuss/find out more about the plan, including the May 6th Southwest District Council meeting (7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle) and an open house set for Thursday, May 21st (update: details on the project webpage). Those who live along/adjacent to the corridor will get mailers, the SDOT reps promised.

P.S. If you can’t view the slide deck atop this story via our embedded viewing window, go here to see the PDF version on the city website.

Also presented/discussed at ANA:

20 MPH ZONE: Shauna Walgren from SDOT said this is part of the pilot project for the plan to lower non-arterial streets’ speed from 25 mph to 20 mph, as part of the Vision Zero initiative (first reported here two months ago, including the following map):

Orange on the map shows 2015 pilot zones, and blue shows what could be added in 2016. The area focuses around two schools and a park and a route down to Harbor Avenue SW. The signs and legends will be installed in May-June, and at least five studies already have been done – this would be one of eight pilot projects citywide, and afterstudies will be done in October. If speeds are still high – 85% over 25mph – traffic-calming devices will be considered – those would be more costly, Walgren noted, with traffic circles costing $20,000, for example.

The zone is basically, south of Admiral and east of Admiral – south of Lafayette and east of WSHS, including sections of:
42nd (south to Hanford)
41st
Walnut
Fairmount

SDOT chose the pilot zones based on collision history as well as proximity to schools. “Will there be any enforcement?” she was asked. “No,” was the quick reply.

SUMMER CONCERTS AT ADMIRAL: ANA’s Dave Weitzel said the popular series is set for July 23rd-August 27th, 6:30 pm Thursdays as in previous years, with Ayron Jones and The Way expected to be on the slate for this year’s series. ANA is still looking for sponsors (WSB will be among them, as we’ve been since the very first year back in 2009), and they’ll be looking for a new organizer for the series, as former ANA president Katy Walum plans to give up that role after seven blockbuster years.

SIDE NOTE: ANA, now a 401(c)(3), is acting as a fiscal agent for the Morgan Neighbors coalition to hold the $25,000 settlement from the 6017 California SW appeal. (It’s a role that other nonprofits in turn used to fill for ANA, until it obtained its nonprofit certification.) That means ANA gets five percent, $1250, “which is kind of like winning the lottery, for a small group,” president Whiting said, reluctant as they were to accept the funds. (One night after the ANA meeting, we heard an update on this at the quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting – MoCA will be administering the settlement money as a grant fund for neighborhood projects.)

CANDIDATES: Lisa Herbold and Tom Koch both spoke to the group, which, like most other community councils, is hosting visiting candidates as campaign season continues. Herbold said she’s been out talking to people and is glad to hear that people aren’t against growth so much as concerned that the city is doing a lousy job handling growth. She promised to fix that, and to bring people into the process “so that you can help make the right decisions.” Koch went into details of his major issue, which is related to growth – impact fees he says the city could have been collecting as part of the development process over the past quarter-century. He says those uncollected fees could have totaled as much as $1 billion by now.

Questions included whether the city is spending too much on helping homeless people. Herbold said a big reason why homelessness is increasing is income inequality – “we’re becoming a city of haves and have nots” – she said “it’s in all our best interests” to become a city ‘where everybody has a roof over their heads.” Koch said he’s frustrated with the city because, again, the impact fees that could be collected aren’t being collected. He also noted, “A lot of people who are homeless have jobs – this is something a lot of people don’t realize.”

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS: Marci Carpenter from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition said WSTC is collecting opinions before deciding whether to endorse the city’s draft transportation levy – you can contact WSTC through its website, as well as attending its next meeting. No timeline for its endorsement decision yet, she said.

NEXT MEETING: ANA meets on second Tuesdays most months, so that means 7 pm May 12th. Land Use 101 and more Council candidates are on the May agenda.

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SDOT walking tours, open house ahead for Roxbury, 35th SW plans http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/sdot-walking-tours-open-house-ahead-for-roxbury-35th-sw-plans/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/sdot-walking-tours-open-house-ahead-for-roxbury-35th-sw-plans/#comments Wed, 15 Apr 2015 17:55:22 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=307112 While sending a reminder about tomorrow’s “open house” drop-in info session about the SW Roxbury plan announced last week, SDOT also announced walking tours in May, for the 35th SW project updated last month as well as for Roxbury. Here’s the lineup:

*Tomorrow (3-4:30 pm), Roxbury project open house @ Southwest Library (35th/Henderson)

*May 16th (9 am-noon), 35th SW walking tour (details/meeting place TBA)

*May 20th (evening), Roxbury walking tour (details/meeting place TBA)

Along with our coverage links above, here are SDOT’s project pages:

*SW Roxbury
*35th SW

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‘We can’t rely on the parking strategies of the 1950s,’ says mayor as city’s parking study arrives http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/we-cant-rely-on-the-parking-strategies-of-the-1950s-says-mayor-as-citys-parking-study-arrives/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/we-cant-rely-on-the-parking-strategies-of-the-1950s-says-mayor-as-citys-parking-study-arrives/#comments Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:14:45 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306985

The DPD/SDOT study of the city’s parking policies – and recommendations for if/how to change them – just hit the inbox. Above, read the report. That’s what we’re still doing, and we’ll add toplines shortly. You can also go ahead (after the jump, if you’re reading this from the home page) and read the official news release sent with it:

Today the Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) sent a report to City Council containing preliminary staff recommendations to address residential parking issues related to new development. Last year, the Mayor and City Council directed the Department of Planning and Development and the Seattle Department of Transportation to work together in preparing the recommendations for Council consideration this spring.

After a thorough evaluation, DPD and SDOT recommend adding residential transportation options and managing on-street parking more effectively. This includes strategies to address transportation and parking demand, such as requiring transit passes for new residential development, rather than requiring parking in areas well served by transit. Department staff also determined that current parking policy has played an important role to help mitigate some of the rapid rise in the cost of housing construction.

“Seattle is experiencing tremendous growth as our economy continues to expand and add tens of thousands of new jobs. It is our challenge to do more to ensure Seattle is affordable and livable for current and future residents,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “To do this, we can’t rely on the parking strategies of the 1950’s. Instead, we must pursue innovative policies that will give residents more transportation choices and smartly manage our current parking supply.

The recommendations in the report are grounded in Seattle’s urban village strategy and long history of progressive parking policies which have provided increasing flexibility in parking requirements for residential buildings in places with access to frequent bus or rail service, starting downtown about 30 years ago. This series of important policy decisions by past Mayors and City Councils were efforts to promote lower cost, more affordable housing in areas with frequent transit service.

Recommendations include developing legislation and programs to:

· Require bus passes for new residential developments in center city neighborhoods and other areas frequently served by transit, along with car share memberships, bike share memberships, or similar services.

· Remove City code barriers and promote shared parking of underutilized parking spaces.

· Update City code to include improved bike parking for more types of new development and promote guidance for placing bike share stations on private property.

· Review residential parking conditions and the Restricted Parking Zone program to identify demand management strategies in growing neighborhoods.

· Promote garage designs that facilitate sharing parking among different buildings in a neighborhood. This would include providing guidance for optimal access, layout and security.

· Promote transportation options and ensure that our neighborhoods continue to be well served by transit.

Parking construction can cost $20,000 to $50,000 per space. A Portland, Oregon study found that parking can add as much as $500 per month in rental costs to a lowrise apartment building.

Studies, most notably King County’s 2013 Right Size Parking study, have shown that parking is often significantly over-supplied, needlessly contributing to high housing costs. Our current policies and proposed recommendations also help address traffic congestion, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and aiding other City objectives.

“This report includes key recommended policy changes that Transportation Choices fully supports,” said Andrew Austin, Transportation Choices policy director. “It is important that as more people in Seattle choose car-free living, we refine our policies to reflect shifting preferences; doing this is one key component to addressing the affordability problem.”

Key findings from the report include:

· In areas where parking is not required, about 3/4 of new developments provide parking (average is 0.55 spaces per dwelling unit), that is, 167 out of 219 projects permitted since 2012. Only about 12% of the 19,000 housing units have been built without parking.

· Development with reduced or no parking is clustering in areas with frequent transit service including Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods such as University District and Ballard.

· Additional bus service funded by voters through Proposition 1 will provide better frequency, reliability, and will relieve peak hour crowding in buses along key transit corridors

· Best practices used in other jurisdictions include: low or no parking minimums in urban neighborhoods; space for car share services; development regulations requiring transit passes for residents and employees; and on-street parking management strategies such as pricing and time limits.

· Parking apps directing people toward parking (E-Park), on-street valets, and coordinated public/private efforts (downtownseattleparking.com) offer promise in matching customers and visitors with affordable off-street parking options in Downtown. This approach could be expanded to other neighborhoods.

The Mayor has directed DPD and SDOT to seek input from City Council, prepare a public review draft ordinance, environmental (SEPA) review and have final recommendations for the Mayor by December 2015.

Two links – here’s the parking report and recommendations; here’s an FAQ.

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FOLLOWUP: Original 35th SW safety petition reopened, in response to opposition petition http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/followup-original-35th-sw-safety-petition-reopened-in-response-to-opposition-petition/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/followup-original-35th-sw-safety-petition-reopened-in-response-to-opposition-petition/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 23:18:48 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306975 In last Friday’s report on the online petition launched by opponents of two key components of the city’s under-development 35th SW safety plan, we mentioned the plan itself had started taking shape in the wake of a very different petition. That petition circulated early last year and was closed after more than 600 signatures and city leaders’ promise of safety improvements, in response to requests that traced back at least six years, to fall 2007.

Today, supporters of the changes SDOT is pursuing – a speed-limit reduction to 30 mph and some form of rechannelization – have reopened the petition from early 2014. Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections sent the announcement from Seattle Neighborhood Greenways:

If you are FOR safety on 35th Avenue SW, please sign this PRO-safety petition. You may have seen a petition circulating to STOP the safety improvements planned for “I-35″. There are several hundred signers who may be deceived by the petition claims that 35th is safe as is, and speed is needed, or actually saves time. It is hard to believe that they would be more willing to risk their neighbors’ lives rather than lose a few seconds of car travel time due to 5 mph lower speed limit; a signal at Graham; a greenway on 34th; pedestrian safety islands; a left-turn lane to avoid rear-ending and left-hook car crashes.

If you are FOR Safety, please sign this PRO-safety petition, signed by over 600 concerned neighbors in 2014, and re-opened now.

SDOT continues accepting comments about the proposed alternatives, which are outlined in the slide deck below:

The alternatives were presented in two meetings last month, both of which we covered – March 10th here, and March 12th here – as well as at the March 26th West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting. SDOT said it would return to the community with final recommendations in June and is still accepting direct comments – e-mail jim.curtin@seattle.gov.

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SURVEY: Metro is asking you to join in an international effort http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/survey-metro-asking-you-to-join-in-an-international-transit-survey/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/survey-metro-asking-you-to-join-in-an-international-transit-survey/#comments Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:42:17 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306973 In case you didn’t already get this via the Metro alert system:

As part of an independent international survey effort by transit agencies serving 11 cities around the world, Metro is inviting customers to tell us their thoughts about the bus service we provide.

The survey is available in English and Spanish. The deadline for submitting it is May 10, 2015.

The 11 transit agencies will compare the results of their surveys in order to learn from one another and work toward providing even better service.

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Why did it take 9 hours to move one truck off Highway 99? Newest report has explanations, recommendations, revelations http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-move-one-truck-off-highway-99-newest-report-has-more-explanations-and-recommendations/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-move-one-truck-off-highway-99-newest-report-has-more-explanations-and-recommendations/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 04:51:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306781 Remember the truck-on-its-side incident that closed southbound Highway 99 for nine hours last month (WSB coverage here), leading to domino-effect backups around the city and trapping drivers/riders on the Alaskan Way Viaduct?

(March 24 photo courtesy Chi Krneta)
The city went public today with its first version of an “after-action report” looking at the intricacies of why it took so long and what could change before the next one:

(Note the fine print at the bottom of the cover page, saying “The City of Seattle will be utilizing an external consultant to fully investigate this incident …”)

Reading through the report, you’ll note it includes a more detailed timeline than was released shortly after the incident.

(March 24th photo, included in report)
Part of what that reveals: Nobody contacted Seattle Tunnel Partners, whose equipment-laden worksite was yards away, until 6:30 pm, four hours after the crash. Within ten minutes of that contact, STP offered equipment to help clear the wrecked truck. But no STP equipment was used until almost 9:30 pm, when the tunnel contractor’s “Sky Jacks” were used to unload part of the truck trailer’s load of fish so it could be moved. (By the way, the report identifies the fish as cod, not salmon as we were told the day it happened, worth “$450,000 to $750,000.)

The report goes into a list of what needs to happen by June 30th – as “SPD and SDOT will expeditiously develop protocols that prioritize incident response decision making on arterial streets” – and that list gives hints as to what didn’t work so well during the March 24th response, including:

… Ensure that City personnel have requisite expertise to make sophisticated on-scene assessments or have access to necessary external expertise. For example, if onscene personnel had access to on-scene engineer, more critical information and analysis could have been incorporated into the decision-making process.

…(Be aware of w)hat other resources (equipment, personnel, or private sector relationships) could be brought to bear on incident management. For example, would prior agreements and protocols have made STPs loan of Skyjacks to unload the trailer easier and quicker? If prior agreements were in place with the Port of Seattle or other private loading companies, could additional heavy equipment been utilized?

f. Ensure that current communications systems are adequate to ensure accurate and timely responses to incidents. For example, was there a delay in the arrival of heavy class tow-truck?

“Engineering problem” was in fact how SPD spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb described it in a conversation with WSB the day after the crash (included in our followup report). He also said at that time that a citation would likely be issued; the report released today says, in fact, “The operator would later be cited by SPD for exceeding reasonable speed.”

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Online petition launched by opponents of 35th SW speed-limit cut, rechannelization http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/online-petition-launched-by-opponents-of-35th-sw-speed-limit-cut-rechannelization-launch-online-petition/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/online-petition-launched-by-opponents-of-35th-sw-speed-limit-cut-rechannelization-launch-online-petition/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 21:41:44 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306775 An online petition was part of the community campaign to get the city to make safety improvements on 35th SW.

More than a year later, another online petition is asking the city not to reduce the speed limit or rechannelize 35th – both of which are key parts of the “design alternatives” announced in two March meetings (which begin on page 22 below):

We covered both meetings – March 10th here, and March 12th here – as well as the March 26th West Seattle Transportation Coalition briefing. It all traces back to an announcement by Mayor Ed Murray and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen more than a year earlier.

Neel says it goes too far. In feedback to SDOT, he wrote:

35th has been the major West Seattle arterial since West Seattle was platted! Everyone else who depends on it to help them get outta town don’t want it choked with “safety” improvements that, plain and simple, aren’t needed. Your own data shows that there isn’t much of a problem here, except for some concerns for pedestrian crosswalks toward the north end. So go fix that — don’t mess up the whole transportation system to ‘fix’ a problem that doesn’t exist. …

We like 35th just the way it is, but are also open to changes that will improve our throughput while maintaining proper regard for safety. And by this I mean the efficiency of the driver, not the road. I really don’t care how many vehicles per unit time you can accommodate (the road’s efficiency). I only care about the transportation efficiency — covering the maximum distance in the least amount of time. That’s the true measure of productivity: maximizing desired outcome(s) with the fewest resources.

The specific objections – and potential counterproposals – are all in the text of the petition, which you can see here. The city says it will present the final plan in June; in the meantime, comments are being taken by project manager Jim Curtin at jim.curtin@seattle.gov.

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Told the city what you think about the transportation levy yet? If not … http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/told-the-city-what-you-think-about-the-transportation-levy-yet-if-not/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/told-the-city-what-you-think-about-the-transportation-levy-yet-if-not/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 04:27:31 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306676 Another transportation note: SDOT is trying to make sure you can’t say you weren’t asked for your thoughts on the draft 9-year, $900 million Transportation Levy to Move Seattle before it’s shaped into a final November ballot measure by the mayor and council. It circulated a reminder tonight about ways you can have a say:

RIGHT NOW: Online survey – take it here

IN PERSON, IN WEST SEATTLE: SDOT director Scott Kubly will be at next Wednesday’s Delridge District Council meeting, 7 pm April 15th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center; SDOT reps will be at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market on April 19 and 26, 10 am-2 pm at 44th/Alaska

ONLINE MEETING: Can’t get out to an in-person meeting? SDOT’s trying an online meeting at 6 pm April 20th (sign up right now, here)

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Water Taxi riders & other Seacrest users: Friday parking crunch http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/water-taxi-riders-other-seacrest-users-friday-parking-crunch/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/water-taxi-riders-other-seacrest-users-friday-parking-crunch/#comments Fri, 10 Apr 2015 03:17:20 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306666 Thanks to Carolyn for the heads-up on this: From Seacrest east/southeastward, a sizable stretch of parking on the water side of Harbor Avenue SW (she estimated 25 spaces) will be off-limits tomorrow, 10:30 am-7 pm. The “no parking” signs were up when we went by this afternoon to verify; they list an unnamed “production shoot.” The Water Taxi is of course served by free shuttle buses as well as Metro Route 37; get the bus schedule via a tab on this page.

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Want to be one of the first to see the SW Roxbury plan? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/want-to-be-one-of-the-first-to-see-the-sw-roxbury-plan/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/want-to-be-one-of-the-first-to-see-the-sw-roxbury-plan/#comments Mon, 06 Apr 2015 21:01:44 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306325 Instead of a standalone meeting, SDOT is coming to tomorrow night’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council to announce the plan for making SW Roxbury safer, after 223 crashes left 112 people hurt just in the past three years.

At two meetings last year – which we covered, on July 31st and on August 4th – SDOT rolled out a proposal including rechannelization between 17th and 35th and a mix of changes east of there. One more round of community consultation, focused on Roxbury businesses, was due to follow that.

Tomorrow’s meeting is at 6:15 pm at the Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson); the Roxbury presentation is set for 6:30; all are welcome.

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Something missing in ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,’ say West Seattle advocates: Stairways http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/something-missing-in-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-say-west-seattle-advocates-stairways/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/04/something-missing-in-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-say-west-seattle-advocates-stairways/#comments Sun, 05 Apr 2015 18:59:38 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=306245 After we reported Friday night on SDOT‘s plan to use goats to clear weeds/brush from the SW Holden stairway between 20th and Delridge, our area’s best-known stairway users/advocates pointed out two things: For one, this isn’t the only stairway that needs TLC, note Jake and Cathy Jaramillo, the West Seattleites who wrote “Seattle Stairway Walks.” For two, a stairway plan is missing in the draft Transportation Levy to Move Seattle. With a city survey about the levy open right now, they say it’s an opportunity to fix that:

An Open Letter To Our Stairway Friends:

The mayor’s proposed Transportation Levy has a lot of things going for it, but it completely misses one of Seattle’s most important everyday modes of transportation: our stairway network.

West Seattle is particularly blessed with numerous stairways that play an important role in the everyday life of our community. Some of them are sadly deteriorating, and all of them need ongoing TLC!

Seattle possesses a historic built legacy of more than 650 publicly accessible stairways. Many of them are more than one hundred years old, yet even today they still connect our citizens to transit, parks and everyday neighborhood businesses.

Stairways provide scenic byways in the city for exploration and outdoor exercise. They’re a “third place” for neighbors to meet casually. In short, our stairway network remains incredibly relevant to our city’s function and quality of life.

Back in 2011 the city’s budget for stairway maintenance was only about $1.1 million. This inadequate level of funding shows, despite the hard work done by SDOT rehab and replacement crews (see picture below).

Roughly forty percent of this amount will be lost when the current Bridging the Gap levy expires, leaving a yawning gap in the funds needed to keep up our stairway network.

We’re appealing for concerned residents to do two simple things, right away:

1) Please take a moment to give your feedback to Mayor Murray and the city, using the brief SDOT online survey, at moveseattlesurvey.com.

There’s a key juncture where the survey asks: “Are there other transportation investments you feel should be a top priority for funding through this levy?” Adding a quick note here, such as “To make walking easier and safer, the levy must add specific funding for our deteriorating public stairways” can go a long way to putting stairways on the city’s radar – provided enough of us speak up.

2) Please forward this message to your own networks, to get others to amplify your voice!

See you on the stairs,

Jake and Cathy Jaramillo
Seattle Stairway Walks: An Up-and-Down Guide to City Neighborhoods

While stairways were mentioned when Mayor Murray announced his overall transportation vision in early March, they did not get a specific shoutout when the draft levy to fund part of that plan was made public a few weeks later.

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AS-IT-HAPPENED: Find out about proposed ‘Transportation Levy to Move Seattle’ @ WSHS http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-find-out-about-proposed-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-wshs/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/happening-now-find-out-about-proposed-transportation-levy-to-move-seattle-wshs/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 01:18:49 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305730

6:18 PM: We’re in the commons at >West Seattle High School tonight, for the first official West Seattle meeting on the “Transportation Levy to Move Seattle,” proposed as a successor to the expiring Bridging The Gap levy. The presentation is scheduled to start around 6:30, so you have time to get here if you’re interested; until then, people are circulating around info-boards, writing sticky notes with ideas and comments, etc. You can even set up your idea of an ideal road:

More to come.

6:39 PM: After a 4-minute introductory video, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stepped to the microphone.

He says the council will have “our own meetings and public hearings” after the mayor sends them his final proposed levy. Estimating about 40 people here. Rasmussen hands the microphone to SDOT director Scott Kubly, who says they want to hear what’s “missing” in the levy, “anything you’d like to see less of, anything you’d like to see more of.” He says city staffers are here to circulate to ask people if they have questions or comments, and he talks about the boards around the room.

Kubly mentions that the mayor announced the “Move Seattle” overview before the draft levy. He then describes this as a “renewal” though it’s $900 million over 9 years compared to BTG’s $365 million in the same period. The slide deck behind him notes that “safe, affordable, interconnected, vibrant” are the values around which this is organized. Toward the first value, he mentions the new “Vision Zero” plan, which among other things will cut speed limits on many streets, including some of West Seattle’s arterials (shoutout from Kubly to 35th and Roxbury – the plan for the latter will be unveiled at next Tuesday’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting). Toward the second value, he mentions road maintenance – it’s cheaper to fix it than to rebuild it, so this plans to “maintain and modernize 250 lane miles” of arterials. For “interconnected,” he mentions better connections to light rail (none of which is in West Seattle yet), and “we’re going to make it a lot easier to walk and bike in the city.” And under “vibrant,” there’s a promise of improving “mobility for freight and delivery vehicles,” and investment in Neighborhood Street Fund projects.

Here he brings up the Lander Street Overpass, mentioning coal and oil trains on the rise, and the need to get buses up over those tracks in SODO, plus South Park drainage improvements in partnership with Seattle Public Utilities.

Now before sending people off to look at the boards and write down comments and notes, he says they’ll also be having coffees around the city. Here’s the timeline:

*End of May – Mayor submits proposal to Council
*’Possible City Council action’ from mid-July to mid-August
*Send measure to King County in August, for November ballot

6:55 PM: This has broken back up into an open house after word that a mural artist is standing by on the side of the room. If people have questions, Kubly says, they can talk to him one on one, or anybody else around the room. There was no call for general Q/A while attendees remained seated as an audience, but this is supposed to continue until 8 pm if you’re interested in stopping by with something to say and/or ask. We’re going to circulate and see what people are asking/saying.

9:22 PM: Photos added above and below. We spotted three City Council District 1 candidates at the meeting:

From left, Tom Koch, Amanda Kay Helmick, Chas Redmond. Taking a look at the sticky-notes and other written comments left on boards and the future mural, we noted the prevalence of requests for light rail, and even a wistful wish for a monorail:

Missed tonight? Bring comments and questions to tomorrow night’s Southwest District Council meeting (6:30 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle, Wednesday, April 1st). And remember the online survey.

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Numbers @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: 35th SW, Vision Zero, $900 million levy… http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/numbers-west-seattle-transportation-coalition-35th-sw-vision-zero-900-million-levy/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/numbers-west-seattle-transportation-coalition-35th-sw-vision-zero-900-million-levy/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 05:03:07 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305211

(From left, WSTC’s Joe Szilagyi & Amanda Kay Helmick, SDOT’s Scott Kubly & Jim Curtin)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition stuck with its agenda tonight, hearing from and talking with SDOT leaders about the proposed Move Seattle levy and two safety projects – Vision Zero citywide and 35th SW locally – instead of digressing into a discussion of Tuesday’s 9-hour Highway 99 blockage.

Co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick said WSTC would be writing out its concerns/questions for SDOT to consider regarding the incident. Otherwise, here’s how the meeting unfolded:

35TH SW BRIEFING: SDOT project manager Jim Curtin spoke toward the start of the meeting, with a quick refresher on the alternative proposals unveiled at meetings earlier this month (WSB coverage here and here).

He reiterated that the roadway will be “redesigned” and that the speed-limit reduction that is planned will be based on that, not based on its current conditions. “It will look very much like Fauntleroy Way SW [rechannelized and repaved in 2009] does right now, except that we are not planning bicycle facilities right now” – they are, however, in the city’s long-range plan; in the shorter term, greenway(s) will be developed nearby, and Curtin says that process will begin next year.

Overall, Curtin said, the 35th SW changes “will significantly improve conditions for people who are not driving.” The proposed final version will be the. Next week, he said, SDOT will be meeting with some of the business owners along 35th SW in the Gatewood/Sunrise Heights area, to talk about pedestrian safety. Overall, Holden and Morgan are the two intersections where they’re still working to figure out how they can improve safety without significant delay. “We think we have solutions,” Curtin added.

WSTC’s Michael Taylor-Judd said he was concerned that the city was always looking at “the cheapest” possible solution rather than addressing specific ongoing pedestrian behaviors, which might be helped by signals. “There’s no magic,” Curtin said, but went on to add that even the “cheap” changes such as restriping can result in major safety improvements. “I think this is a really good use of your tax dollars …” more safety without that much more spending, he said.

WSTC’s Joe Szilagyi wondered about more barriers to keep cars from crashing into protected spaces for pedestrians, like the island on SW Barton in Westwood Village where he recently pointed out a driver having taken down signage.

(Photo courtesy Joe Szilagyi)
Isn’t 5 deaths in 10 years a “good” average? asked WSTC’s Marty Westerman, noting that he was “playing devil’s advocate.” Actually, no, said Curtin, saying 35th had one of the worst records in the city. Westerman also asked about why West Seattle didn’t have a “mobility system,” and said he was concerned that “constricting arterials” would impede WS mobility. Actually, Curtin said, SDOT’s experience is that reducing a road to 3 lanes does NOT “constrict” traffic. But, Taylor-Judd contended, it’s going to take people longer, so SDOT shouldn’t be suggesting there’s “no impact.” Curtin said they weren’t making any such suggestion – “if you saw my presentation, we clearly said, there will be delays of up to two minutes.” He noted that one of his first assignments was attending a rally on 35th “after a kid got hit by a car.”

WSTC’s Tom Linde wondered about the feedback provided by radar speed signs. Curtin said that effect “wears off.”

West Seattle resident Mark Jacobs said that he has found information suggesting that the 35th corridor actually has an up to 25 percent lower crash rate than other such corridors in the city. He wants the city to keep the 35 mph speed limit “as they did on Fauntleroy, come back a year later, and see how it’s going.” Curtin countered, of course 35th has a lower collision rate, when you look at downtown and other areas with higher traffic.

Can we make buses run faster? asked an attendee. Curtin said yes, they’re working on tweaks, noting that as an Arbor Heights resident, “the 21 [on 35th] is my bus.” He said a “short bus-only and right-turn lane” is under consideration at SW Morgan, for example. In response to another question, he also reiterated what he had said during at least one of the official 35th project meetings: The city will not (ever again?) put in a bus bulb just north of an intersection like the widely derided one at California/Fauntleroy in Morgan Junction. A followup question about diversion along side streets in Morgan brought a response from WSTC board member Deb Barker who said the situation doesn’t meet “thresholds” for mitigation.

Szilagyi asked Curtin how the feedback has been since the unveiling of the alternatives. Of the 150 or so direct comments he’s received in various ways, Curtin said, most are favorable, with some geographic pockets of concern like his neighborhood, Arbor Heights. He promised that summaries of feedback will be in the SDOT presentation when they come back with the final proposed alternative in a few months.

Taylor-Judd wondered about data for what happened on Fauntleroy and Delridge after those roads were rechannelized – was there diversion to other roads? As Curtin pointed out, Fauntleroy was mentioned in his recent presentations, which pointed out that Fauntleroy’s traffic volume has actually increased (ever so slightly).

VISION ZERO: Curtin segued into this initiative (here’s our original report from last month, with more than 100 comments). The 20-mph zone program will launch next month, with Admiral among the first areas (non-arterial streets involved), and possibly part of High Point shortly thereafter. (He clarified later, in response to a question, that the city is NOT planning to reduce *all* non-arterials to 20 mph. “The locations (where it will be reduced) are generally close to schools, parks, community centers …”)

As originally announced, Vision Zero also includes 30 mph zones planned for these West Seattle arterials among other parts of the city:

*35th Avenue SW
*SW Roxbury Street/Olson Place SW
*Delridge Way SW
*Fauntleroy Way SW
*Harbor Avenue SW

Regarding enforcement, SDOT will be working with SPD on its SeaStat trend reviews, “bringing traffic into the fold,” and emphasis patrols will be happening – one happened just today in Lake City, Curtin said.

Also, they’re in the final stages of deciding where the next school-zone cameras will be installed. (Last month in our Vision Zero report, we noted that Boren Building/Delridge is considered a likely/possible West Seattle location.)

SDOT DIRECTOR SCOTT KUBLY, INCLUDING THE TRANSPORTATION LEVY: He picked up from Curtin, and early on, Jacobs asked a question about national standards that he said Seattle will soon be violating. Kubly said he sees it all as “like a doctor … first, do no harm,” but “part of the challenge we’ve had in the traffic engineering of the past 50 or 60 years is that we’ve planned for one mode instead of all the different modes that use the street … if you look at (a system of any kind) and (focus it on one thing) … it doesn’t work.”

WSTC’s Helmick wanted to find out how the transportation levy will help ingress/egress to West Seattle. Kubly started with an overview of the 9-year, $900 million *draft* proposal – “that’s important to point out, it’s a DRAFT proposal” – and that it includes proposals supporting city goals including safety and affordability. Regarding the latter point, he noted that transportation is the average household’s second biggest spending area, after housing – that the average household spends 17 percent of its $ on transportation. And it’s a matter of affordability for the city too – “it’s cheaper for us to repair a street than to replace it.” 250 miles of repaving are part of the levy plan, as it stands now.

He says someone has just started in a new SDOT position to “do a better job of utility coordination.” He said he was traveling down California SW along what otherwise was a new stretch of pavement and “seeing utility cuts after utility cuts after utility cuts.” Right now there’s a three-year moratorium – “if we pave a street, a utility can’t make a cut for three years.” That will change to a 5-year moratorium, and once the cut is allowed, there will be tougher standards for repairs/restorations “so streets don’t look like Swiss cheese.” But, he added, “there will be times when emergency cuts have to happen.” If it’s coordinated properly, he said, the city could get some “free pavement” as a result.

Then he went into more on the multi-modal vision, talking about a street such as East Marginal – “we’re going to be talking first about freight, and then about (bicycle safety)” … nearby, the Lander Street Overpass is “really important” to get people over the tracks where “oil trains are now coming in three times a day.”

(The fish from the Highway 99 mishap came up at that point; Kubly said he thinks it’s being stored somewhere, likely destined to become pet food.)

RapidRide “type” improvements – likely without the branding – are going to be happening in 7 corridors around the city.

About sidewalks – 27 percent of the city is without them. That’s a $2.5 billion problem, he said. But this levy includes “100 blocks” of sidewalks. Improving walking safety is “not always going to be traditional sidewalks,” he said.

On the point of “a vibrant city,” he said that’s not just about sidewalk cafes, but about other components like freight – the “freight spot improvement program” would be based on the Freight Master Plan that’s expected to be done this year. The levy also includes 25-30 “neighborhood street fund” projects as priorities. He didn’t mention any West Seattle specifics and that was pointed out, genially, at that point. “We’ll be having a conversation over the next several months” to refine all this, he said, reminding people that there’s a survey online as well as more traditional feedback methods as meetings (like the March 31st meeting at WSHS). The website will have a “Levy Builder” so people can go in and shape it the way they would want to see it.

City Council District 1 candidate Chas Redmond asked from the audience what the dollar breakdown of the $900 million is by council district, and “what would it take for us to get you to think out of the box to add … a bus-lane exit on the 99 offramp from Spokane – there’s plenty of space on both sides … (And) what about a 4th Avenue S. onramp for transit prioritization from the busway.”

Kubly started to reply and Redmond said he didn’t want to hear the same old answers – he had asked about this four years ago for the Transit Master Plan “and it was ignored by the people then in charge.” (The breakdown question wasn’t answered at all.)

Another City Council District 1 candidate, Tom Koch, was next with a question. “How much of the $900 million levy cost could be subsidized if (developers) paid their fair share? … Are any of the additional $2 billion in investments (mentioned) coming from fees?” Kubly noted what others have said before, that impact fees are “being studied right now” but that kind of funding is not being considered currently.

Attendee Kathy Dunn asked if red-light-camera revenue could go toward safety projects, as school-zone-speed cameras’ revenue does.

An East Admiral resident brought up the Terminal 5 modernization situation (see “announcements” below) . “We’re talking with the port,” said Kubly, mentioning Lander again and unspecified “spot improvements,” saying he’s not familiar with T-5 specifically, but “people in the department are.”

Someone else from the audience: How many of those 100 blocks of sidewalks are going into Arbor Heights? Kubly pointed to shaded areas on a map which show “high priority” areas. (Apparently NOT including Arbor Heights.) He reiterated that they are looking at non-sidewalk ways to make the city “more walkable.” Curtin brought up the recently built 97th-100th sidewalk along 35th and said that will be extended to 106th this year, which means 35th will “have complete sidewalks from Roxbury to 106th. … We’re definitely working our way through Arbor Heights.”

Taylor-Judd wondered about the threshold for making pedestrian improvements – one house goes down, four or six townhouses/rowhouse/houses go up, and no improvements are required, unlike apartment developments. He also mentioned the phasing – “you buy four or five houses, you take down one, put up a four-pack, wait six months, put up four more … It seems there are tricks being played at the small end of things to avoid making improvements.”

Kubly: “You raise a lot of interesting points …” and mentioned different ideas for how this is handled in different cities. “There are different ways to tackle the problem.”

Jacobs: “What’s the guarantee if this passes, that the general fund doesn’t get supplanted once again” with general-fund money getting diverted elsewhere because there’s a pot of tax money to pay for basics. Kubly: “There are caps about how much property tax can go up this year. .. Maybe a levy is a good way because it means the city is always setting targets, commitments, meeting commitments.” He said that before the levy proposal was announced, he sat down with staffers and analyzed what the city is paying for components of projects. He went on to talk about designing projects cost-effectively. On Monday, SDOT is rolling out a new division that will help make that happen, he said.

Diane Vincent said she had been at the Highland Park Action Committee meeting last night, with SDOT traffic engineer Dongho Chang, and that there’d “been a lot of talk about sidewalks” and safety/speeding concerns, especially along Holden – at 9th and at 16th, as well as “people zooming through side streets (in HP) to get out of West Seattle.”

WSTC LEGISLATIVE AGENDA: If you’re interested in input, send e-mail to info@westseattletc.org, said Szilagyi.

BOARD ELECTIONS: Several positions are open on the 11-member board and people who wanted to be eligible had to attend tonight’s meeting, as per the communication that WSTC had sent out and published before the meeting. Watch for the list of who’s running for what on the WSTC website; several potential members jumped in. They’ll be voting in May, and candidates will need to submit photos and bios before then so that information about them can be circulated.

ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM BOARD MEMBERS & ATTENDEES: These included a reminder about the March 31st meeting about the aforementioned levy, 6 pm at West Seattle High School, a Metro long-range-vision workshop is happening downtown that same night … a reminder that SDOT will be unveiling its Roxbury plan at the upcoming Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting on April 7th (6:15 pm, Southwest Branch Library) … The Terminal 5 modernization’s proposed Determination of Non-Significance was brought up (as reported here, its comment period wrapped up this week). The Port of Seattle now is taking comments into consideration and will issue a final decision; here’s its notice. … WSTC is also monitoring progress (or lack of it) on the transportation bill in Olympia; a hearing was under way much of the afternoon.

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition is online at westseattletc.org; its meetings are 4th Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

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FOLLOWUP: Why did it take 9 hours to clear toppled truck from Highway 99? http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/followup-why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-clear-toppled-truck-from-highway-99/ http://westseattleblog.com/2015/03/followup-why-did-it-take-9-hours-to-clear-toppled-truck-from-highway-99/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 19:01:27 +0000 WSB http://westseattleblog.com/?p=305076 (UPDATED 6:07 PM after followup conversation with SPD)

(Reader photo texted shortly after the crash)
12:01 PM: “Why did it take 9 hours?” is the big question today, one day after a truck full of fish went sideways on southbound Highway 99 in the stadium zone, leading to a 9-hour shutdown that clogged traffic citywide. We have some early answers from Seattle Police:

Lincoln Towing responded to the scene with two large tow trucks and one standard-size tow truck.

Eventually Lincoln Towing personnel were able to raise the overturned trailer. However, the load of fish in the trailer’s container had shifted, causing the truck to become unstable. At this point the trailer was upright, but still blocking all southbound lanes. Lincoln Towing determined the trailer’s cargo of would have to be off-loaded in order to stabilize the trailer.

City officials ultimately had to rely on personnel from Seattle Tunnel Partners, and used their heavy equipment to off-load a portion of the container. Once about half of the container’s cargo was removed, the trailer was deemed stable enough to be moved from the viaduct.

STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the Highway 99 tunnel project. All of the above is from a long update published a short time ago on SPD Blotter; it also includes a dispatch-log timeline and aggregated tweets (some of which were featured in our as-it-happens coverage Tuesday afternoon/evening) about the incident.

We also have an inquiry out to Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee and has pursued extensive followups on earlier incidents, most notably last June’s 4-mile, 5-hour shutdown after a head-on crash on 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge. Some of the changes promised in this September followup report/”after-action plan” (embedded below) were clearly in effect yesterday – SPD/SDOT communication, longer hours for the SDOT traffic-management center communicator(s):

But Tuesday’s truck mishap was a completely different type of incident, without a major criminal investigation to complicate things, so it brings up different questions. We’ll update this report with anything more we find out today.

P.S. We’ll mention again that SDOT leaders including director Scott Kubly were already booked for tomorrow night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm Thursday at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, if you want to ask your own questions and/or hear the answers firsthand.

4:30 PM: Councilmember Rasmussen says he has the same info that you see above from SPD, plus, “I have already requested that SPD and SDOT prepare reports for the Council. We will be scheduling a presentation of their reports to the Council and are working on that date and time now.”

5:26 PM: We talked a short time ago with SPD’s media-relations/public-affairs Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, seeking answers to several followup questions:

First: Commenters asked, couldn’t they just drag the trailer/truck off the highway? No, says Sgt. Whitcomb, there was no way to do that. They tried towing it, dragging it, pushing it; it just wouldn’t work, it wasn’t stable enough, so finally they tried Seattle Tunnel Partners’ heavy equipment. “It was an engineering problem – getting the damaged, jack-knifed truck up on its wheels, stabilized, just took a great deal of time and consideration … determining that additional tools were needed was part of the problem-solving process.”

Could STP have been involved sooner? Maybe, but, “at the heart of it, this was a towing operation,” said Sgt. Whitcomb. The circumstances “would be hard to replicate – complicated by the damage (to) and the position of the truck. It was fortuitous that (STP) were just right there and could help when needed – a spirit of partnership between the state and the city.” (STP is WSDOT’s contractor for the tunnel project.)

He said it was cleared as soon as possible, in the end, and they were at one point afraid it could have taken even longer – “there was a two am conference call planned” at one point, to see what the prospects were for the morning commute. The mayor’s office was notified early on, and the information loop went all the way to the top at SPD, including consultation with Deputy Chief Carmen Best, #2 in command. Originally, he said, they had hoped it would be cleared by the evening commute, but at some point, everyone but those directly involved in the towing/clearing were “spectators.”

Sgt. Whitcomb didn’t have details handy on whose truck it was or what happened to the fish, though he recalled a truck spill in the past (full of Mountain Dew) in which the contents of the trailer had to be disposed of because once there had been a mishap, the items weren’t salable.

So what now? In addition to the reports about the 9-hour closure, the collision remains under investigation, Sgt. Whitcomb said. No indication of DUI, but, he pointed out, generally “somebody will be cited … ‘accidents’ don’t just happen, it’s either mechanical failure or operator error – a rule of the road has been violated and somebody will be cited.” And when it comes to commercial vehicle operation, that kind of ticket is “a big deal,” he notes.

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