Is it time for the city to have a Transit Advisory Board?

February 10, 2015 at 3:42 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen thinks so. Here’s the announcement of what’s being proposed:

With improved bus service coming soon to Seattle, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen unveiled legislation before Council’s Transportation Committee today to create a Seattle Transit Advisory Board. Last fall Seattle voters approved Proposition 1, raising approximately $45 million per year to improve Metro bus service in Seattle.

The Advisory Board will serve as a public oversight committee.

Click to read the rest of Is it time for the city to have a Transit Advisory Board?…

Metro ‘service change’ on February 14: 2 West Seattle routes have non-WS changes; reminder of upcoming fare changes

February 7, 2015 at 1:42 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

One week from today, it’s Metro‘s next three-times-a-year service change. Two routes that include West Seattle have changes, but the changes are not IN West Seattle. The service-change announcement also brings news of a fare increase and the new low-income fare*, plus a change in customer service. Read on for details:

Click to read the rest of Metro ‘service change’ on February 14: 2 West Seattle routes have non-WS changes; reminder of upcoming fare changes…

Where is Metro Transit going? Help shape its new long-range plan

February 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

What will regional transit be like in 25 years? That’s the question the county says is at the heart of the long-awaited long-range-planning process for Metro Transit, just announced: “We’ll Get You There: Our Vision for the Future of Public Transportation.”

(WSB photo: Route 21 northbound on 35th at Morgan)
According to the official announcement, this will all unfold over the next year and a half. Metro promises multiple ways for you to get directly involved, starting with:

First: Take this online survey.

Second: Apply by February 18th to join the community-advisory group “that will collaborate regularly with Metro to ensure that the final plan represents a diversity of needs and perspectives.” The first of its every-two-months meetings is set for March 12th.

Ultimately, this will result in a draft long-range plan for public review early next year, and a final version for the County Council to consider in fall 2016.

West Seattle Super Bowl spirit: State ferries’ Seahawk names

January 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm | In Seen at sea, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Fauntleroy's 12th man

(M/V Tillikum with Seahawks-fan flags in September 2013; photo by Paul Brannan)
Just like last year, Washington State Ferries is giving its vessels honorary temporary names on Sunday, as a show of support for the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Here are the three that sail out of Fauntleroy:

M/V Issaquah: “M/V Russell Okung
M/V Tillikum: “M/V Kevin Williams
M/V Evergreen State: “M/V Byron Maxwell

Same names as last year except for the Tillikum; see this year’s full system-wide list here.

Here’s what’s coming up at the north end of Delridge and beyond

January 28, 2015 at 6:43 pm | In Delridge, Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

6:43 PM: From the “in case you were wondering, too” file: A reader e-mailed today with the observation, “I noticed a construction sign and cement barriers up this morning on Delridge, north of Andover Street,” so we went over for a photo, then asked SDOT, and got this reply from Maribel Cruz:

The barriers you reference were installed to facilitate installation of four new Seattle City Light poles prior to the start of construction of pedestrian safety improvements along Delridge Way SW between SW Andover Street and the West Seattle Bridge Trail.

The pedestrian safety improvements project is scheduled to begin the third week of February and to last for approximately six weeks. It will improve the connection for pedestrians and bicyclists from the West Seattle Bridge multi-use trail to the signalized intersection at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St., and beyond to the Delridge and West Seattle neighborhoods. Most importantly, this project will improve safety for all roadway users.

Project elements include:

* Widened sidewalk along the east side of Delridge Way SW
* Curb ramps at Delridge Way SW and SW Andover St
* Redesign of 23rd Ave SW where it meets Delridge Way SW to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance and provide uninterrupted sidewalk

Cruz promises another update soon.

ADDED 9:06 PM: This SDOT webpage has a little more information, including a simple map.

@ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Reviewing the city’s responses to the Top 5; mitigation money; more…

January 28, 2015 at 1:25 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 10 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Four months ago today, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition informed the city of what it considers the five “most pressing transportation issues” for the peninsula, and set a deadline for responses on what could/would be done about them.

In some cases, the answers boiled down to “not much, without spending a ton of money,” as you might have seen in our report earlier this month, featuring the replies sent to the WSTC right at the wire.

Meeting for the first time in 2015, the WSTC said in essence, that’s not good enough. Its list of 5, meantime, is down to 4. Here’s how the discussion, and other hot transportation topics, unfolded:

Click to read the rest of @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition: Reviewing the city’s responses to the Top 5; mitigation money; more……

TONIGHT: West Seattle Transportation Coalition meets – new night

January 22, 2015 at 12:05 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Tonight’s the first meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition on its new night – to reduce conflicts with the standing neighborhood-council meetings on second Tuesdays, it’s now meeting on fourth Thursdays. Same start time – 6:30 pm – and location, Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Tonight’s agenda:

6:45-7:30: Proposed By-Law Changes:

· Create a Legislative Agenda Committee. The committee’s function will be to develop the WSTC’s “Legislative Agenda” as a policy and lobbying actions guide. This Committee will also maintain changes to the Agenda as goals are achieved and broadened.

· Review and amend function and by-law language of standing Committees.

Existing Committees and Language:

a) Outreach Committee: Engagement with businesses, community groups, special interest groups and individuals for recruiting into the coalition, education, and to collect feedback for the coalition to act upon.

b) Communications Committee: Manages the WSTC’s online presences; conducting annual/bi-annual Issues Surveys; writing press releases; managing and facilitating communications between other advocacy groups.

c) Research & Solutions Committee: Develops and adjusts the West Seattle Peninsula Transportation Master Plan by receiving and disseminating research info from Outreach, Communications & Meetings. Works directly with various governmental and private agencies for research on technical, planning, and transportation solutions.

d) Action Committee: Meets with officials (elected and otherwise); agencies; goes to and holds rallies; engages directly with whomever is required for the West Seattle Peninsula to get commitments for solutions.

7:30-8:30: Review City of Seattle responses to our September 2014 “Five items” list; Discuss potential ST 3; Discuss Seats on the West Seattle Transportation Corridor and Seattle Transit Oversight Committee; Discuss end of Viaduct mitigation money as of June 2015.

Some of the “five items” responses were included in this WSB report last week.

@ Junction Neighborhood Organization: Underground utilities for ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’? (and more)

January 19, 2015 at 4:44 pm | In Neighborhoods, Transportation, West Seattle news | 37 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Should the Fauntleroy Boulevard project include undergrounding utilities – considering that could cost an extra $6 million or so? That’s the question Councilmember Tom Rasmussen raised at this month’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting.

The undergrounding cost was first mentioned publicly a week earlier, at the Southwest District Council meeting (WSB coverage here), with SWDC’s immediate past co-chair Sharonn Meeks reporting on a conversation with Rasmussen. This is the first time he had subsequently discussed it publicly with a West Seattle group. Taking utilities underground, he noted, “can be … transformational,” but the project has to be designed that way, and it’s now at a crossroads, with about two-thirds of the design completed: Should it be designed with underground utilities or not? The councilmember says he’s looking for community feedback. A few points to consider:

Click to read the rest of @ Junction Neighborhood Organization: Underground utilities for ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’? (and more)…

West Seattle traffic-alert update: What’s being done to prevent 3rd day of port-truck backups on Friday

January 15, 2015 at 12:17 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 106 Comments

(SCROLL DOWN for updates – as of our firsthand check at 4:20 pm, the backup’s cleared; 4:50 pm, added list of city/port traffic-reduction measures; 10:19 pm, adding new SDOT news release with yet more details)

(Thursday morning photo by Don Brubeck)
For a second day, a major backup of port-bound semi-trucks is backing up the westbound Spokane Street Viaduct to I-5, as well as surface streets – photos like these continue to come in:

This of course isn’t the first time a queue of port-bound trucks has affected traffic. But it’s the first time in a long time that we’ve heard of this magnitude of backup, persisting on into the day. So we contacted the Port of Seattle and SDOT to ask about the cause and what if any management steps have been taken. Port spokesperson Peter McGraw’s response:

The terminal operator is working very hard to get cargo moving on and off their docks while handling three large vessels. What we’ve been seeing here the past couple days is a surge of export commodities– goods from eastern Washington. So between the extra loads and the ongoing work disruption, we’re seeing an unusually high amount of back-ups. We’ll be keeping a close eye on things today, working with our transportation partners and the terminal operator to move cargo as quickly and safely as possible.

DOT’s Marybeth Turner says the city is concerned:

SDOT has expressed its concerns to the Port of Seattle about the truck queuing occurring on city roadways. We will meet with both the port and the terminal operator today about these impacts and potential solutions those parties can employ.

McGraw’s mention of “ongoing work disruption” refers to the situation we first mentioned two months ago – West Coast terminal operators and longshore workers are in mediated contract talks, eight months after their contract expired. An ILWU news release circulated earlier this week says the terminal operators’ organization reports they’re running out of room for containers on the West Coast docks; that organization, the Pacific Maritime Association, continues to accuse the union of slowdowns. Since last November, large ships at anchor, waiting to get into either Seattle or Tacoma, have been visible from West Seattle; right now MarineTraffic.com shows eight in all – three in Elliott Bay, and five outside Manchester (some shown in this photograph from early today):

(Photo by James Bratsanos)

ADDED 1:21 PM: Yet another vantage point of the truck backup:


3:39 PM UPDATE: Commenters (and people we’re hearing from on Twitter, too) say it hasn’t gotten any better. We’re going out for a firsthand look. Check the comments for some travel advice. SDOT advises avoiding the westbound Spokane St. Viaduct.

4:13 PM: We’ve just traveled the eastbound bridge – no more truck backup visible on Spokane St. Viaduct. Got off at 1st and noted that a motorcycle officer appeared to have lower Spokane blocked, westbound, just west of 1st. We’re circling back around to check.

4:20 PM: The officer is out of the road, in the median, and westbound Spokane is open again, no backup or slowdown. We have also crossed the low bridge and it’s open and clear.

4:50 PM: From Anthony Auriemma in Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s office, an update on what’s being strategized:

SPD will have an officer working traffic from 7 am-3 pm during the slowdowns. Their primary job will be to assist with cross traffic and assist with preventing the intersections from getting blocked.

· SDOT is working on updated signage and traffic alerts. You may have noticed that SDOT this afternoon began advising drivers to avoid the Spokane Street Viaduct and to use alternate routes such as 1st Avenue South.

· SPD is joining SDOT at the Traffic Management Center (TMC) to help with traffic conditions. As you may recall from the Transportation Committee briefing, this is part of the improved incident management protocols that SPD and SDOT agreed to after the June 99 meltdown. Councilmember Rasmussen visited the TMC this afternoon to check out conditions and make sure SDOT was working to find solutions.

· SDOT is attempting to secure Terminal 5 for remote parking as an interim solution.

· Other engineering and enforcement solutions are still being worked out between SDOT, SPD, and the Port.

And just after we published this, Auriemma e-mailed again to say that T-5 has been secured for parking starting tomorrow.

8:01 PM NOTE: Joe Szilagyi of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition points out that the mayor tweeted about this earlier this evening too.

ADDED 10:19 PM: Rare late-night news release, just in from SDOT, with a few more specifics of what’s happening:

To ensure that traffic flows safely and efficiently near Port of Seattle facilities, the City of Seattle will take measures Friday to address trucks backing up onto city and state roadways due to Terminal 18 delays.

Based on discussions with the port, starting Friday morning trucks will be detoured off city streets into a holding area at nearby Terminal 5, where they will stage for entry into Terminal 18. Truck drivers will be directed to this holding area using fixed and variable messages signs.

Also on Friday SDOT will install “No Stopping, Standing or Parking from 3:00 AM to 6:45 AM” signs on Harbor Island to ensure vehicles stage at Terminal 5 prior to the opening of Terminal 18’s gates. The Seattle Police Department is providing officers to support traffic flow and prevent the West Seattle Bridge, Spokane Street Viaduct and intersections near Harbor Island from being blocked by commercial vehicles.

“The City of Seattle and the Port of Seattle are working jointly to address traffic issues created by delays at Terminal 18,” said SDOT Director Scott Kubly. “These measures will allow the port to process its trucks without creating congestion for drivers and transit riders.”

“I have been working with SDOT, SPD and the Port of Seattle to address the congestion created by port facilities, and will continue to work on this problem as long as the delays continue,” said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. “I appreciate these quick measures being taken by the Port and the City, which will ensure drivers and transit riders can make their trips without unnecessary delay.”

Dealing with West Seattle Bridge traffic: Task Force is in the works; extra lane to 99 is not

January 15, 2015 at 11:14 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(WSB file screengrab of SDOT camera looking toward bridge’s offramp to 99)
While today’s big bridge-traffic concern is the Port-bound truck backup (working on a separate story), the ongoing point of contention is usually the eastbound weekday-morning jam. Physical improvements to the bridge are unlikely anytime soon, says the city, so simpler, quicker improvements can and must be pursued, suggests City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, saying that if the right people/agencies get together and talk about operational changes and coordination, that could make a difference.

Toward that end, the West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force will be launched, he has announced, adding that Mayor Ed Murray has promised his support. (This is what Rasmussen staffer Evan Clifthorne was hinting at during the December West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting.)

Before we get to details of the task force, here’s why nothing is likely to change physically on the bridge any time soon, explained in documents provided by Rasmussen’s office in response to questions from the WSTC, in their declaration of priorities last September. One big question involves whether one of the bottlenecks off the eastbound bridge could be expanded. The SDOT response says basically, no:

Click to read the rest of Dealing with West Seattle Bridge traffic: Task Force is in the works; extra lane to 99 is not…

Trying to get around the Sound? King County launches multi-agency transit-trip-planner app

January 9, 2015 at 2:27 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Before raising the 12th Man flag at noontime today, King County Executive Dow Constantine had an announcement intended to draw cheers from transit users:

Delivering on his initiative to better coordinate transportation services, King County Executive and Sound Transit Chair Dow Constantine today announced the launch of a free smartphone app that makes it easier for riders to plan trips with 11 transit agencies across Puget Sound.

The Puget Sound Trip Planner — available for Apple and Android mobile devices — allows riders to plan a trip that includes buses, rail, ferries, streetcars, and water taxis. It merges popular features available on existing trip planners and offers real-time predictions for bus arrivals.

More info, and the full list of participating agencies/services, can be found here.

Getting to the downtown Water Taxi & state ferry docks will change, starting Monday

January 6, 2015 at 6:05 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(Photo of today’s foggy sunset, by Chi Krneta)
Take the Water Taxi from Pier 50? Or state ferries from Colman Dock? Downtown-waterfront access is changing downtown from next Monday through mid-May, as announced today:

(Photo from Seacrest at sunset, by WSB’s Patrick Sand)

All vehicles will enter the Washington State Ferries terminal at Colman Dock via Yesler Way as part of temporary changes being implemented by the State Route 99 Tunnel Project and the Elliott Bay Seawall Project. Terminal access will also shift for pedestrians, bicyclists and King County Water Taxi passengers and remain in place through May 2015. Through traffic north and south on Alaskan Way remains unchanged. Drivers/riders exiting Colman Dock via Yesler Way may see some intersection modifications this week as construction crews prepare for the Monday shift.

Access changes

View a detailed map of the following temporary changes near Colman Dock:
· Drivers will turn left or right into the WSF terminal from Alaskan Way at Yesler Way.
o For southbound traffic, one lane of Alaskan Way in front of the ferry terminal will be dedicated to ferry access.
o A left-turn lane will accommodate northbound traffic at Yesler Way.
o Vehicles will exit the ferry dock onto Yesler Way or Marion Street.

· Pedestrian access through the Seawall Project construction zone will be maintained to the WSF terminal in two ways: the current pedestrian bridge at Marion Street, and at street level immediately west of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Street level access will be maintained at all times, although it will shift at various points during construction.

· Bicyclists will enter and exit the ferry terminal on the north side of Yesler Way via the shared-use path.

· King County Water Taxi riders will enter and exit via Yesler Way.

· Passenger pickup and drop-off (including access for people with disabilities) will be shifted to the west side of the roadway between Marion and Columbia streets.

· Taxi waiting areas are also available at the current location on the east side of Alaskan Way between Marion and Columbia streets. A new taxi waiting area will – be added on Marion Street between Alaskan Way and Western Avenue.

Changes Sunday for state-ferry routes, including Fauntleroy

December 27, 2014 at 8:50 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo: Ferry between Fauntleroy and Vashon during Christmas Day sunset)
The Washington State Ferries winter schedule starts tomorrow (Sunday, December 28th). Here’s the WSF roundup of major changes systemwide. For the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, the biggest change is the usual seasonal shrinking of the number of weekend runs, plus a change to the emergency two-boat schedule – here’s a printable PDF. Separate from the schedule change, WSF also is warning that at some point in the not-too-distant future, you’ll see longer wait times, temporarily:

As early as Sunday, Dec. 28 through early February, customers traveling on the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route are advised to prepare for longer than usual wait times due to a vessel downsizing. The temporary downsizing is needed to maintain a full, system-wide sailing schedule while the Yakima and Kitsap are out of service for necessary repairs and maintenance.

Whenever that happens, you can use this page to check Fauntleroy wait times. P.S. The F/V/S route is on a regular schedule on New Year’s Day.

Fauntleroy Boulevard update: Design at 60%, with ‘changes to meet specific business-access needs’

December 19, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In Transportation, Triangle, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

SDOT announced today that the ‘Fauntleroy Boulevard’ project proposed for Fauntleroy Way between 35th and Alaska is at 60 percent design, but still isn’t scheduled for construction until and unless funding is found, so there’s no chance work would start any sooner than fall 2016. Here’s the official update:

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is continuing design work for the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, an improvement project along Fauntleroy Way SW between SW Alaska Street and 35th Avenue SW.

We recently reached the 60% design stage, and we anticipate completing project design work in spring 2015. The project is not currently funded for construction. In order to advance the project into construction, the Seattle City Council would need to allocate construction funding. If construction funding is secured, the earliest construction would begin is fall 2016.

We have been meeting one-on-one with area business and property owners and members of community organizations since early design work began in the summer of 2014. The 60% design reflects changes to meet specific business access needs raised during the outreach process.

We compared the cross-section above with the one that was circulated when the project was at 30 percent design three months ago – no major differences that we can see. We have a followup question out asking for elaboration on the “changes” SDOT says it made, and will add whatever we find out.

Light rail for West Seattle someday? First step just taken: WS added to Sound Transit’s map as potential light-rail corridor

December 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

3:48 PM: It’s by no means a guarantee that light rail is headed this way – but it’s a necessary first step: The Sound Transit board has just approved ST’s Long-Range Plan Update, and part of it included an amendment to the ST map so that it will now show Downtown Seattle to West Seattle to Burien as a (potential) light-rail corridor.

4:41 PM: Some background – the talk about this possibility really started to intensify a year ago, when ST offered an online survey about its Long-Range Plan Update. In May, we reported on a presentation to the ST Executive Committee about the study of potential south-end corridors, including routes featuring West Seattle. Then in June, another survey was taken in connection with the draft environmental-impact statement for the Long-Range Plan Update. In July, ST reps spoke to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce; and in October, the two West Seattleites on the Sound Transit board, County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott, announced they would work to get WS into the Long-Range Plan Update.

So what happens now? ST has to figure out what it wants to propose for its next ballot measure, dubbed ST3, which might not go to voters until November 2016. Today’s vote is no guarantee that the newly added West Seattle light-rail corridor will be included, but if the board hadn’t voted to add WS to the map today, there would have been zero chance of it making the next ballot measure.

Followup: SDOT ‘shelving’ RapidRide reroute in The Junction

December 12, 2014 at 12:19 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

12:19 PM: SDOT is “shelving” its unpopular proposal to reroute Metro‘s RapidRide C Line onto California between Alaska and Edmunds. That’s the word from City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, with whom we just spoke. He says he asked the department to stop pursuing the plan, and that SDOT agreed, which he says is “a real win for the community.” While SDOT had said one minute would be saved each trip by moving the buses onto that block, instead of jogging westward from Edmunds to 44th and then eastward on Alaska, we’ve covered two public discussions at which multiple concerns were raised, with alternative time-savings suggested. The most recent discussion was this past Tuesday at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting (WSB coverage here), during which opponents of the proposal said a lot more could be done by fulfilling the longtime promise to get transit-signal prioritization along the route.

We first reported the reroute proposal four months ago; its first public airing was at November’s meeting of the Southwest District Council (WSB coverage here), where commenters also voiced a host of concerns.

ADDED 2:03 PM: An official statement from Rasmussen was sent from City Hall, including:

“I appreciate that the Department is working to improve reliability of busses through West Seattle. However, it is important that transit efficiencies not have a negative effect on our business districts or major pedestrian areas such as the Junction. Improved bus service will be coming to West Seattle in June because of the passage of Proposition 1 without changing the C Line route as has been proposed by SDOT.”

Today’s Viaduct-and-vicinity updates: See the ‘settling’ map; King St. crack in Pioneer Square

December 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 30 Comments

(SCROLL DOWN for newest updates)

2:58 PM: That map (click the image to see the full-size version) is the main Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 Tunnel update so far today, six days after first word that some areas in the vicinity have “settled” more than an inch. You might have seen a version of the map on Publicola this morning; the version released by WSDOT this afternoon has added context and a slightly different color scheme. It shows settling of almost an inch and a half in some areas, but does not show the areas of “uneven” settling, says WSDOT, and the text of their update makes it clear this does not show what’s happened on The Viaduct itself:

Crews from WSDOT and Seattle Tunnel Partners are conducting ongoing surveys of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and ground to determine whether settlement is continuing near the SR 99 tunnel access pit. In general, the surveys include:

Twice daily manual measurements at the bottom of both the east and west columns of the viaduct.
Approximately every other day measurements of deep survey points. These are survey points more than 80 feet underground.

Ground surveys of sidewalks and streets from Alaskan Way to Second Avenue and from Yesler Way to South King Street. Some areas are surveyed twice a day; other areas are surveyed once every two to three days.

Surveys of some buildings. Data is collected both manually and automatically and monitored daily.

The data from the ground surveys and deep survey points are represented on a survey point data map. This map does not represent data from building surveys or the surveys of the viaduct.

The map is a computer-generated approximation to show visually the survey results that were shared with the public on Dec. 5, which indicates approximately 1.4 inches of ground settlement near the access pit and a lesser amount of settlement in the surrounding area. It does not show differential settlement, which is uneven settlement that occurs underneath a particular building or structure.

Lastly, the map does not present conclusions about the effect of dewatering. Additionally, the colors have been modified to better show the change in settlement from high to low.

We asked WSDOT earlier today if the tunnel contractor was continuing with access-pit digging, estimated two days ago to have another day to go before they reached a point where they’d stop to evaluate. The reply said only that the December 9th update still applied. We’ve been watching the “live” construction camera, and the excavation equipment does seem to have been in action as the day goes on.

ADDED 4:15 PM: New development – a crack in King St. downtown, not far east of the “rescue pit.” A briefing by the mayor is expected soon.

West Seattle Transportation Coalition report #2: Speed up RapidRide C, yes; reroute in The Junction, no

December 11, 2014 at 1:05 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Midway through the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s comment period for the proposed RapidRide C Line rerouting in The Junction, WSTC co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick called for a show of hands: Anybody in favor of this?

Two-dozen-plus people were in the room – from WSTC members to first-time attendees – but none offered any show of support.

The reception Tuesday night for the SDOT-initiated suggestion of moving the route onto California SW between Edmunds and Alaska, to save a minute per trip, indeed seemed just as chilly as it had been during November’s Southwest District Council meeting (WSB coverage here). Thanks to a reader tip, we had first word of the proposal back in August.

Maybe chillier: Marci Carpenter, a WSTC member who had a spotlight at the podium with political leaders celebrating last month’s transit-funding vote, asked sharply, “Why in the world would you break up the West Seattle transit center with this?”

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Transportation Coalition report #2: Speed up RapidRide C, yes; reroute in The Junction, no…

West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new ‘corridor’ designation

December 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

So much information emerged at last night’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, it’ll take us three stories to report it all. For starters, there’s a hint of progress on the issue of “low bridge” vessel openings during commute periods.

Updates were from WSTC’s Marty Westerman, who’s been focused on the issue, and Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s legislative assistant Evan Clifthorne (above left).

Click to read the rest of West Seattle Transportation Coalition, report #1: Low-bridge early warning; new ‘corridor’ designation…

SDOT Traffic Management Center expanding hours, councilmembers told during review of Highway 99 crash closure

December 10, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Four miles of closure for five hours, six months ago. The June 10th crash/investigation closure of Highway 99 finally got its airing before the City Council Transportation Committee on Tuesday, and the presenters from SDOT and SPD declared that major changes had resulted.

If you want to just watch for yourself but didn’t see it in real time, full video of the discussion is in this Seattle Channel clip, starting 1 hour and 48 minutes in.

If not – toplines follow:

Click to read the rest of SDOT Traffic Management Center expanding hours, councilmembers told during review of Highway 99 crash closure…

‘One inch of ground settlement’ detected for Alaskan Way Viaduct, tunneling-machine repair pit

December 5, 2014 at 5:13 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

(Added: Recent WSDOT photo of access pit, shared via Flickr)
5:13 PM: WSDOT says it will be inspecting the Alaskan Way Viaduct and vicinity this weekend after detecting more ground settlement. Seattle Times (WSB partner) transportation reporter Mike Lindblom reported it earlier this afternoon, and now WSDOT has this statement on its website:

Public safety is our top priority, which is why we installed a state-of-the-art settlement monitoring system as part of the SR 99 Tunnel Project. Recently, that system detected approximately one inch of ground settlement near the pit Seattle Tunnel Partners is building to access and repair the tunneling machine. We have also seen the same amount of settlement on the Alaskan Way Viaduct; the amount of settlement lessens in the surrounding area.

Some settlement was expected during tunnel construction and while the tunneling machine repair work was underway. This settlement appears to have occurred in the last month.

We have observed no new damage to the viaduct nor have we observed any effect on buildings or utilities in the surrounding area. WSDOT crews are conducting additional surveys this weekend to verify this information, including an inspection of the viaduct and a visual inspection of the adjacent areas.

While we are conducting this additional work, we are confident that there is no risk to public safety. We will provide an update early next week.

Even before the tunneling project began, Viaduct managers had noted ongoing settlement, usually described as minor (as in this 2010 report). Nothing about settlement was mentioned at the regional stakeholders’ meeting we covered last Monday, but we imagine it’ll come up when the City Council’s Viaduct Committee meets early next week.

6:08 PM: We asked WSDOT spokesperson Laura Newborn if this is the reason the Saturday night/early Sunday Viaduct closure was expanded to both directions, and she confirmed that was done “so extra survey work could be completed.”

When will Highway 99 tunneling resume? That question & more addressed as stakeholders’ group meets

December 3, 2014 at 12:09 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 31 Comments

(From the slide deck shown at Tuesday’s stakeholders meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While the Highway 99 contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners hopes to make its goal of opening the tunnel by the end of 2016, the state’s point person for the project says that might be “tough.”

To say the least.

WSDOT’s Matt Preedy briefed the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project Stakeholders’ Advisory Group on Tuesday afternoon, during their every-quarter-or-so meeting at Safeco Field. He talked about what STP is doing while it’s not tunneling, and where the work toward fixing the tunneling machine is now.

The ring of pilings around the “access pit” is done, he said, and the dewatering system is on – the blue lines are wells:

The recently restarted excavation is now halfway down, about 70 feet. Once it’s done, a “concrete cradle” will be put in, and the tunneling machine will rest atop it after advancing about 20 feet under its own power. Then the big job to lift a 2,000-ton piece of the machine will begin.

The red mobile “lift tower” to bring it up is under construction now, Preedy said, pointing out that when it’s done, it will protrude a few feet above the top of the Viaduct, just a few feet from the elevated highway – “it will be an interesting visual impact for drivers on the Viaduct.”

Components have been brought in “from throughout the globe” to put together the lifting mechanism. But even once the piece is out, that’s just the start…

Click to read the rest of When will Highway 99 tunneling resume? That question & more addressed as stakeholders’ group meets…

Traffic alert for next weekend: Overnight Viaduct closure

November 30, 2014 at 10:04 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

Quick note looking ahead to next weekend, as this one concludes: The southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct is scheduled to be closed overnight next Saturday night, from 11:59 pm December 6th until about 5 am December 7th, according to the newest “construction lookahead.” The reason for the closure between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge is described as “… crews remov(ing) a crane from the adjacent job site.”

Followup: Bridge backup from hour-and-a-half tow-truck wait = Case of ‘confusion’

November 21, 2014 at 10:51 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

10:51 AM: Remember last week’s high-bridge backup, involving a lane blocked by a crash-damaged car that didn’t get towed for an hour and a half?

(Our screengrab from just before the tow truck arrived – note the police car toward the right)
City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has just published his tale of trying to sort out how that happened, and the bottom line is:

SPD told him they thought they are legally at the mercy of whatever the driver wanted to do about getting towed.

But – the City Attorney told Rasmussen – they weren’t.

So, Rasmussen writes, SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole promises she will “have officers trained to eliminate the confusion.”

You can go here to read what he went through to find this out (including the behind-the-scenes timeline of last week’s incident, which largely matches what we had reported, including a mention at one point of a possible 2-hour tow-truck wait).

P.S. Rasmussen adds that an even-longer delay from earlier this year – remember the 4-mile, 5-hour Highway 99 closure in June? – will get a review in the council Transportation Committee, which he chairs, at 9:30 am December 5th, along with “SDOT and SPD’s new emergency incident response plan for these types of major closures.” (You can read the “after-action report” about that incident here.)

ADDED 10:39 PM: Councilmember Rasmussen shares this forwarded e-mail sent department-wide by Chief O’Toole tonight:

From: O’Toole, Kathleen
Sent: Friday, November 21, 2014 5:33 PM
Subject: Impeding Traffic

The ability to move vehicles and people about the city can be seriously impeded by a single blocking vehicle. During a recent incident on the West Seattle Bridge, traffic was unnecessarily delayed for hours pending the arrival of a tow truck. Officers should know that a vehicle may be impounded WITHOUT prior notice if “the vehicle is impeding or is likely to impede the normal flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic.” (SMC 11.30.040) If an owner’s selected tow company is not able to respond in a timely manner, the officer should request an impound via Communications to have the impeding vehicle removed from the scene promptly.
(http://www.seattle.gov/police/publications/manual/06_120_impounding_Vehicles.html)

If disabled vehicles are not impeding the flow of pedestrian or vehicle traffic, owners may request tow companies of their choice.

Kathleen M. O’Toole
Chief of Police

Arbor Heights microsurfacing: Last call to tell SDOT what you think

November 16, 2014 at 7:29 pm | In Arbor Heights, Transportation, West Seattle news | 9 Comments

It’s been spotlighted on the SDOT website … it was brought up at this month’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council meeting … and we’ve received a nudge from the city about it: If you have anything to say to the city about the microsurfacing work on Arbor Heights this past summer, please take a few minutes and answer this online survey – which also gets into the broader topic of microsurfacing vs. chip seal vs. full road replacement (and even sidewalks).

Of bridges, buses, and boulevards: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s November toplines

November 12, 2014 at 10:22 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

(Photo tweeted by @reeseryan at 7:39 am Wednesday)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Just hours before this morning’s “high bridge” mess – one immobile car blocking a lane for more than an hour and a half because a tow truck wasn’t quickly available – the West Seattle Transportation Coalition was talking about exactly that kind of scenario, and whether transportation authorities were ready for it.

WSTC is now pushing even harder for solutions, not just for that, but for the often-in-tandem situation of the “low bridge” shutting down to non-vessel traffic during commute hours – something Councilmember Tom Rasmussen confirms to WSB that he is now formally pursuing, for the third time.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves:

Click to read the rest of Of bridges, buses, and boulevards: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s November toplines…

First-ever ‘strategic plan’ in place, to steer King County Water Taxi service’s future

November 9, 2014 at 10:13 pm | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

While Metro bus funding and Sound Transit light rail have held the spotlight here lately, plans are being shaped for another transportation service’s future: The King County Water Taxis.

They’re in the just-approved, first-ever “strategic plan” for the King County Ferry District, which operates Water Taxi service on the downtown/Vashon and downtown/West Seattle runs – read the final version here or below:

One of the first steps to be taken is to end the Ferry District’s existence as a separate entity. The County Council is scheduled to vote on “assuming governance” of the district during its 11 am meeting tomorrow, one week after, sitting as the Ferry District Board chaired by West Seattle’s Councilmember Joe McDermott, it approved the strategic plan.

Another big decision ahead: Funding, with the plan describing the service as “”currently financially unsustainable given annual revenue, service costs, and current and near-term capital improvement needs.”

Consolidating the district into county government will help, according to the plan, because it “will eliminate redundant functions of the District and County. Separate District contracts for Legal and Accounting services can be terminated and Ferry District staff will not be needed. The annual savings from consolidation can go directly to providing services.”

But that won’t cover the gap, the report suggests. From the plan, here’s a chart showing what’s happened:

Click to read the rest of First-ever ‘strategic plan’ in place, to steer King County Water Taxi service’s future…

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