Followup: More details of the Fauntleroy Expressway re-do plan

July 8, 2014 at 11:40 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 13 Comments

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

First: What exactly was the problem?
Click to read the rest of Followup: More details of the Fauntleroy Expressway re-do plan…

Light rail for West Seattle? 2 chances for Q/A with Sound Transit

July 6, 2014 at 9:52 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 25 Comments

Will a light rail route including West Seattle be part of Sound Transit‘s next long-range-plan update? Possibilities are being studied, as noted here two months ago, when the ST Executive Committee got a progress report on the study. But it’s by no means a sure thing. And ST is still rounding up input on future directions – including via a survey that’s open for three more weeks, first noted here last month. So this regional transit organization is at the heart of many West Seattle conversations right now – and you’re invited to be part of two of them.

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

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

Remember the Fauntleroy Expressway earthquake-strengthening project? Hundreds of parts to be replaced because of design flaw

July 3, 2014 at 4:41 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 35 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 reports from Metro: Strategic Plan progress; RapidRide customer survey

July 3, 2014 at 2:29 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

Metro Transit has gone public with its annual Strategic Plan Progress Report, which its announcement says “provides data on 61 performance measures” and “includes opinions expressed by riders and non-riders, drawn from a survey of 2,500 King County residents. It also looks at how we stack up with peer transit agencies across the country.” This is in advance of upcoming assessments including an audit and “independent peer review.” Another recent report that might be of interest is the compiled customer-survey results on RapidRide, including the C Line. First: Toplines from the “progress report” announcement today by Metro general manager Kevin Desmond:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the full report here.

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

Followup: What went wrong with the low bridge last night

July 2, 2014 at 2:46 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Toward the end of the peak pm commute on Tuesday evening, the “low bridge” malfunctioned, second time in two weeks. We asked SDOT today what happened. From spokesperson Marybeth Turner:

When the bridge operator was opening the bridge to allow a vessel to pass through at 6:20 p.m., the gate on the west side that stops vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians experienced a mechanical failure. A shear pin in the internal linkage had broken.

The bridge control system is designed to always fail in a safe mode, which prevented the operator from opening the bridge. The vessels, bicycles, pedestrian and vehicles were delayed until the operator was able to make the repairs himself. The delay was approximately 67 minutes.

On June 18th we had another control system safety shut down related to the sensors that monitor the location of the bridge. This caused a 2 ½ hour delay that likely affected many of the same commuters.

We continue to look for ways to engineer more reliable systems associated with bridge openings. A delay of this length, although rare, has severe impacts on the traveling public. Detour routes for bicycles and pedestrians are not convenient.
The Spokane Street Bridge opens over 1,500 times per year with very few incidents that delay traffic due to malfunction of the bridge.

West Seattle road work: More Morgan Junction-area repaving next week

July 2, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | Comments Off

Last weekend, SDOT repaved the intersection of California/Fauntleroy. Next week, they’ll extend the new pavement a block south, according to this announcement just in:

Once Fourth of July festivities are over, Seattle Department of Transportation paving crews will move in to California Avenue Southwest to pave the block south of the Morgan Junction.

Providing the good weather holds, the crews will grind and pave California from Fauntleroy Way Southwest to Southwest Holly Street, starting at 7 a.m. on July 8 and July 9, and ending at 7 p.m. each day.

One lane of traffic will remain open in each direction with Police Officers and traffic flaggers assisting drivers through the work area. Crosswalks and sidewalks will remain open. On-street parking will be restricted.

As noted in our update on last weekend’s work, SDOT already has repaved stretches of California to the north and south.

Mayor’s choice for SDOT director: Scott Kubly, formerly of Chicago and D.C.

July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

(Photo from
The mayor has announced his choice for Seattle Department of Transportation director: Scott Kubly, former deputycommissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and former associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. In the news release (read it here in its entirety), Mayor Murray calls Kubly “a transportation visionary” with “a proven track record” who has “worked on bike issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability.” Kubly is quoted as saying:

Seattle is growing incredibly fast … To accommodate that growth and preserve the city’s great quality of life, we need a transportation system that doesn’t just get the basics right like freight mobility and safety,, but that also invests in new, high quality transit, bikeshare, new bike lanes for Seattleites from 8 to 80 to ride in, and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. It also means creating an environment in which the private sector can provide transportation services that complement the public transportation network. This means creating an environment that allows transportation network companies and taxis to thrive, carsharing to expand, or for new types of transportation services to evolve. The fact is, people aren’t tied to individual transportation modes, they’re tied to outcomes – and we must continue bringing forward options that will deliver the positive outcomes they need and expect.

West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, is quoted as saying:

Seattle needs a transportation director who recognizes the importance of a balanced transportation system and can help guide our city’s transition from auto-dependence. … Mr. Kubly’s experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. shows a commitment to accomplishing just that. I look forward to our discussions with Mr. Kubly over the next several weeks. I also encourage the public to participate in the confirmation process.

Pending Council confirmation, Kubly is slated to start on July 28th, making $180,000 a year. He follows acting director Goran Sparrman and previous director Peter Hahn, who was announced last November as not staying on once former Mayor McGinn departed. Hahn had succeeded Grace Crunican, who resigned at the end of 2009.

SIDE NOTE: A search shows that the most-recent program for which Kubly made news in Chicago was overseeing its speed-camera program. … A few months later, here’s what one Chicago website wrote when Kubly announced his departure.

Admiral Way bike-lane widening: City finally unveils new plan

July 2, 2014 at 9:04 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 32 Comments

It’s been almost ten months since SDOT announced it was shelving and redesigning a plan to widen the bike lane and buffer on the Admiral Way hill north of the West Seattle Bridge – here’s the last thing we published, back in September. The city said residents had voiced concerns about loss of parking spaces and time restrictions on what remained. At the time, they said a new version would be out “early” this year. It’s just arrived today:

As you know, SDOT has been studying how to make the uphill bicycle lane on SW Admiral Way safer and more inviting by widening the bike lane and buffer from SW City View Street to 80 feet south of 3508 SW Admiral Way. We originally proposed to restrict on-street parking on the east side of SW Admiral Way within this section to allow for the improvement. After receiving concerns about the impacts, we delayed implementation of the project to work on an alternative that would preserve some on-street parking.

The attached revised design preserves on-street parking in front of the residences, while restricting parking in the green belt area. Time restrictions will not be installed. The work is expected to be completed this summer.

Here’s a closer look at each of the color-coded configurations:

See all of the above in one PDF with the configurations next to the map here. And if you want to compare it to what SDOT originally proposed in May 2013, you can see that map here.

P.S. Speaking of SDOT, Mayor Murray is set to announce at 11 am today who he’s chosen to be the department’s next director.

4 years ago, South Park chanted ‘We need a bridge’; now, the community and its neighbors have one again

June 30, 2014 at 6:14 am | In South Park, Transportation, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

(WSB video, 6 am today)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The new South Park Bridge is now officially in service, opened to regular traffic minutes ago.

(Motorcyclist Charles, center, was first in line; that’s bridge project manager Tim Lane at right)
This comes on the morning after an all-day-and-into-the-night celebration. And it comes exactly four years to the day following the closure of the bridge’s 80-year-old predecessor with a wake both boisterous and bitter.

On June 30, 2010, the crowd chanted, “We need a bridge”:

That night, June 30, 2010, it was by no means certain they would get another one. The bridge’s drawspan was raised one last time, and there it stood.

Sunday, there was no chanting. But there were fireworks:

Click to read the rest of 4 years ago, South Park chanted ‘We need a bridge’; now, the community and its neighbors have one again…

Celebrating (and walking on) the new South Park Bridge, report #1

June 29, 2014 at 10:57 am | In South Park, Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

(GALLERY ON THESOUTHPARKNEWS.COM: See it here. And report #2 is in the works for WSB)

4:43 PM: The new South Park Bridge is officially open – if you’re on foot (vehicle traffic won’t be permitted until tomorrow morning at 6 am)!

This followed an epic dedication ceremony:

We have it all on video and will have it in a separate story later (lots of photos too, of course). Most importantly, the street party is scheduled to run until about 9 pm, so you have time to get here, walk on the bridge, enjoy the Lucha Libre masked wrestling that starts around 6 pm …


2:05 PM NOTE: We’re heading back to SP for the heart of the party, but we visited in the noon hour and are already building a gallery on The South Park News.

Scroll down here on WSB, meantime, for helpful advance info if you’re planning to go. And watch the WSB Instagram feed between official updates.

And earlier still:
EARLIER, 10:57 AM: Few planned activities/events on the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar today – the city’s biggest event is downtown, the Pride Parade, starting shortly (11 am). But in the “almost West Seattle” category, our neighbors in South Park are celebrating the new bridge today, on the eve of its official opening tomorrow, exactly 4 years after the old one was taken out of service.

(Added: WSB photo taken after today’s bridge party started at noon)
So here’s what you need to know if you’re planning on, or thinking about, going to the party. First, a map (the party’s on the south side of the bridge, on 14th Avenue South)! Now, today’s schedule, from the King County website:

12:00 – 3:00 p.m. — Street party: music & performances, info booths, self-guided tours of the bridge’s south tower, food & drink

3:00 – 4:00 p.m. — Dedication ceremony with elected officials & community leaders; fireworks

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Parade [you can walk on the bridge!]

6:00 – 9:00 p.m. — Lucha Libre; street party continues

Elected officials announced so far for the 3 pm event include U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, County Executive Dow Constantine, Mayor Ed Murray, U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott. Info about street closures, parking, and bus changes during today’s party is at the bottom of this page. We’ll be covering the events here and at If you’re just waiting for the chance to use that route across the Duwamish again, take note that the new bridge will NOT be open for regular use until 6 am tomorrow (Monday).

P.S. Browse our photo galleries previewing the new bridge – looking at its exterior (including the new raingarden in the footprint of the old bridge); peeking inside during a behind-the-scenes media tour.

West Seattle road-work update: California/Fauntleroy done

June 29, 2014 at 8:47 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

The work ran a little longer than scheduled but somewhere around 8 pm Saturday night, the California/Fauntleroy intersection did indeed reopen – as noted in our tweet, above – after a one-day repaving job. Going back in the archives, we were reminded that the intersection was not part of the big Fauntleroy Way repaving/rechanneling project in 2009 – SDOT told us at the time that it had had more-recent attention than the rest of the stretch, and that it would be repaved at some point in the future, along with other parts of southern California SW. But it was indeed on the 2014 list we obtained from SDOT in January, and it follows block-by-block repaving in the area over the past few years, including Graham to Fauntleroy, Holly to Myrtle, and Frontenac to Mills last year,

Open letter: City/developer spinning wheels on promised bicycle parking in The Junction?

June 27, 2014 at 11:56 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

Bicycle parking along California is supposed to be part of the plan for the two-building Equity Residential project in the heart of The Junction. But supporters of a bicycle “corral” believe the developer is responsible for wheel-spinning that’s delaying installation, and have just sent open letters to the City Council Transportation Committee and Mayor Ed Murray (as well as media). This one is from West Seattle Bike Connections:

Dear Transportation Committee Councilmembers and Mayor Murray,

I am writing on behalf of West Seattle Bike Connections (WSBC) to find out what it takes to get a bike corral installed in West Seattle, more specifically in Alaska Junction at the southeast corner of SW Alaska St and California Ave SW. This letter and a timeline are attached with the efforts we’ve taken to date, beginning in late 2012. We have one simple request: please provide support to have a bike corral installed in Alaska Junction by mid-August of this year.

WSBC has worked with three different SDOT contacts over the last 18 months, where the process began anew with each different representative. SDOT has been asked by the property developer at the location (Equity Residential) to delay installation until construction is complete in 2015. We do not want to wait any longer or go through this process again with new SDOT personnel. We are upset that SDOT is succumbing to a developer for authority over the public right-of-way. We have support from several organizations and businesses who want to see this bike corral installed as soon as possible:

Click to read the rest of Open letter: City/developer spinning wheels on promised bicycle parking in The Junction?…

One more mention: City vote for Metro money? Public hearing tonight

June 26, 2014 at 1:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 17 Comments

No time today for a calendar preview – you can browse our full calendar any time – but one event tonight does need one more mention: A public hearing about bus funding, and whether the city should be going to the ballot with a proposal to raise money for it. That hearing is tonight, 5:30 pm, at City Hall, with the City Council wearing its collective Seattle Transportation Benefit District hat. Chairing the STBD, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has proposed sending the mayor’s proposal to voters, but the question now is, what do you think? From the city’s reminder:

The STBD is interested in hearing public feedback on the following:

1) How would planned Metro Transit service cuts impact you if no action is taken to prevent these cuts?

2) What is your perspective on an additional vehicle license fee of up to $60 and a 0.1% sales and use tax to prevent planned Metro Transit service cuts in Seattle, and if funds allow, to enhance transit service?

3) What other information should the Board take into consideration as it develops a potential ballot measure for the November election?

The deadline to get something on that ballot is August 5th.

Ferry update: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth back to 3-boat schedule

June 26, 2014 at 11:39 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

ORIGINAL 11:39 AM REPORT: M/V Issaquah is out of service for repairs, and Washington State Ferries has the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run on a 2-boat schedule as a result. See the schedule here; we will update when there’s word that it’s back to 3 boats.

2:14 PM: As of just before 2 pm, the route is back to three boats with the return of the Issaquah, says WSF.

‘Green Light District’ turns 22nd/Roxbury crosswalk into keyboard

June 26, 2014 at 9:45 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 23 Comments

9:45 AM: Received early this morning and attributed to the “Green Light District” – a new feature at 22nd/Roxbury. We’re going over for a daylight look.

ADDED 11:21 AM: A view from the northeast side, on the berm by the Community School of West Seattle:

Surface traffic jam safer than Viaduct traffic jam? SPD explains decisionmaking behind 5-hour, 4-mile Highway 99 closure

June 23, 2014 at 11:02 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 34 Comments

(Above, SDOT tweet with traffic-cam screen grab shortly after crash happened)
Two weeks ago, an almost-citywide traffic jam resulted when four miles of southbound Highway 99 were closed for five hours while Seattle Police investigated a head-on crash at East Marginal/Idaho/Nevada (map). As we have noted, investigative closures of that duration are not unusual when SPD’s Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is assigned to gather evidence at a scene. But questions persisted about why traffic wasn’t allowed to continue at least as far as the West Seattle Bridge, and what kind of consultation was made between city departments and officials as traffic continued to back up on alternate north-south routes as a result.

As noted in our first major followup, the decision on when and what to close rested solely with SPD. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen sent the acting leaders of that agency and SDOT a list of questions, published here. This morning, Councilmember Rasmussen shared the reply from SPD, and said that SDOT has told him theirs is in progress. One key point from the SPD reply signed by SPD Traffic Section Acting Captain Ken Hicks – the department feared that allowing anyone onto 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and the crash scene would have led to drivers getting stuck “in an area without services,” surmising that traffic jams on surface streets were safer for drivers. Read the entire reply for yourself, ahead:

Click to read the rest of Surface traffic jam safer than Viaduct traffic jam? SPD explains decisionmaking behind 5-hour, 4-mile Highway 99 closure…

Seattle-only Metro-money ballot measure now on the road to the ballot; public hearing next week

June 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

Five weeks ago, you might recall, Mayor Murray proposed a Seattle-only ballot measure to hold off Metro cuts within city limits. He said it would include the same two funding sources that comprised the rejected countywide ballot measure in April, a one-tenth-of-a-percent sales-tax increase and a $60 vehicle-tab fee. The latter represents a $40 increase because the “congestion-reduction charge” is expiring this month. Today, the mayor’s proposal took a step toward the November ballot, in the form of a resolution proposed by City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in the role of Transportation Benefit District Board chair. Read the resolution here. The deadline for it to be placed on the November ballot is August 5th; here’s the schedule of hearings and discussions:

Tuesday, June 24, 10:30am (following City Transportation Committee meeting) – BRIEFING AND DISCUSSION

Thursday, June 26, 5:30pm – PUBLIC HEARING

Thursday, July 10, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION

Thursday, July 17, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

Thursday, July 31, 2:00pm (if necessary) – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

All of the above will be held at City Hall downtown, 600 Fourth Ave.

Followup: Why the ‘low bridge’ was out of service for 2 1/2 hours

June 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Following up on last night’s 2 1/2-hour shutdown of the Spokane Street Swing Bridge, aka “the low bridge,” we asked SDOT today to explain what happened. From communications director Rick Sheridan:

At the end of an otherwise normal opening, the bridge’s computer control system detected a fault in the docking process and stopped the closure. In the last 15 inches of docking we use a linear position transducer called a “temposonic,” which is very accurate and can measure movement to a fraction of an inch.

During the bridge closure yesterday afternoon, the temposonic reported that the moveable span’s position was incorrect. As the computer control system did not know if there was a malfunction or if the span was about to collide with the concrete pier, it stopped the span’s movement.

We deployed a Roadway Structures electrician who determined that the bridge’s span was properly aligned for docking and, after troubleshooting, concluded that the fault was with the temposonic. He reset the device, tested it and then restored the bridge to normal operations. We will monitor that device closely over the next several days to confirm that it is operating normally.

How Highway 99 tunnel machine will be dug up, broken down, put back underground

June 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 36 Comments

Just last week at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting (WSB coverage here), top WSDOT executives answered a few questions about the stalled tunnel machine and its pending repairs. Today, the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, is out with its official repair plan, and animation (above) showing what’ll happen during its phases. According to the timeline toward the end of the plan, they’re still expecting to resume tunneling in late March of next year.

Hoping for West Seattle light rail? Another Sound Transit survey

June 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Last fall, we shared the link for you to take a survey about Sound Transit‘s Long Range Plan Update – light rail to West Seattle, maybe? Word is, there was lots of West Seattle response, and last month ST offered an update about some possibilities (as reported here). However – the plan update is still a work in progress, and as part of the process, now the agency is out with the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Here’s where you come in this time around: The comment process for the DSEIS includes a NEW online survey that you can take – go here – and/or, follow the plan link above to see other ways to comment. (Thanks to Eric for the tip!)

Viaduct closures, tunnel travails, and more: State transportation boss Lynn Peterson @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

June 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

(WSB video of the entire WSTC appearance by WSDOT’s Secretary Lynn Peterson and Todd Trepanier)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition usually has something topical to discuss at its monthly meetings, with no shortage of transportation-related challenges lately.

For example, last night, the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct had been closed for five hours because of a crash investigation when the WSTC meeting began. Coincidentally, the long-scheduled guest was the woman in charge of the Viaduct and other state highways – Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson.

In her second year on the job, she offered lots of background information and big-picture observations, but the discussion invariably turned its most intense focus on the Viaduct Replacement Project and the present/future of the stalled tunneling work. In Q&A, she also addressed other topics such as whether any Fauntleroy-bound ferries would be diverted downtown, since much of the vehicle traffic heads that way anyway.

Click to read the rest of Viaduct closures, tunnel travails, and more: State transportation boss Lynn Peterson @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition…

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday on the move

June 10, 2014 at 7:27 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments


(WS Bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
So far this morning, the trouble appears to be outside the city – nothing in the way of your in-city commute.

In transportation news, Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times (WSB partner) follows up on the County Council’s showdown over putting later rounds of Metro cuts on hold. The 5-4 vote delaying or potentially canceling the second through fourth rounds of cuts drew County Executive Dow Constantine‘s first-ever veto almost immediately. Here’s the story. (The deepest West Seattle cuts, deleting four routes, are in the fourth round, originally scheduled for September 2015.)

West Seattle weekend scene: ‘Widening’ the bike trail

June 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

The photo’s from Don Brubeck, president of West Seattle Bike Connections, which mustered more than half a dozen volunteers this weekend to “widen” the bike trail this along Spokane St. east of Avalon/Harbor by cutting back blackberry tangles and other weeds. If you commute by bike, you’ll see their work tomorrow.

South Park Bridge to open on June 30th, 4-year anniversary of old bridge’s closure; big party on June 29th

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am | In South Park, Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(Photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Four days ago, showing that aerial of the almost-complete South Park Bridge, we mentioned it’s close to opening. And now, the date’s just been announced – June 30th, the four-year anniversary of the old bridge’s closure:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced that the newly constructed South Park Bridge will open June 30. The previous drawbridge, built in 1931, was closed and dismantled in mid-2010 due to safety concerns.

“I made a promise five years ago that we would build a new, safer bridge to connect our industrial heartland to the rest of King County — and we’re ready to deliver,” said Executive Constantine. “Not only will this help local manufacturers and family-owned businesses, it will reunite working communities in the Lower Duwamish area.”

The new bridge is expected to carry 20,000 vehicles and nearly 3,000 heavy-duty trucks each day. It will also carry an estimated 10 million tons of freight each year, including aerospace parts to local Boeing facilities.

ADDED 11:52 AM: The county has a gallery of images of the new bridge accompanying this announcement on its website, including this one:

(Photo by Ned Ahrens, King County DOT)
See the rest here.

3:20 PM UPDATE: While June 30th will be the official opening to traffic, information that’s come out in the past few hours clarifies that the big party will be on Sunday, June 29th, so mark your calendar for that.

West Seattle scene: No, those Alki road signs weren’t hacked

June 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Know where the corner of Alki and Jersey is? Alki and Arkansas? They’re not on the map, but they seem to be on the books at SDOT. We recorded the sign after Peter sent a photo, writing:

A new sign went up at 57th and Alki last night. It says “Road work ahead Alki Ave SW from Jersey to Arkansas 6-3-14 to 6-4 -14 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Slow and caution.” I can’t figure out what they mean by Jersey and Arkansas. Lived here 20 years and I’ve never seen those street signs.

Our video is from the eastbound side; the westbound sign at Duwamish Head says the same thing. Before assuming it was a hack (stranger things have happened), we looked online; while SW Jersey and SW Arkansas don’t seem to exist in Google Maps or in Bing Maps, we did find them in SDOT’s database, accessible via – along with at least one other name that appears to exist on paper only (SW Hampshire). We also found Seattle Municipal Archives photos of a problem with the “Arkansas Street Sewer” in 1962, and going even further back, “Jersey Street Sewer” photos from 1922 – including this one that also mentions an address in the 1300 block of Alki.

As for the practical question – so where IS this impending road work? – “no parking” signs for those dates can be found in the 1200 block of Alki SW, though the explanatory one-sheet we found taped to one sign mentions the 1500 block. Regarding what the crews will be doing, we hope to find out from SDOT tomorrow, since it’s not on the weekly Construction Lookahead.

11:04 PM: Greg points out in a comment that a century-old atlas does show these streets (and others either never built, or built over – including Rhode Island and Mexico).

Highway 99: Weekend-long southbound shutdown in June; nighttime closures this summer

May 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments

The state has just laid out its plan for major summertime road work, and that includes Highway 99 just north of West Seattle. First, a busy weekend of regional work will include a shutdown of southbound 99 between Denny Way and the WS Bridge, 10 pm Friday, June 6, until (no later than) 5 am Monday, June 9. This, WSDOT says, is “to shift southbound traffic onto a new route through the State Route 99 tunnel project site.” That same weekend, two lanes of northbound I-5 will be closed just north of the WS Bridge for more expansion-joint work, and the 520 Bridge across Lake Washington will be closed, so that first weekend of June might be a great time to just not try to leave the peninsula.

WSDOT also has announced Highway 99 work that will include nighttime closures in the late summer:

This project will replace 81 concrete panels on the aged stretch of Highway 99 in the area shown above, between the West Seattle Bridge and the remaining elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct. From the project webpage:

In summer 2014, contractor crews will repair 81 concrete panels in both directions of State Route 99, between South Spokane and South Holgate streets in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. Crews also will grind down 198,000 square feet, approximately three and a half football fields, of wheel ruts. This project is similar to concrete grinding and replacement work we have done on I-5 in Kent, Seattle near the Ship Canal Bridge, and I-405 near Bellevue.

What can drivers expect?

• Weekend and weeknight lane closures in both directions of SR 99 between South Spokane and South Holgate streets

Right now, that work is not expected to start until August. Watch our weekday traffic coverage for reminders about upcoming projects as well as day-to-day updates.

This explains the new signs: Roxbury speed-camera installation starts tomorrow

May 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 41 Comments

We took that photo this morning after WSB’er Kevin McClintic pointed out new “photo-enforced” signage on Roxbury, though SDOT had been saying the new school-zone speed cams by Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School were not going in until fall. Turns out, they’re going in now – but won’t be activated until September, with warnings being issued for a month before ticketing begins in October. Here’s the announcement just in from SDOT:

To improve pedestrian safety, contractors working for the City of Seattle will be installing photo enforcement cameras at five locations during May and June. They will be located near the following schools: Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School in West Seattle, Dearborn Park Elementary in Southeast Seattle, Bailey Gatzert Elementary in Central Seattle, and Eckstein Middle School in Northeast Seattle.

The cameras will issue citations to drivers that exceed the school zone speed limit of 20 mph. The school zone speed limit is in effect for typically one hour in the morning as students arrive at school, and one hour in the afternoon when the school day ends. Flashing beacons have been installed to emphasize the times when the school zone speed limit is in effect. The cameras will issue warnings for 30 days beginning September 2 and will start issuing citations in early October.

According to SDOT’s construction flyer (see it here), work on the Roxhill and Holy Family cameras starts tomorrow. Revenue from the cameras goes to safety improvements in school areas, by city law.

P.S. The city first announced almost a year ago that these two cameras were on the way. The Gatewood Elementary zone on Fauntleroy Way already has speed enforcement, in place for a year and a half.

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