FOLLOWUP: Metro GM’s response to bus cancellations; City Council briefing ahead

September 9, 2015 at 5:59 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 18 Comments

How’s your bus route doing this week? We haven’t seen any Metro texts/tweets about West Seattle cancellations in the past few days, unlike last week. In addition to the Metro explanation we published, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen was looking into it, and has shared two things – first, a response he received from Metro general manager Kevin Desmond; second, Rasmussen’s response to that, including a note about a briefing ahead. First, from Desmond to Rasmussen:

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

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

Click to read the rest of FOLLOWUP: Metro GM’s response to bus cancellations; City Council briefing ahead…

JUST IN: New plan for SW Admiral Way Safety Project, announced ahead of tonight’s ANA meeting

September 8, 2015 at 3:34 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 29 Comments

SDOT has just gone public with the revised SW Admiral Way Safety Project plan, ahead of a briefing at tonight’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting. This is the plan that originally stirred controversy for seeking to remove more than 200 parking spaces along parts of Admiral Way west of California SW. Some residents launched a petition drive and campaign, with concerns including SDOT having made decisions based on a parking study conducted in the winter. SDOT agreed to do another parking study in the summer, and this is the revised version just announced:

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

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

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

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

ROAD-WORK UPDATE: Final details on rescheduled Arbor Heights microsurfacing

September 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm | In Arbor Heights, Transportation, West Seattle news | 1 Comment

Final details are now all worked out for the rescheduled microsurfacing in Arbor Heights. Here are full details from SDOT:

The pavement on many Arbor Heights streets is about to improve. On Wednesday, Sept. 9 or Thursday, Sept. 10, SDOT will be applying a microsurfacing overlay to local roads, weather permitting. This preventative maintenance work was scheduled originally for Monday, Aug. 31, and Tuesday, Sept. 1, but SDOT postponed the work due to rainy weather.

Neighborhood Impact:

SDOT understands Wednesday, Sept. 9 is the first day of school. Please review the map above and the notes below, and contact us if you foresee any complications with your transportation and access needs during the work period. This week, SDOT’s contractor, VSS International, distributed a final notice confirming the work with neighbors on streets scheduled for microsurfacing.

To ensure the microsurfacing treatment has time to properly cure and dry, streets receiving the treatment are closed, on average, for 4 hours between 7 AM and 5 PM on the day work is scheduled. In rare cases, streets may be closed for up to 8 hours to ensure proper curing and drying. If you live, work or play on a street scheduled for microsurfacing, please note the following:

• Please follow posted “No Parking” signs and detours
• Cars must be relocated off the road and planting strip area prior to the start of work. Cars parked within the posted work area will be towed at the owner’s expense. If you wish to use your car on the day you are scheduled for microsurfacing, we recommend you move it to an unaffected street prior to 7 AM.
• If work coincides with your regular garbage, recycling or yard waste pick-up, please have your bins to the curb before 6 AM to ensure collection. We will not affect pick-up.
• Streets generally reopen within 4 hours of closure, but in some cases, may take up to 8 hours to reopen
• If a street is not completed on the day it is scheduled, it will be completed on our make-up day, Friday, Sept. 11. If for any reason SDOT is unable to maintain this schedule, you will be re-notified of the new date to resurface your street.
• Emergency vehicles will have access through the project area at all times without delay

Please note, SW 104th St east of 35th Ave SW is scheduled for microsurfacing on Thursday, Sept. 10, not Wednesday, Sept. 9 as indicated on some final notices distributed in the neighborhood.

About Microsurfacing
Microsurfacing is a preventative maintenance method that extends the life of pavement for 7 to 10 years. Similar to painting a house, microsurfacing creates a protective layer which preserves the underlying structure and prevents the need for more expensive repairs in the future. To be effective, the treatment must be applied in dry weather and dry completely before being driven or walked upon again.
SDOT successfully completed a microsurfacing pilot project in Arbor Heights in 2014. More information on that project is available here.

Questions? For more information:
Art Brochet, Seattle Department of Transportation | 206-727-3669

ROAD-WORK ALERT: SDOT crews marking SW Roxbury for rechannelization work

September 4, 2015 at 11:16 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 16 Comments

(WSB photos)

Thanks to @smokeycretin9 for tweeting the tip: An SDOT crew is working on SW Roxbury right now, putting down markings for the upcoming rechannelization. They’re working westward toward 35th SW and the crew supervisor told us they’re expecting to be out most of the day.

The bulk of the work, he confirmed – including the “hydroblasting” to remove the old lane stripes – will start a week from Monday, which is the time frame that project manager Jim Curtin gave the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council earlier this summer. As unveiled at WWRHAH’s meeting last April, SDOT’s plan will rechannelize the road between 17th and 35th, along with other safety measures along the entire length, eastward to Olson.

SPD, SDOT, Seattle Subway @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

September 2, 2015 at 9:31 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

No, the city’s new strategies for clearing crashes more quickly won’t compromise investigations.

So promised Seattle Police traffic section Capt. Eric Greening during the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting. He and SDOT’s Traffic Management Center manager Adiam Emery were there to talk about the city’s new emphasis on Traffic Incident Management (TIM), as first detailed in an August 3rd media briefing downtown focused on a new analysis by consultants.

WSTC also heard on Thursday night from the transit-advocacy group Seattle Subway, which is encouraging West Seattleites to join them in pushing Sound Transit for a bolder vision/plan than is currently being explored for next year’s “ST3″ ballot measure.

Toplines ahead:

Click to read the rest of SPD, SDOT, Seattle Subway @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition…

About those Metro cancellations: ‘We are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service’

September 1, 2015 at 9:58 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

If you ride the bus from/to West Seattle, you might have been affected by a cancellation lately. Today in particular, Metro texted/tweeted four cancellations on West Seattle-serving routes, as noted in our daily transit/traffic coverage. WHen we asked the county about cancellations recently, the explanation involved a personnel shortage. After what happened today, we asked King County Department of Transportation spokesperson Jeff Switzer if it was still a staffing issue and if so, what efforts are under way to remedy it. Here’s his reply, including an explanation of the notifications, which he says are new:

The alerts for cancellations aren’t all in West Seattle, and not all canceled trips are receiving alerts at this time as staff fine tune how to best to accurately communicate canceled trips in a timely fashion. We’ll look into what might have led to the coincidence of cancellations the past few days; 55/56/57 operate out of Central Base and they might have had fewer available operators today for some reason. …

As Metro began implementing the system’s largest service increases this past June, and more in September and March to help meet demand, we’ve been hiring and training at an unprecedented pace: We’ve hired and trained hundreds of part-time drivers and promoted and trained part-time drivers to become full-time drivers – all part of the transition to putting more service on the road.

Today we have more than 2,500 operators – about 1,600 full-time and 900 part-time. Right after Prop 1 passed, we got started on hiring to implement the new planned service. We have hired 212 part-time operators from January through August, and promoted 173 operators to full-time, and are increasing staffing in our rail section in advance of U Link and First Hill Streetcar. We anticipate hiring an additional 225 part-time operators and promoting an additional 96 operators to full time through March 2016. We have attended career and hiring fairs and will be back on college campuses this fall recruiting people interested in becoming part-time drivers. Growing our ranks is essential to growing service, but it means some growing pains during these times of transition.

Coordinators at the bases and control center work to fill individual bus trips whenever an operator becomes sick, or is in training classes or otherwise unavailable. They use the workforce available to backfill any missed trips as best they can. They rely on some standby operators but also seek available drivers willing to take on extra work.

Riders don’t even notice that this goes on every day as coordinators work to make the service perform smoothly. In the event a replacement operator isn’t available, some trips unfortunately go unfilled, which can mean more riders boarding the following bus. A new effort in its infancy now tries to notify riders via email and twitter when a trip isn’t expected to be filled. Even then, we have recently canceled some trips via transit alert, only to soon find an operator and “uncancel” it. Alerts are not yet sent for every canceled trip, but staff are working to improve this new effort at better customer communications. Better still, we’re hiring to avoid canceled trips altogether.

In some cases, a bus trip will operate very late with a replacement driver; however, a rider may already have made other arrangements or boarded on the following bus. The perception is that the trip never showed up. We send these buses out because even operating late helps ease any lingering crowding issues, provided it can get into the mix in a timely fashion. This is essential for first and last trips, where riders are especially dependent on our operations.

West Seattle isn’t alone and trip cancellations are occurring in places across the system, and vary from base to base on different days. Here’s a recent tally of West Seattle trips which did not operate for lack of a driver, not including any mechanical problems/ substituted coaches. This list shows 9 bus trips unfortunately canceled in the past three weekdays, with no canceled trips Aug. 22-28.

· Alerts show we canceled one Route 56 trip Tuesday morning. In the afternoon, we canceled a trip on the 21X, one on Route 56, one on Route 57.

· Alerts show we canceled and then filled a Route 55 Monday morning. We canceled one southbound Route 55 trip and one northbound Route 56 trip.

· Last week (Aug. 22-29), Route 55 had one canceled morning trip and one canceled afternoon trip, both Friday; there also was one morning Route 56 cancelation Friday.

Some weeks this summer have been a bigger challenge than others. We operate more than 11,000 trips each weekday, and over 55,000 each work week. Using backup drivers and asking drivers to work extra has kept more than 99 percent of trips on the street. We make every effort to avoid canceling back to back trips, or first and last trips, and are mindful that some areas of the county have infrequent service. We expect that as we continue to hire drivers and encourage available drivers to pick up extra trips if they can, service will smooth out and we will see fewer cancellations in coming weeks. Until then, we work day-in, day-out to put service on the road for riders.

We apologize for the inconvenience canceled trips cause riders and want to assure our customers we are working hard to address this quick growth in transit service by hiring good, professional customer-focused drivers. That effort continues and we graduate more drivers into the workforce every few weeks at the conclusion of each class.

Customers can sign up for transit alerts to receive notifications when possible of transit disruptions or canceled trips.

FERRY ALERT: Bigger boat rejoins Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route

August 30, 2015 at 5:29 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

After almost a week with reduced capacity on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, Washington State Ferries announced this afternoon that M/V Cathlamet has replaced the out-of-mothballs M/V Evergreen State – that’s a 124-car vessel replacing an older, slower 87-car vessel. That’s expected to lessen some of the recent round of delays.

FOLLOWUP: Operation complete – Highway 99 tunnel machine’s front end fully lowered into pit

August 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(The webcam view 24 hours ago, when part of the repaired front end was still visible above the pit’s rim)

Just in from WSDOT:

Seattle Tunnel Partners and crane crews from Mammoet have successfully lowered the 2,000-ton front end of the SR 99 tunneling machine to a platform at the bottom of the access pit.

Crews will now use the crane to fine-tune the position of the piece. When that process is complete, they will begin reconnecting the piece to the portion of the machine that remains in the ground.

The effort to return the tunneling machine’s front end to the 120-foot-deep access pit began early Monday morning. Crews started by vertically lifting the piece, which includes the machine’s cutterhead, motors and the new main bearing assembly. The crane then moved horizontally on its rails to the north. When the piece was above the pit, crews rotated it to a semi-vertical position and lowered it partway into the pit before breaking for the evening. Work resumed early Tuesday morning, with the piece reaching the bottom of the pit Tuesday afternoon.

Three pieces of the machine’s shield that remain at the surface will be lowered and reinstalled in the coming days, according to STP’s latest schedule. After the machine has been reassembled, STP and manufacturer Hitachi Zosen will conduct a series of tests will follow reassembly to ensure the machine is ready to resume mining.

STP has said it hopes to do that in November, by which time it will be almost two years since the machine overheated and was stopped – longer than the tunnel-boring itself is supposed to take.

FERRY ALERT UPDATE: Fauntleroy terminal outage over, service back to normal

August 25, 2015 at 1:45 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

1:45 PM: A relatively brief power outage that closed Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy terminal is over, according to WSF, but it’ll take a while for service to get back to the normal three-boat schedule – one run had to be routed to downtown because of “an emergency medical transport.” That run was with the route’s biggest vessel, M/V Issaquah, so WSF says that until Issaquah’s back, “the Evergreen State and the Tillikum will provide non-schedule service.” (The “live” online VesselWatch map shows Issaquah now at Vashon, so that might not take too long.)

2:53 PM: WSF says that 3-boat service has been restored, as of the “2:15 pm departure from Fauntleroy, 2:20 pm from Vashon, and a late 2:45 pm departure from Southworth.”

HAPPENING NOW: Highway 99 tunnel machine’s repaired front section headed back into the pit

August 24, 2015 at 11:43 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

If you’ve been southbound on the Alaskan Way Viaduct recently, you’ve probably seen the Highway 99 tunneling machine’s repaired/reassembled front end sitting by the “access pit,” as WSDOT’s contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners prepared it to be lowered into the pit for reattachment. This morning, WSDOT says STP has started the process, which could last at least 14 hours:

Contractor crews will use the super crane next to the Alaskan Way Viaduct to:

-Lift Bertha’s repaired cutterhead and cutter drive unit from its surface-level platform
-Move the entire piece horizontally over the access pit
-Rotate it into a vertical position
-Slowly lower the cutterhead and drive unit on to a platform inside the access pit

“Lifting more than 2,000 tons is a long, slow process,” notes WSDOT in its announcement. If you want to check in from time to time, here’s the link to the webcams, whose images update frequently. It’s been five months since the machine’s front end was brought out of the pit to be fixed.

Curious about city’s new plan to clear traffic incidents sooner? SDOT & SPD @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition this week

August 23, 2015 at 5:44 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 5 Comments

Most West Seattle community groups skip meetings in August, but not the one dealing directly with what many consider the peninsula’s biggest challenge. Next Thursday (August 27th), the West Seattle Transportation Coalition will hear from SDOT and SPD about the city’s new plan for traffic-incident management, detailed in a downtown briefing on August 3rd (WSB coverage here) and a City Council committee briefing August 13th (WSB coverage here). Also on the WSTC agenda, reps from the advocacy group Seattle Subway. The meeting’s at 6:30 pm Thursday at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW).

5 years in the making, Metro’s battery-powered-bus test gets up to speed

August 18, 2015 at 11:14 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

Your chance to commute via a battery-powered bus like that one is getting closer. At a media event today that otherwise was about its new electric trolley buses, Metro also had an update on the battery-powered-bus test that’s been on the way since a federal $4.7 million grant was announced five years ago:

… Over the next four to six months, Metro will take delivery of three 40-foot prototype heavy-duty battery-electric buses with fast-charging batteries, manufactured with a composite body by Proterra, Inc.

The new 38-seat buses can travel up to 23 miles between charges, and remain on the road up to 24 hours a day. Batteries take 10 minutes or less to charge. The prototype bus is expected to get 15 miles more from an equivalent unit of energy than a diesel-hybrid coach. A battery-charging station has already been set up at the Eastgate Park-and-Ride lot.

Metro will test the performance and efficiency of the new technology for up to a year on local streets and roads, to determine whether battery electric buses can be a future replacement option for Metro. The three prototypes will likely be tested on short routes serving the Eastside and downtown Seattle.

You can read today’s full announcement and see videos on this county webpage. The Proterra website says Metro is one of 10 agencies in 9 states that is, or will be, using its buses.

Oops: City safety campaign touted on signs showing helmet-less bicycle riders

August 14, 2015 at 8:30 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 44 Comments

Maybe it’s just something about north West Seattle and SDOT signage. First came the “HPM” speed-limit-sign saga, and now:

Among a series of new SDOT-placed signs staked beside the bicycle/foot trails along Harbor and Alki Avenues are at least two with that design – silhouettes of two people on a bicycle, without helmets, which are required by law.

After the signs were pointed out by Jackie from Upper Alki, which has a safety controversy of its own going on, we went out to see for ourselves, and then asked SDOT about the signs. Marybeth Turner said they’ll be fixed:

This sign is one of a set of five signs, each with a different image. One of the signs shows a silhouette with a retro image of two people without helmets on a tandem bicycle. My understanding is that sets of five signs were placed at six trails around the city. The signs inform people about the Seattle Trails Upgrade Plan (see SDOT web page about this).

A different bicycle image was originally planned for the set, but was replaced by the image you’ve seen by project staff and did not get our usual thoughtful review for public information materials. Although the image seems to portray bicyclists at a time before helmets were commonly used, we definitely want to promote helmet use, and would not normally approve an image of bicyclists without helmets. We are adding helmet stickers to the signs.

Only one of the sign designs we saw was clearly a promotion for the trail:

The others (including silhouettes of a runner, a dog walker, and someone with a small child on their shoulders) bore only the logos for SDOT and for the city’s Vision Zero safety campaign, including the one with the unhelmeted riders.

FOLLOWUP: SDOT says it’s making post-critique progress on traffic-incident management

August 13, 2015 at 1:52 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

That slide deck shown to the City Council’s Transportation Committee today shows the progress SDOT says it’s making after the critique that basically said the city had no coherent plan for Traffic Incident Management (TIM) – the overall science of having policies in place so crashes, stalls, and other backup-inducing problems can be cleared as quickly as possible.

The critique by a consulting firm was presented to the media two weeks ago – we went to the briefing downtown; our subsequent story includes video as well as the consultants’ full report. SDOT director Scott Kubly told councilmembers today that nine of the nearly 70 recommendations have already been implemented. A few that stood out have to do with management accountability – for one, he spoke of having a “duty officer” assigned at all times, someone from SDOT management who is on call to be point person in case of a serious traffic incident, no matter when it happens. This job is rotating between SDOT managers, one week at a time. He also said SDOT is hiring an urban-traffic-corridors expert from WSDOT, Mark Bandy, to lead the department’s newly stepped-up “day-to-day transportation focus.”

In the big picture, the long list of recommendations is being worked on with the goal of a January update on what more will be done and when. But in the short term, the city says, it’s already proceeding with the new priority of getting traffic moving again in case of an incident instead of focusing on preserving property.

(Side note: Anecdotally, we’ve noticed this in a variety of ways in the West Seattle traffic incidents we’ve monitored/covered in recent weeks – including more-urgent radio discussion of what needs to be done to clear the road and how soon it’ll happen, and SPD’s automated tweetstream now including far more traffic-collision information than before.)

New West Seattle water taxi Doc Maynard launches, starts sea trials

August 11, 2015 at 11:13 am | In King County Water Taxi, Transportation, West Seattle news | 8 Comments

If you ride the King County Water Taxi‘s West Seattle-to-downtown route, that’s the new vessel you’ll be on starting sometime this fall. M/V Doc Maynard is being built at All American Marine in Bellingham, as was the new Vashon Island Water Taxi M/V Sally Fox; the photos are from Doc Maynard’s launch into Bellingham Bay last week to start sea trials.

According to an online update from Water Taxi management, M/V Doc Maynard will arrive in Seattle in about a month. Here’s what the county says will happen after that:

After the Doc Maynard arrives in Seattle, the King County Marine Division will familiarize the crew with the vessel, conduct route-specific training, and go through U.S. Coast Guard safety drills. Following a dedication event, the Doc Maynard will be put into service on the Vashon route for up to four weeks while the Sally Fox returns to Bellingham to undergo warranty work. When the Sally Fox returns, the Doc Maynard will go into service on the West Seattle route, increasing the capacity and comfort of this service.

Federal grant money covered 80 percent of the nearly $12 million cost of the two new passenger ferries.

More water taxi news from the summer newsletter – ridership is up:

And the newsletter also notes that the county is continuing to look at possible expansion: “King County has asked the Marine Division and our consultant, KPFF Engineering, to look at future route opportunities on both Lake Washington and Puget Sound. A report of viable options is expected by year’s end.”

SW Roxbury and 35th SW updates: Timeline moved back; comment time for ‘environmental’ document covering both projects

August 5, 2015 at 1:43 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

Two updates on the upcoming SW Roxbury Safety Project, and one also involves the 35th SW project:

NEW START DATE FOR ROXBURY: The Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council has learned from SDOT that the work will start next month instead of this month. WWRHAH transportation chair Chris Stripinis checked with project manager Jim Curtin, who says the new start date is September 14th, so SDOT can “mobilize for both Roxbury and 35th.” Curtin told WWRHAH that “a new kind of technology to remove the existing pavement markings that is less intrusive and much faster” will be used on both projects, hydro-blasting. He added, “We will also do most of the removal work at night and on the weekends to ensure that we do not disrupt classes at Roxhill and Holy Family.” This method is being used on Rainier Avenue right now. One more update from Curtin, forwarded by WWRHAH: “Also important to note is that the paving work between 17th and 18th on Roxbury will not occur before we restripe the roadway. We need to purchase some land from King County in order for us to construct ADA compliant ramps on the south side of Roxbury at 18th. We are in the process of obtaining the land now and this work will still move forward as soon as possible.”

DNS COMMENT TIME FOR ROXBURY AND 35TH: Getting ready to write about all that, we checked the SDOT project webpage for Roxbury, and discovered that a comment period is under way for part of the preparation process, a Determination of (Environmental) Non-Significance. This covers both the Roxbury and 35th SW projects. You can see the DNS document here; then go here (or scroll through the embedded version, above) to see the SDOT State Environmental Policy Act-mandated checklist used to generate it – that’s a very detailed document with some project information you might not have seen before. While the first document says comments will be taken through August 14th, the Roxbury webpage says August 21st is the deadline, and explains how to comment.

VIDEO: Fish-truck crash spawns new city plan for managing ‘traffic incidents’

August 3, 2015 at 8:37 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before the next bridge-snarling crash – or a stall that takes hours to clear – city leaders vow to go the extra mile to work on how they deal with traffic trouble.

The promises were made in the middle of a midsummer Friday afternoon, with the Blue Angels roaring overhead – a time when many in all lines of work do their best to call it quits early and head out to revel; instead, media were summoned to SDOT‘s Traffic Management Center (and an adjacent conference room) to hear details of a consultant’s critique of the city’s traffic-incident-management (TIM) policies.

Or, relative lack of them, per this key conclusion of the report:

A lack of coordination among agencies in Seattle – including but not limited to the Seattle Police Department (SPD) and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) – was immediately identified as a recurring problem in Seattle’s TIM response.

The report was ordered after the infamous tipped-fish-truck fiasco on southbound Highway 99 last March, a crash that took nine hours to clear, though no one was seriously hurt, and that caused chain-reaction backups around the city while turning the highway itself into a walkway for some.

(Reader photo texted during March 2015 fish-truck blockage on SB 99)
Throughout those nine hours, we featured as-it-happened coverage, and followed up the next day here; Councilmember Tom Rasmussen promised followup reports. By May, Mayor Ed Murray had ordered the review and recommendations that he and Rasmussen unveiled Friday.

Atop this report is our video of most of Friday’s briefing (we were a few minutes late so it starts as the mayor was wrapping up his introductory comments). Below is the report by consultants TransSafe Consulting and Sam Schwartz Engineering, whose proprietor Annette Sandberg, a former Washington State Patrol chief, presented a slide deck of highlights during the briefing – or browse the embedded version below:

Ahead – key points of what’s being recommended, and what happens now:

Click to read the rest of VIDEO: Fish-truck crash spawns new city plan for managing ‘traffic incidents’…

ROAD WORK ALERT: Paving ahead for parts of Alki SW (with semi-mystery cross-streets) and Beach Drive SW

July 31, 2015 at 7:29 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 6 Comments

Announced at day’s end by SDOT:

Seattle Department of Transportation crews will intermittently close lanes to restore pavement in two areas of West Seattle next week if the weather is favorable. Drivers should plan for congestion and consider alternate routes.

Crews will close one lane at a time on Alki Avenue Southwest between Southwest Arkansas and Southwest Hampshire streets, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, from Tuesday, Aug. 4 until Thursday, Aug. 6.

Crews will also close one lane at a time on Beach Drive Southwest between Southwest Spokane Street and 61st Avenue Southwest, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, from Thursday, Aug. 6 until Friday, Aug. 7. Bus stops in this area will be temporarily relocated outside of the project site.

Traffic flaggers will direct street traffic at both locations. Pedestrians will not be affected by these closures.

These projects are part of the 2015 Arterial Major Maintenance program, which aims to maintain busy streets with strategic small-scale pavement repairs.

ABOUT THOSE ‘CROSS-STREETS’: If the Alki cross-streets don’t sound familiar – you’re not alone. As reported here following a similar notice last year (with much help from commenters), in the Alki area, SDOT uses names of cross-streets that were platted but never built. So unless the telltale “No Parking” signs are up already (we’ll check), our best guess is the 1200-1500 block vicinity (you’ll see Arkansas and Hampshire on this very old map).

West Seattle Bridge Corridor recommendations due in September

July 31, 2015 at 3:08 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

(WSB photo: Rasmussen at podium, Mayor Murray and SDOT director Scott Kubly at right)
3:08 PM: Recommendations for improving traffic management along the West Seattle Bridge Corridor will be out in September. So said Councilmember Tom Rasmussen this afternoon during a briefing we covered downtown. Main topic of the briefing was a consultant’s new report critiquing Seattle traffic-incident management in general, following the disastrous Highway 99 fish-truck crash. We’ll have full details on the recommendations once back at HQ; for a preview, see what we tweeted during the briefing, which was followed up by a tour of the city Traffic Management Center on the 37th floor of the Municipal Tower downtown.

5:13 PM: A little more backstory – it was January when Rasmussen announced the West Seattle Bridge Corridor Task Force would be launched. That in turn was about four months after the West Seattle Transportation Coalition announced a list of priorities including a bigger-picture plan for dealing with bridge-related issues, and one month after Rasmussen assistant Evan Clifthorne told the WSTC about pursuit of a corridor designation for the WS Bridge.

VIDEO: SW Admiral Way Safety Project ‘changes’ in the works, SDOT director tells council Transportation Committee

July 28, 2015 at 12:05 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 40 Comments

(ADDED: Seattle Channel video of committee meeting – SDOT director’s report starts 1:44 in)

SDOT has “already started making some changes” to the SW Admiral Way Safety Project plan, director Scott Kubly just told Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and the rest of the City Council’s Transportation Committee.

Rasmussen had told us that a briefing would be part of today’s meeting; it happened during Kubly’s periodic “director’s report” presentation, which as usual addressed multiple issues, though only two were discussed before the committee, including this one. (See the full pre-submitted written version of his report above.)

Rasmussen expressed an overall concern about the public-input portion of projects like this – suggesting, as residents have said, that it would be better for agencies to come out and say, there’s an issue we want to address in your neighborhood, and ask for ideas on addressing it, rather than beginning the public-input process by showing up with a proposed plan that invariably draws a negative response, with some walkback invariably following.

Kubly’s response to that was to say that it could stretch out a process for so long that people would lose interest – and/or that an entirely different set of participants/stakeholders might turn up if a year or so elapsed between the start of the discussion and the presentation of a plan. He also pointed out that some projects, like this, are outgrowths of existing “modal plans” (in this case, the city’s Bicycle Master Plan).

But he did acknowledge that community input is leading to some changes already in the plan, which was first presented in April with changes to Admiral Way west of California SW including addition of a bicycle lane, other channelization changes, and removal of 200 on-street parking spaces. When SDOT said it had done parking studies in December to generate its contention that the parking wasn’t needed, community members’ jaws dropped, pointing out that peak parking season in the area is summertime because of Alki Beach Park usage. SDOT agreed to study the parking again in mid-summer; Kubly indicated that “data collection” is under way (as project manager Emily Ehlers had told WSB last week).

“Allow us to collect the data in July, see what that data suggests is the right solution for meeting all of our goals – predominantly safety, for all users,” implored Kubly, adding, “We’ve already started maing some changes based on what we’ve heard … We’ll add back a lot of the parking in the highest-demand areas but without sacrificing some of the safety improvements that we’re making – we’re going through an iterative process … we’ll go back to the public with some design modifications we’ve made,” including changes to where the bicycle lane would be buffered from parked cars and where it would be buffered from the travel lane. The written version of his report says the next public meeting might not happen until September.

More than an hour and a half before Kubly’s appearance at meeting’s end, Admiral Way residents Jackie Ramels, Chris Thayer, and Brenda Gage spoke during the general-public-comment period that started the committee meeting. Thayer mentioned that Alki and Schmitz Park are both parks “with no dedicated off-street parking,” as even acknowledged by the city website. Gage mentioned that she and her three small children would have to cross Admiral Way if parking is removed in front of her house. She voiced a wish that “SDOT (would have been) more collaborative with us.” She also expressed gratitude for the 47th/Admiral light and crosswalks that opened recently, and mentioned that the group’s online petition is up to almost a thousand names. (Rasmussen also mentioned the signal/crosswalks before the meeting concluded – he and Kubly were there for its “completion celebration” two weeks ago, as reported here.)

When this meeting’s archived video is available online via the Seattle Channel, we’ll add it to this report. (NOTE: As of late night, it’s been added.)

Bigger ships but not bigger volume? Port of Seattle talks Terminal 5 at West Seattle Transportation Coalition

July 28, 2015 at 5:04 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

(UPDATED Tuesday night with added comment from Port of Seattle)

(Port of Seattle graphic with modernization-plan toplines, from 2014 slide deck)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Exactly one year to the day after the last cargo-ship call at Terminal 5, two Port of Seattle managers faced the West Seattle Transportation Coalition to answer questions about T-5′s future.

Among the more than 30 people in attendance were residents of East Admiral, neighbors of T-5, concerned about port-related issues with which they’ve long dealt.

One major question of the night: Why the port felt it does not need a new environmental-impact review for the upcoming modernization project. A related city comment period was coming to a close as the meeting was held, but it didn’t involve a full-fledged review.

Port managers contend one isn’t needed because T-5 won’t be handling more volume. That’s a contention the residents are challenging with an online petition, and a stack of formal comments (see their letters by going here and choosing the “documents” tab).

Click to read the rest of Bigger ships but not bigger volume? Port of Seattle talks Terminal 5 at West Seattle Transportation Coalition…

ALERT: ‘Noisy overnight work’ next week at Fauntleroy ferry dock

July 25, 2015 at 11:06 pm | In Fauntleroy, Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Thanks to the Fauntleroy ferry dock neighbor who shared a notice that’s just been circulated in the area: “Noisy overnight work” is planned four nights next week, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 pm to 5:30 am, to fix pavement problems on the dock. (If you live nearby, you are probably aware of some work this past week – we don’t know yet if that was related.) See the notice here; it says in part, “Existing asphalt pavement around deck drains is failing, exposing underlying timber deck to rain water and potential rotting.” No WSF website alert about this yet.

Caught in a backup this morning? Might have been the pre-parade

July 25, 2015 at 10:19 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 2 Comments

(The view from inside the West Seattle Hi-Yu float during the Saturday move)
Around 9 am, someone texted us wondering about backups on Admiral and Avalon, trying to get to the bridge. We checked – no crashes, no stalls, and by the time we headed out for a firsthand look, all looked normal.

(Added: Photo courtesy Joy, as floats including Hi-Yu passed through downtown)
The mystery was solved, indirectly, shortly thereafter, when we saw local broadcaster Brian Westbrook‘s tweet about floats for tonight’s Seafair Torchlight Parade arriving downtown. That jolted our memory about a comment in discussion of last Wednesday’s daily traffic report: Ex-Westwood Resident” mentioned that floats were stored at Terminal 5 this year and would be moving out Saturday morning, headed for the pre-parade Fan Fest at Seattle Center (noon-6 pm) and then, tonight, the parade. We failed to calendarize it for a later heads-up, or else we would have published an advisory (and photographed the floats! if you got a photo of them heading out, we’d love to see it – Meantime, as mentioned in our daily preview, the parade is tonight – lots of downtown road closures – followed by the Seafair Pirate Run, which will close the northbound Viaduct approximately 5:30-7:45 pm.

ADDED 5:04 PM: Thanks to Joy for sharing photos as the floats continued their journey northbound on 4th Avenue downtown after leaving West Seattle. The parade starts at 7:30 pm.

ADDED SUNDAY: Thanks to Thomas for sharing the view of the Saturday morning “parade” under the bridge from inside the Hi-Yu float!

Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Survey says …

July 23, 2015 at 9:28 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 21 Comments

Quick note from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting that just wrapped up in High Point: Co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick mentioned that Sound Transit has released results of its recent survey seeking input on prioritizing what might go into its next ballot measure, and she pointed out that a potential West Seattle light-rail route had received the most support in the survey. Here’s what we subsequently found online: You can see all the results here. (Or embedded below:)

From page 10: The potential route that had more supporters than any other, anywhere in the region, was an elevated line between West Seattle Junction and Downtown Seattle, with 5,198 votes. In second, light rail between Ballard and the U-District, with 4,751 votes. Sound Transit says 25,000 people took the survey, which we mentioned here several times before it closed two weeks ago. Next step for Sound Transit: Deciding what to include in the “ST 3″ ballot measure that’s expected to be sent to voters next year.

P.S. Main topic of tonight’s WSTC meeting was the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 5 modernization plan; full report coming up.

FERRY ALERT: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth returning to three-boat schedule by mid-morning Thursday

July 22, 2015 at 5:46 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

After three days on a 2-boat schedule because of repair work elsewhere in the system, Washington State Ferries says the “Triangle” route will be back to 3 boats tomorrow:

The Tillikum will rejoin the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route by mid-morning, Thursday, July 23. The route will return to the regular, three-boat schedule at that time. Thank you for your patience during the recent temporary downsizing of this route.

FOLLOWUP: Admiral Way Safety Project expects next parking study soon, updated plan in ‘late August’

July 20, 2015 at 4:06 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off

If you’ve seen temporary traffic cameras up along west Admiral Way in the past week or so – yes, they’re related to the SDOT proposal for changes along the road between California and 63rd, including removal of 200 parking spaces and channelization changes. In our followup published last week featuring one of the meetings City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen has had with local groups both pro and con, we mentioned we had questions out to SDOT. Today, we talked with project manager Emily Ehlers. She says they’re expecting the promised followup meeting with the community to be in “late August.”

Between now and then, they’re expecting two sets of data – one gathered by temporary cameras like the one you see above, five of which she says are in place, recording pedestrian activity in the project zone. That data, according to Ehlers, will help them decide if new crosswalks and flashing-beacon-type signage are needed. The other set of data will involve the next parking study, which she says has not started yet – you might recall that SDOT raised eyebrows by basing its first round of recommendations on parking-usage studies done in the winter, so, agreed to community demands to do a study in the summer too. She says they’re working with a consultant to get going on that and she expects it to happen soon. Ehlers added that they are receiving lots of community feedback and said that’s part of what they’re working with, too – so you have plenty of time to e-mail her at

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