(WSDOT photo from early June, installing new part for the tunnel machine’s cutterhead)
When will the Highway 99 tunneling machine be ready to resume digging?
(Added Monday – slide deck from stakeholders’ meeting)
WSDOT told its longrunning Highway 99/Viaduct stakeholders group today that it really has no idea – its contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners still hasn’t provided a new schedule for when it thinks the machine will be fixed and ready to go. So technically, they still only have a schedule that says it was expected to get going around August 1st, said Brian Nielsen, the new deputy program administrator (replacing Matt Preedy, who left for a job at Sound Transit). “Clearly they’re a couple months behind” where they would have had to have been to make that timeline, he said, but they haven’t heard from STP and will let the public know when they do. Once they start up, Nielsen said, they consider the session “a test section” with “essentially a new machine” for the first 500 feet or so, until they get to “Safe Haven 3,” where they’d have to stop down before going under the Viaduct.
We were the only news organization at the stakeholders’ meeting, held in a meeting room at Safeco Field, so we took notes on a few other items of general interest – they’re ahead:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
With little advance notice of the proposed Admiral Way changes, SDOT first presented them at April’s Admiral Neighborhood Association meeting (WSB coverage here), then at May’s Southwest District Council meeting (WSB coverage here), and finally in a contentious standalone community meeting May 21st at Alki Elementary (WSB coverage here). That meeting included the following slide deck, showing the heart of the plan in the final few pages, proposing removing more than 200 parking spaces along Admiral Way west of California SW, to make room for changes including the addition of bicycle lanes:
(Slide deck from May 21st meeting)
The parking removal is the center of concern for area residents, for reasons including that it would require some of them to park across Admiral and dodge traffic to get to and from their vehicles. When they heard SDOT say it considered the parking removal to have a relatively nominal impact because of usage studies they had done in the winter, rather than in the busy summer season, that led to further concerns. From the group’s newly launched website:
We are a group of neighbors who came together, in shock and disbelief, in April 2015, when Seattle Department of Transportation informed us they were planning to remove 200 parking spaces on Admiral Way, between the Admiral Junction and 59th SW, four months hence. Admiral Way is a residential arterial, bordering the Alki Parking Overlay; it is the main access route to Alki Beach, the Alki business district, Alki Elementary School, Alki Community Center, a church, and the Alki neighborhood.
We are concerned that SDOT does not understand this street: the traffic patterns, the parking, the adjoining structures and the safety challenges. Most of the accidents on this section of Admiral Way are caused by impaired drivers, late at night. The SDOT Admiral plan is dangerous because SDOT would force some residents to park on the dangerous side of the street, the side where impaired drivers crash into cars and structures on a routine basis. The plan is dangerous because SDOT would also force some residents to cross a busy arterial, with children, elderly and handicapped family members in tow, to get to their cars. The plan is shocking because this portion of Admiral Way suffers from extreme parking congestion during the summer and during school pick-up and drop-off time.
The new website also links to an online petition asking Mayor Ed Murray to drop the plan, and organizers say they’ll soon have yard and roadside signs to catch the attention of neighbors and visitors alike, including ones like this:
Organizers also tell us they are lobbying elected officials directly and expect to meet soon with Councilmember Tom Rasmussen.
As for where the plan officially stands:
At the May “open house,” pressed by Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting to commit to at least one more public meeting about the project, SDOT agreed. No date’s been announced yet; Rasmussen asked SDOT director Scott Kubly about this project’s “public process” during yesterday’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting (starting 53 minutes into the clip at that link); Kubly said he knew one public meeting had been held and thought multiple additional meetings would be ahead. The project website now shows this timeline, mentioning a “community briefing” in late summer:
We left a message for project manager Emily Ehlers today to ask about the status, and have not received a response.
(Photo taken this evening, looking westward at 47th/Admiral/Waite)
Two messages tonight about the 47th/Admiral/Waite signal and crosswalks project. First one is a progress report from SDOT:
Work resumed last week at the intersection of 47th Avenue SW and SW Admiral Way. Crews installed the signal poles and striped the intersection, including new crosswalks. They also began installation of wiring in preparation for the new signal heads that we expect will be delivered later this week. We anticipate approximately three more weeks of construction while the signals are installed and configured.
The striping of the crosswalks before the signal’s installation, however, led WSB reader Jennie to e-mail this safety concern and ask if we’d share it:
I was wondering if you might be able to highlight a safety concern and an extra need for people to slow down and use caution when driving through the new Admiral stoplight intersection that is being created near Alki Mail and Dispatch.
There are not lights yet to control this intersections, yet they have decided to lay down all of the crosswalks. I am *very* concerned that someone is going to use one of these new crosswalks (potentially even young kids now that they are out of school) and get hit. The one crosswalk that was always there was placed in about the best position for line of sight for cars and it obviously didn’t do its job well with crossing deaths and accidents.
Crosswalks don’t require lights – don’t even require striping (as explained here) – but nonetheless, since the painted crosswalks are new features and the light is still a few weeks away, it’s a good idea to take extra care in that area as people using all modes get used to the new features.
After public meetings, petition drives, and a walking tour, the city’s final plan for 35th SW will be announced by mid-July. That’s what SDOT project manager Jim Curtin told us when we checked in with him today. Once a meeting date is finalized for the second week of July, SDOT will announce it in a variety of ways, including via postal-mail postcards to residences, businesses, and others on and near 35th SW in the project zone, from Fauntleroy Way SW south to SW Roxbury. The latter, of course, has its own changes in the works, as announced in April, and that work will be done first, Curtin tells WSB: “We intend to combine our work on Roxbury and 35th to save on construction crew mobilization costs. Work on Roxbury is expected to start the week of (August) 17th and we intend to move over to 35th as soon as Roxbury is complete. I believe work on 35th would begin in early to mid-September.” SDOT unveiled “design alternatives” for 35 in March; during last month’s lightly attended walking tour (WSB coverage here), Curtin said “Option A” was looking the most promising for most of the project zone.
As the City Council gets deeper into shaping the “Move Seattle” transportation levy proposed for the November ballot, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition has just announced its official statement on what it wants to see in the levy:
West Seattle has been working to resolve its transportation challenges for 125 years. We initiated Puget Sound’s first ferry service in 1888 and we built America’s first municipally funded commuter rail system in 1906. Today, that extensive rail line is gone, replaced by inadequate bus service and single lane choke points that hamper the mobility of our 100,000 citizens.
Seattle has not supported or expanded our historically great transportation ideas. Thanks to the lags and half measures the city has offered over the years, there’s widespread perception here that West Seattle and its transportation issues are not, and never have been priorities for the City of Seattle.
It took the City five years to re-build the South Park Bridge after significant lobbying efforts of citizens, six years to rebuild Seattle’s Spokane St. bridge after a freighter rammed the old one in 1978, and decades to re-start the seasonal cross bay West Seattle Water Taxi to downtown. After significant citizens efforts and pressure, the City is finally addressing safety and speeding issues on SW Roxbury Street and 35th Ave SW.
As our Peninsula population increases, traffic increases and further chokes ingress-egress. Our two bridges are gridlocked for hours every day now — with 93,000 vehicles crossing West Seattle’s high bridge, and 13,000 crossing the low bridge. Together, these bridges are Seattle’s busiest, non-freeway traffic corridor, carrying more human and freight volume than any other city bridge. By the time Move Seattle expires, West Seattle’s population in our Alaska Junction and Triangle areas alone will grow to equal or surpass that of Ballard.
Move Seattle fails to address West Seattle’s key issue — getting into and out of the peninsula, safely and efficiently. While the WSTC appreciates and supports the proposals West Seattle pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements, we ask the Mayor and City Council to support and clearly define Council Member Tom Rasmussen’s amendment to Move Seattle. We would like the levy to:
Provide a fully funded, integrated, West Seattle Peninsula ingress-egress plan with a scope of work, timeline, and funding source. Its structure should be fully compatible with conversion to a future Sound Transit dedicated right-of-way, Light Rail or Bus Rapid Transit system.
In Sound Transit polling, more than 94% of West Seattle residents supported a dedicated solution for the people living in District 1. Currently, all of West Seattle’s transportation hopes and dreams seem to be bolted to the forthcoming Sound Transit 3 (ST3) proposal. Meaning, West Seattle’s transportation fate is now in the hands of Olympia legislators, the Sound Transit Tri-County Board, and competition from regional and local interests who also need ST3 resources.
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking down for West Seattle as our population and development density increase, and the Port gears up with planned expansions on Terminal 5, where freight and industrial growth will further choke traffic flows to SR 99, I-5, I-90, Marginal and Alaskan Ways. It’s a perfect storm of adverse effects on our situation.
West Seattle and South Park need a solution today. We cannot wait for some future, theoretical ST3 or ST4 package. We expect our leaders and elected officials to do whatever it takes to move the people of District 1 now.
We wrote about Councilmember Rasmussen’s proposed amendment, mentioned above, back on Monday.
P.S. Haven’t shared your comments on the levy yet? This page on the city website explains how.
(From city application for federal grant: Medium-blue shading is proposed expansion area; dark blue is “vulnerable population” area)
If you go downtown, you see them seemingly everywhere – racks of Pronto Bike Share bicycles, ready to be rented to get from Point A to Point B, in a program launched last fall. West Seattle would seem to have plenty of potential, but isn’t part of the bike-share zone.
As first reported by Seattle Bike Blog, an expansion of the bike-share network, including part of West Seattle, is part of a city application for a federal grant. The application for a TIGER grant is titled Northgate Non-Motorized Access to Transit and Education; 60 percent of the $25 million sought would go toward a bike/pedestrian bridge in Northgate that’s long been on the drawing board. But the other 40 percent would go to expand bike-sharing service in other areas of the city, including bringing it to part of West Seattle, primarily toward the “Access to Transit and Education” part of the grant, to improve access to South Seattle College (WSB sponsor). From the full application document:
South Seattle College is situated on the far eastern edge of West Seattle on a bluff overlooking the Duwamish industrial corridor. It lacks direct east/west connections to the neighborhood’s primary transit corridor on Delridge Way. Significant slopes require out of direction travel for safe walking and bicycling connections to the college. The college is located 1.5 miles from the closest bus stop at Delridge Way and Juneau Street. This is a 28 minute walk that will be a 7 minute trip on bikeshare with this expansion. The 138’ elevation climb of this trip will also be improved with electric assist bicycles.
SSC, of course, does have closer bus stops, so that line should read, “from the closest DELRIDGE bus stop.”
The cost of the proposed system expansion is proposed at $10,075,000, with $10m from the requested grant and $75,000 from city funds. To buy the bikes – $5,125,000 city funds, $3,000,000 private funding (from Pronto’s operator) is proposed.
While the map excerpted atop this story, from page 6 of the application, shows (in medium blue) what area of West Seattle is proposed to be part of the bike-share expansion, the city documents make it clear that they won’t be able to get specific about stations and locations until they know whether they get the full grant. Overall, though, the application says:
The project will expand the bikeshare system to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes. The proposed bikeshare fleet will include electric drive, pedal assist bikes (e-bikes). The proposed expansion will increase the service area from 5 square miles of the city and 14% of the population to 42 square miles serving 62% of the population (Figure 10). E-bikes will help Seattleites and visitors traverse the many hills in the city and take longer trips…
You’ll find many more details in SBB editor Tom Fucoloro’s report, which says a decision on the grant request is due this fall. (P.S. And if you like to comb through documents – find them all on the city website.)
SDOT director Scott Kubly returns to West Seattle tomorrow – this time to launch a series of “positive reinforcement” events tied to the city’s Vision Zero safety campaign. From 8-8:45 am outside the interim home of Arbor Heights Elementary (5950 Delridge Way SW) on Wednesday, according to the announcement, “Kubly, Seattle Police, and community transportation safety advocates will be out rewarding parents and kids that follow the rules of the road and practice safe travel behavior as the summer school break is days away.” If you’re caught “practicing safe travel habits,” you might get “a $5 coffee gift card and safety swag (all items grant funded),” SDOT adds. This is the first of three events around the city this week; the other two will be downtown at noon Thursday and at the Fremont Bridge on Friday morning.
More for West Seattle in transportation levy? Two amendments on the agenda for councilmembers’ discussion tomorrowJune 8, 2015 at 4:59 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 8 Comments
Tomorrow morning at 9 am, the City Council – meeting as the Select Committee on Transportation Funding – takes another look at the revised transportation levy destined for this November’s ballot. Councilmembers are proposing a variety of amendments, and we’ve found at least two that include West Seattle-specific language:
*Under the section proposing spending $35 million for “transit corridor improvements,” Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – who chairs the transportation-funding committee – proposes adding the language “including planning for access and egress improvements to the West Seattle peninsula.” See it on page 6 of his amendment:
Rasmussen also has a separate amendment that redefines the “core categories” in which the levy would seek to make “transportation improvements” – instead of “safety … interconnectivity … vibrancy … and repair,” his categories would be “safe routes, “congestion relief,” “maintenance and repair.”
*Under the “Safe Routes to School” section, Councilmember Tim Burgess proposes adding language mentioning two West Seattle elementaries while requiring that SDOT “Complete projects within the first three years of the Levy in walk zones of the following schools that have high levels of poverty: Bailey Gatzert, Martin Luther King, Jr., West Seattle, Dunlap, Dearborn Park, Wing Luke, Northgate, Van Asselt & Wing Luke, Emerson, Concord, Rainier View, Roxhill.” See it on page 4 of his amendment:
The committee meeting taking up these and other proposed changes to the now-$930 million levy intended for the November ballot starts at 9 am tomorrow at City Hall; you’ll be able to watch live on Seattle Channel (cable channel 21 or online at seattlechannel.org). As for your role in the process – more amendments, discussions, public-comment opportunities are ahead before the ballot language has to be finalized in August.
This morning, David texted us about new public-service announcements on Metro buses, saying they were loud, annoying, and too frequent. Looking around the infosphere today, we saw this mentioned by others, especially via Twitter. And now – a text from Metro itself, pointing to its online post saying they’re being scrapped:
Boy, did we hear from riders this weekend! We tried out three new on-board public service announcements to improve safety on Metro buses, but it sure didn’t turn out the way we hoped or expected. …
What is NOT being scrapped – the new additions and restorations to Metro service – tomorrow will be the first weekday since they’ve taken effect, so be sure you plan your trip with that in mind. (Here again is our West Seattle overview.)
Thanks to Brice for pointing this out – the next step as Sound Transit works toward its next money-raising ballot measure, dubbed “Sound Transit 3,” includes a survey just made public. If you’re interested in seeing Sound Transit prioritize light rail for West Seattle – or if you’d rather see something else – tell them! The survey starts here.
BACKSTORY: While ST designated West Seattle as a “potential light-rail corridor” when updating its Long-Range Plan last December (WSB coverage here), that didn’t come with any guarantees – the agency would have to settle on a plan and on funding to make it happen, and this is far from the only area it’s considering including in the 2016 ballot measure.
TRANSPORTATION LEVY: Proposal for partial ‘alternative funding’ instead of raising all $930 million via property-tax levyJune 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments
Some of the concerns about the city’s proposed $930 million transportation levy – which, as mentioned in our daily preview, is the subject of a public hearing tonight – involve how it would be paid for: A property-tax levy. Councilmember Nick Licata proposes shifting a third of the cost to other sources – making it a $600 million levy, with $330 million to be raised via development-impact fees, commercial-parking taxes, and an employee-hours tax. Read on for the full news release:
Click to read the rest of TRANSPORTATION LEVY: Proposal for partial ‘alternative funding’ instead of raising all $930 million via property-tax levy…
With a week and a half until Metro‘s next “service change” – June 6th – a news release just circulated brings the reminder that service changes funded by voter-approved Seattle Prop 1 are starting to kick in. We went into the webpage listing the changes to pull out the following descriptions of what’s in store for West Seattle routes:
Service added, restored, or revised
RapidRide C Line
On weekdays, service frequency will improve in both directions to about every 8 minutes during the morning and afternoon peak periods. Midday service frequency will also improve to about every 12 minutes, and evening 15-minute service frequency will be extended until about 11:30 pm seven days per week. All Night Owl service will be maintained and scheduled so the times are the same every day.
On Saturday, service frequency will improve to about every 12 minutes in both directions.
On Saturday evening, three northbound trips to downtown Seattle leaving Westwood Village at 6:07, 8:09 and 8:39 pm will be added.
Three morning peak-period trips to downtown Seattle and three afternoon peak-period trips to the Admiral District will be added.
On weekdays, four morning peak-period trips to Broadway and four southbound peak-period trips to Westwood Village will be added.
On Saturday and Sunday, one morning and eight evening northbound trips, and 10 evening southbound trips will be added.
Service frequency will improve to every 30-minutes and the span of service will be extended.
On weekdays, three morning peak-period trips leaving from 15th Ave SW & SW Roxbury St in White Center to downtown Seattle will be added.
On weekends, service frequency will improve to every 30 minutes between about 6:30 am and 6:30 pm.
City of Seattle funding will also help improve on-time reliability for the following routes (including, West Seattle-related): 21E, 37, 55, 56, 57, and the RapidRide C & D lines
Citywide, 110,000 hours of additional bus service are starting June 6th, while 113,000 more hours are scheduled to take effect at Metro’s next “service change” in September. As for the funding specified by Prop 1, the one-tenth-of-one-percent sales-tax increase is already in effect, and the $60 car-license fees take effect with registrations/renewals starting next month.
If you saw a big group of bicycle riders this past hour or so in Westwood or Fauntleroy – this is probably who you saw: The Denny-Lincoln Bicycle Classic‘s almost 50 riders. Biggest group yet, the ride leaders announced as they gave everyone a big round of safety reminders before taking off from the path on the north side of Denny International Middle School (2601 SW Kenyon).
After heading out on the western path through the Denny-Sealth campus, they mustered on 26th SW, bound for SW Thistle. This, by the way, is the third annual Denny-Lincoln ride – so named because the destination is Lincoln Park, where the group planned a lunchtime barbecue.
One more transportation-related item: If you live and/or work and/or drive, ride, walk, run along Delridge Way SW, you’re going to want to take this survey. It was mentioned in the announcement of a June 6th city-led workshop regarding three projects – the Delridge Multi-Modal Corridor Study, the Delridge Action Plan, and Delridge Longfellow Creek Basin Natural Drainage Systems Partnership. The workshop is planned for 9:30 am-noon June 6th (a Saturday) at Southwest Teen Life Center (2801 SW Thistle)
(Slide deck from last night’s meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“Who can we contact to derail this program?”
That question was asked by one attendee at last night’s contentious meeting about the Admiral Way Safety Project, but could have come from almost anyone who spoke. We hadn’t planned to record the meeting on video but grabbed five minutes of public comment via phone; if you weren’t there, this is a taste of how it went:
This was the first standalone meeting about the project, and at one point during the meeting SDOT reps said it would be the only one – but before the meeting’s end, Admiral Neighborhood Association president David Whiting asked them to commit to another one, and they agreed.
The proposal for SW Admiral Way between California SW and 63rd SW is intended to improve safety by adding a bicycle lane and narrowing vehicle lanes. That would require removal of about 200 street parking spaces, per SDOT’s calculations, on alternating sides of the street. While SDOT initially contended that the proposal would still preserve more than the number of spaces they found occupied during their research, what has drawn ire is the timing of that research: They took counts last December, not during the warm-weather months that fill Alki-area parking spaces for blocks around.
The way in which this proposal emerged also has drawn criticism.
5:30 PM: For the next 2 1/4 hours, SDOT’s project team will walk the SW Roxbury project zone – as was done with 35th SW last Saturday – with anyone who shows up to ask questions, voice concerns, or just look and listen. Here’s the schedule:
5:30 pm – 4th/Roxbury
5:50 pm – 8th/Roxbury
6:15 pm – Delridge/16th/Roxbury
6:45 pm – 26th/Roxbury
7:15 pm – 30th/Roxbury
7:45 pm – 35th/Roxbury
You can join anywhere along the way. We’re off to see what happens as it starts, and we’ll be back with an update.
6:03 PM: We met up with SDOT’s James Le at the 8th/Roxbury meetup point. He was alone. He told us one person did show up at the 4th/Roxbury starting point – but not to talk about the Roxbury project; that person wanted to know what was the leading option so far for 35th. (Project manager Jim Curtin had said during Saturday’s walking tour there that Option A was “looking good. Curtin is scheduled to join the Roxbury tour around 17th/Roxbury, about 15 minutes from now, said Le.)
10:03 PM: Here’s a photo from 30th/Roxbury, where we checked back on the tour. By that point, Curtin told us, they’d tallied about a dozen participants along the way, including those at this stop:
From left, Eric Iwamoto of the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council (and co-chair of the Southwest District Council), Chris Stripinis, who is the transportation point person for WWRHAH, Richard Miller from the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and West Seattle Crime Prevention Council, Le and Curtin from SDOT. Work on the project is expected to start in mid-August.
(ADDED 12:11 PM: WSDOT slide deck as presented to City Council this morning)
10:35 AM: The damage to the Highway 99 tunneling machine is “more extensive” than expected, but not more extensive than they were expecting to fix. That’s how it was just announced by WSDOT’s Todd Trepanier during the scheduled periodic Highway 99/tunnel project briefing for the City Council. For as long as the briefing continues, we’ve embedded it above (click the “play” button to access the live Seattle Channel stream). Trepanier specifically mentions machine sealing that’s been “stripped away.” Trepanier says Seattle Tunnel Partners hasn’t said what caused it, and doesn’t have to, under terms of the design/build contract, but councilmembers are pressing the point.
10:42 AM: First among them is Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who wants to know the schedule and says he’s nervous every day the Alaskan Way Viaduct stays open. Trepanier says that the contractor has told them they’ll have a revised schedule next month. Councilmember Tom Rasmussen asks if there’s some deadline for this to get going again; Trepanier says they want the contractor to “take the time that (they) need” but adds on followup that the contract does include deadlines with monetary consequences. Those deadline dates are not close, though, Trepanier says. He tries to move along but O’Brien asks again, do they have any idea what went wrong? Trepanier replies no, that’s between the contractor and the machine’s manufacturer. He continues showing images of the damage (no slide deck provided yet). “If everything is going wrong like this right now, how do we know (it’s OK) before it gets back in the ground (and resumes tunneling)?” asks Councilmember Sally Bagshaw.
Next, it’s on to a report about ground settlement in the area. One report has reached the conclusion that the drawdown of an aquifer by the “dewatering” for the access pit caused November’s settlement. But that has stabilized, Trepanier goes on to say. “That type of settlement is no longer going to continue,” they believe. In all, he adds, three reports related to the settlement are out – and they don’t all agree with each other regarding other points. One specific area, he adds, is believed to be an area “where there’s always been a problem” predating the dewatering.
11:03 AM: Trepanier is showing charts with details of which engineering firm says what. This part of the briefing has lasted much longer than the one about the specific damage has been found in the tunnel machine. After a few minutes of details, he recaps that they disagree with the city over what’s to blame for the Pioneer Square water main that needs to be replaced – “it’s always been a problem” in their view, before the tunnel-project dewatering. He also says that they haven’t found noteworthy structural damage in the area. He also says the aquifer related to the dewatering should eventually have a “rebound effect … when the pump shutoff takes place.”
11:21 AM: WSDOT moves on to an update on what other work is being done while the tunnel machine is being fixed. On this side, the South Operations Building is taking shape, he notes. And WSDOT is writing its response to the city’s evaluation of the Viaduct, Trepanier adds.
11:29 AM: Briefing is over. We’re taking down the live-video window; we’re expecting the slide deck from WSDOT in a bit and will add that when it’s available.
11:43 AM: WSDOT has published its own summary, here.
12:11 PM: And now we’ve received the slide deck, and added it atop this story.
FIRST REPORT, 9:36 AM: As of just after 9 am, the SDOT-organized walking tour of the 35th SW Safety Project zone is under way. Above, project manager Jim Curtin, who started the tour with one assistant and three members of the public. At the outbound 35th/Avalon RapidRide, he explained that the section of 35th in that area is NOT proposed for rechannelization or other major changes. He was asked how the mixed-use development across the street will change conditions in that area:
Curtin mentioned, as has been reported here, that it includes a slopeside stairway to help connect the 35th/Avalon area (which is the gateway to West Seattle Stadium, WS Golf Course, and Camp Long) with the growing residential/business area to the west in The Triangle and The Junction. The transit stop, currently relocated to the south, will be “improved,” he said. Then after a few minutes, the group headed southbound, where we spotted them a few minutes later outside the stadium entrance:
You can catch up with the tour for a moment, an hour, whatever interests you. The stops and times are listed here, continuing until they reach 35th/Roxbury at noon. And if you don’t get to catch up with any of this – Curtin reiterated at the start that SDOT will come back to the community with the next version of the proposal, next month. You can send comments/observations/questions to him at email@example.com.
11:07 AM: We checked in on the walking tour again at 35th and Morgan, one spot where SDOT had said during the recent community meetings that they were still deciding what would be best to do to avoid significantly delaying traffic here:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 16, 2015
Curtin said the plan for this intersection so far includes “tweaking the signal phasing.” Nearby residents who joined in at this stop mentioned parking near the intersection that could be reviewed for removal.
P.S. We’ve been experimenting with the new Twitter-linked “live” app Periscope lately and went live at this stop for a few minutes – if you use Twitter, check it out (or, if you don’t want to use Twitter but do decide to use the Periscope app, just follow us there!).
12:22 PM: The tour concluded right on time – we stopped by to check in as they arrived at 35th and Roxbury:
Last stop for the 35th SW walking tour: At Roxbury. Talking about the sidewalks planned south of Rox. pic.twitter.com/9KucePqKxs
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 16, 2015
Curtin told the final few participants that “Option A” is looking the most promising, especially “south of Oregon,” and that the community meeting will likely be in mid-June.
The proposal to rechannelize much of 35th SW after years of safety concerns and reduce its speed limit to 30 mph is one of our area’s hottest transportation topics. Your next chance to take your questions directly to the city is on a walking tour tomorrow morning – and you don’t have to walk the whole distance; the city’s graphic, above, shows where they expect to be and when, both for tomorrow’s 35th SW tour and for next Wednesday night’s walking tour of SW Roxbury. In case you can’t read it, here’s the list for tomorrow:
9:00 am – 35th/Avalon
9:30 am – 35th/Dawson
9:45 am – 35th/Juneau
10:15 am – 35th/Morgan
10:45 am – 35th/Holden
11:15 am – 35th/Thistle
11:45 am – 35th/Barton
12:00 pm – 35th/Roxbury
Here’s the official project page with details of what the city’s considering. The design alternatives were unveiled at two meetings in March – our coverage is here and here. Meantime, the West Seattle resident who started a petition opposed to the rechannelization and speed-limit reduction, Bob Neel, sent us the final summary he has sent to SDOT’s project manager Jim Curtin – see it here.
One week after they stood on a Beacon Hill street corner with the mayor, announcing the revised Transportation Levy to Move Seattle, City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and SDOT director Scott Kubly pitched it to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce.
They were the guest speakers at the Chamber’s monthly lunch meeting on Wednesday at The Kenney (WSB sponsor).
The conversation wandered around to non-levy transportation topics too.
Councilmember Rasmussen, who chairs the Council’s Transportation Committee, talked about the $930 million levy in general, noting the big addition for West Seattle – the Fauntleroy Boulevard project, currently funded only through design, is now in the levy. Kubly gave more of an overview of SDOT’s mission, especially its multimodal intent, and its view that the future has arrived, with the increasing use of carsharing (Car2Go) and ridesharing (Lyft, Uber) in the big picture as his department also factors in existing infrastructure and neighborhood needs.
As for the levy process, he recapped the input SDOT had gathered so far, particularly via the online survey – with 8,000 respondents – and hundreds of comments, while explaining they also looked forward to events like this one where they could hear from people face-to-face.
When Kubly invited questions, a few did address points in the levy – how much money is West Seattle-specific (no numbers beyond the $16 million or so for Fauntleroy Boulevard) and why some of the levy was going to what seemed like basic needs like crosswalk repainting (state tax-revenue constraints were cited). But more of the questioning was along the lines of long-running West Seattle transportation issues:
-The increasing perception of a parking crunch and its effect on businesses. Kubly said people need transportation options, and reiterated his view of the importance of car-sharing among other such options.
-The challenge of limited options for heading outbound from West Seattle, which drew some mutters of agreement. This led Kubly to mention the city advocating for making sure West Seattle would get something out of the next Sound Transit ballot measure (aka Sound Transit 3).
-Concern about the likely rechannelization of 35th SW, in the face of increasing neighborhood population. Kubly said SDOT expects that 35th will become safer and more efficient.
The question of cost arose, specifically the cost of the levy ($275/year for the owner of a $450,000 home) and last year’s voter-approved transit-funding measure ($60 more on car tabs starting this summer). One attendee observed that the latter is still leaving deficiencies in local bus service, including the Alki area.
So, Kubly was then asked, is SDOT working on further efficiencies, in general as well as in light of the levy? He cited one example, working with utilities to reduce the amount of street-digging-up that’s been going on.
And then a question he was asked at a previous West Seattle meeting – what happens if the levy doesn’t pass?
It would mean cutting SDOT’s budget, Kubly replied.
Next steps for the revised levy: It’s going through the City Council, which ultimately will vote on whether to send it to the ballot (a November vote is expected).
P.S. Regarding the 35th SW project – this Saturday morning is the walking tour, and SDOT’s project page has details on where you can catch up with it if you don’t want to go along for the entire three-hour tour.
Speaking of traffic … ready to see if it’s possible to experience less of it? You have a few more weeks to sign up for Metro’s “Communities In Motion” program:
Want to earn a free, ORCA card good for two weeks of unlimited travel and qualify for other prizes – in exchange for driving less? King County Metro is in the last few weeks of its “Communities in Motion” program in South Park, West Seattle and White Center and looking for people who want to trade daily driving for more biking, walking and busing.
Through June 6, people who live or work in those three areas can sign up online and help reduce traffic congestion and boost the health of their community. The Metro In Motion team will be at events in your neighborhood soon and are happy to visit work and community centers upon request. Visit us online kingcounty.gov/inmotion.
How it Works
Thanks to West Seattle Bike Connections president Don Brubeck for the photo of bicycle commuters waiting on the low bridge this morning, while, Don says, “an APL train barge” passed through. This Friday is Bike To Work Day, and Don says WSBC and DIY Bikes are hosting a bike-commute station under the bridge, “where the trails meet,” 6-9 am on Friday. From the Cascade Bicycle Club website, here’s a map of the “commute stations” planned all around the area (update: the White Center listing is apparently outdated, but the WS one definitely IS on):
P.S. One local improvement for walkers, runners, and bike riders open in time for B2W Day, the Delridge/Andover project – we tweeted a mention this morning while following up on the Pigeon Point fire:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 13, 2015
Seattle Bike Blog spotlighted it last week.
8:19 AM: The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth state-ferry run is back to three boats this morning. But it’s at lower-than-usual capacity; the once-retired Evergreen State has been added to partly make up for the Issaquah’s move to the Bainbridge Island run while M/V Tacoma is repaired after its Friday afternoon breakdown. The 3-boat schedule is here, noting that the run is now being handled by Cathlamet, Tillikum, and Evergreen State; we’ll update this story if anything else changes during the course of the day.
2:14 PM: We’re seeing the Fauntleroy Way ferry lane alongside Lincoln Park, and that reminds us to update this with WSF’s note that most runs are about half an hour later than scheduled time, so far.
FOLLOWUP: SDOT still investigating ‘anomalies’ after West Seattle’s ‘low bridge’ breaks down twice in 5 daysMay 8, 2015 at 2:30 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments
(SDOT camera image from Thursday evening)
Last night, for the second time in five days, the West Seattle “low bridge” – aka the SW Spokane Street Swing Bridge – suffered a “malfunction” that left it off-limits to traffic, both surface and marine, for more than an hour and a half (WSB coverage here). We failed to follow up after the Sunday incident (WSB coverage here) but sent an inquiry to SDOT first thing today. The communications team obtained and forwarded this reply from Paul Roberts, SDOT’s Structural Operations and Maintenance Manager:
Last night the bridge operator prepared to open the bridge for marine vessels. Once the traffic control gates were deployed, an operational anomaly occurred. This caused the bridge’s systems to fully stop, a process that prevents unintentional public safety issues or unnecessary risk/damage to the bridge itself during a system anomaly. Anomalies can occur because of (but not limited to) power supply surges, sensor alignment, controller system conflicts or component failure.
Bridge technicians were immediately summoned to the bridge to assess the incident and regain operational control. Although the bridge technicians were able to return operational control to the bridge operator, the cause of the anomaly is still under review.
The bridge technicians will continue working on the problem to identify the cause and contributing factors, and to figure out how these types of anomalies can be minimized.
Our archives show two bridge breakdowns in the span of less than a month last summer – in July, a gate pin was blamed for an hour-plus bridge outage; in June, a computerized measurement device used during bridge “docking” was blamed for a two-hour-plus outage.
SIDE NOTE: The “low bridge” is the only option bicycle riders and walkers/runners have for crossing the Duwamish north of the 1st Avenue South Bridge (aside from a bus or the Water Taxi). It’s been in service since the early ’90s.
(WSB photo from this morning’s announcement event)
11:23 AM: We are on Beacon Hill, where Mayor Murray is announcing the revised transportation levy. The West Seattle headline: The Fauntleroy Boulevard project is now part of the levy. More to come.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) May 6, 2015
11:56 AM: Councilmembers Tom Rasmussen – longtime advocate of the Fauntleroy Boulevard project – and Mike O’Brien also spoke. Various notes: $35 million more for sidewalks in the revised levy (we’re looking for proposed locations). The total package to be funded is now up to $930 million – $30 million more than the first draft – but the city says that is not from an increase in the proposed tax level, but from additional revenue they expect will be generated as “assessed value of new construction” rises. Lander Street Overpass – touted as key for freight as well as for surface-level travel between West Seattle and SODO – is still in the package, and the Delridge corridor is shown on the highlights map, too. Rasmussen said the first council consideration of the revised levy will be on May 12th; a public hearing is planned June 2nd. More to come.
1:52 PM: If you’d like to see how the mayor framed this, here’s the news release. Meantime, we’ve added a few of our photos from the announcement event, and here are a few more notes. The amount of money allotted for the Neighborhood Street Fund also has increased. We’ve sent a followup question to CM Rasmussen’s office to ask whether the Fauntleroy Boulevard proposal that’s now in the levy is the with-undergrounded-utilities or without-undergrounded-utilities version, and will add the reply when we get it.
3:36 PM: CM Rasmussen says $16 million will be earmarked for Fauntleroy Boulevard. While that isn’t the full amount that would need for undergrounding, he says, they are working with Seattle City Light on “cost-sharing.” He also adds that he is “thrilled” that the project made it into the revised levy and says it’s evidence the mayor listened to community members, and him, who said they wanted it included. (It dominated the discussion during SDOT director Kubly’s visit to the Southwest District Council a month ago, for example.)
Perfect weather for Bike To School Day, and Alki Elementary students were joined by a special guest: Mayor Ed Murray, who lived in the area when he was a kid. He caught up with the “bike train” that left Anchor (Luna) Park. Once they got to school, some time to chat before classes began:
An awards ceremony also was planned for the student riders, to celebrate safety achievements such as “Most Visible Rider.” Bike To School Day is part of Bike Month, which also includes Bike To Work Day on May 15th, one week from Friday.
That’s the Seattle Channel video of this morning’s City Council Transportation Committee meeting, which included several items of interest. One was a briefing on the city’s ongoing study of development impact fees. Staffers from several departments participated. One reminded the councilmembers that impact fees are meant to raise “new capital for new needs created by new construction,” and that the areas in which they could be applied are “transportation, parks, schools, and fire … necessitated by new development and reasonably benefiting new development.” One example of what money from impact fees couldn’t be used to cover: Filling potholes. No vote, let alone decision, on the issue, but the studies continue.
Then came the discussion of the “after-action report” about the 9-hour Highway 99 closure last month because of an overturned truck full of fish. We published the first version of the report when it was circulated two weeks ago; today’s discussion, which included Seattle Police Deputy Chief Carmen Best and SDOT director Scott Kubly, brought a few more things to light. For one, the two departments use different traffic management systems that prioritize incidents in slightly different ways – and if not for that, different decisions might have been made as on-scene crews struggled with getting the truck out of the roadway. It was also pointed out that an insurance-company rep was on the scene relatively quickly, and that the rep was advocating for saving the $750,000 truckload of fish (“whitefish, not salmon, for the record,” it was pointed out today), which ultimately did not happen. Kubly said this would lead to some further refinements such as possibly positioning certain types of response equipment in certain areas of the city, and creating a tiered system to prioritize incidents depending upon a road/highways’ importance.
When presenting his written report, featured here last Friday, Kubly didn’t say much about the West Seattle components – except a reiteration of the walking tour times (35th SW 9 am-noon on May 16th, SW Roxbury 5:30-7:30 pm on May 20th) – but did discuss how outreach on the draft transportation levy is going, with a new draft to be presented to the mayor this week. He said the in-person traditional community meetings hadn’t drawn many, and described those drawn by those meetings as “disproportionately white, male, older,” but said 5,000 responses had come in to the online survey. Last week’s online meeting, he said, had 30 participants.
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