We noticed on Washington State Ferries‘ VesselWatch that the M/V Evergreen State, which broke down on Saturday, was back on the move as of earlier this hour – and now, WSF has sent official word that it’s back to the three-boat Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth for today’s morning commute:
Necessary repairs on the Evergreen State have been made and the route will return to the three boat schedule on Monday, August 18 beginning with the 4:05 am sailing from Vashon.
Without the Evergreen State, the “Triangle route” had been down to 2 boats all weekend, with long waits.
(At new Junction ‘bike corral,’ last stop on the tour)
West Seattle Bike Connections members spent part of their weekend taking City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the council’s Transportation Committee, on a tour “to get a first-hand look at some of the routes and intersections in the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan that we think are high priority for funding and implementation,” according to WSBC president Don Brubeck, who shares photos and this report from Saturday’s tour:
We started at Highland Park Improvement Club. First stop: The crosswalk at 11th Ave SW (a planned Greenway route) at SW Holden St, a busy arterial. We are supporting the Highland Park Action Committee’s application to SDOT for flashing beacons to help make this a safe crossing for kids going to schools and playgrounds in Highland Park and Riverview.
Then south on 10th Ave to SW Thistle at Highland Park Playfield. These are mapped as future Greenway routes, and seem ideal low traffic streets for walking and riding bikes. A set of public steps at 14th allows pedestrians to continue through on Thistle, but stops cars and bikes. We’d like to see a “runnel” gutter for bike wheels added to the steps, which are under construction now.
Then north on 17th Ave SW, which is a neighborhood Greenway route currently in the planning and design stage. The proposed route jogs over to 15th Ave on Kenyon, then back over to 17th at Webster. These jogs did not seem realistic to our group. Who would want to go 2 blocks east out of their way, and then 2 blocks west back to their route? And the intersections of Kenyon & 16th, 15th & Holden, and Webster & 16th would all need marked crosswalks and signals to be safe Greenway crossings. It looks much easier to just improve Holden for the short block from 17th to 16th, and then 16th to Webster, to get around the block that does not go through on 17th.
While other potential changes for Metro next year aren’t yet finalized, two things are certain – a reduced fare for low-income riders will take effect on the same day as a 25-cent general fare increase. Today, King County Executive Dow Constantine announced how it’ll work, based on recommendations from a task force:
*The reduced fare will take effect March 1, 2015, and will be $1.50 a ride.
*Riders who qualify must use an ORCA card and cannot pay with cash. No fee will be charged for a new card or renewal. A $5 fee will be charged to replace a lost or stolen card.
*The eligibility threshold for a person to qualify for the low-income fare is 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, currently $23,340 for an individual.
*Eligibility must be re-verified every other year. The low-income fare will expire 24 months after the card is issued.
*After expiration, it can be used as a regular adult fare card.
*The low-income fare will be limited to one card per person. Each card must be registered in the ORCA system to an eligible adult.
You can read the full announcement here.
Cup-half-full version: West Seattle could have light rail as soon as 2026.
Cup-half-empty version: West Seattle won’t get light rail any sooner than 2026.
That was the bottom line of a briefing that was part of the City Council Transportation Committee‘s meeting this morning. Potential West Seattle light rail wasn’t the only topic – in fact, it was the last part of the Sound Transit guest appearance, which in turn was only part of a busy agenda (above is Seattle Channel‘s video of the entire meeting – the briefing starts 35 minutes in). The briefing followed the order of the slide deck. And however you view that potential date, it would depend on West Seattle being written into Sound Transit’s Long-Range Plan when it’s updated later this year; it didn’t make it into the plan previously, ST reiterated today, because of the since-scrapped plan for monorail service between West Seattle and downtown.
The slide deck itself didn’t contain the potential 2026 date – West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the committee, asked for a date, and all ST reps would give him was that 2016 would be the earliest a “Sound Transit 3″ measure could go before voters. Perhaps a “board member” could speculate further, they said, with all eyes turning to Councilmember Mike O’Brien, a board member who happened to be right there at the table.
Followup: How new SDOT director answered Councilmember Rasmussen’s questions; plus, another Sound Transit light-rail discussionAugust 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | Comments Off
Back on July 25th, we published the 17 questions City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had sent to new SDOT director Scott Kubly, looking ahead to his confirmation hearing before the Transportation Committee, which Rasmussen chairs. That hearing is part of the committee’s agenda for next Tuesday (August 12th, 9:30 am, City Hall). From the agenda, here’s the full document with Kubly’s answers inline.
You’ll notice he also promises the requested analysis of June’s “4 miles, 5 hours” Highway 99 shutdown (most recent followup here) by September 30th.
Also on the agenda for that same meeting: Another discussion of Sound Transit‘s Long Range Plan Update. The comment period on its draft environmental-impact statement is now closed, but this is still another opportunity for questions/answers about whether the update will include a proposal for light rail serving West Seattle. Here’s the slide deck that will be shown during the Tuesday meeting – note that it also discusses the potential Ballard service, as well as “South King County,” which includes West Seattle. ST’s presenter will be Rachel Smith, whose recent West Seattle Chamber of Commerce appearance was covered here.
During this past week’s two meetings on the SW Roxbury Safety Project (WSB 7/31 coverage is here, 8/4 coverage here), SDOT’s Jim Curtin mentioned that paving was imminent for the stretch between 25th and 27th SW. And indeed, the announcement has just arrived:
Paving crews from the Seattle Department of Transportation will work on Southwest Roxbury Street on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 12 and 13 of next week. They will pave the stretch of Roxbury between 25th Avenue Southwest and 27th Avenue Southwest, working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. One travel lane in each direction will remain open. A Police Officer will be stationed at each intersection to assist traffic. All sidewalks and crosswalks will remain open.
Should the outbound RapidRide C Line run on California in the heart of The Junction instead of jogging onto Edmunds, 44th, and Alaska? Checking out a reader tip that this was under consideration, we asked Metro – which in turn pointed us to SDOT, whose Marybeth Turner confirms it:
We have been looking for projects to improve the speed and reliability for the RapidRide C Line. One of the projects that was identified is to move the stop on California and Alaska to the east so the RapidRide bus can use California Avenue. This would save about a minute of travel time.
We are currently conducting a feasibility analysis to see if there is enough room and the what costs are involved. No decision has been made on whether this project will go forward. … We plan to reach out to the community to discuss the options this fall.
Back in 2008, when RapidRide’s West Seattle route was still under development, there was some talk of having it turn onto Alaska from California, but concerns voiced at the time included how it would affect the walk-all-ways intersection.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The proposal for rechannelization – aka “road diet” – for Southwest Roxbury’s westernmost arterial mile was no longer a surprise when it was explained last night for the second time in five nights. At least some of the ~30 people at the second meeting about the design proposals for SDOT’s SW Roxbury Safety Project had clearly checked out news of the plan that circulated after the first meeting last Thursday.
Road diets have their critics, but this proposal did not draw an angry crowd to last night’s meeting at the Greenbridge YWCA in White Center, led by SDOT’s Jim Curtin, who also presented last Thursday’s briefing. One person voiced open concern about possible traffic congestion as a result. Several others, though, asked why the rechannelization couldn’t cover the entire arterial stretch of Roxbury, all the way east to Olson. And the general mood of questions/comments was in favor of something even more restrictive than SDOT is suggesting.
But before we get to that: In case you missed it, rechannelization – one lane each way, with a center two-way turn lane, west from 17th to 35th – is part of what SDOT is proposing. We detailed the entire plan in our coverage of last week’s meeting – please read that for full details; we went to last night’s meeting mostly to check out the questions/comments the second time around – it was scheduled as a rerun rather than a followup. Here’s the SDOT slide deck, same thing last night that was shown last Thursday:
One more note from last night’s meeting about SW Roxbury – a stack of cards casually announced the launch date for the other major “road-safety corridor project” in the works: 35th SW. You have almost three months’ warning for this one – 6:30 pm October 22nd at Neighborhood House‘s High Point Center. Meantime, browse the background links on the left side of the project page.
Rechannelization proposed for 1 mile of SW Roxbury, and other safety-improvement proposals unveiled at 1st of 2 meetingsJuly 31, 2014 at 7:32 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 81 Comments
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Rechannelization (aka a “road diet”) for the mile of SW Roxbury between 17th and 35th SW (map) is a big part of what SDOT is proposing to do, to fix what it acknowledges are “horrible” conditions for everyone from drivers to pedestrians:
Other proposals and plans for the road, between Olson and 35th, have just been revealed too – a mix of paving, painting, signage, and signals.
It was all unveiled by SDOT’s neighborhood traffic liaison Jim Curtin (who also happens to live in the area) in a meeting tonight at Southwest Library, with more than 20 neighbors in attendance, including leaders of neighborhood groups that campaigned for the city to finally get something done. (See the full slide deck here.)
As Curtin prefaced, SW Roxbury from Olson to 35th is a very busy road, a “principal arterial,” with 13,000 cars a day on average at 35th, almost twice that (25,000) at Olson Place SW. Speed studies show that most drivers are going at least five mph over the speed limit, Curtin said, adding that alongside Roxhill Elementary, 85 percent of vehicles are going more than 11 mph over the 30 mph limit, and, as he pointed out, speed is the number one factor in crashes – of which there have been 223 in the past three years, with 112 people hurt. The eastern section is more crash-prone than the western section. 11 crashes involved vehicles and pedestrians; two involved vehicles and bicycles.
Long-term proposals unveiled, under design right now into early 2015, with the “final determination” to be made before year’s end, and work to be done next year:
They’ll look at the corridor in three sections, he said, western, then White Center, then eastern. For the western segment, the most dramatic proposal:
*Rechannelization between 17th SW and 35th SW, one lane each way, middle lane for turns, shared bus lane with a potential new bus-layover zone near Roxhill Elementary, signage improvements, spot pavement repairs, but no “bike facilities” yet. He says that stats show that rechannelization works well on streets carrying fewer than 25,000 vehicles per day – and as noted above, that defines this stretch (16,000 at the most along the rechannelization-proposed segment). As if on cue, an attendee said, “This is the same thing that was successful on Fauntleroy, right?” and Curtin had a slide ready for that:
It showed 31 percent fewer collisions on Fauntleroy Way after that change five years ago, while it carries a bit more than the 17,600 vehicles a day that it did before the rechannelization. Travel times are unchanged, from four more seconds to 1.2 minutes; “top-end speeders” are down 13 percent.
Curtin says this will make for a better pedestrian situation, eliminates the “multiple threat” collision danger, so more crosswalks might result. Right and left turns will be safer too, he says. He also points out a five-foot buffer planned for each side of the road – and acknowledges that could be the future bike-lane space, after a question from an attendee.
Why can’t this stretch through the White Center area at 15th-17th? he was asked. Travel times there would go up “to unacceptable levels,” Curtin says they found out, through an analysis. But they do plan pavement repair between 17th and 18th, plus “new curb ramps and accessible pedestrian signals at 17th,” as well as signage improvements (like the ones now up at Fauntleroy/California, warning that turning vehicles need to stop for pedestrians and bicycles). “We’re going to go out there and take care of business,” Curtin declared. And yes, he told an attendee who asked, they are in communication with the county (SDOT is actually responsible for Roxbury up until the curb on the county side of the road, even though the boundary technically goes through the middle). A “crosswalk design” might be possible at that spot, Curtin suggests – not part of the formal plan but “if anyone’s interested in talking about it … we can partner up and make it happen.”
The parking alongside Roxbury right by downtown White Center will not be affected by this – business owners “fought really hard to keep it,” Curtin notes. In addition, the parking has NOT been a factor in any crashes, he said.
Now, for the eastern section of Roxbury:
It’s the road with two of West Seattle’s three most-crash-plagued intersections – and after two neighborhood councils said, “Enough!”, the city committed to making changes on SW Roxbury. As announced a week and a half ago, tomorrow’s the night you can get the first look, and offer some first comments, at the first round of possibilities. 6 pm, Southwest Library (35th/Henderson), upstairs meeting room – early enough you can still get out in time for a sunset walk/ride/drive.
West Seattle’s first city-installed bike corral is in place today in The Junction, one month after this open letter expressing concern that the city and the adjacent developer were delaying a project that had been in the works for more than a year. Less than two weeks after that letter, SDOT and West Seattle Bike Connections announced a breakthrough would lead to the long-awaited on-street bicycle-parking zone being installed by month’s end – and today, it’s done. It’s on the east side of California just south of Alaska, in a spot that was already off-limits to vehicle parking.
A short time ago, Scott Kubly, Mayor Murray’s choice for SDOT director, tweeted that he’s arrived:
Finally arrived in Seattle after cross country road trip. Excited to get started Monday AM.
— Scott Kubly (@skubly) July 25, 2014
Next month, he faces confirmation hearings before the City Council. The chair of its Transportation Committee, West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, shared with us the questions he wants Kubly to answer. See them here. You’ll note that they include a request for Kubly to review the June 10th five-hour, four-mile Highway 99 crash-investigation-related closure (here’s our most-recent followup) and whether policies should be changed as a result. But that’s just one of 17 questions Rasmussen has asked Kubly to answer by August 5th, in advance of his August 12th hearing. Anything you think he’s missing?
In spring 2012, we reported on activist Elizabeth Campbell‘s proposal for a new monorail company, to be called the Century Transportation Authority, CenTran for short, with a line running from Ballard to West Seattle, like the last monorail proposal. Haven’t heard much about it in the interim, but today, PubliCola reports that Campbell has gathered enough valid signatures – just under 4,600 – to get this on the Seattle ballot in November. If voters say yes, CenTran’s website says, it would start out with a $5 license-tab tax to raise money to plan the monorail system.
Separate from the November vote on Seattle taxes to avoid Metro Transit cuts in the city limits, the King County Council has reached a deal today that changes the timetable for cuts. While the September cuts are still on as planned, and the number of hours scheduled to be cut February are to stay the same, here’s the biggest news for West Seattle: The round of cuts that was going to hit our area the hardest – originally scheduled for September of next year, involving route deletions – is not necessarily a sure thing; it will be worked out during the next round of county budgeting. (Here’s a document from last May showing which routes were to be affected in which phases.) The February cuts will be examined by a newly created committee, according to King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s version of today’s announcement. Here’s the County Council‘s version of the announcement, which includes the following explanation:
(LOOKING FOR NEWEST INFO ABOUT PRESIDENTIAL VISIT? GO HERE)
(WSB photo of Air Force One at Boeing Field, July 2012)
Even if they don’t include public events, presidential visits are usually of high interest for reasons including traffic effects and Air Force One sightings. So here’s the latest information about President Obama‘s planned Seattle visit tomorrow (Tuesday, July 22nd): Boeing Field has just published an advisory that confirms Air Force One will be landing there. While some of the ground and air restrictions in the advisory span the time period of noon to 8 pm, most of what’s listed suggests that the heart of the visit will be in the 3-7:30 pm vicinity. No open-to-the-public events have been announced; the visit is reported to be fundraising only, including, according to SeattleTimes.com, an event in Madrona. If any more information emerges tonight, we’ll update this item, and as always we’ll have the key points in our daily traffic watch first thing in the morning.
After a campaign launched by community advocates one year ago, the city promised to make SW Roxbury safer. Wondering how? SDOT is almost ready to unveil options. It’s announced two meetings at which it plans to show “several different engineering options to improve safety for all modes.” The first one is on the West Seattle side, Thursday, July 31st, 6 pm at Southwest Branch Library. Second one is on the White Center side, Monday, August 4th, 6 pm at the Greenbridge YWCA. These meetings were promised during a round of community meetings last winter (WSB coverage here). The project’s official page is here; check out the maps linked from the left side, including this one showing speeds, volumes, and intersections with the most crashes.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The timeliness is because there’s a week and a half left for you to comment in the current stage of ST’s Long-Range Plan Update process – which could ultimately pave the way for light rail to/from West Seattle – and if you would like to see that, she said, you really need to speak up now.
She reminded the Chamber attendees first that LINK Light Rail – 16 miles with 13 stations so far, and partnering with Seattle on the First Hill Streetcar to open later this year – Sounder commuter rail, and ST Express buses are Sound Transit’s three “lines of business” around the three-county area they serve, and that the board is chaired by a West Seattleite, King County Executive Dow Constantine. (Another West Seattleite, County Councilmember Joe McDermott, is on the board as well.) “Ridership has just been going through the roof,” she added.
70 percent of Sound Transit’s revenue comes from sales tax, and it’s “down $4.7 billion” through 2023, she said – that’s a 30 percent drop over the lifetime of the 15-year plan running through then. But the system has bright spots, $100 million under budget with University Link and six months ahead of schedule. (This is a “twin-bore tunnel project,” she adds.)
Now, for West Seattle: ST is currently in its Long-Range Plan Update – the current LRP is from 2005.
4-mile, 5-hour closure, followup #2: SDOT’s response to councilmember’s questions; promise of ‘change in protocol’July 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments
There is an incident blocking all lanes of East Marginal Way SB just south of Spokane St. Use Alt routes pic.twitter.com/ivmFKEWfY9
— seattledot (@seattledot) June 10, 2014
(Above, SDOT tweet with traffic-cam screen grab shortly after crash happened)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Five weeks after the 5+-hour closure of a four-mile stretch of Highway 99 during a crash investigation, another city agency has answered City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s questions about decisionmaking during the incident, which led to a domino-effect multi-neighborhood traffic jam.
Now, Rasmussen has received and shared the SDOT response, which defers in spots to SPD, and adds that city agencies are working on “protocols” for interdepartmental coordination in any such future incidents.
Since this response was made inline to his original note, we are publishing the entire document below:
That’s a “typical cross-section” from a brand-new update on the long-in-the-works Fauntleroy Way SW “Boulevard” project, focusing on Fauntleroy Way through The Triangle, between 35th SW and SW Alaska. Right now, the plan is
more than halfway still in the early stages of the design process, and SDOT is stepping up the public communication. Spokesperson Maribel Cruz tells WSB they’re meeting with property owners and community organizations in the area. Here’s the brand-new fact sheet from SDOT:
(Click here if you can’t see the embedded version above.) While $1.3 million for design was worked into the current city budget (as reported here last year), the construction funding isn’t yet nailed down, nor is a timeline. But the design is scheduled for completion early next year, and a community open house is planned (no date yet) for this fall. Watch the official project webpage for updates.
(Photos by Don Brubeck)
While thousands finished the legendary Seattle to Portland (STP) bicycle ride today, dozens of West Seattle riders showed solidarity with their own version. West Seattle Bike Connections president Don Brubeck shares the report:
We had about 30 riders of all ages on the West Seattle STP bike ride today. A beautiful day for a fun ride from SW Seattle Street to SW Portland Street in about an hour, then back to the Junction for West Seattle Summer Fest.
The group included a three-generation family and several “family bikes” or bikes with trail-a-bikes. Ride leader was Stu Hennessey, with help from Al Jackson, Jeff Hallman, and Eric and Michael from Stu’s shop.
See a few more of Don’s photos in the WSB Flickr group pool.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published Saturday, but it all still applies Sunday)
Before we get to the big list of everything happening today – a separate list of road closure/bus reroutes, and it’s not just The Junction:
ROAD CLOSURES TODAY: West Seattle Summer Fest continues, so California SW remains closed between Edmunds and Genesee, with east-west traffic allowed through on SW Oregon; also closed, SW Alaska between 42nd and 44th. Regionally, the 520 bridge across Lake Washington is closed all weekend.
BUS REROUTES TODAY: In addition to the Summer Fest-related reroutes in West Seattle, two local buses are affected by changes this weekend downtown, so we’re including them in this list. (Thanks to @MJS1980 for pointing this out via Twitter; Metro’s full systemwide list, from which these links are taken, is here.)
(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
Happy Thursday! It’s the eve of West Seattle Summer Fest, with Junction street closures and bus changes starting tonight. From 6 pm until late Sunday night, California SW will be closed between Edmunds and Genesee and SW Alaska between 44th and 42nd. Here again are the announced Metro reroutes – each link goes to the Metro PDF explaining the temporary changes;
‘Head tax’ and parking tax for transit? Councilmember Licata pitches 34th District Democrats on WednesdayJuly 8, 2014 at 10:38 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments
If Seattle’s going to increase taxes to raise money to avoid bus cuts, which (if any) taxes would you prefer? As reported here two months ago, Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant are proposing commercial parking and employer “head” taxes instead of the sales-tax increase favored by Mayor Murray. Licata will be at the 34th District Democrats‘ meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy tomorrow night to pitch the idea and seek the group’s endorsement, after the proposal comes up for a discussion and possible vote by the Council Finance and Culture Committee (which he chairs) at 2 pm – read the proposal here. In short, the proposal would raise commercial-parking taxes 5 percent, to 17.5%, and create a “head tax” of $18 per employee per year. The council could pass it without sending it to voters. Here’s the resolution the 34th Dems will consider at their meeting; the agenda is here.)
FIRST REPORT, 4:35 PM: A week and a half ago, we published an open letter decrying the delay in installing the planned West Seattle Junction bike corral. Today, in a comment on that letter, an SDOT spokesperson says there’s a resolution and installment is nigh:
We’ve been working with the developer at this corner on a system for requesting temporary closure or removal of the corral should construction require access to the entire frontage curb space. In the meantime, we are planning to move forward with the installation of the corral on the east side of California Ave SW, immediately south of Alaska St, and expect this to happen later this month.
The city already has 25 bike corrals (see the list, and a photo of what they’re like, by scrolling down this page) – but none in West Seattle; this will be the first.
ADDED 9:55 PM: West Seattle Bike Connections has been working to make this happen and sent this news release tonight:
Click to read the rest of Followup: Bike-corral breakthrough in The Junction; installation soon…
(2012 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
How did more than 600 “bearing pad” cushions get installed on the Fauntleroy Expressway end of the West Seattle Bridge with a design flaw that made them too soft? The City Council Transportation Committee got a few more answers in a briefing this morning. The agenda including that briefing is what led to our report last Friday about the problem, which means that much of the work done two years ago, requiring multiple nighttime closures so the bridge deck could be jacked up for bearing-pad installation, will be re-done next year.
First: What exactly was the problem?
Click to read the rest of Followup: More details of the Fauntleroy Expressway re-do plan…
Will a light rail route including West Seattle be part of Sound Transit‘s next long-range-plan update? Possibilities are being studied, as noted here two months ago, when the ST Executive Committee got a progress report on the study. But it’s by no means a sure thing. And ST is still rounding up input on future directions – including via a survey that’s open for three more weeks, first noted here last month. So this regional transit organization is at the heart of many West Seattle conversations right now – and you’re invited to be part of two of them.
First, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is expecting two Sound Transit reps at its meeting next Tuesday (July 8th), 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center – chair Joe Szilagyi tells WSB that ST planner Chris Rule and ST government/community-relations officer Rachel Smith have confirmed. All are welcome.
Smith is also booked as guest speaker at the next West Seattle Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting, 11:30 am Thursday, July 17th, at The Kenney (WSB sponsor). All are welcome to this, too, but there’s a charge because it’s a luncheon (WSCC member and non-member rates) and you need to RSVP – more info here.
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