West Seattle, Washington
As mentioned in our coverage of last night’s Southwest District Council meeting, Sound Transit reps will be in West Seattle in two weeks for a presentation and Q&A about where the light-rail project stands. We’ve just confirmed with ST that the meeting is set for 6:30 pm Wednesday, November 15th, at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). Though the line to West Seattle is not scheduled to start running until 2030, planning is under way, and this is the time to get your comments in. The Junction Neighborhood Organization notes, “This is a great opportunity for the community to voice their support for an underground light rail station at the West Seattle Alaska Junction.”
After a few questions about temporary traffic cameras in downtown White Center, we found out that King County is doing studies for the future conversion of Metro Route 120 into the RapidRide H Line. (Let us know if you see similar installations on this side of the line!) Details – including your next chance for feedback – are in the story we just published on partner site White Center Now.
1:37 PM: Another update from SDOT today about 59th/Admiral, two days after the without-warning end to its almost-two months as an all-ways stop, a change that led to parents from nearby Alki Elementary voicing safety concerns: SDOT communications director Mafara Hobson tells WSB that “We plan to visit the intersection today to do layout for the new decorative curb bulbs, median, and crosswalks. We’ll spray paint outlines for our crews. Pending weather, installation could occur as soon as Nov. 7. Installation will happen during normal working hours.” So if you see new markings – that’s what it’s about. Meantime, changes at other intersections – as first announced four months ago – are still in the works, and SDOT says that they’re tentatively scheduled to work at 61st/Admiral and SW Stevens/Admiral as soon as mid-November. Here’s how those intersections are scheduled to change, according to the SDOT graphics made public in June:
This is all part of the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, which included rechannelization of much of Admiral west of California a year ago.
4:02 PM: Thanks for the tips – we’ve since been back to the area and photographed two things – top photo shows the workers doing what SDOT told us they’d be doing; next photo, apparently Traffic Enforcement officers have been out in the area all day – this is one of two we passed on the uphill side of Admiral not far east of the intersection:
The Traffic Safety Task Force parents are “encouraged to see movement,” says Merkys Gomez.
ADDED FRIDAY NIGHT: The TSTF’s official response sent to SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg, related to what transpired earlier this week – read it in its entirety after the jump:
We took that photo this morning before 8 am at 59th/Admiral, where, after weeks of concern over the effects of SDOT changing it to an all-way stop, a crew showed up pre-dawn and changed it back without warning or even a “traffic revision” sign (as subsequently reported in our morning traffic coverage). Then at noontime, we got a tip that a crew was back to add signs and do some other work, so we went over and found this:
Before that, we had asked SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg this morning what’s next for the intersection now that it’s suddenly been “changed back” – which doesn’t answer all the safety concerns that parents at nearby Alki Elementary had voiced. Her reply just arrived in the form of a copy of the following e-mail to them and other concerned parties:
Many of you have followed the SDOT ‘Signal to All-way Stop’ pilot project at SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW, installed August 31. As part of our Vision Zero efforts, the Department is considering alternative crossing designs at various intersections throughout the city. The SW Admiral Way and 59th Ave SW location was selected for an All-Way Stop, curb bulbs and additional marked crosswalks based on community input received through the SW Admiral Way Safety Project during the SDOT Walk and Talk last August; and a review of traffic volumes, operations and crossing use.
Once installed, we committed to monitoring the crosswalk for up to six-months to determine whether the new All-Way Stop design was a good fit for the intersection. Over the past month and a half, we collected feedback from community members as well as the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary regarding their concerns on how drivers and pedestrians are adjusting. Through our evaluation of the new design we concluded that the benefits of the All-Way Stop are similar to the original Pedestrian Signal. With that in mind, coupled with some community members’ concern, we decided to revert to the original design.
Unfortunately, an internal snafu within in the Department resulted in the premature start of the work. The community should have been alerted prior to the installation and ‘traffic revision ahead’ signs placed. We deeply regret any inconvenience this caused drivers and pedestrians this morning. Signs are now in place.
Going forward, here’s what you should except as we install phase 2 (see graphic below):
· Two decorative paint and post curb bulbs
· One decorative paint and post median at 59th Ave SW
· Two new crosswalks
· Two Flashing ‘School, 20MPH’ signs
As promised, we’ll accelerate installation of the curb bulbs, median and crosswalks to get them installed within the next two months, weather permitting. The flashing signs are expected to be installed during first quarter 2018, once equipment has arrived.
Councilmember González (Citywide, Pos. 9) and Councilmember Herbold (District 1) have engaged with us on this matter, and both continue to advocate for pedestrian safety along SW Admiral Way. We have committed to maintaining good communication with both Councilmembers, their staff, and the community; and they have conveyed the expectation that we work towards implementing solutions in lockstep with community.
We can note firsthand that the change without warning was a little more than “inconvenience” – going through the intersection both ways on Admiral at noontime, we experienced near-collisions both ways involving people turning and expecting us to stop. Meantime, here’s the graphic Schellenberg mentioned:
The initial change to an all-way stop was also installed pre-dawn, but that was with four weeks of warning that the change was going to happen. It’s all a followup to the rechannelization of much of Admiral west of California, with initial work done a year-plus ago.
Two weeks after our first report on Alki Elementary School parents contending that SDOT changes at 59th/Admiral made it unsafe rather than safer, they’ve launched an online petition so other concerned community members can show support.
They say they’re continuing to see near-collisions every morning, including this one last week, detailed by parent Merkys Gomez, one of the founders of the school’s Traffic Safety Task Force:
Another parent and I with our block school bus were standing on the intersection of 59th and Admiral on the south side ready to cross. Jeanne, the crossing guard, normally has us wait there until she’s standing in the middle of Admiral waving her flag for us to cross. She was about to step into the intersection. There was a line of cars on Admiral heading eastbound. A driver in a black Audi decided that he didn’t want to wait. He crossed the double-yellow line, floored it through the turning lane and across the intersection as the first car heading eastbound was getting ready to cross the intersection, and nearly missed a Metro bus heading westbound. You could hear his wheels spinning in the rain. The trajectory if he would’ve hit the bus would’ve sent the car our way. … We were all stunned, and none of us wanted to enter the intersection, not even Jeanne. We just stood. The children were clutching our arms. The crossing guard has been told that she must get a license plate number to get anything to happen. That’s impossible when we’re holding flags and kids’ hands and someone hauls across the intersection. SDOT needs to capture this data of near-misses.
Meantime, the extra stop sign recently placed in the center lane a half-block east of the intersection is gone – last seen in pieces on the planting strip. And the parents say they’re still waiting for a formal response from SDOT: “While we wait, we plan to continue our efforts to do outreach to the community regarding our proposed solution, which includes an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated. We want all users of the intersection, whether crossing Admiral on foot or turning onto Admiral from within a car, to feel safe.” They also have taken their concerns to City Councilmembers, including West Seattle/South Park’s Lisa Herbold, and citywide (but West Seattle-residing) Lorena González. SDOT said on October 11th that it will “accelerate” stop-sign relocation, painting of a crosswalk across 59th, and addition of painted curb extensions – by year’s end. The parents’ task force ultimately wants to see a full signal at this intersection, and that’s what their petition requests.
As mentioned in our morning traffic coverage, we were checking with SDOT to see if SW Edmunds was indeed going to be closed again this weekend at 40th SW for continuing repaving work. Just heard back from SDOT’s Sue Romero, who tells us it’s being rescheduled since more heavy rain is anticipated, and they’re now expecting to resume the work October 28-29.
Emily sent the photo of another stop sign that was in place by Monday morning (we checked this morning – still there) facing westbound Admiral Way, about half a block east of 59th, “adding to the confusion,” as she put it, because: “It doesn’t say ‘stop ahead,’ just stop. Which watching a couple cars as we were walking by, (they) didn’t quite seem to know what to do about it.” This is the same intersection we first told you about a week ago, where parents from nearby Alki Elementary School say the conversion to an all-way stop has made things more dangerous rather than safer. As noted in our first followup, SDOT said it would make some changes while continuing to evaluate the intersection until March, but they didn’t mention adding a mid-block stop sign.
Just in from SDOT – a particularly bumpy and busy intersection on the east side of The Junction is about to be repaved:
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) advises travelers that crews will be repaving 40th Avenue SW and SW Edmunds street the weekends of Saturday, October 14 to Sunday, October 15 and Saturday, October 21 to Sunday, October 22.
On both weekends, from 9 a.m. Saturday to 5 p.m. Sunday, travelers can expect:
·SW Edmunds Street will be closed to all traffic between 40th Ave SW and Fauntleroy Way SW
o Street will be detoured
o Uniformed Police Officers will direct traffic at the intersection
·No parking on 40th Ave SW and SW Edmunds St in the work zone
o “No Parking” signs will be placed 72 hours prior to start of work
·Driveway access will be limited, with waits up to 15 minutes for equipment to clear
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At least once a week, somebody asks what’s up with 35th Avenue SW Phase 2 – or whether there will even be a 35th Avenue SW Phase 2, given that it’s been more than a year since SDOT provided the last major community update focused on the project.
We took the question to SDOT’s longtime point person on the project, Jim Curtin.
Yes, he says, Phase 2 is still being worked on. But first, SDOT is “preparing to come out with before-and-after data,” covering the two years since the Phase 1 rechannelization south of Morgan.
This year is almost over. Curtin explained that “Councilmember (Lisa) Herbold asked us to let the community help us with the design. We thought it would be a good idea to pause and make sure we were collecting sufficient amounts of data before making decisions.” Now, he says, they believe they have, and they’ll be releasing the “before-and-after study” which “will also have our plans for Phase 2 within it.”
No hint on how soon this will go public, but he promises it’s “going to be incredibly comprehensive and illustrative of how the corridor functions in the Phase 1 area and will also have information about what’s in the future for 35th north of Morgan.”
In connection with a connecting project – the West Seattle Greenway – crossing improvements already have been announced for 35th/Graham (that announcement in June suggested that the next 35th SW update would be in July).
Curtin says those are still planned, along with other “long-requested new crossings.” And while, again, other details – such as whether part of the stretch will be rechannelized as was a long stretch south of Morgan – aren’t available yet, Curtin told us, “There will also be attempts to reduce the speeds on the north end, where we still have some significant speeding issues.”
He acknowledged again that the next phase has “been a long time coming.” The design process is under way, and there’s no new funding request – Curtin says it’s coming “mainly through the Levy to Move Seattle.” As for how the next phase will be unveiled, if you haven’t already guessed this from other city events in the past year, they are not likely going to have a city-official-with-slide-deck-style presentation, he said. The city’s contention is that some community members “aren’t comfortable in those situations, so we miss potentially powerful input.” So look for potential “drop-in sessions,” probably another walking tour, and information online … sometime soon.
4:37 PM: We reported Tuesday on Alki Elementary parents’ concerns about safety at the 59th SW/SW Admiral Way intersection since its conversion to an all-way stop. SDOT had told the parents, who formed a Traffic Safety Task Force for the school, that they would evaluate the intersection over a six-month period before deciding whether to make more changes or revert to the way it used to work, including a pedestrian-activated stoplight. The task-force parents met with SDOT reps at the intersection yesterday, including Safe Routes to School point person Brian Dougherty, and now SDOT has just sent this update from spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg:
I wrote to [the list who received this update] a couple of weeks ago sharing what we’d been hearing and were observing with the new all-way stop in at 59th Ave SW & SW Admiral Way. Since that time, the most common concern we’ve received is that people driving begin to roll through this large intersection before people walking start, or complete their crossing. We share your concerns and are dedicated to improving the intersection for pedestrians.
Since the all-way stop was installed in late August, we started collecting data. Our evaluation of the all-way stop will ultimately include an assessment of stop compliance, speeds, turning movement, and pedestrian counts. So far, we have collected speed data, turning movement counts, and pedestrian counts. Based on this data, we have seen pedestrian volumes comparable to pre-installation with a preference for crossing Admiral on the east leg, where the crosswalk is marked. We’ve also seen a decrease in speeds along SW Admiral Way since the street was restriped in late 2016. That being said, we’ve made the decision to accelerate some of the other proposed improvements, including:
• Relocating the stop sign on the west leg closer to the intersection for improved visibility
• Marking the crosswalks across 59th Ave SW to further alert people driving that pedestrians may be crossing
• Adding painted curb extensions (see design selected by the community below) on the northeast corner, southwest corner, and median island on 59th Ave SW to help reduce the size of the intersection
We expect these changes to be made by the end of the year. We’ll continue to evaluate operations at the intersection over a six-month period.
Schellenberg’s e-mail included this image to show the “design selected by the community”:
…but, checking WSB archives, we note that it’s not the one announced in August, nor was it among the three offered for a vote in June. We’ve asked a followup question for clarification. We’re also contacting the task-force parents to get their reaction to today’s announcement.
ADDED 6:39 PM: Regarding the design, SDOT’s Schellenberg replied, “Based on the design selected, we worked with the material fabricator and our Arts person to create a design as close as possible.”
ADDED 11:25 PM: Here’s the response from the Traffic Safety Task Force, via Merkys Gomez, who we contacted for comment:
We had sent an email to Dawn Schellenberg on 10.07.2017, and her email today was unresponsive to our questions, misses critical concerns raised by members of the Traffic Safety Task Force at Alki Elementary, and continues to push through an agenda to continue with an all-way stop, to which we, and area residents, are opposed.
We met with Brian Dougherty of SDOT on 10.10.2017, and he was able to witness first hand the issues that we are experiencing on a daily basis with the intersection, including the near-misses which are not being captured by SDOT’s data. We agreed to
* adequately marking the school zone (per SDOT’s school signage),
* reactivating the light on Admiral, and
* painting and later raising with concrete the median on 59th that separates the north and south lanes on the south side.
Those changes are necessary for the immediate safety of this intersection while we work toward an ultimate goal to install an all-way traffic signal that is pedestrian and vehicle activated, with no turn on red arrows, and red light and speeding cameras to ticket violations, especially during the school commute. Given the nontypical nature of that intersection, this is the best solution to improve pedestrian to driver and driver to driver communication and safety. Dawn’s email today makes no mention of our agreement with Brian. We’re talking about an intersection where the primary users are children getting to and from school. Their safety is more important than meeting an exact numerical quota. One child lost is one death too many.
Three Junction notes:
TAGGING VANDALISM TO BE CLEANED UP: Thanks to everyone who tipped us about the particularly big and brazen tagging across the front of the former Radio Shack store at 4505 California SW. We checked in with West Seattle Junction Association executive director Lora Swift, who had just put up the sign you see in our photo – informing everyone interested that it is scheduled to be cleaned up tomorrow.
Also in The Junction, more bike-share bicycles were dropped off today:
RENTAL BIKES REPLENISHED: The orange bicycles in the truck are from Spin; the truck was replenishing/adding them at spots along California, judging by what we later saw as we headed south, all the way to the bottom of Gatewood Hill. The green rental bicycles are from LimeBike, also in view along the sidewalk (we see them most often in use), and there’s also been a recent multiple-bike appearance by the third company authorized to operate in the city, Ofo, whose bicycles are yellow. Anna sent this photo as they appeared on corners in the heart of The Junction a few days ago:
Those three companies have permits to have thousands of bikes out around the city. The trend is spreading nationwide.
RECYCLING REMINDER: Our third and final Junction note – just four days until the dropoff Recycle/Reuse event on Saturday (October 14th), 9 am-1 pm, in the Junction lot along 42nd SW just south of SW Oregon – here are details about what they will and won’t take.
Our video is from 59th and Admiral, during the Monday morning walk to school at Alki Elementary, just north of the intersection. It’s been a little over a month since SDOT changed the intersection to an all-way stop – previously, east-west traffic didn’t have to stop unless the north-south signal on the east side of the intersection was activated by pedestrian(s). It’s the first phase of what SDOT announced as a two-way “crossing improvement.” Some say it’s been anything but.
Parents from Alki Elementary have formed a Traffic Safety Task Force. They met with us at the intersection before school at Monday morning to show us what they say are more-dangerous conditions since the change, with some drivers still seeming confused about how the intersection is supposed to work, resulting in, for example, turns made through the crosswalk while pedestrians are still in it:
In the parents’ correspondence with SDOT so far, it’s been reiterated that the department is evaluating the changes over a six-month period before deciding whether to make them permanent and to continue to Phase 2. The parents say this is more urgent than that – we’re going into the dark, rainy months and even on the clearest winter day, many will be crossing before sunrise, and the intersection is challenging enough now.
The one marked crosswalk at the intersection already serves as the only marked crossing on Admiral Way from 49th to 59th, all part of the Alki Elementary attendance zone.
What they want, as Merkys Gomez from the Task Force summarizes: “An all-way traffic signal (i.e. traffic light) that is pedestrian and vehicle activated with no-turn-on-red signs, and red light and speeding cameras for ticketing, at a minimum, during school commute times. We also need appropriate signage installed indicating that this is a school zone, with flashing beacons.”
While the city hasn’t added red-light cameras in a long time (West Seattle has two, at 35th/Avalon and 35th/Thistle), it’s continued to slowly expand the list of speed-enforcement cameras in school zones; in West Seattle, they are installed along Fauntleroy Way SW near Gatewood Elementary, along Delridge Way SW near Louisa Boren STEM K-8, and along SW Roxbury near Roxhill Elementary (which is scheduled to be vacated next school year) and Holy Family School. Even more elementaries have flashing “20 mph school zone” beacons, minus cameras, nearby, including Genesee Hill, Highland Park, and Gatewood.
This morning, the Traffic Safety Task Force parents were scheduled to meet with at least one SDOT official to continue discussing their concerns. But the request for a full-service signal has already been turned down – here’s what SDOT spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg told the Alki parents via e-mail:
Unfortunately, at this time traffic operations do not meet Federal Highway guidelines for full signal installation so this is not a resolution we can move forward.
Noting that 47th/Admiral has a full signal, without a school zone in the immediate area, they are asking for an explanation of where 59th/Admiral doesn’t meet “guidelines.” They also want to know how SDOT is collecting “public input” during the six-month review, as they haven’t seen any calls for it yet.
By the way, as shown in our video above, the intersection does have a crossing guard – but not guaranteed; the parents say that if the guard has an off or sick day, they’re not replaced. Not that the guard’s presence in the roadway prevented all rule-breaking, we noticed while we were there. SDOT told the parents that when a traffic officer was at the intersection in the early going after the all-way-stop change, SPD saw “99 percent compliance,” but didn’t provide data, so the parents are asking for that too.
ADDED TUESDAY EVENING: Nearby resident Tim has since recorded video at the intersection and provided it to the Alki Elementary Traffic Safety Task Force as well as to us, via this YouTube clip.
See the full final design on SDOT’s website, and in a smaller version below:
From the SDOT announcement:
Throughout the design process, we’ve been committed to improving mobility on Fauntleroy Way SW for all users – people who walk, bike, and drive. The final design includes two lanes of traffic in each direction on Fauntleroy Way, as we have today, with new sidewalks and crosswalks, a protected bike lane, traffic signal revisions to improve flow, landscaping improvements and more. Read more about the final design on our webpage.
Based on technical analysis and input from the community, we have incorporated into the final design a 2-way left-turn break in the median near 37th Ave SW, while maintaining the traffic calming effects of the landscaped center median. You can read the full summary of public feedback about this design change here.
Construction of the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project is currently anticipated to begin as soon as early 2018. This fall, we’ll begin pre-construction outreach, including sharing more information about traffic routing during construction.
This announcement went out one day after we asked SDOT specific questions about where the project stood, including the “traffic routing during construction” question – so apparently they have yet to decide whether to go with the longer construction schedule, which would involve keeping one lane open each way on Fauntleroy during the project, or the shorter schedule, which would involve making that stretch of Fauntleroy temporarily one way. The answers to our questions, which came in concurrently a short time ago along with this general announcement, also included the note from SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah that “We’re continuing to coordinate with Sound Transit on our collective project timelines.” That was also mentioned by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold in her weekly update last Friday.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Two years after the unveiling of a “white paper” and project list with recommendations for easing traffic in the West Seattle Bridge Corridor, an SDOT rep came to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting with a progress report.
Bill LaBorde began by saying that the list started with 27 projects but has fewer now – primarily because some weren’t SDOT projects (Sound Transit 3 light rail, for example, which had a significant West Seattle-related update earlier that day).
Chas Redmond from the WSTC Board said that the “disintegration of the integration” of the projects was troubling – LaBorde said that taking projects off the list wasn’t intended to signify dis-integration. Redmond said list-shrinking still didn’t make sense since the agencies are working together on some of these projects anyway. After that, LaBorde ticked through the list, including:
Westwood-area community advocates are ramping up their campaign to get the city to restore what it cut out of the Chief Sealth Walkways Improvement Project earlier this year. And they need your help.
As reported here in August, the city cut the community-proposed, grant-funded project in half because a development plan along 25th SW is expected and the developer would be expected to pay for similar improvements. The city acknowledged, though, that the improvements could be “several years” away, but in the meantime, they say, they’re only going to build the 26th SW path.
Community members say the idea of a developer maybe eventually building the 25th SW path is too uncertain and too far off, and want SDOT to recommit to the full project. They are concerned about safety of those who use the undeveloped path – not just nearby students – and the area’s status as a long-running eyesore (as noted on the Find It Fix It Walk last year).
The walkway-project status is on the agenda for next Tuesday’s Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Coalition meeting, and Marianne McCord – who shared the photos – says they are hoping for a show of support (6:15 pm October 3rd, Southwest Library, 9010 35th SW). If you can’t be there, e-mail NSFChiefSealthWalkway@seattle.gov – or, even if you can.
The Sound Transit board just took another step toward making light rail to West Seattle a reality – first major move since the approval last May of the draft expansion plan. Here’s the news release we just received:
The Sound Transit Board today approved the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, establishing a $285.9 million budget for preliminary engineering for the project and giving the green light to move forward with extending light rail to some of the most densely-populated neighborhoods in the region.
Also in a related action, the Board executed a $24.4 million consultant contract with HNTB Corporation to begin project development services.
“With the approval of this important step for the West Seattle and Ballard light rail extensions, Sound Transit moves forward to implement the system expansion plan that voters approved last November,” said Sound Transit Chief Executive Officer Peter Rogoff. “We look forward to working closely with stakeholders and communities to decide on the project details rapidly and bring light rail to more communities on schedule and on budget.”
The West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions are part of the Sound Transit 3 Plan that voters approved last fall. The project includes extending light rail to West Seattle by 2030, building a second downtown tunnel in conjunction with the extension to Ballard, and beginning service to Ballard by 2035. This fall, Sound Transit will initiate technical work on the project, and in early 2018 embark on a community engagement process to reach early consensus on a Preferred Alternative by early 2019.
West Seattle Extension
The project assumes connecting West Seattle to Downtown Seattle via Alaska Street, Fauntleroy Way, Genesee Street, Delridge Way, Spokane Street, and the SODO Busway. The extension also includes a new connection to the existing Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel south of the International District/Chinatown Station, a new rail-only high-rise bridge over the Duwamish Waterway, elevated alignment over SR 99 and the South Spokane Street Viaduct, and an elevated alignment in West Seattle. This extension would serve five station areas.
The project would connect Ballard’s Market Street area to Downtown Seattle, then cross Salmon Bay on a new rail-only bridge near the existing Ballard Bridge. The extension would continue south on an elevated guideway through the Interbay corridor along 15th Avenue Northwest and Elliott Avenue West before transitioning to a new Downtown Seattle light rail tunnel. The new tunnel would run through the Uptown and South Lake Union neighborhoods along Westlake Avenue to Sixth and Fifth Avenues before reaching the International District and connecting to the existing Link tracks at South Massachusetts Street. This extension would serve nine station areas.
Sound Transit’s consultant team, HNTB, will be responsible for providing planning, engineering, operational, environmental and community outreach technical services to support the first phase of project development work for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions. Other firms on the HNTB team include Jacobs Engineering, CH2M, EnviroIssues, Fehr & Peers, Hewitt Architects and LMN Architects.
More information about the West Seattle and Ballard project, including how to sign up for project updates, is available at www.soundtransit.org/wsblink.
That page in turn links to several others including this one with current timelines for the planning, design, and construction process.
As frequently reported here, SDOT has myriad projects in play on the peninsula – and some are overdue for promised updates. So what’s going on? You can hear – and ask – at tomorrow’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting. The preview from WSTC:
Fall is officially here and the West Seattle Transportation Coalition resumes meeting this month. Our September meeting will be Thursday, September 28, at 6:30 p.m. We meet at Neighborhood House High Point Center.
This month, representatives from Seattle Department Of Transportation will join us for a general discussion about projects around and affecting West Seattle. Want to learn more about the Highland Park roundabout? What your Move Seattle levy money is doing? 35th Ave SW rechannelization? West Seattle Bridge mobility? Local repaving work? Lander Street overpass? Rapid Ride on Delridge? Fauntleroy Boulevard project? That pothole in front of your house? Come and join us and get the latest word from SDOT.
Neighborhood House HP is at 6400 Sylvan Way SW.
(UPDATED THURSDAY AFTERNOON with slide deck from meeting)
(WSB video of Vashon meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Ferry riders’ frustrations resulting from months of seeing vessels leave Fauntleroy during peak hours with space remaining, and a long line of vehicles still waiting, boiled over into everything from angry words to constructive suggestions at the first of this week’s two public meetings.
Last night’s meeting brought a standing-room-only crowd to Vashon Island High School to talk, and hear, about the Triangle Route and what has been, and might be, done about its challenges.
In one of the WSF presentations/speeches that began the meeting, WSDOT assistant secretary Amy Scarton, who is in charge of WSF, noted that their system is “very safe and generally efficient,” and that “ridership is growing … I know you guys feel that … 2016 ridership is highest that it’s been since 2014, and 2017 ridership is even higher … But … we’ve had a tough summer. I admit that, I own that.” She mentioned ferries going out of service for maintenance/repairs as short as 12 hours and as long as 2 months. “We are working hard every day to get those boats back in service as quickly as we can.”
She also insisted that “these dialogues are extremely important,” because management “is not going to know the best thing for your community” until they hear it directly from community members. She noted that the attempts to fix the Triangle Route dated back to her predecessor, and led to community conversations and creation of the Triangle Route Improvement Task Force. “I think as long as we keep this dialogue we can come up with some stuff to make this route even better.”
The dozens who spoke before meeting’s end certainly had a lot of “stuff” to suggest. More about that shortly, but first:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
When SDOT‘s last major review of West Seattle Junction parking resulted in this July 2009 announcement that it wouldn’t recommend metered parking, you could almost hear a huge collective sigh of relief.
That review had begun more than a year earlier, and months after the no-paid-street-parking news, ended with what we described at the time as “a relatively minor set of changes” – some tweaks to time limits.
But The Junction has had metered parking before – and the city’s new review has rekindled concerns that it will return. A lot has changed since the 2008-2009 review – primarily a dramatic amount of redevelopment adding hundreds of new apartments to the heart of The Junction – and some projects including fewer parking spaces than units, or even none, with the city changing its rules in 2012 to say that nearby “frequent transit” means parking might not be needed. (As reported here last week, those rules might be loosened even more.)
So with all that setting the stage, two SDOT reps were at last night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.. They weren’t the only speakers of interest – the next Junction park and a HALA update were part of the agenda too – but we start with the parking discussion:
Just announced by King County Executive Dow Constantine‘s office – he’s proposing that Metro Transit break away from the County Transportation Department and become a self-contained department:
King County Executive Dow Constantine directed work to begin on a plan to move Metro from a division within the King County Department of Transportation to a standalone County department. This would increase innovation and accountability in four areas: increasing mobility options, capital construction, investing in Metro’s workforce, and expanding the transit system through partnerships.
“This region increasingly depends on fast, reliable transit. So it’s no surprise that Metro is one of our most vital, visible, and popular services,” said Executive Constantine. “By elevating Metro as a standalone department, we can better encourage innovation and accountability so that we continue to make strong progress in mobility, delivering capital investments, focusing on employees, and forging strong community partnerships.”
The move builds on the successes in creating the Metro Connects long-range plan, the ORCA LIFT fare for riders earning lower incomes, and services that are better integrated with Sound Transit.
Over the coming months, Executive Constantine will form a work group with County Councilmembers to identify shared objectives and priorities for Metro as a standalone department. Following thorough business planning and budget processes, a formal proposal will be transmitted to the Council in fall 2018 as part of the 2019-2020 budget process. It’s anticipated that Metro will become a department early in 2019 following Council actions.
King County and Metro Transit merged in 1994, following a voter referendum. Metro later became a division within the King County Department of Transportation, along with the Road Services, Airport, Marine, and Fleet Administration divisions. Metro is the largest single division in King County government, providing $1.6 billion in transit services in 2017-2018 through 4,800 employees – including 2,800 transit operators.
Metro provides 500,000 rides daily through bus service and under contract for Sound Transit and the city of Seattle. Metro’s daily ridership is above 400,000 and with service expanding, Metro is the largest transit agency in the state and serves the nation’s fastest growing transit market in the country.
You can read Constantine’s letter to KCDOT director Harold Taniguchi here. The plan was announced to Metro employees yesterday, via a memo from Taniguchi that a WSB reader sent us this morning – when we subsequently asked Metro/KCDOT for confirmation of the plan, the response was the official announcement you see above. (Text of the Taniguchi e-mail is after the jump:) Read More
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Is there really anything the Triangle Route Improvement Task Force can do to improve the route?
One task-force member asked that question about midway through the task force’s most-recent meeting at Fauntleroy Church, wondering aloud, “What is (Washington State) Ferries hoping to get out of us continuing to meet – because maybe we’re done.”
There was no direct answer for that but the indirect answers could be heard throughout the meeting, including toward the end, when time was opened for public comment, and several of the Vashon residents in attendance stood up.
While WSF changed its Fauntleroy terminal processing procedures in mid-June, hoping to get drivers through the tollbooths more quickly, frustrated Vashon residents have been pointing out that many boats are still leaving with empty spaces – and not because there are no vehicles left to load.
WSF says a major part of the problem is that the Fauntleroy dock holds 80 waiting cars, but the route is running 120-vehicle-capacity boats. Expanding the dock, in the midst of a single-family-residential zone, has long been considered to be out of the question.
Riders contend that problem could be transcended somewhat if WSF had portable scanning equipment that could be used by terminal staffers, so that those with tickets didn’t have to stop at the booth to be scanned.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First, we should note that WSF plans two community meetings this coming week – the one on Vashon, Wednesday night, is likely to be particularly contentious. (Times and locations are at the bottom of this page.) Now – here’s how last Thursday’s task-force meeting unfolded:
As previously noted, Metro‘s service change one week from tomorrow will include closure of a bus stop downtown used by many West Seattle-and-beyond riders, at Columbia and 2nd. Metro’s Scott Gutierrez says it’s just the start of changes for that street, related to the impending replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct by the Highway 99 tunnel:
The bus stop on Columbia Street and Second Avenue in downtown Seattle is a busy place for those commuting to West Seattle, Southwest Seattle, and Burien. Soon commuters who use that stop will have a more convenient location to catch the bus.
Work began in August to relocate the westbound bus stop one block up the hill to Third Avenue’s main transit thoroughfare. The new stop will open Sept 23 in coordination with Metro’s fall service change.
About 27,000 weekday riders will be affected, including routes 21X, 37, 55, 56, 57, 113, 120, 125 and the C Line.
Temporary wayfinding decals will be installed to point customers to the new location. A new street kiosk and off-board ORCA card reader will be installed for customers who use the RapidRide C Line.
The new bus stop marks the beginning of major changes for Columbia Street. It will be transformed into a two-way transit corridor from First to Fourth Avenues to provide a vital connection for buses moving through downtown once the new State Route 99 tunnel opens and the Alaskan Way Viaduct is demolished. Buses traveling from the State Route 99 off-ramp in SODO will use the corridor to connect with Third Avenue, downtown’s primary bus thoroughfare.
Construction to create a new eastbound transit lane from First to Third Avenues is expected to start in early 2018, and will take about four months.
Initially after construction, Columbia Street will function as it does today; the project will simply reconstruct the pavement and prepare the curb line for the future configuration. When WSDOT opens the State Route tunnel in early 2019, the Columbia Street on-ramp will be permanently closed and Columbia Street will temporarily end at First Avenue; West Seattle buses will be routed via interim pathways.
After the Columbia Street on-ramp is demolished, the City will reconstruct Columbia Street between First Avenue and Alaskan Way as part of the Waterfront Seattle Main Corridor project, with Columbia Street reopening to traffic in late 2019.
King County is funding reconstruction of Columbia Street between First and Fourth Avenues. Columbia Street between First Avenue and Alaskan Way will be reconstructed as part of Waterfront Seattle’s Main Corridor project, which also includes dedicated transit lanes on Alaskan Way south of Columbia Street that will be operational once that project is completed in 2023.
Back in 2012, some were surprised by the city rule change that enabled some development projects to be built without off-street parking, provided they were close to what the city considered “frequent transit service” (FTS). In recent months, the city’s been reviewing that policy and others related to parking – for example, the topic was included in the famously overcrowded HALA-and-more “open house” in The Junction last December and other versions of that event. Today, the city has just announced the results – proposed parking-policy changes. This notice in today’s Land Use Information Bulletin has the documents with all the fine print linked at the top, and then these toplines in the notice itself:
The City of Seattle is proposing to modify parking requirements by amending the Land Use Code (Title 23 SMC), and parking-related environmental policies in Chapter 25.05 of the Environmental Protection and Historic Preservation Code (Title 25 SMC).
The legislation would:
EXPAND ACCESS TO OFF-STREET PARKING
-Create a new use category, “flexible-use parking,” to allow for greater sharing of parking in certain zones, including in: Lowrise 3, Midrise, Highrise, most commercial, and industrial zones; and in mixed-use development garages in light rail station areas.
-Allow park-and-ride facilities within garages as a permitted use in certain zones, including in Lowrise 3, Midrise, Highrise, most commercial, and industrial zones.
-Clarify and update parking provisions by allowing off-site parking to be within one-quarter mile (1,320 feet) of the uses served, up from 800 feet.
OTHER CHANGES IN PARKING REQUIREMENTS
-Clarify and reduce the parking requirements for income-restricted housing, including for the disabled.
-Add a new maximum parking limit for flexible-use parking.
-Delete a special exception allowing more parking than the maximum parking limit in Downtown zones.
-Change the Northgate overlay zone parking provisions to be consistent with the city-wide approach.
-Provide for reduced parking minimum requirements for public uses/institutions (non-Major) in frequent transit service areas.
-Allow required parking amounts to be reduced in any zone, except Downtown zones, to a level needed to serve the parking demand for proposed uses as demonstrated by a parking demand study performed by a licensed professional engineer.
-Apply parking stall size requirements to parking for residential and live-work uses whether parking is required or not.
CLARIFY HOW FREQUENT TRANSIT SERVICE IS MEASURED
Allow for more flexibility in route timing and total length of daily service by updating transit measurement criteria to be more consistent with King County Metro’s and the City’s transit planning, and by simplifying provisions. The proposal includes Land Use Code amendments and a Director’s Rule that describes scheduled transit service measurement criteria and other details about physical measurement and mapping.
-Update bicycle parking requirements and performance standards, and consolidate the Downtown bicycle parking requirements with requirements for the rest of the city.
CHANGES TO PARKING-RELATED ENVIRONMENTAL POLICIES IN CHAPTER 25.05
-Update SEPA parking policies to better align with Comprehensive Plan and City transportation policies.
OTHER SUPPORTING CHANGES
-Require unbundling of parking space rental from multi-family dwelling unit rental and lease agreements in new structures 10 dwelling units or greater in size, new commercial lease agreements in existing structures 10,000 square feet or greater in size, and leases in new structures 10,000 square feet or greater in size.
-Allow surface parking for up to three car share vehicles in building setbacks in commercial, Midrise, and Highrise zones.
-For new structures with a garage in zones where flexible-use parking may occur, require a pedestrian access door and route between the garage and a public right-of-way to accommodate non-resident garage access and use.
The document that elaborates on the rationale for the proposed changes is this one. We found a specific West Seattle reference of how the proposed changes would affect one particular area:
With increased FTS there are also areas outside Urban Villages where the proposed FTS frequency measure would newly allow for a 50% reduction in the required minimum parking level. These
include multifamily and non-residential zoned areas in the following locations:
• In West Seattle, near the 21 bus route, portions of land along 35th Avenue SW between approximately SW Edmunds Street and SW Kenyon Street
HOW TO COMMENT: The publication of all this today opens a comment period until October 5th. Comments go to:
City of Seattle, SDCI
Attn: Gordon Clowers
P.O. Box 94788
Seattle, WA 98124-7088