West Seattle, Washington
Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle has momentum – even a mention from the mayor in his State of the City speech. But first, Sound Transit has to make big decisions for its ST3 ballot measure, including what route to pursue to get to this side of the bay, and beyond.
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition wants to make a recommendation with wide local support, so in addition to its “call to action” meeting last month, it launched a survey last week – and is circulating one last call for you to get in on it, if you haven’t already. As WSTC co-founder Joe Szilagyi puts it, “Sound Transit’s Board is making a decision in the next few months on what sort of train solution West Seattle is getting — so we need YOUR feedback to tell us where you stand, with this 5-10 minute survey!”
The survey closes Friday; answer the questions here as soon as you can.
Every round of wet weather seems to reveal – and/or deepen – another round of potholes.
After one recent storm, C. Johnston had had it with a nearby pothole. With the help of the grandkids, the scenes in the photos above and below emerged (in an alley – nobody was playing in the street!), and CJ sent us the photos. They seemed appropriate for illustrating a reminder about how to report potholes to the city.
This city-generated map is where to start. You can configure it to show pending requests, for example (blue dots). Right this moment, we’re not seeing any in West Seattle, unless we’re not zooming in closely enough. We DO see dozens of potholes come up as filled in the past 90 days, if you check the box that brings them into view (green dots). Here’s a screengrab of one cross-section:
The map doesn’t have a “live” embeddable option but on the city website, click any of those green dots, and you’ll get details on the right side of the map – when it was reported, when it was filled. Some dots represent more than one pothole.
To report one that you know is open right now but not showing on the map, use this form – or call 206-684-ROAD, and press “1.”
In our coverage of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s recent “call to action” meeting about Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle, we mentioned the group planned to put together a survey/poll with questions they hoped would be answered by as many West Seattleites as possible.
It’s ready now. First, WSTC explains it:
In November 2016, we will be asked to vote on “Sound Transit 3,” also called “ST3”. This vote will help shape the future of light rail to the peninsula. On December 4th, 2015, Sound Transit presented various options to the Sound Transit Board. In response, the WSTC sent (this) letter to the Sound Transit Board, the Mayor and City Council.
On January 28th, 2016, the WSTC held a Call to Action to gauge peninsula residents’ reactions to ST proposed ST3 expansion plans. West Seattle Blog coverage of the meeting can be found here.
The WSTC would like YOUR feedback on a survey to help us refine the position we should advocate for. We will be submitting the feedback to Sound Transit’s Board and other elected officials that govern Sound Transit.
Here’s the survey link: Answer the questions here. There’s some urgency, as ST will decide on its plan this spring, asking voters to approve paying for it in a ballot measure this November.
That sign along southbound Fauntleroy Way just south of Edmunds is one of the new signs SDOT has put up in the past few hours between SW Alaska and SW Morgan, along with radar-equipped speed-checking trailers like this one:
And with that, the speed limit on Fauntleroy between The Triangle and Morgan Junction is now uniformly 30 mph, down from 35. SDOT had announced yesterday that the signage changes were planned for today; the trailers were in place this morning, the signs followed this afternoon. It’s been almost exactly a year since the city announced speed-limit reductions for arterials including this stretch of Fauntleroy; some are still pending.
Four weeks ago, SDOT told us that Fauntleroy Way was likely less than a month away from the speed-limit cut first announced a year ago. And today, it’s official: SDOT crews will be out tomorrow placing signage to change the speed limit to 30 mph “for a 1.25 mile stretch of Fauntleroy Way SW between SW Alaska Street and California Avenue SW. The speed limit currently increases to 35 mph in this segment despite the presence of parks and schools adjacent to the corridor. This change will create a consistent 30 mph speed limit for the entire Fauntleroy corridor.”
As SDOT told us last month, today’s announcement reiterates that most drivers already travel “slower than existing 35 mph speed limit on this section of Fauntleroy so this should not be a significant change for people that drive this roadway often. However, the speed limit change will help reduce the likelihood and severity of collisions. This is especially true for vulnerable users like pedestrians since lower speeds significantly reduce the survivability of crashes.” In addition to new 30-mph signage, SDOT says it will deploy its Speed Watch Trailer along this stretch of Fauntleroy, which was repaved and rechannelized back in 2009.
Other West Seattle arterials, as announced last year, are in line for the 30-mph limit; SDOT told us last month that Delridge also would get a “fog line” when its turn comes up.
(January 2012 WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
The re-replacement of more than 600 earthquake-safety cushions under the west end of the West Seattle Bridge could start as soon as late March.
That update today from a spokesperson for SDOT‘s Fauntleroy Expressway Bearing Pad Replacement Project.
We first reported last month that the re-replacement is finally about to get under way, a year later than first announced, and two years after the city revealed the new cushions installed in 2012 would need to be replaced because of a design-process problem.
Since this work is expected to require dozens of bridge closures – mostly late at night – we had asked last month how SDOT would take into account the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure for the tunneling project that at the time was also expected in March. Since the tunneling’s been on hold again for three weeks now, SDOT says today:
We have been hoping to get a firm (or relatively firm) range of dates for the likely AWV closure. However, the Governor’s directive to stop any additional drilling until he is satisfied with the answers provided to him about the sinkhole leaves the closure schedule very much in the air.
Given this situation, along with our belief that our project’s nighttime closures will generally add no more than a couple of minutes of travel time for detoured motorists, we are going to move ahead. We expect to begin construction sometime between late March and mid-April (and hope to have a firmer schedule in hand from the contractor by the end of February).
While we’d prefer to not have our weeknight closures of the Expressway overlap with the AWV closure, we don’t believe there is enough of a linkage between the two to cause us to delay the project.
A briefing is planned at next month’s Southwest District Council meeting (6:30 pm Wednesday, March 3rd, Sisson Building), and SDOT says it would be happy to meet with any other interested groups. The city has reiterated that the bridge is safe; tougher cushions extend its lifespan.
That photo tweeted by @jrush78 shows a sign up in The Junction, as Metro gets ready for its March changes – in particular, breaking RapidRide C away from D, and sending C to South Lake Union. We mentioned the plan back in December. Today, Metro issued a reminder of its March 26 systemwide changes, including RapidRide, as detailed here. For a summary of the other changes around the system, go here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition issued a “call for action,” and the call was answered.
Its January meeting focused primarily on sorting out what people here want to see in Sound Transit‘s upcoming ST3 ballot measure – with the “candidate projects” being reviewed for a draft plan that’s expected in March, followed by a final plan in June and a regional vote in November.
They’re planning to organize the feedback – and collect even more soon, via an online poll.
After gathering that feedback, the meeting took one side trip, into an update on the Fauntleroy Boulevard project, and another call for opinions.
But first, about light rail:
Jim Unland‘s online petition for repaving a half-mile of Beach Drive south of 61st SW (reported here Sunday) brought out word that part of the road IS on the city’s list for repaving this year – between SW Orleans and SW Andover (map), ending just north of where we took the top photo. After hearing about it from Jim, we confirmed it with SDOT late Wednesday, while also asking which if any other sections of West Seattle roadway are on this year’s paving list. Spokesperson Norm Mah replied with these:
*SW 106th between 35th and Marine View Drive (eastbound)
*2100 block SW Roxbury – “spot panel replacement”
*26th SW between Roxbury and Cambridge – “spot panel replacement”
Also this year, SW Spokane is due for repaving just east of West Seattle, from East Marginal Way to the “low bridge.”
Looking further into the distance, sections of Avalon, 35th, and Roxbury are planned for repaving over the next eight years, as shown on this map:
Back to Beach Drive – we didn’t get a timetable in our reply, but Jim said SDOT’s acting program manager Sue Byers told him, sometime this summer.
That section of Beach Drive by Weather Watch Park and La Rustica is one of the inspirations behind a petition that’s being circulated by Jim Unland. He’s seeking signatures to ask the city to repave the half-mile stretch between 61st SW and SW Genesee (map). He explains, “This section of roadway has received numerous ‘pothole repairs’ but the condition of this stretch of Beach Dr. SW has deteriorated to the point that spot repairs are no longer sufficient. This roadway is frequently used by bicycle riders and the condition of the road poses many hazards to the them and liability to the City of Seattle.”
Unland says that petition signatures are set up to cc District 1 Councilmember Lisa Herbold and at-large Councilmembers Lorena González and Tim Burgess as well as SDOT’s paving manager Sue Byers. You can sign electronically by going here.
WSDOT posted that miscellaneous tunneling-machine-operations-in-progress video this afternoon to go along with the news that the machine is out of the “access pit” and “is now tunneling in Seattle soil after breaking through the access pit wall late Wednesday. Seattle Tunnel Partners has mined 73 feet and installed 12 concrete tunnel rings since Bertha first moved forward in the pit on Dec. 22. More mining is scheduled to occur this week. Now approaching South Main Street, near Pier 48, Bertha is digging well below the area’s notorious fill soil. The top of the machine is approximately 80 feet below the surface in a mixture of glacially compacted material.” That’s from the newest WSDOT update, which you can read in its entirety here. WSDOT also has set up a new tunnel-machine-tracking page. If all goes well from here, they’re still heading toward a March closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct “for about two weeks” while tunneling under the structure. Speaking of The Viaduct, WSDOT adds that crews are starting to take apart the big red crane that’s been alongside it during the tunneling-machine-repair process.
(WSB photo looking north on Delridge near Myrtle – existing ‘fog line’ is toward the left)
Though SDOT reaffirmed two months ago that its planned speed-limit cuts for three more West Seattle arterials would happen before the end of 2015 as planned, they didn’t happen. They’re still on the way, says SDOT’s Jim Curtin, but one of them – Delridge Way north of Orchard – will come with something extra: Fog lines. This news came in another round of correspondence with the concerned citizen whose questions sparked our November followup, “A Dad On Dangerous Delridge.” Curtin’s first reply to ADODD this week:
In an effort to achieve the lower speeds we seek on Delridge, we will be adding a fog line (aka edge line) to narrow the existing travel lanes on the street. The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) has a good website dedicated to lane widths here. Some sections of Delridge already have an edge line but most areas do not. Several locations, including the area just south of the Boren Building (home to two schools), have wide swaths of roadway with little to no organization or structure. The edge line will change that and help us reduce vehicle speeds on the corridor. This work is weather-dependent so we’ll need some dry weather before we can install the new pavement markings. We are hoping to make this change in the first quarter of 2016 during a dry stretch. A public communications effort will accompany these changes to help raise awareness of the speed limit change.
After seeing that via a CC in ADODD’s correspondence, we followed up with Curtin, first to ask if there’s a specified width for the resulting, narrowed traffic lanes: “Travel lanes will be 11 to 12 feet wide depending on the location to match the existing edge lines on the corridor. The roadway channelization will look very similar to the existing conditions on Delridge between Croft Pl SW and SW Myrtle Street.” (That’s where we took the photo atop this story.) He added that “the edge line will be applied to both sides of the street. Bike lanes are not planned through this low cost effort.” No existing markings will be changed, according to Curtin, just “essentially filling in the gaps in the channelization so we will not make changes to existing pavement markings.”
Our last question: What about the other arterials set for speed-limit reduction? Curtin replied: “Fauntleroy between Alaska and California will occur first – likely within the next month or so. The speed limit is already 30 mph along most of Fauntleroy but the speed limit jumps up to 35 in this section (which contains mainly residential land uses, Fairmount Park Elementary, and a park). Speed studies show that drivers are already traveling well below the existing 35 mph speed limit on this section of Fauntleroy. We intend to recalibrate the radar speed sign at SW Brandon Street and change the existing speed limit signs. As you know, the design of the roadway was significantly changed in 2009.” The 30 mph speed limit for more arterials was first announced last February.
A reader e-mailed tonight to share this safety alert for bicycle commuters:
This morning at 9:00 a.m., there was black ice on the bike path just north of the Spokane St. Bridge on Harbor Island. It was 40 degrees, but this area is probably in shade all day this time of year. A group of cyclists spread bark to improve traction. We could see skid marks where it appeared other cyclists had spilled.
Consider walking your bike through this section. It is only 50 feet or so.
Earlier, we had received one report that a bicycle rider was injured just before 9 am at a location logged by Seattle Fire as 1002 SW Spokane. We didn’t get word until long after the call closed, and could only confirm with SFD that one person suffered “minor injuries.”
Our coverage of November’s Fauntleroy Community Association meeting included a mention of upcoming work to replace “rotten pilings” at the state-ferry dock. FCA just got word today that the work will start tomorrow, with contractor mobilization and site preparation. Two piles will be driven through the deck on Wednesday; “deck repairs and other maintenance needs on the wingwalls and dolphins as required” would happen on Thursday; and it would all wrap up on Friday. We’re checking on any specific anticipated traffic effects, and will update this item as needed, as well as including the plan in our daily traffic/transit reports as the week continues.
(WSDOT photo showing propeller for M/V Samish during its construction at Vigor in 2014)
Another state ferry is about to be built at Vigor Industrial on Harbor Island – the fourth 144-car Olympic Class ferry. Washington State Ferries says it’s just signed the “Notice to Proceed” for the next ferry, which has a $122 million budget and is expected to launch in mid-2018. Just as construction begins in January, the state Transportation Commission will be discussing what to name the ferry. You’re invited to comment on the three options – Cowlitz, Sammamish, Suquamish – and the commission’s announcement explains how. Meantime, WSF’s announcement says the first two Olympic Class ferries – Tokitae and Samish – were delivered on time and under budget, and that the third, Chimacum, “is on schedule, under budget, and will be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.”
Reminder if you use Washington State Ferries – its winter schedule starts tomorrow (Sunday, December 27). As part of the seasonal schedule changes, the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route will have fewer weekend sailings. Find the schedule specifics here. WSF will be on the winter schedule through March 19th.
With the Highway 99 tunneling machine restarting, WSDOT has been loudly banging the warning drum about the anticipated two-week Alaskan Way Viaduct closure, once the machine starts digging beneath it. Remember, we survived a one-week closure four years ago during the demolition of its southern mile in October 2011. As part of that, the West Seattle Water Taxi got heavier usage than ever:
(WSB photos, October 2011)
Some runs were at capacity. But this time around, the run will have a bigger new boat, as the M/V Doc Maynard is scheduled to finally take over next month. We asked Rochelle Ogershok from the county Transportation Department what’s being discussed so far to maximize the Water Taxi during the anticipated closure, potentially as soon as March, and that was the first thing she mentioned:
Specific to West Seattle the following plans are:
Vessel Schedule and capacity: The Winter Water Taxi schedule will be operated with increased capacity on commute hour sailings. Doc Maynard has a capacity of 278 passengers as compared to 147 passengers on Spirit of Kingston. This is an increased capacity of 786 passengers in the morning and 917 in the afternoon.
Water Taxi Dock Access: The Marine Division is coordinating with the City of Seattle on parking options along Harbor Ave and Don Armeni boat launch similar to what happened during the 2011 closure. Those actions included:
*Additional all-day street parking along Harbor Ave.
*Additional parking at Don Armeni Park
We are also investigating the feasibility of operating larger shuttles to accommodate more passengers.
Again, specific plans have not been finalized – we will continue to coordinate with WSDOT and City of Seattle on closure details and will share with riders as this information becomes available.
The extra spaces at Don Armeni went fast during the October 2011 closure:
Meantime, the state is promising ongoing information about the expected closure via this WSDOT webpage. The real test of the tunneling machine will come when it resumes work early in the New Year.
Another Highway 99 tunneling-machine update from WSDOT before the holiday: The video above shows the machine building the tunnel’s 160th ring. (The music you hear isn’t a holiday feature, WSDOT says, explaining in the YouTube caption that it’s a safety alert.) The full online update says in part:
… In all, Bertha has excavated 8 feet of tunnel since STP restarted the machine early Tuesday. STP crews – which have been working long hours in the weeks leading up to the machine’s restart – will take a break over the holidays before resuming tunneling in the first week of January.
When work resumes, crews will mine through the concrete wall of the access pit and into the native soils that will serve as the next stage of STP’s testing process. This section of the tunnel route – like the 1,091 feet that came before it – is protected by underground walls that were built to hold the ground in place while crews continue to test the machine.
Bertha will mine toward an underground block of concrete approximately 450 feet north of the access pit. This area is the third and final protected maintenance stop, or safe haven, that STP built prior to the start of tunneling. According to the STP’s most recent schedule, the machine will spend up to one month at the safe haven while crews perform maintenance and make final adjustments before tunneling beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct. …
The update also includes a reminder of the two-weeks-or-so Viaduct closure planned when that happens.
Thanks to Lynn Hall for the photo of Washington State Ferries‘ M/V Puyallup under tow eastbound in Elliott Bay this morning, headed to Vigor on Harbor Island. It’s been three weeks since Puyallup left service on the Bainbridge Island route after reported propeller damage. We checked with WSF to see if today’s sighting was a sign it’ll be back soon. Short answer: No. Longer – WSF spokesperson Ian Sterling tells WSB, “It’s going in for a closer look and repair of the damage caused by striking something under the water a few weeks back (likely a chain or cable). Between that and scheduled maintenance, we don’t expect it to be back in service for a number of weeks.” If all goes according to schedule, though, the Seattle-Bainbridge run will be back to full capacity in about a week or so, which is when M/V Wenatchee is scheduled to return, after sea trials following maintenance work at Vigor.
After a day with just two boats on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth run – leading to big backups at terminals – Washington State Ferries says M/V Cathlamet is fixed and about to go back into service, so the three-boat schedule is resuming, with its late departure on what would have been the 5:35 pm run from Vashon to Southworth.
City crews continue working on West Seattle’s second neighborhood greenway, Delridge-Highland Park, and concurrently, on roadside raingardens and other “natural drainage” elements in part of the area. Some of this work will involve temporary water shutoffs, according to this update just sent by project managers:
Seattle Public Utilities began constructing the natural drainage system along 17th Ave SW from SW Cloverdale Street to SW Thistle Street.
Construction crews are installing curb ramps that are compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards in this area, and pedestrian detours are in effect. To perform water-service relocations, SPU water crews will shut down the water main two blocks at a time. If your water is going to be shut off, you will receive a door-hanger notification 48 hours in advance. Curbs and sidewalks that were removed for the water service relocations will then be re-installed.
The project webpage says some of that water work was expected to happen today and tomorrow, and includes a reminder that once the water’s back on, you might see discoloration for a while.
Meantime, the city’s update continues with information on the next round of road and sidewalk work:
Construction to build a pedestrian pathway connecting areas north and south of the cul-de-sac on 17th Ave SW between SW Myrtle and SW Webster streets has been delayed and will begin as early as January 4, 2016.
When construction begins, parking will be limited and pedestrian detours will be in place around the work area. This work is expected to take up to two weeks to complete.
Final work to be done at the intersection of 15th Ave SW and SW Holden St includes pouring curb ramps and sidewalk. We expect this work will be complete by Monday, December 28.
Crews began preparing the intersection at 16th Ave SW and SW Webster St for pedestrian safety improvements, including new crosswalks, new sidewalk, and new ADA-compliant curb ramps.
Crews began pouring sidewalk and curb ramps. Weather permitting, this work is expected to be complete by December 28.
Crews will return to the west side of 21st Ave SW, south of where 21st Ave SW and 22nd Ave SW merge, to rebuild the sidewalk. We expect this work will begin as early as January 4 and will include pouring concrete for sidewalk and asphalt for driveways. Both pours require dry days. Weather permitting, this work will take 2 weeks to complete. Residents will be notified in advance of driveway closures.
Construction is complete at 16th Ave SW and SW Kenyon St.
And the city notice includes the caveat that much of this is weather-dependent, so rain can change the schedule. More updates, and links to the full project plan, can be found here. The work’s been under way since late summer.
If you’ve been waiting for the promised extension of Metro’s RapidRide C Line to South Lake Union – as the C and D lines are separated – it’s getting closer. SDOT just sent an announcement of work starting in SLU this weekend to get ready for the extension/separation in March. Read on: