West Seattle, Washington
TOPLINE, 3:37 PM: Sound Transit said the big objections to the draft ST3 25-year proposal involved timelines – such as, West Seattle light rail in 2033. So this afternoon, board members proposed changes that include, as seen in the list below, moving that timetable up by three years:
From earlier, here’s how it unfolded, and what happens next:
FIRST REPORT, 2:37 PM: We’re in the Sound Transit board room on the south side of downtown, with a full house of people interested in the forthcoming Sound Transit 3 ballot measure for a variety of reasons – from journalists to advocates to elected officials and beyond. Public comment’s been under way since shortly after ST board chair King County Executive Dow Constantine convened the meeting (see the agenda here) at 1:30, and has just wrapped up. Much of it has focused on concerns from and related to the east and north sides of the area. This is all leading up to an expected vote one week from today on finalizing an ST3 measure to send to voters in November. You can watch live via the embedded stream above and we will add notes of interest from here on out. First up, Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff will talk about how they might “reduce delivery times” (relevant for WS, where light rail is proposed for 2033 arrival, in the ST3 draft) – including talking to communities before making specific proposals, so they know if they’re walking into a minefield. Also: “establish a transparent schedule for … timely decision-making … throw it up on the Web for all to see,” and other process tweaks, such as fast-tracking permits. In the end, Rogoff added, a “culture change” would be needed, overall, to help speed things up.
2:54 PM: Now, a quick update on the ST3 finance plan. It has “additional capacity to accelerate the program you have under consideration,” the board is told. That’s followed by board members from each of five “sub-areas” proposing changes to the overall plan.
First list of changes includes proposing moving West Seattle light rail up to 2030 – three years sooner than the draft plan released in March.
3:13 PM: The proposed changes are “fully affordable” and meet “sub-area equity,” the board is now told. Next step: The board will consider on June 2nd whether to include any or all of these changes in the ST3 plan. Chair Constantine says, “It’s clear to me … that the will of the board is to move forward with these changes,” so he’ll have them written up by that meeting. The final vote on what to send to voters in November, he says, will be on June 23rd. And with that, this discussion is over and the ST board is moving on to other items.
3:37 PM: The meeting has just adjourned, and Sound Transit’s just sent a news release that points us to this summary of the proposed changes. The only other mentions of West Seattle: “The scope of a study of high-capacity transit between West Seattle and Burien would expand to explore potential future service to Renton via Tukwila.”
This past Tuesday, when SDOT reps talked with the City Council Transportation Committee about changes to the timeline for building Bicycle Master Plan projects, we noticed one in West Seattle prominently featured on a map from their slide deck:
It’s the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, which has been in the works for more than a year now, proposing bicycle lanes and other changes for much of the stretch of Admiral Way west of California SW, and drawing controversy along the way. It’s outlined on the map in this slide deck as “in-street (bicycle lanes), minor separation.” We last checked on it in March, when project spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg told us SDOT was “in the process of revising the design,” with no new timeline.
Two months later, Schellenberg responded to our renewed inquiry today with basically the same answer: “We are still working through some design decisions.” No date for presenting a revised proposal; the project webpage now promises some contact in “mid-2016.”
P.S. A few other West Seattle notes from the slides shown to the council committee this week: The new 5-year plan brings back proposed protected bike lanes for SW Morgan/Dumar and mentions a SW Myrtle neighborhood greenway; it puts on hold a proposed SW Juneau greenway, with SDOT reps mentioning briefly that it’s because Juneau would be parallel to the Morgan lanes. (We’ll be following up soon on the Morgan and Myrtle proposals; a plan for Morgan last came up four years ago, represented as imminent without neighborhood outreach, and was subsequently put on indefinite hold.)
Two notable bicycle events in the next three days:
‘BIKE EVERYWHERE DAY’ FRIDAY: We’ve been mentioning this in the morning traffic watch – what used to be “Bike to Work Day” is now “Bike Everywhere Day” and it’s happening tomorrow. West Seattle Bike Connections will present a commute station along the trail to the low bridge, 6-9 am, with treats, plus bike checks/simple repairs courtesy of Alki Bike and Board – more info here.
‘ALKI DAZE’ COSTUMED BIKE PARADE SUNDAY: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Alki resident Guy Olson and friends have organized a slate of “Alki Daze” activities, and you’re invited to join in, especially Sunday’s Costumed Bicycle Parade. Gather at 63rd/Alki at 1:30, ride at 2 pm, and afterward, “live music and bicycle parking in the 2600 block of Alki SW.) While this is the second year that Sunday morning’s West Seattle 5K is NOT being followed by a “car-free day” city-sanctioned street party (it’s set for September 25th instead), Guy says the bike parade is meant to carry on its spirit. Here’s our video from the start of last year’s parade, which had about 150 participants.
From Washington State Ferries:
Starting Monday, May 23, all vehicles except motorcycles and bicycles must stop at the tollbooths at the Fauntleroy Terminal to purchase and/or redeem tickets. Motorcyclists and bicyclists will continue to be processed near the Terminal building at the west end of the dock.
To speed up the loading process during peak travel times, a bypass lane will be provided for pre-ticketed vehicles only (no sales). New signage has been installed in front of and on the toll booths to indicate when the pre-ticketed bypass lane is open, in addition to providing other important information. Please pay attention to signs and watch for instructions from WSF staff at the Fauntleroy Terminal.
Please note that as a safety precaution, WSF will not allow passengers to be dropped off or picked up at the terminal when the pre-ticketed bypass lane is open. Passengers can be picked up/dropped off in the load zone just south of the Terminal on Fauntleroy Way during these times. Customers with disabilities that prevent them from using the walkway at the terminal should notify WSF staff upon arriving at the terminal that they will need a closer pick-up/drop-off point.
This change is being implemented to speed vehicle processing and loading times. Thank you for your cooperation!
As proposed in the draft plan for Sound Transit 3 – the 25-year outline for expanding light rail around the region, expected to go to voters in November – West Seattle would be served with an elevated line. Some community advocates think a tunnel would be better, once the line gets across the Duwamish River (currently envisioned as happening via its own new bridge). With the proposed final plan just weeks away, the City Council is expected to pass a resolution shortly offering its feedback to ST. Here’s what’s mentioned about that in the draft of the council resolution, which you can read in full here:
The ST3 package should include a light rail extension from Downtown Seattle to the West Seattle Junction, including a grade-separated alignment through West Seattle. The ST3 package should allow for future consideration and evaluation of a tunnel alignment through West Seattle, if cost savings within the ST3 program or additional funding resources become available.
We asked City Councilmember Lisa Herbold for comment on whether she supports this language; she is the “alternate” member on the City Council Transportation Committee, which will consider the resolution at its 2 pm meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, May 17th). We just received a reply through her legislative assistant Newell Aldrich: “The resolution incorporates language suggested by CM Herbold and the WSTC — we worked with them on the WS section. We all wanted to ensure there was equivalency with the Ballard section (i.e. listing a potential tunnel option if funding allows).”
WSTC is a reference to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. As a side note to this, you might recall that the WSTC ran a survey about WS light rail this spring, before the ST3 draft plan came out. In WSB comments, some have wondered when those results would be released. Former WSTC board member Joe Szilagyi, who led the group’s online presence during his time on the board, published them in this Medium.com post today.
Those who took the Water Taxi for the first time during our Viaductless week-plus might have glimpsed the work going on at Vigor Industrial‘s shipyards on Harbor Island, where two new Olympic-class ferries are now under construction for Washington State Ferries, the third and fourth in the series, following Tokitae and Samish.
On Tuesday, news-media crews were invited to Vigor to tour the Chimacum, which is three-fourths complete, after its superstructure arrived by barge from a North Sound shipyard a month ago and was quickly joined to the Vigor-built hull, and to see the keel-laying ceremony marking the start of construction on the Suquamish. Photojournalist Christopher Boffoli was there for WSB. He reports:
Tuesday’s hardhat tour took us down inside the dry dock where the Chimacum is being built and up a set of stairs into the interior of the ferry:
We just checked on the West Seattle Water Taxi numbers for this morning – first commute post-Viaduct closure – after commenter Elton wondered how ridership had gone. From Greg Lerner of the King County Marine Division:
6:15 am – 52
6:45 am – 81
7:15 am – 115
7:45 am – 94
8:15 am – 78
8:45 am – 62
9:15 am – 45
That’s higher than the pre-closure norm, Lerner says, while about half of the ridership tallied last Monday, a Viaductless day with almost perfect weather, and the highest West Seattle ridership day of the entire closure, according to the county’s overview of how both WT runs did for the shutdown period:
The West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxi routes carried record numbers of riders during the 99 closure. Preliminary tallies from April 29 through May 7 show the two routes carried an estimated 30,000 riders, compared to about 13,500 riders the week before.
“We’re thankful to everyone who looked at other travel options besides driving during the closure, and thrilled to see ridership this high,” said Paul Brodeur, director of King County’s Marine Division. “We hope riders continue to see the water taxi as a good option for their trips to and from downtown.”
The West Seattle route roughly tripled its typical ridership as riders took advantage of additional parking options and regular spring service. The service on that route carried more than 24,000 riders compared to a typical 8,000 riders over the same time period. The single-day peak ridership to and from West Seattle was 3,269 riders on May 2, more than triple the riders compared to the week before.
Vashon route ridership climbed by a total of 900 riders during the 99 closure as riders took advantage of additional round trips. Ridership peaked at 1,100 on May 4 compared to about 900 the week before.
One last reminder in case you used it today: After last night’s earlier-than-projected reopening of the Alaskan Way Viaduct due to tunneling progress (now 342 of the originally announced 385 feet needed to totally clear the AWV), today was the last day of added Water Taxi parking and larger shuttles. The West Seattle Water Taxi runs year-round, weekdays in late fall/winter and seven days a week in spring/summer/early fall; its current schedule continues until October 30th. It’s been four months since the new vessel Doc Maynard took over the run, with a capacity of more than 270 passengers.
Going through toplines, one thing surprised us: ST says that in a telephone survey it conducted – separate from the online survey linked to the ST3 website – respondents in areas far from West Seattle considered the WS-to-downtown light-rail route a priority. The “Project Priorities” start on page 25 of this presentation and include the Top 5 projects as ranked by 1,000 respondents in five areas. West Seattle-to-downtown light rail was in the top 5 for four of the five areas – in order of how they appear in the presentation, Snohomish respondents ranked it fifth, North King respondents ranked it first, East King respondents ranked it first, South King respondents ranked it third. Pierce is the only area where it didn’t appear in the Top 5. As for the online survey (whose respondents, ST notes, were “self-selected”), its toplines are here. According to breakouts in that document, West Seattle zip codes accounted for about 2,400 of the 34,706 online survey responses around the region.
WHAT’S NEXT: As reported in our coverage of the ST3 discussion at last week’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, the final ST3 proposal for the November ballot is due next month. Then, the plan and its funding, including a mix of sales, motor-vehicle, and property taxes, is in the voters’ hands.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
If you still haven’t told Sound Transit what you think about the draft ST3 plan – which includes a light-rail line to The Junction, in 2033 – today is your last chance: 5 pm tonight (Monday, May 2nd) is the (slightly extended) deadline.
Not sure what to say? Here’s what happened when Sound Transit reps talked with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition last Thursday night, two nights after their one-and-only draft-plan meeting in WS:
Tomorrow night at 10 pm, the onramps to the Alaskan Way Viaduct/Highway 99 start closing. Within two hours – by 12:01 am Friday – the entire stretch of 99 from the West Seattle Bridge to the Battery Street Tunnel will be closed. More vehices will be on the “low bridge” – officially, the South Spokane Street Swing Bridge – than usual, both bicycles and pedestrians, which have no other nearby path across the Duwamish River, and motor vehicles, because of detours.
(2015 photo by Don Brubeck – bicycle riders waiting while barge goes through opened ‘low-bridge’)
The “low bridge” will continue to be opened for vessel traffic. One difference from the 2011 weeklong Highway 99 shutdown: Those openings are now communicated via Twitter, @SDOTBridges. But the tweets tend to be sent just as the bridge starts to open, meaning they’re no help with advance planning, if you’re leaving your residence and wondering if an opening is imminent.
With that in mind, a WSB commenter wondered if there is any way for SDOT to tweet sooner about impending bridge openings. We asked SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan, who talked with the Bridge Division and replied:
We are required by federal law to open a bridge when a boat makes a request for an opening. Typically, we have less than three minutes notice from the boat making its request to an opening occurring. Part of the opening process is to alert our Transportation Operation Center, which then puts the information out via Twitter.
The presence of a boat on a nearby waterway does not necessarily mean that an opening is required. Boats will sometimes stop prior to the Ship Canal bridges or the lower Spokane Street Swing Bridge and not request an opening at all.
We will continue to tweet notices of bridge openings as soon as they are requested and look for opportunities to speed up the transmission of that information.
We’ll be adding the bridge-opening tweets to our expanded commute coverage during the Viaduct closure. You can also find the link any time on the WSB Traffic page (which will have some renovations before Friday).
6 PM: That’s a look around the West Seattle High School Commons (mouse over the image to bring up the “play” button) as our area’s meeting about the Sound Transit 3 draft plan – currently envisioning light rail to/from West Seattle in 2033 – and the Metro Long-Range Plan got under way. The presentations are about to get under way; among those who will be speaking, Mayor Murray. We’ll be updating as this goes. Even if you can’t make it to the meeting (which is expected to continue until at least 7 pm – the moderator says it’ll go back to open-house format around 6:45), you can comment on these plans via their respective agencies – more on that post-meeting.
6:04 PM: Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff speaks first, declaring this “a great crowd. … The crowds that have been turning out and the level of engagement is indicative of the hunger this region has” for more transit. “This is about the future of our region. … The feedback that you give us about this plan is very important. … Census data tells us that this region … is going to have nearly a million more citizens by 2040. … When you’re faced with growth like that, you’re going to have to plan for it, or be overwhelmed by it.” He then throws a line to the crowd, “In an area like this, where the whole region seems to revolve around the West Seattle Bridge” – rueful laughs rippled around the crowd – light rail would seem like something positive, Rogoff said.
6:17 PM: The third of three Sound Transit Board members to speak, City Councilmember Rob Johnson, is speaking now.
— Rob Johnson (@heyrobbyj) April 27, 2016
(CM Johnson’s tweet of the standing-room-only crowd)
He followed Mayor Murray and County Council Chair Joe McDermott – we got both of their mini-speeches on video (both added as of 6:43). Murray noted that the region made a decision to reject a major transit initiative decades ago, and hopes that mistake will not be repeated now.
Johnson is now followed by the overview of the draft ST3 plan, courtesy of an ST planner, who gave some backstory about how the agency got to this point, looking to finalize a plan to send to voters in November. The proposed plan would have 112 miles of light rail, “west to West Seattle and Ballard, north to Everett, east to Redmond and Issaquah, south to Tacoma, Tacoma Link to Tacoma Community College.” They also expect “bus rapid transit” on I-405 and Highway 522, “bus on shoulder” on four regional highways, and other system improvements.
Mentioned after that – “to improve bus speed and reliability … capital improvements to RapidRide C and D Routes.” This was mentioned at last month’s unveiling of the draft plan but has not been explained in detail.
Next, the “central corridor” proposals including the light-rail line to West Seattle, with stations at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction (specific locations have not yet been proposed). ST would also study extending the line south to Burien and then a possible connection to the Tukwila International Blvd. station, which is on the ST “spine” between Everett and Tacoma, “the main trunk, if you will, to our system.” She then elaborates that the West Seattle line would go over the Duwamish River on a new bridge, elevated to a station at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction – that’s entirely elevated on this side of the river. She mentions that this is a “representative project,” which means some things could change during the environmental-study stage, if ST3 is approved by voters. ST wants to know “are we going to the right areas.”
6:28 PM: Next, a Metro rep comes up to talk about their long-range plan, which has been stuffed into this meeting for some reason. “Metro has been working for 18 months to define, what is the role of Metro as the region continues to grow.” Metro hasn’t had a long-range plan in more than 20 years. Key point: 20 percent of the region’s residents have access to rapid service right now; they want to bring that up to 70 percent. By 2040, they hope to have 26 RapidRide lines (one for every letter of the alphabet) by 2040, including a new one on Delridge (which, it’s been said, would replace the 120 – and some community members have voiced concern that fewer bus stops, the RapidRide design, would be bad for eastern West Seattle).
“The vision of 2040 can bring you more opportunities – how far you can go within an hour at noon.” Get online and find out more – the draft Metro Long-Range Plan is open for comments until May 20th.
6:33 PM: The moderator says they’ll extend the question period until 7 pm, since the speakers ran long.
First question is from a man in Tukwila, the “ST1 zone,” he calls it, who says his house is being shaken, and that he has been trying to get ST to do something about it for eight years. CEO Rogoff offers to talk with him on the sidelines.
Second question is from an attendee who wants to know, “Is there some way to be able to continue to have these conversions to make improvements for all the people?” long after a meeting like this. Rogoff says that the ST website shows all the projects, including ones that were counted out for various reasons. “For every one, there is a public vetting process that has to engage the community, an environmental process … it all involves community engagement (and) comment periods, and very rarely is the project precisely as envisioned the one that gets built.” (The first questioner shouts, “EIGHT YEARS!” from the gallery at that point.)
Third question: “How was the order of who will go first and who will go last devised? (West Seattle) voted at least three times for the monorail .. (and) we’re the closest to downtown … so I wonder why we have to wait at least 17 years before we see something.” At this point, applause and cheers. “In the meantime,” she continues, “for example, when the C Line (Metro) was adopted, all the other routes were dropped back …” and she says that’s made it harder to get around, or to get back here from another part of the city at night.
Rogoff says first, regarding the timeline, “it can go quicker and we are determined to make it go quicker if we have (cooperation) between the municipalities … engage the community, move quickly through permitting. 17 years like I say is a planning factor – with cooperation it could go more quickly.” Rogoff says that 17 years is actually one of the earliest “rail deliverables” in ST3.
Murray then comes up and mentions the city vote to allot more money for bus service, and says that while he is committed to trying to accelerate the timeline, “it’s buses that are going to get us there” until rail is ready.
Fourth question was also about moving up the timeline and streamlining the permitting process. Murray takes the microphone again and says he plans to introduce legislation to enable streamlining. That draws applause. Rogoff says, “That’s the kind of cooperation we’re talking about.”
Next question is a man who says that they should be listening to comments, not questions, when the moderator tries to tell him he needs to ask something, not say something. A smattering of applause for that. He says that there needs to be budgeting for roads to support the transit system, as damage already has been done (he mentions Avalon, which supports much of the RapidRide C Line). Murray takes the microphone for this one, too, and says that the MoveSeattle levy passed last year “will allow us to catch up,” though, like ST3, he points out, it’s a plan spread out over years, so the money isn’t all available immediately.
Next: Someone who wonders why everything is tied to property taxes – “is there a plan to pay for it some other way?”
Rogoff replies: “There are three (separate) tax increases in the plan – these were given to us by the Legislature – it’s a mix of sales tax, an increase in the motor-vehicle excise tax, and the smallest piece by dollars actually is a piece of property tax – this is the first time that property taxes have entered into the mix, and this is a mix given to us by Olympia; they were trying to get a mix that, since the sales tax has a certain regressivity to it, balances it out … we can only bring (to the voters) what Olympia allows us to.”
That is the answer to the next question, about money, too: “These are the revenue options (legislators) gave us.”
Following that: Someone from Hillman City, who says they’ve “already been waiting for our station for 20 years” and this plan shows it to be another 20 or so away – the Graham Street Station, up on the screen as 2036-2038. “What can you do to speed it up? You’re doing it,” says Rogoff – “come to meetings, talk to your elected officials,” etc.
Next: “How do we as a city dangle the carrot to the federal government and have them (look at Seattle for funding) when many other cities (have needs too)?” Rogoff, a former federal official, says the way for cities to make themselves look most appealing is “whether they have their local funding match in place … that, frankly, is what the ST3 vote is about. … No factor is more influential.”
Then: “What are the capital improvements you’re talking about for the C Line?” The Metro rep answers first by saying C Line use has gone up, “and we’re going to be looking at speed and reliability improvements.” She hands the microphone over – “Some of those improvements depend on SDOT. Signal improvements, queue jumps – opportunities for buses to get ahead of the traffic that’s coming – we also want to look at with Metro and SDOT, opportunities for the 99 loop as it goes off the West Seattle Bridge .. we’re looking at the chokepoints, the bottlenecks for those corridors.” Murray then chimes in and mentions the Lander Street Overpass, “another way we can improve the whole corridor’s movement.” (This answer is pretty much what we got after the draft-plan announcement in March.”
Next questioner mentions that large employers are beneficiaries of this, “so I wonder if they have been approached to maybe give us an interest-free loan, or just invest in the system out of their pockets … ahve they been approached?” Much applause for that. Rogoff says the answer isn’t exactly “no” but they are “in a dialogue with some of the major employers” regarding the “benefits” that their campuses would get. He says he won’t identify them. “But we can partner with other entities to help us bring money forward to accelerate the system.”
6:55 PM: Next (with a warning from the moderator that there’s only time for a few more questions) question is about the regressive tax structure: Rogoff says that the feds don’t really care how the money is raised, only that it is raised (the aforementioned local match).
Next: Does the $50 billion price tag include interest. “I don’t want you coming back to me saying you need another $20 billion.” Rogoff says the $50b is “the capital investment figure,” and yes, there will be payments above that “over time.” He says that in June the board will adopt “a very detailed financial plan” when they adopt a final plan. “I’d encourage you to start by reading the financial plan for the ST2 plan, there’ll be one for ST3, we welcome the scrutiny.” He says they do budget for inflation.
Then: If the plan is passed and the federal government fails to follow through, what happens? Rogoff again goes back to ST2, saying it figured on an 18 percent federal contribution, and this plan lowers that to about 12 percent – “we’re growing but it may not be reasonable to assume that the federal contribution will grow with us … and there’s a lot of stress … on the federal budget right now … and we want to be sure we can deliver on what’s promised.” If somehow the program they’ll rely on ceased, they’d have to figure out how to make up the funding.
Final question at 6:59 pm: An attendee mentions costs of various lines outside the US, in Europe and Canada, at far less per mile than what Sound Transit is suggesting this will cost. So, he says, he wants to ask Metro: What could it do with a $2 billion capital budget? The Metro reply: “You’re asking a very specific question – but you’re right, we’re seeing that high-capacity transit on buses is very productive, and we’re seeing a 96 percent increase on the C Line, and that’s what makes it a very good high-capacity corridor, and future light-rail corridor.” For the $2 billion “what would you do” question, she invites him to “come over to our boards” and see what’s in the Metro long-range plan. “That vision you’re talking about, high-capacity transit … that’s what we’re planning for.”
The moderator invites people to provide feedback online or on paper, or to go back into open house mode and talk to the people who are here from the various agencies, and with that, the Q&A ends.
8 PM: Back at HQ now and adding a few more photos, notes, and links.
First: The conversation about ST3 continues at Thursday night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way SW). Bring your questions and comments.
Next: For ST3, the official comment period continues until Friday (April 29th). At the very least, please take this online survey.
In case you’ve missed our multitude of mentions since the Sound Transit 3 “draft plan” was announced one month ago (WSB coverage here) – tomorrow (Tuesday, April 26th) is the one and only Sound Transit public meeting planned in West Seattle before ST comes up with its final plan to send to regional voters in November. A West Seattle light-rail line is in the plan – for 2033. Yes, that’s a long time. But it could be longer, as there is some clamor elsewhere in the city to move it back and move other parts of the draft plan forward. But – it also could be sooner. Whatever you think about it, the more people show up for tomorrow’s 5:30 pm meeting at West Seattle High School, the more of a show of support there is. The latest voice exhorting you to be there is that of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce, which just sent this:
Do you want less traffic on the West Seattle Bridge?
If so…come to this meeting on April 26th.
We need Light Rail and we need our voices heard.
IF YOU COME…THEY WILL BUILD IT!
Show up and make a HUGE difference.
Tuesday, April 26th at 5:30 pm at West Seattle High School.
The more people who show up for this meeting, the louder our voice is.
The louder our voice is, the more likely we are to get what we need: LIGHT RAIL TO WEST SEATTLE!!!
Just showing up is half the battle.
It’s no substitute for a big showing, but ST is also asking you to fill out the survey you’ll find online at soundtransit3.org. Tomorrow’s meeting, by the way, also includes a presentation about Metro’s Long-Range Plan – that and the ST presentation are at 6 pm, following a half-hour of “open house.” It’s not just a light-rail-yay-or-nay situation, by the way – if you would like to advocate for aspects of the plan, including tunneling or no tunneling, where the West Seattle stations should be, etc., this is the place. See you there.
Most of the time, after publishing the initial announcement of projects that will at least temporarily affect how you get around, our subsequent reminders are in our weekday Traffic/Transit Today updates, first thing Monday-Friday mornings.
Tonight, we’re thinking an extra reminder is in order, because of the big week ahead. So here goes:
TOMORROW (MONDAY 4/25), 26TH SW BETWEEN ROXBURY AND BARTON: The pummeled pavement panels along this stretch of southbound 26th SW, in sorry shape after the past few years of dramatically increased bus traffic, will be replaced over the next week. The work will start on the south half, between Cambridge and Roxbury, as SDOT’s advisory says, southbound 26th will be closed to all traffic. There are no bus-stop changes, because the southbound side has no stops, but the rerouting to get around it will add a few minutes to trips, Metro says.
ALSO MONDAY: Delays are possible for Fauntleroy/Vashon ferry riders, because one of the two slips on Vashon will close during the day for ongoing work, tomorrow through the end of May. Explanation here.
ONE MORE THING FOR MONDAY: Not West Seattle, but some local commuters might be interested: The Highway 520 floating bridge will open to eastbound traffic early Monday morning, and that completes the phasing-in of the new bridge, both ways.
NOT HAPPENING WEDNESDAY AFTER ALL: If you missed our first word of this on Thursday and the city’s reiteration on Friday, SDOT finally decided to postpone the Fauntleroy Expressway seismic-pad-re-replacement work.
It WAS supposed to start this Wednesday, with dozens of overnight closures of the west end of the high bridge as well as some lane closures on surface Spokane St., but has now been pushed back until at least mid-May, mostly because of what starts on …
FRIDAY: At some point between midnight and the start of the morning commute on Friday April 29th), WSDOT will close Highway 99 between the Battery Street Tunnel and the West Seattle Bridge. As of our last check with WSDOT, spokesperson Laura Newborn told us they have 12:01 am penciled in as the start time until they get a more concise time from contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners as to when they expect to start tunneling toward and under the Alaskan Way Viaduct. All week long, we’ll be taking closer looks at the plans for alternative ways to get around during the closure; if you still have questions about it, we’ll do our best to get answers.
Again, the closure is expected to last “about” two weeks, but it all depends on the progress the tunneling machine makes. That progress is set to be updated online at least once a day. Other closure-related info – detour maps, etc. – is here.
Ferry commuters are one step closer to a more reliable system as Washington State Ferries celebrates a major milestone for the Chimacum, the fleet’s third Olympic Class vessel. The Chimacum’s 1,110 ton superstructure, which took 18 months to construct at Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on Whidbey Island, will transit to Seattle tonight, Wednesday, April 6.
The announcement continues after the jump: Read More
(Map from July 2015 slide deck about 35th SW plan)
More than half a year after the much-discussed changes on 35th Avenue SW between Morgan and Roxbury, Phase 1 of the 35th SW Corridor Safety Project, you might be wondering when we’ll hear the timeline for Phase 2, north of Morgan. After Kevin e-mailed to ask for an update, we checked in again with SDOT‘s project manager Jim Curtin. His reply: “We will host a couple of meetings about 35th in May – likely the weeks of the 9th and/or the 16th. We definitely want to chat with residents living immediately adjacent to 35th and provide other street users with an opportunity to chat about our work moving forward.” Phase 2 was outlined in the Phase 1 announcement last July (WSB coverage here), including a declaration of no channelization changes north of SW Edmunds, but the timeline hadn’t previously been specified.
Construction of the Delridge-Highland Park Greenway is done, SDOT announced this afternoon – aside from “a few minor tasks,” such as:
*Finish sign installation and road striping
*Replace temporary handrail with permanent handrail on the new stairway on 17th Ave SW
*Reseed planting strip on 21st Ave SW just north of where 21st Ave SW and 22nd Ave SW merge
Seattle City Light will turn on the new signal at 15th Ave SW and SW Holden St
And Seattle Public Utilities continues with the Delridge Natural Drainage Project. If you live/work in, and/or frequently travel through the greenway area, you’re invited to answer this survey. Meantime, scroll down the project webpage for the city’s before/after images of spots along the greenway.
(ST3 draft-plan map section with proposed West Seattle light rail)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Today – five days after the draft Sound Transit 3 plan went public – the monthlong comment period officially begins.
That will include a community meeting at 5:30 pm April 26th at West Seattle High School, it’s just been confirmed.
And more information is being added today – fleshing out what was outlined last Thursday – to the official Sound Transit 3 website.
Of course, commenting informally started the moment the plan was circulated that afternoon.
Hours after the announcement downtown, it was a hot topic at the March meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition – though not until about two hours in – and while group members had opinions, the question of an official position wasn’t settled. (The agenda also included the Metro Long-Range Plan – more on that in the second half of this report.)
Washington State Ferries is changing concessionaires for its food and beverages, including on-board galley service. Eight firms made proposals; Connecticut-based Centerplate was chosen. WSF’s announcement says features of the new contract include:
·Consistent hours of service across the system, with additional service in the San Juan Islands.
·Creative, fresh and healthful product offerings, including local brands such as Hempler’s beef and ham, Uli’s sausage, Beecher’s cheese, and Stimson Estate Cellars wine.
·Creative concepts for using existing spaces, such as opening additional coffee and beer kiosks on the Jumbo Mark II class ferries.
·Promotions and incentives, such as commuter-reward programs.
Centerplate also provides concessions at Safeco Field and Tacoma Dome, WSF’s announcement notes. The transition from current concessionaires is expected to be completed by mid-June.
Six months ago, when SDOT held a second open house, by community request, for the SW Admiral Way Safety Project, the resulting “final design” was expected shortly thereafter, “implementation” was expected by year’s end, and “evaluation” was expected this year.
The year’s one-fourth over, and the design hasn’t even gone public yet. That was pointed out at this month’s Alki Community Council meeting, when one attendee said she hadn’t been able to get the SDOT project manager to answer her questions about where the project stood.
If the project name doesn’t bring an image to mind, it’s the reconfiguration >originally proposed almost a year ago for Admiral Way west of California SW. It was first shown to the Admiral Neighborhood Association in April 2015, with added bicycle lanes, narrowed general-purpose lanes, and some parking removal. After subsequently contentious-at-times reaction – especially regarding the revelation that initial decisions had been made based on wintertime parking usage, not summertime – the project was modified a bit and brought back to the community in fall (along with summertime parking data).
With half a year now past since the September meeting, and after hearing the frustration voiced at the ACC meeting, we contacted SDOT to ask for a status update. Project spokesperson Dawn Schellenberger replied, “We are in the process of revising the design and do not yet have a final design nor implementation date.” The online information has changed slightly since we contacted her – the timeline box now says “implementation” in spring this year and “evaluation” in spring of next year – but no word on what will be proposed for in the next design revision.
Two weeks after first word of a new SDOT safety project at Avalon/Yancy/30th/Andover, we have an update – work starts as soon as next Monday. This information was distributed in the immediate area today, SDOT says, and will be going out to the project e-mail list tomorrow:
We wanted to let you know that as soon as next Monday, March 28, crews working for SDOT will begin constructing pedestrian-safety improvements at the intersections of 30th Ave SW with SW Avalon Way and SW Avalon Way with SW Andover and SW Yancy streets. Construction is anticipated to take about 6 weeks to complete, but the schedule is weather dependent.
People can expect the following impacts during construction (more detail in the attached construction notice):
Temporary closure of SW Andover St at SW Avalon Way for the first three weeks of construction, depending on the weather. Local access will be maintained from 32nd Ave SW.
Temporary closure of SW Yancy St and 30th Ave SW at SW Avalon Way for the last three weeks of construction. Local access will be maintained from SW Genesee St. The duration of this closure is also weather dependent.
King County Metro routes will not be impacted.
Pedestrian detours around work zones. People following the sidewalk detours will not need to cross SW Avalon Way.
Temporary closure of bike lanes on SW Avalon Way. People riding bikes will be directed to merge with vehicle traffic.
Weekday work hours, 7 AM to 5 PM.
(TOPLINE: ST3 draft would run light rail to The Junction, with Delridge & Avalon stops, in 2033 – here’s the map)
1:40 PM: We’re at the Sound Transit board room at Union Station downtown, where the draft plan for this fall’s ST3 ballot measure will be made public during the board meeting that’s about to begin (agenda here). We’ll be updating with West Seattle-specific details. You can watch the meeting live here; you can also watch our Twitter feed, here or via the box on the right sidebar of all WSB pages.
1:52 PM: Still awaiting the draft plan. After some discussion of Sound Transit’s big events last weekend, the board is now hearing about this letter from its Expert Review Panel that looks at “cost per rider.” John Howell from the panel also says their look at the development of cost estimates for potential projects concluded that “sound” methodology was used. He also mentions the importance of “transparency” regarding how taxpayers are advised of what the forthcoming ST3 package will cost PLUS what they’re paying for previous ST packages/projects.
2:18 PM: The board just heard a report about last weekend’s U-Link launch; next, an update on its East Link launch. Then, they’ll get to ST3.
2:37 PM: And now, the agenda reaches ST3. “The journey has been all-consuming,” says Constantine, adding that he thinks it “delivers on the promise of a truly regional mass-transit system for generations to come. It is an ambitious plan for an ambitious region.” He says the decades-long debate over mass transit in this region is “OVER. .. In this proposal, we go big, and not because everyone at this dais relishes the opportunity to vote for taxes … We go big, because the need is big.” People need to get out of traffic. It’s a 25-year program “that completes the regional spine to Tacoma, to Everett, to Redmond, and connects Ballard and West Seattle. .. This program will catalyze dynamic communities around stations.”
Now, the proposal:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
For West Seattle, it’s the line to The Junction, with stops listed in Delridge, Avalon, and Alaska Junction. The plan also proposes studying extending light rail from West Seattle to Burien at some later time.
As for the proposal on how it would be paid for:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
MVET is “motor vehicle excise tax.” (added, from a handout) More translation of what’s above:
Sales tax of 0.5 percent ($.50 on a $100 purchase) in addition to the 0.9 percent currently collected.
Motor vehicle excise tax (MVET) of 0.8 percent of vehicle value ($80 annually on a $10,000 vehicle) in addition to the 0.3 percent MVET Sound Transit is collecting through 2028.
Property tax of 25 cents for each $1,000 of assessed valuation ($75 annually for a $300,000 house). A property tax was identified as a new way to establish a more progressive revenue source for regional transit investments that reduces reliance on the sales tax
One detail we just went back to notice – the West Seattle light-rail line would open, under this proposal, in 2033. That’s five years before Ballard would get its line, accompanying a new downtown rail tunnel, in 2038.
3:13 PM: The briefing continues. Here’s the total cost, as requested by a commenter:
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) March 24, 2016
This is where the briefing is going now, too. Meantime, something else of note for West Seattle, while we await 2033 (assuming this goes forward as proposed and gets voter approval in the fall) – “King County Metro Rapid Ride C and D Capital Improvements” are also a project, described as “transit priority improvements along King County Metro’s Rapid Ride C and D lines that provide BRT service to Ballard and West Seattle as an early deliverable to provide improved speed and reliability in advance of light rail starting operations to these areas.”
Another part of the handout also has further elaboration on how light rail would get to and from WS: “a light rail connection from Downtown Seattle to the vicinity of West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood, including an alignment primarily on an elevated guideway, and a new rail-only fixed span crossing of the Duwamish River. This project would include five new stations including a transfer connection at SODO.” Pending the materials’ availability online, here’s a shot of a page with a closer look:
Next: Board members’ comments about the draft plan, and their decision about whether to send it out for public comment.
3:43 PM: Mayor Murray (an ST board member) notes that we’re finally doing something about West Seattle and Ballard, though “the timelines give me pause.” As does the cost, he says: “We need to be sure the public understands what they are buying.” Without doing this, though, he says the region has only said half a “yes” to transit, to make up for the “no” recognized as such a mistake back in 1970.
Also commenting, board member, and West Seattleite, King County Council Chair Joe McDermott, saying he’s “bullish on Sound Transit.”
Meanwhile, the materials shown here are showing up online:
*Here’s the system map (PDF)
*Here’s the list with a little more elaboration (PDF)
*Slide deck from today’s meeting (PDF)
*Proposed financing, including FAQ
4:47 PM: The post-meeting media Q/A with board members has wrapped up. We asked for more elaboration on the potential Rapid Ride improvements that are mentioned. The topic was tackled by City Councilmember Johnson, who said it would be tweaks like making it possible for buses to queue-jump. But if you have specific suggestions, be sure to put them forward in the comment process that’s now beginning. Also, it was suggested that the timelines for some of these projects MIGHT move up. Video:
We also should mention that discussion of this is on the agenda for tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting – all welcome – 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Know who your Community Police Team officer is?
Officers on the CPT handle issues that generally aren’t 911 emergency responses – but due to their persistence, may affect a neighborhood far more than a crime here and a crime there.. The CPT officer whose turf includes the Admiral District talked about several ongoing issues at the Admiral Neighborhood Association‘s March meeting.
Officer Jon Flores first talked about the Mobile Precinct van that the Southwest Precinct has been deploying (we showed it to you when it arrived) – it’s “popping up” all around West Seattle and South Park, and precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis wants it to be for the entire area. “It has a deterring effect – when our kids see it, they don’t necessarily want to hang out around it,” so it’s spent some time by the Admiral Safeway, which has had some “issues.” And of course the Mobile Precinct will spend time on Alki as the weather warms – “it’s a way for us to have a presence without having three or four different patrol vehicles deployed in an area.” CPT Officer Clayton Powell is the “designated mobile-precinct officer” and you’re invited to introduce yourself if you see the van around.
CPT officers also have been working to have “more meaningful interactions with schools around the West Seattle area,” though CPT is not school-resource officers, Flores cautioned. “We want to get into all the schools – we’re not going to be there daily or even once a week but we’re making a more concerted effort to get out and meet the principals, the students, get into the classrooms,” as they recently did at Concord International in South Park, “to build positive relationships with our youth.”
The CPTs also work on issues with transients and homeless people. In Admiral, Flores said, the vacant ex-Life Care Center property at 47th/Admiral/Waite has had squatter trouble, so its owner Aegis Living has now signed up for the vacant-building trespass warning program – a new program like the trespass program that exists for businesses, “giving us the ability to deal with the many vacant properties we have around West Seattle and the city,” said Flores.