Seattle-only Metro-money ballot measure now on the road to the ballot; public hearing next week

June 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 4 Comments

Five weeks ago, you might recall, Mayor Murray proposed a Seattle-only ballot measure to hold off Metro cuts within city limits. He said it would include the same two funding sources that comprised the rejected countywide ballot measure in April, a one-tenth-of-a-percent sales-tax increase and a $60 vehicle-tab fee. The latter represents a $40 increase because the “congestion-reduction charge” is expiring this month. Today, the mayor’s proposal took a step toward the November ballot, in the form of a resolution proposed by City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen in the role of Transportation Benefit District Board chair. Read the resolution here. The deadline for it to be placed on the November ballot is August 5th; here’s the schedule of hearings and discussions:

Tuesday, June 24, 10:30am (following City Transportation Committee meeting) – BRIEFING AND DISCUSSION

Thursday, June 26, 5:30pm – PUBLIC HEARING

Thursday, July 10, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION

Thursday, July 17, 2:00pm – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

Thursday, July 31, 2:00pm (if necessary) – DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE VOTE

All of the above will be held at City Hall downtown, 600 Fourth Ave.

Followup: Why the ‘low bridge’ was out of service for 2 1/2 hours

June 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Following up on last night’s 2 1/2-hour shutdown of the Spokane Street Swing Bridge, aka “the low bridge,” we asked SDOT today to explain what happened. From communications director Rick Sheridan:

At the end of an otherwise normal opening, the bridge’s computer control system detected a fault in the docking process and stopped the closure. In the last 15 inches of docking we use a linear position transducer called a “temposonic,” which is very accurate and can measure movement to a fraction of an inch.

During the bridge closure yesterday afternoon, the temposonic reported that the moveable span’s position was incorrect. As the computer control system did not know if there was a malfunction or if the span was about to collide with the concrete pier, it stopped the span’s movement.

We deployed a Roadway Structures electrician who determined that the bridge’s span was properly aligned for docking and, after troubleshooting, concluded that the fault was with the temposonic. He reset the device, tested it and then restored the bridge to normal operations. We will monitor that device closely over the next several days to confirm that it is operating normally.

How Highway 99 tunnel machine will be dug up, broken down, put back underground

June 16, 2014 at 1:57 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 36 Comments

Just last week at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting (WSB coverage here), top WSDOT executives answered a few questions about the stalled tunnel machine and its pending repairs. Today, the contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, is out with its official repair plan, and animation (above) showing what’ll happen during its phases. According to the timeline toward the end of the plan, they’re still expecting to resume tunneling in late March of next year.

Hoping for West Seattle light rail? Another Sound Transit survey

June 13, 2014 at 6:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 7 Comments

Last fall, we shared the link for you to take a survey about Sound Transit‘s Long Range Plan Update – light rail to West Seattle, maybe? Word is, there was lots of West Seattle response, and last month ST offered an update about some possibilities (as reported here). However – the plan update is still a work in progress, and as part of the process, now the agency is out with the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Here’s where you come in this time around: The comment process for the DSEIS includes a NEW online survey that you can take – go here – and/or, follow the plan link above to see other ways to comment. (Thanks to Eric for the tip!)

Viaduct closures, tunnel travails, and more: State transportation boss Lynn Peterson @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

June 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 14 Comments

(WSB video of the entire WSTC appearance by WSDOT’s Secretary Lynn Peterson and Todd Trepanier)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition usually has something topical to discuss at its monthly meetings, with no shortage of transportation-related challenges lately.

For example, last night, the southbound Alaskan Way Viaduct had been closed for five hours because of a crash investigation when the WSTC meeting began. Coincidentally, the long-scheduled guest was the woman in charge of the Viaduct and other state highways – Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson.

In her second year on the job, she offered lots of background information and big-picture observations, but the discussion invariably turned its most intense focus on the Viaduct Replacement Project and the present/future of the stalled tunneling work. In Q&A, she also addressed other topics such as whether any Fauntleroy-bound ferries would be diverted downtown, since much of the vehicle traffic heads that way anyway.

Click to read the rest of Viaduct closures, tunnel travails, and more: State transportation boss Lynn Peterson @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition…

TRAFFIC/TRANSIT TODAY: Tuesday on the move

June 10, 2014 at 7:27 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments

(FOR COVERAGE OF THE P.M. SOUTHBOUND HIGHWAY 99 CLOSURE, PLEASE GO HERE)

(WS Bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
So far this morning, the trouble appears to be outside the city – nothing in the way of your in-city commute.

In transportation news, Mike Lindblom at The Seattle Times (WSB partner) follows up on the County Council’s showdown over putting later rounds of Metro cuts on hold. The 5-4 vote delaying or potentially canceling the second through fourth rounds of cuts drew County Executive Dow Constantine‘s first-ever veto almost immediately. Here’s the story. (The deepest West Seattle cuts, deleting four routes, are in the fourth round, originally scheduled for September 2015.)

West Seattle weekend scene: ‘Widening’ the bike trail

June 8, 2014 at 9:55 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 19 Comments

The photo’s from Don Brubeck, president of West Seattle Bike Connections, which mustered more than half a dozen volunteers this weekend to “widen” the bike trail this along Spokane St. east of Avalon/Harbor by cutting back blackberry tangles and other weeds. If you commute by bike, you’ll see their work tomorrow.

South Park Bridge to open on June 30th, 4-year anniversary of old bridge’s closure; big party on June 29th

June 4, 2014 at 11:40 am | In South Park, Transportation, West Seattle news | 11 Comments

(Photo by Long B. Nguyen)
Four days ago, showing that aerial of the almost-complete South Park Bridge, we mentioned it’s close to opening. And now, the date’s just been announced – June 30th, the four-year anniversary of the old bridge’s closure:

King County Executive Dow Constantine today announced that the newly constructed South Park Bridge will open June 30. The previous drawbridge, built in 1931, was closed and dismantled in mid-2010 due to safety concerns.

“I made a promise five years ago that we would build a new, safer bridge to connect our industrial heartland to the rest of King County — and we’re ready to deliver,” said Executive Constantine. “Not only will this help local manufacturers and family-owned businesses, it will reunite working communities in the Lower Duwamish area.”

The new bridge is expected to carry 20,000 vehicles and nearly 3,000 heavy-duty trucks each day. It will also carry an estimated 10 million tons of freight each year, including aerospace parts to local Boeing facilities.

ADDED 11:52 AM: The county has a gallery of images of the new bridge accompanying this announcement on its website, including this one:

(Photo by Ned Ahrens, King County DOT)
See the rest here.

3:20 PM UPDATE: While June 30th will be the official opening to traffic, information that’s come out in the past few hours clarifies that the big party will be on Sunday, June 29th, so mark your calendar for that.

West Seattle scene: No, those Alki road signs weren’t hacked

June 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Know where the corner of Alki and Jersey is? Alki and Arkansas? They’re not on the map, but they seem to be on the books at SDOT. We recorded the sign after Peter sent a photo, writing:

A new sign went up at 57th and Alki last night. It says “Road work ahead Alki Ave SW from Jersey to Arkansas 6-3-14 to 6-4 -14 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Slow and caution.” I can’t figure out what they mean by Jersey and Arkansas. Lived here 20 years and I’ve never seen those street signs.

Our video is from the eastbound side; the westbound sign at Duwamish Head says the same thing. Before assuming it was a hack (stranger things have happened), we looked online; while SW Jersey and SW Arkansas don’t seem to exist in Google Maps or in Bing Maps, we did find them in SDOT’s database, accessible via data.seattle.gov – along with at least one other name that appears to exist on paper only (SW Hampshire). We also found Seattle Municipal Archives photos of a problem with the “Arkansas Street Sewer” in 1962, and going even further back, “Jersey Street Sewer” photos from 1922 – including this one that also mentions an address in the 1300 block of Alki.

As for the practical question – so where IS this impending road work? – “no parking” signs for those dates can be found in the 1200 block of Alki SW, though the explanatory one-sheet we found taped to one sign mentions the 1500 block. Regarding what the crews will be doing, we hope to find out from SDOT tomorrow, since it’s not on the weekly Construction Lookahead.

11:04 PM: Greg points out in a comment that a century-old atlas does show these streets (and others either never built, or built over – including Rhode Island and Mexico).

Highway 99: Weekend-long southbound shutdown in June; nighttime closures this summer

May 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 3 Comments

The state has just laid out its plan for major summertime road work, and that includes Highway 99 just north of West Seattle. First, a busy weekend of regional work will include a shutdown of southbound 99 between Denny Way and the WS Bridge, 10 pm Friday, June 6, until (no later than) 5 am Monday, June 9. This, WSDOT says, is “to shift southbound traffic onto a new route through the State Route 99 tunnel project site.” That same weekend, two lanes of northbound I-5 will be closed just north of the WS Bridge for more expansion-joint work, and the 520 Bridge across Lake Washington will be closed, so that first weekend of June might be a great time to just not try to leave the peninsula.

WSDOT also has announced Highway 99 work that will include nighttime closures in the late summer:

This project will replace 81 concrete panels on the aged stretch of Highway 99 in the area shown above, between the West Seattle Bridge and the remaining elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct. From the project webpage:

In summer 2014, contractor crews will repair 81 concrete panels in both directions of State Route 99, between South Spokane and South Holgate streets in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood. Crews also will grind down 198,000 square feet, approximately three and a half football fields, of wheel ruts. This project is similar to concrete grinding and replacement work we have done on I-5 in Kent, Seattle near the Ship Canal Bridge, and I-405 near Bellevue.

What can drivers expect?

• Weekend and weeknight lane closures in both directions of SR 99 between South Spokane and South Holgate streets

Right now, that work is not expected to start until August. Watch our weekday traffic coverage for reminders about upcoming projects as well as day-to-day updates.

This explains the new signs: Roxbury speed-camera installation starts tomorrow

May 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 41 Comments

We took that photo this morning after WSB’er Kevin McClintic pointed out new “photo-enforced” signage on Roxbury, though SDOT had been saying the new school-zone speed cams by Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School were not going in until fall. Turns out, they’re going in now – but won’t be activated until September, with warnings being issued for a month before ticketing begins in October. Here’s the announcement just in from SDOT:

To improve pedestrian safety, contractors working for the City of Seattle will be installing photo enforcement cameras at five locations during May and June. They will be located near the following schools: Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School in West Seattle, Dearborn Park Elementary in Southeast Seattle, Bailey Gatzert Elementary in Central Seattle, and Eckstein Middle School in Northeast Seattle.

The cameras will issue citations to drivers that exceed the school zone speed limit of 20 mph. The school zone speed limit is in effect for typically one hour in the morning as students arrive at school, and one hour in the afternoon when the school day ends. Flashing beacons have been installed to emphasize the times when the school zone speed limit is in effect. The cameras will issue warnings for 30 days beginning September 2 and will start issuing citations in early October.

According to SDOT’s construction flyer (see it here), work on the Roxhill and Holy Family cameras starts tomorrow. Revenue from the cameras goes to safety improvements in school areas, by city law.

P.S. The city first announced almost a year ago that these two cameras were on the way. The Gatewood Elementary zone on Fauntleroy Way already has speed enforcement, in place for a year and a half.

Road-work irony: Traction work on hold because … crew couldn’t get traction

May 22, 2014 at 11:58 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 17 Comments

(WSB photo: Genesee closed on Tuesday, before crew discovered things weren’t working out)
The latest on the road-work saga we’ve been following over the past few days, with the help of neighbors in the work zones: SDOT confirms the work to improve traction on the steep hills of SW Genesee (east of Avalon) and SW Charlestown (west of 46th) is indeed on indefinite hold – because the crews, well, couldn’t get traction. SDOT spokesperson Marybeth Turner elaborates:

The asphalt grinding work to improve traction is on hold until further notice.

The contractor was able to grind the level portion of Southwest Charlestown Street (45-46th), but encountered difficulty with the equipment as the contractor’s crews moved onto the hill (46-47th). The contractor explains that this type of grinding generally takes place on wide, level highways and the equipment was not built with steep grades in mind. The newer, higher power model machine they tried was unable to climb the hill and grind at the same time, even with support from an auxiliary vehicle. The contractor is looking at alternate machinery and methods to see if there is a way to improve traction on the remaining locations on Southwest Charlestown Street, Southwest Genesee Street, and West Dravus Street.

The problem was not encountered in the first work zone, on Olson at the east end of Roxbury, when crews were there last weekend – as you probably know, it’s not nearly as steep.

West Seattle ‘low bridge’ included in proposed heavy-haul road network

May 21, 2014 at 1:16 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 7 Comments

(Click image to see the full-size map on the city website)
An emerging city transportation project potentially involves both the West Seattle “low bridge” (officially the SW Spokane Street Swing Bridge) and lower Spokane Street from East Marginal Way eastward. The proposal to create a “heavy-haul corridor” turned up toward the end of this news release sent by Mayor Ed Murray‘s office late Tuesday afternoon about a “Maritime/Manufacturing Summit” held Monday. The news release included a link to the map you see above and noted, “In cooperation with the Port of Seattle, roads along this corridor will be rebuilt to new heavy haul standards” to “enable permitted vehicles carrying overweight loads to travel on designated routes.”

While described in the mayor’s news release as having been announced at the summit, the heavy-haul-network concept has been under discussion for a while; we’ve found earlier mentions including a letter of support this past March from the city Freight Advisory Board, pointing out that the “heavy haul” vehicles’ per-axle maximum weights would be below vehicles already using city roads, including trash trucks and Metro buses.

For followup questions, the mayor’s office pointed us to SDOT communications director Rick Sheridan. He says that “rebuil(ding)” the corridor means that “SDOT will assess whether some roads in the heavy-haul network would benefit from an additional layer of paving to account for more frequent use by heavy vehicles and the appropriate time to accomplish that work.” As for where the proposal goes next: “The mayor will submit legislation to the city council this summer to establish a heavy-haul permitting system, to include a fee structure and any necessary terms and conditions of the permit.”

School Road Safety Plan: 1st West Seattle discussion

May 21, 2014 at 1:43 am | In Safety, Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

Tuesday night at Southwest Branch Library, a handful of community members met with SDOT reps and consultants to brainstorm the city’s in-the-works School Road Safety Plan for next year and beyond. Whatever emerges in the future plan will get funding from the city’s increasing arsenal of school-zone speed cameras, noted SDOT’s Jim Curtin, who recapped the pre-existing plan to add two more in West Seattle this fall, both on Roxbury, near Roxhill Elementary and Holy Family School. The plan remains to have them in place by September, with a monthlong grace period and ticketing starting in October. Those are two of five to be added at schools around the city this year, joining 4 in place, 1 of those in West Seattle, on Fauntleroy by Gatewood Elementary (existing cameras are in black on the SDOT map below, with the next round of additions in blue):

More than a dozen additional ones are expected around the city next year, Curtin said, with 60 schools being studied right now. The camera revenue has to go to school-safety improvements by order of the City Council.

The consultants at the meeting were from Toole Design Group, which is working with SDOT on the plan. They explained that this is in the opinion-gathering stage, and collected reaction to some possible plan components including traffic calming and different types of crosswalk signals. They promised more meetings in West Seattle; tonight’s attendees suggested one of those meetings be held on a weekend so that people with school-age children might be more likely to attend.

Followup: Charlestown hill traction work moves up; Genesee still set for tomorrow

May 19, 2014 at 12:44 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle traffic alerts | 1 Comment

When the city announced a week ago that three stretches of West Seattle roadway would get traction-improvement work this month (along with other areas of the city), there was a warning that the dates were “subject to change.” Indeed, one date did change – thanks to Paula and Marc for the heads-up; in case you missed the mention in today’s traffic/transit watch, here’s your standalone advisory that the SW Charlestown traction-improvement work west of California SW, originally planned for this Thursday/Friday, is under way NOW. Side streets are all marked a block to the north and south with signage warning that access is for residents only. It’s expected to take two days.

The first West Seattle project on the list, Olson Place, happened as announced, over the weekend; we asked SDOT if the Charlestown acceleration would affect the remaining West Seattle project, SW Genesee east of Avalon Way, but spokesperson Marybeth Turner says Genesee is still scheduled to start tomorrow.

Bike To Work Day 2014: West Seattle, White Center scenes

May 16, 2014 at 9:58 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

The morning commute for today’s edition of the annual Bike To Work Day brought extra support and encouragement for local riders – above, the West Seattle Bike Connections-hosted “commute station” just west of the “low bridge.” That’s where we found Stu Hennessey:

As well as being proprietor of Alki Bike and Board, Stu also leads DIY Bikes, helping riders learn more about taking care of their bicycles. They’ll be at this Sunday’s Seattle Summer Streets event on Alki, too.

ADDED LATE FRIDAY NIGHT: Thanks to Don Brubeck from WSBC for added photos and info:

We counted 668 people on bikes at the West Seattle Bridge Bike to Work Day Commute Station hosted by West Seattle Bike Connections with Alki Bike & Board and DIY Bikes. Thanks to the Alki Starbucks for donating coffee, Nuun for drink mix, and lots of volunteer cookie bakers.

Don shared the next photo of WSBC member Jay Guettler photographing “a group of buddies on their way to work in Kent”:

And here’s West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen stopping while en route to Bike To Work Day events on the other side of the bay; behind the table, WSBC members Jason and Theresa Beaulieu and Kathy Dunn:

(back to original report) For those riding to/from points south, White Center included two commute stations – one alongside Greenbridge Plaza, next to Dubsea Coffee:

And the downtown WC business district racked up bicyclist visits too:

Local favorites including Proletariat Pizza, Caffé Delia, and Zippy’s Giant Burgers offered treats there as incentives for two-wheeling today.

Followup: What $ would YOU use to avoid Metro cuts? West Seattle Transportation Coalition launches its poll

May 15, 2014 at 10:44 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 61 Comments

The poll mentioned in our coverage of Tuesday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting has just launched: WSTC is looking for your opinion on funding sources you think the city should consider before a final decision on how to avoid Metro cuts. The poll will be open until Tuesday morning; find it here. Ahead, the WSTC’s announcement and explanation:

Click to read the rest of Followup: What $ would YOU use to avoid Metro cuts? West Seattle Transportation Coalition launches its poll…

Mayor’s rep, board confirmation @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

May 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 3 Comments

(First 56 minutes of WSTC Q/A with Andrew Glass Hastings)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Just 12 hours before the non-major crash that led to two hours of major backups on the West Seattle Bridge, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition had asked Mayor Ed Murray‘s transportation adviser about how to deal with that kind of recurring problem.

As you can see 19 minutes into our video clip (which has the first 56 minutes of his Q/A with the WSTC, before camera trouble ended the clip), he talked about information access as part of the solution – finding more ways for more people to know about the problem before they find themselves stuck because of it.

But he made it crystal clear that he wasn’t at the WSTC meeting to defend the city or answer for problems, saying he was there in hopes of a “dialogue.”

The meeting also included confirmation of the WSTC’s permanent board and a few other updates – read on:

Click to read the rest of Mayor’s rep, board confirmation @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition…

Highway 99 tunnel trouble: ‘See’ Bertha and the repair timeline

May 14, 2014 at 9:00 am | In Alaskan Way Viaduct, Transportation, West Seattle news | 43 Comments

9 AM: For all the talk about the stuck Highway 99 tunnel machine, we’ve had a tough time visualizing exactly where it is. A new set of a dozen renderings made public by the state has fixed that. It’s part of a new online update from WSDOT; at the lower right of the rendering shown above, that’s Pier 50, where the West Seattle and Vashon Water Taxis dock downtown. Work has begun underground on the 120-foot-deep “access pit,” according to the WSDOT update – scroll through the renderings to see how that is supposed to unfold. The WSDOT update also points to an added webcam showing the work zone on the surface (top right of this page). Bottom line, though, no change in the timeline, which still projects that tunneling will resume in/by “late March 2015.”

12:23 PM: We followed up with WSDOT regarding some questions that came up in comments. Spokesperson Laura Newborn says the utility-relocation cost is part of the repair work and: “The cost associated with the entire fix, is, in WSDOT’s opinion, STP’s responsibility. Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities have done a remarkable job in helping us relocate these utilities, which should be wrapped up by next week.”

Mayor’s plan to avoid Metro cuts in Seattle: Vote on car-tab fee and sales tax

May 13, 2014 at 9:59 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 92 Comments

9:59 AM: “This is a crisis and we’re responding to the crisis,” is how Mayor Ed Murray described the proposal he’s just made public about how to raise money in Seattle to keep Metro Transit from cutting Seattle service:

$60 car-tab fee plus 0.01% sales tax increase is the same mix that comprised Proposition 1, which, while rejected countywide, was approved by a strong majority of Seattle voters, as was mentioned repeatedly during the briefing just concluded. Here is a one-pager from the mayor’s office, breaking down the new proposal:

During the briefing at City Hall, the mayor was flanked by West Seattleites – County Executive Dow Constantine (whose Monday announcement paved the way for this) and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen – and surrounded by more than a dozen other local political, community, and business leaders. Rasmussen explained that this will be considered as a “transportation benefit district,” as was Prop 1. It’s expected to be on the November ballot.

Murray described the tax proposal as a temporary solution. How temporary? he was asked: “They will last as long as there is no other source.”

How will it be ensured that Seattle dollars stay in Seattle? The mayor said, “There will be a ‘no supplant’ clause,” which will require that the county does not route the money elsewhere. Constantine followed up by declaring: “The answer is because, that’s the deal.” Added detail from the one-pager above:

Under this plan, King County Metro would collaborate with the City of Seattle to finalize use of funds and recognize the City’s authority to allocate funds, while the City recognizes the need to honor Metro’s Service Guidelines with flexibility to address specific demands.

And potentially of high interest here in West Seattle, where development projects are being approved without parking because of their proximity to transit that might or might not be available into the future, the mayor said he would create a new area of SDOT focused on transit as it relates to increasing density in the city.

As noted previously, if you have questions about this or other Seattle transportation/transit issues, you have a great chance to get answers by being at tonight’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).

ADDED 10:54 AM: The official news release is here. It does not include details of the SDOT/transit/development point that the mayor mentioned, so we are following up with his staff to get details on that.

Money for Metro: King County Executive Dow Constantine says he’s creating ‘clear path’ for cities to buy more transit-service hours

May 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 33 Comments

King County Executive Dow Constantine has just outlined a three-part plan regarding Metro‘s future, ranging from a way for cities to avoid service cuts within their borders, to a way to counter the claims that Metro doesn’t spend its money wisely, to a way to figure out how to improve customer satisfaction.

First, Constantine said he remains “fully committed to a regional transportation solution.” And he says a statewide package remains “desperately needed … but doing nothing while we wait on Olympia” is not an option. So, he says he’s “creating an enhanced Metro program for cities … to have a clear path for” buying additional hours of Metro service. He says this is intended as “a bridge” until a permanent funding solution is found: “Until the Legislature acts, I cannot ask cities to accept cuts that they are willing locally to prevent.” He says this won’t prevent the first round of Metro cuts this fall but if cities choose, might be able to hold off subsequent rounds. (The four West Seattle bus routes slated for “deletion” aren’t scheduled to go away, for example, until September of 2015.)

He says he’s also calling for “new transparency” in how Metro spends and is run, to “clear the air” and “get the right information” to people to refute a perception that Metro doesn’t spend its money well. He says Metro’s costs are 99 cents per mile, while the industry standard is 98 cents per mile, and “growth in Metro costs is now well below the national coverage, 19th out of our 30 peers.” Constantine says he’s calling for a financial audit of Metro’s reserves and capital-spending plans. He says Metro spends cash on buses rather than go into debt.

And he says he’s forming a new customer-service panel to find out “how to make the experience of riding Metro, even better.”

The first part of his announcement would seem to pave the way for Mayor Ed Murray‘s expected announcement tomorrow of a Seattle-only tax-increase proposal. Voters in the city approved Proposition 1, though it was defeated countywide because of a strong “no” vote outside the city; that was pointed out by City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who was among those joining Constantine at the news conference that has just ended.

4:13 PM: Here’s the full county news release. And Mayor Murray’s office has just sent word that his announcement is set for 9 am tomorrow.

5:18 PM: And carrying over the footnote from our earlier item previewing this story – you’ll be able to follow up on the county news today and the city news tomorrow morning, by hanging out with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition tomorrow night.

Avoiding Metro Transit cuts: New plans expected today, tomorrow

May 12, 2014 at 10:04 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 12 Comments

Can major cuts in Metro Transit be avoided, in the aftermath of Proposition 1′s defeat? As reported last week, Mayor Murray has said he’s working on a plan, which at last report is expected to be announced tomorrow (and as a result, the I-118 signature-gathering campaign is on hold). Now, we’ve just received a media advisory saying that County Executive Dow Constantine “will hold a news conference today to announce a program for funding of Metro Transit service.” He’s making that announcement downtown at 3:30 pm. No hints yet about what that’ll entail.

P.S. However it all shakes out, it’ll certainly be a hot topic at tomorrow night’s monthly meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition, with the mayor’s transportation point person Andrew Glass Hastings already a scheduled guest. That’ll be at 6:30 pm Tuesday, Neighborhood House’s High Point Center.

Light rail for West Seattle? See the progress report given to Sound Transit’s executive committee

May 8, 2014 at 2:49 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 44 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Will West Seattle really get light rail someday?

We have new information today about a study taking a serious look at how it might happen – a precursor to determining if the money, and the will, exist.

It’s in the slide deck above, part of a progress report on Sound Transit’s West Seattle and vicinity light-rail (and more) study, presented to the ST Executive Committee, chaired by King County Executive Dow Constantine. The presentation was given a week ago, but we only heard about it last night, courtesy of Charles B, via Twitter.

To follow up we obtained the slide deck today from Sound Transit, which has the entire meeting on video (not embeddable but you can watch it here – this discussion starts just before the 51-minute mark).

Before taking a look at the toplines – which include four possible light-rail routes and two possible bus routes – consider some context from Sound Transit spokesperson Geoff Patrick, who explains that they represent “high-level, conceptual information on the potential alignments, cost ranges, travel times and ridership levels of future high-capacity transit extensions, including light rail as well as bus rapid transit services.”

The discussion in the video elaborates on what you can see in the slides – among the most interesting points, ST has been studying the possibility of light rail generally assuming a new bridge across the Duwamish River would have to be built for it, instead of assuming it could study one or both of the current West Seattle Bridges for repurposing – not that the latter has been ruled out.

West Seattle is part of what Patrick explains is the “corridor between downtown Seattle, West Seattle, Burien, Tukwila and Renton (called the South King County HCT Corridor Study),” with funding for the study provided by the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure, adopted in 2008, provided funds to complete. It’s under way now, he says, “as Sound Transit moves forward with a process to update its Long-Range Plan, which will update the projects that may be included in future ballot measures.”

For further context, Patrick explains:

When the Long-Range Plan was last updated in 2005, the Seattle Monorail Project was assumed to provide future service to West Seattle. With the cancellation of that project, the Board is expected to consider adding a high capacity connection between downtown Seattle and the West Seattle Peninsula to the plan. In June Sound Transit will publish a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Long-Range Plan Update, and kick off a public comment process.

That update will be done later this year, and could pave the way for a November 2016 ballot measure if the Sound Transit board decides to pursue one, though it would not be obligated to include anything on this particular route or any other; Patrick says that part of the discussion would likely begin in 2015 – and that there’s a catch: “Sound Transit would need to secure additional authority from the Washington State Legislature for funding sources that could be part of a ballot measure before moving forward with any major package.”

One last word from Patrick at ST: “It is very important to note that the Sound Transit Board would not select a detailed project or alignment until after a public vote providing the engineering and construction funds, as well as completing a detailed environmental process that would involve the public in examining the benefits and impacts of different options.”

This, by the way, is the study that was mentioned last June by former Mayor Mike McGinn when he came to West Seattle for a media briefing on the area’s potential transit future. In all, ST has been studying nine corridors, shown on a map included in our story last June. This is also related to the survey linked here last November, which is reported to have received a strong response from West Seattle.

NEXT STEP: As ST’s Patrick mentioned, a public-comment process for the long-range-plan update is expected to start next month; we’ll publish updates when that happens.

Video: Bike To School Day gets Alki, Schmitz Park Elementary students on two wheels

May 7, 2014 at 10:25 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

(Video and photos by WSB’s Patrick Sand)
Group photos in bright West Seattle sunshine this morning for at least two groups of local Bike to School Day participants. Above, our video from 59th/Alki, where two “bike trains” met up before the final few blocks to Alki Elementary. One was led by (below right) Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda:

No casual biker, he:

Both Alki bike trains joined into one for the group photo (with, as you’ll hear in our quick video clip above, a shout of BIKE TO SCHOOL! before heading across Alki Avenue and up 59th to school:

Alki teacher Terry Kegel, who organized the day’s events, planned special student awards including Most Visible and Safest Biker.

About half an hour after the Alki “bike train,” Schmitz Park Elementary students who rode to school in four groups gathered at the flagpole for a group photo:

Their bicycles, temporarily parked nearby:

May is Bike Month in our area for all ages – and the next major event is Bike To Work Day on May 16th, one week from Friday, with “commute stations” that morning as always, including one in West Seattle and two in White Center.

2 ‘bike trains’ for Alki Elementary on Bike To School Day

May 4, 2014 at 10:04 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

One of the first big events of Bike Month is Bike To School Day, coming up this Wednesday (May 7th). Alki Elementary teacher Terry Kegel shares the news that his school is planning two “Bike Trains” – with Seattle Public Schools superintendent José Banda and Alki principal Shannon Stanton planning to join one of them. The maps are on this flyer; Kegel says the two “trains” will converge at 59th/Alki just before heading east to the school. The school is getting ready on Tuesday with after-school bike tune-ups. Is YOUR school planning anything special for Bike To School Day? Please let us know! (P.S. Bike To Work Day is May 16th this year.)

Followup: Locations, dates announced for Metro-cuts meetings

April 28, 2014 at 11:23 am | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | Comments Off

Post-election last week, you’ll recall, King County leaders announced the official plan for Metro bus cuts to cover the money gap that the voted-down ballot measure Proposition 1 was intended to cover. At the time, they promised nighttime meetings to answer questions about the proposed cuts. Locations and dates have just been announced for three meetings – one in Seattle, one in Bellevue, one in Renton. According to the county announcement, “Each evening meeting will include an open house staffed by Metro to provide specific details about the changes and answer questions.” Here’s the schedule:

· Tuesday, May 13, Union Station, Ruth Fisher Boardroom, 401 South Jackson Street, Seattle
· Thursday, May 15, Bellevue City Hall, City Council Chambers , 450 110th Avenue NE, Bellevue
· Tuesday, May 20, Renton Pavilion Event Center, 233 Burnett Avenue South, Renton

5:30 p.m. sign in/open house; 6:00 p.m. public testimony

The county is not planning live streams from the meetings, but says video will be available online and via cable the day after each one. The cut plan is expected to be voted on by the County Council next month, and cuts/changes would be rolled out starting next September and continuing in phases through September 2015.

ADDED 12:56 PM: We doublechecked with Councilmember Joe McDermott‘s office to see if there would be any other hearings in Seattle. Response: “There will also a public hearing when the measure goes to the Full Council. Most likely, this will be on June 2nd at the regularly scheduled council meeting from 1:30-4pm. This meeting will be at the King County Courthouse.”

Washington State Ferries fares rise this Thursday

April 27, 2014 at 10:37 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 4 Comments

Reminder for Washington State Ferries users – a fare increase kicks in on Thursday (May 1st), same day the peak-season vehicle surcharge takes effect. You can check fares for any date using this lookup tool on the WSF website – for example, if you’re riding between Fauntleroy and Vashon as a walk-on tomorrow, it’s $5.10, and then $5.20 starting Thursday; a standard vehicle and driver on the same trip will pay $17.25 tomorrow, $22.05 Thursday.

« Previous PageNext Page »

All contents copyright 2014, A Drink of Water and a Story Interactive. Here's how to contact us.
Header image by Nick Adams. ABSOLUTELY NO WSB PHOTO REUSE WITHOUT SITE OWNERS' PERMISSION.
Entries and comments feeds. ^Top^