West Seattle, Washington
That long-running sight at California and Orchard in Gatewood – water (or ice, on the December day we photographed it) on the road, coming from the southeast corner – may finally be a thing of the past. It’s been a problem for some time – you can even see it in Google Street View from last fall. Some neighbors contended that it had to be a pipe break of some time, but Seattle Public Utilities investigated and was adamant that its tests showed it was groundwater. That assessment even wound up marked on the sidewalk at the corner:
SPU says it’s a “seep” like so many others around the city, from a water source in the ground – springs, for example. You’ve probably seen them in other spots around West Seattle; one that comes to mind is along California Way between Harbor SW and Hamilton Viewpoint. SPU told us they’ve identified more than 150 “surfacing groundwater” spots around the city, and shared this map:
SDOT and SPU have been collaborating to investigate trouble spots like these, though even once they’ve been identified, finding a way to fix it – and/or the money to do so – can be a challenge.
In the California/Orchard case, neighbors had been working with City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, insisting something had to be done about the chronic water on the road, which also was leading to moss/algae growth on the sidewalk. Initially, the city said all it could do was be sure that SDOT salted/sanded the spot when it froze over. But then came a breakthrough, Herbold reported this week: “Drainage and Wastewater operations staff discovered an abandoned stormwater pipe. This allowed SPU to correct the problem of the water collection because they could use the abandoned stormwater pipe as a connection to newly route the water away from the street surface.” She added that, “The observations of residents in this area monitoring the occurrence of this accumulation of water was critical to the identification of a solution.”
For much of the rest of the week, 45th Avenue SW by Madison Middle School – between SW Hinds and SW Spokane – will be closed to all vehicle traffic but school buses. Seattle Public Utilities says it’s a sewer-repair project, and should be complete by the end of the week. They’ve distributed flyers along the street and talked with the school, but just in case you’re a 45th user who is outside that notification scope, this is an FYI. (Thanks to the person who tipped us to this!)
4:57 PM: A texter told us about a “smell of smoke” at Westwood Village Barnes and Noble just as SFD was dispatching four units that way. They’ve arrived and so far have NOT found a fire but are checking it out as an electrical problem, so they’re calling for City Light (whose map shows some power trouble in the area).
5:16 PM: SFD cited a “widespread” electrical problem, which we’re also hearing about from some in the area, so we’re headed to WWV shortly to check.
5:43 PM: Just spun around WWV. B&N was the only store clearly dark & closed.
10:20 AM: Having water-pressure trouble – or no water – near Lincoln Park? The photo shows the scene of a water break at Lincoln Park Way and 47th SW. It’s from Kersti, one of several people who have contacted us to let us know about the problem. Seattle Public Utilities has been alerted. (Any time you have a water problem – low pressure, no pressure, discoloration, etc. – the hotline to call is 206-386-1800.)
10:40 AM: Just talked with SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan. He says the break is in an 8-inch cast-iron water main, and there’s no estimated time for repairs yet, but they’re working on it. It’s affecting about 32 “services” – a “service” can have multiple customers, and those affected by this include nearby retirement center The Kenney. Three hydrants are affected, too.
2:03 PM: We just stopped by the scene (photos added above and below). The crew tells us it could be another “two to three hours” because once they finish repairing the line, they’ll have to flush it.
3:34 PM: Commenter SA reports the water’s back on.
Again this year, Seattle Public Utilities is giving you more than a month to get your Christmas tree turned into compost – either via curbside pickup, or Transfer Station dropoff. Today’s announcement:
From Dec. 26, 2017, to Jan. 31, 2018, Seattle residents can compost holiday greens, including wreaths and trees, for free curbside or at a Seattle Public Utilities transfer station.
At the Curb
Place your holiday greens on the curb next to your food and yard waste cart on your collection day. Please keep in mind the following:
Remove all decorations and lights, tinsel, metal clips, ornaments and bows.
Trees must be cut into lengths to 4-feet or shorter.
Bundle each section with sisal string or twine (not plastic).
Flocked and plastic trees or wreaths will be charged as extra garbage.
At apartments, one tree may be placed next to each food and yard waste cart at no extra charge each collection day.
At the Transfer Station
Bring Christmas trees and other holiday greens to a city transfer station. Starting Feb. 1, 2018 regular fees will apply.
Trees should not exceed 8-feet in length and must be free of decoration.
Trunks should not exceed 4-inches in diameter.
The stations will accept up to 3 trees per vehicle.
The South Transfer Station is just east of West Seattle, 130 S. Kenyon (here’s how to get there).
P.S. And remember that for the next two weeks, curbside pickup day for everything is one day later than your usual day, because of the Monday holidays.
10:54 AM: The video is from Heather, one of several people who have messaged us this morning with word of brown water in the West Seattle Junction area. As noted here before, it’s important to report brown water to Seattle Public Utilities at 206-386-1800 – Heather’s family did and reports that SPU says it’s because of fire-hydrant testing in the area. Here’s the general SPU advice about what to do if your water is discolored; you might recall SPU’s West Seattle flushing operations last year, an effort to get rust out of the pipes before it’s stirred up by hydrant use or pipe breaks.
12:28 PM: Despite the initial report blaming hydrant testing, it now seems there’s a water break – both Eddie via e-mail (including the photo below) and TTT via comments are reporting it.
We have a call out to SPU.
1:14 PM: Just talked to SPU’s Andy Ryan. He says they’re still working to figure out exactly where the break is – so far they think it’s possibly an 8-inch water line, and they’ve “throttled” water in the area so that what’s coming up at 48th/Alaska should be down to a trickle. In addition to the people reporting discolored water, he says six customers in the area are without service right now.
In case you missed last week’s community meeting about the recent Arroyos/south Arbor Heights power outage and related trouble – what you see above is the slide deck explaining what Seattle City Light has planned for the area. A project spanning multiple blocks of South Arbor Heights is expected to last about a year and scheduled to start next March. (The slide deck includes a map you can also see here.) SCL says it’ll be putting in “new electrical conduit and cables” to replace “underground, direct buried cables (that) are approaching the ending of their life.” Besides this month’s outage, the area’s relatively recent outages included last April, August 2016, and May 2016.
With Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on the next two Mondays, trash, recycling, and yard-waste pickup days will change for the next two weeks. Here’s the announcement, hust in from Seattle Public Utilities:
Due to back-to-back Monday holidays, all garbage, food and yard waste and recycling in Seattle will be delayed by one day for a duration of two weeks, starting Monday, Dec. 25, 2017.
There will be no solid waste collections on Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 and Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. Collections will be delayed by one day from normal schedules (e.g. collections for Monday will occur on Tuesday, Tuesday collections will occur on Wednesday, and so on). Customers should set containers out by 7 a.m. to ensure collection.
Customers can report missed garbage, food and yard waste, or recycling collections after 5 p.m. on their rescheduled collection day by calling (206) 684-3000, or filling out a report at www.seattle.gov/util/MissedCollection.
11:42 AM: Seattle City Light is investigating a power outage that started about 15 minutes ago in Delridge – the map shows two spots, one on SW Holden just west of Delridge, with most of the 140+ affected customers in what appears to be the West Ridge Park complex at Delridge/Kenyon. No word yet how it started; the current restoration estimate is mid-afternoon.
12:07 PM: Ken points out in a comment that a crash appears to be to blame – the SFD 911 log does show a “wires down” call a short time earlier in the 2200 block of SW Holden – and also says the Westhaven Apartments are affected.
2:42 PM: Just checked; outage continues, and restoration is now projected for after 7 pm.
10:27 PM: Debbie reports in comments that power was restored about half an hour ago. The SCL map still shows a few customers out.
Weekend before last, more than 100 homes in The Arroyos and South Arbor Heights lost power. The unrelated but concurrent Trader Joe’s outage overshadowed it in our headlines, but it’s not the first time an equipment problem took out the power for southwesternmost West Seattle, and so Seattle City Light is having a community meeting Thursday to answer questions and explain “future electrical infrastructure upgrades” in that area. Bring your questions/concerns to the meeting at 6:30 pm Thursday (December 14th) at Westside School (10404 34th SW; WSB sponsor).
Thanks for the tip: We just checked with Seattle Public Utilities about a reported water break in Arbor Heights. SPU says a 4-inch main broke and water was welling up in the 11400 block of 35th SW. They “partially closed a valve to reduce the flow” while making repairs; water should be returning to the 58 homes and four hydrants that were temporarily affected.
P.S. If you have water problems, such as no service or discoloration, 206-386-1800 is the SPU hotline. And thanks for then letting us know too, so we can check on the big picture of what’s going on.
The West Seattle Trader Joe’s store was expected to reopen this morning after its four-day power outage ended last night, and indeed, multiple WSB readers report, it did. The outage started very early Saturday after a suspected DUI driver rolled his car into the transformer and other equipment on the north side of the store at 4545 Fauntleroy Way SW; City Light told WSB that its part of the repairs were completed by Saturday night but other equipment belonging to the store had to be fixed before they could reconnect, and that took until last night. (While any prolonged closure of a business would be news, this store holds a special place in West Seattle lore due to the many years community members clamored for it, a long wait that finally ended when the conversion of a former car-sales business was completed with the store’s opening in April 2012.)
11:12 AM: Just in case you were wondering, West Seattle Trader Joe’s (4545 Fauntleroy Way SW) remains closed, without power for a fourth day since a suspected drunk driver rolled his car and damaged electrical equipment on the west side of the building. Seattle City Light told us on Monday that their crew repaired their part of the equipment by Saturday evening, and they’re ready to reconnect when the company finishes fixing equipment that it owns. We haven’t yet reached a company spokesperson to get more on that.
TUESDAY EVENING: The power is back on and the anonymous-but-knowledgeable commenter who has been providing updates says the store’s expected to reopen Wednesday morning.
(5:41 AM UPDATE: 35th now reopened both ways)
This is big water. On 35th south of Avalon. pic.twitter.com/iUvQG5VIx9
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
6:18 PM: Thanks to everyone who’s been messaging us about what they’re describing as gushing water on the road at 35th/Avalon on this rainless night. We are on the way over to find out more.
6:34 PM: This is BIG water gushing from southbound 35th just south of Avalon. SFD is here and closing 35th between Avalon and Alaska. Avoid the area.
6:44 PM: Firefighters have also closed the sidewalks to keep people far away – they’re worried this could lead to a big sinkhole in the street. SPU has arrived. We have a message out to find out what more they know. We also hear there’s low water pressure at some residences nearby.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
7:05 PM: This is going to go on a while. Full complement of utilities here now – Puget Sound Energy (there’s been concern about natural-gas odor around the KFC), Seattle City Light, as well as SPU. Again, 35th is blocked off between Alaska and Avalon, but before that happened, here’s video from @jetreset showing how it looked when a C Line bus went through the water (which is right by the southbound stop on 35th):
Video of the flooding from the C line pic.twitter.com/mc4QyMlY5o
— Demon Snethen (@JetReset) December 5, 2017
7:23 PM: Just talked with SPU spokesperson Andy Ryan. He says what broke is a 4-inch “service line” that belongs to the adjacent apartment building (which would be Aura) – “it’s not city infrastructure.”
The building is only a year old.
Ryan added, “We have the water main shut down between Avalon and Manning while crews look for the water shutoff valve.” Repairs might not be complete before midnight, he says.
7:43 PM: Buses have been rerouted for a while since the road remains closed (and the water’s still bubbling up on the southbound side), but here’s the official Metro reroute alert just texted/tweeted:
Transit Alert – Buses rerouted off of 35 Av SW/SW Avalon Way. Use the stops on Avalon Wy east of 35 Av or on 35 Av south of SW Alaska St.
— King County Metro🚌 (@kcmetrobus) December 5, 2017
7:55 PM: The water’s not off yet, but the volume is down. Kevin tells us water service is off to the south of here, too, near 36th/Edmunds.
8:14 PM: Water’s down to a trickle.
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
SFD has left, but SPD is still at the scene to keep the road closure enforced. We’ve left for a while but will keep checking on the status of the road – and we’ll start our morning traffic coverage earlier than usual with word on whether that section of road is open or not.
10:07 PM: Street’s still closed, and heavy equipment’s now at work digging:
Work still under way at water-break site, 35th SW still blocked south of Avalon. pic.twitter.com/bb1L7RYKmb
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 5, 2017
SDOT quotes SPD via Twitter as saying the closure will continue “until tomorrow morning.” No police left at the scene for us to ask in person – just the work crew. We’ll check the scene again in the very early hours.
4:59 AM: Back at the scene. 35th is still closed south of Avalon. Crews still at work.
5:16 AM: Northbound traffic is now being allowed through the area. Southbound still blocked by crews.
5:41 AM: They’ve just removed the barricades on the southbound side and traffic is now going both ways.
The West Seattle Trader Joe’s is still closed right now, third day since a power outage caused by a flipped-car crash early Saturday, as first reported here that morning. We have new information from Seattle City Light, after a conversation with spokesperson Scott Thomsen. He explains that the crash damaged not only SCL’s “pad-mounted transformer” – in the spot shown in our photo above, on the northeast corner of 39th SW and Fauntleroy Way – but also “some equipment that belongs to the customer” (Trader Joe’s). Thomsen says SCL completed its work, including replacing the transformer, by 7 pm Saturday. The delay since then is because the electrician working on TJ’s equipment has not yet finished fixing it; once they have, Thomsen says, they are ready to reconnect the power. Side note, answering some questions that had come up in the comment discussion: The damaged transformer did NOT contain PCBs: “The transformer that was hit was one of our new ones, containing certified FR3 vegetable oil. No PCBs. We cleaned up the oil that did leak.” We also sent an inquiry to Trader Joe’s this morning and have not yet heard back; if and when we do, we’ll add the information to this story. Meantime, SPD was investigating the crash as a possible case of DUI; Angela caught the crash aftermath on video:
The driver (who SPD says is a 26-year-old man) was taken to the hospital by private ambulance, which indicates his injuries weren’t major.
Thanks for the messages about the power outage in the south Arbor Heights/Arroyos area; Comcast is reported to be out, too. Seattle City Light‘s map shows the outage as an extension of the one that started yesterday, though now it’s listed as 127 customers, about 30 more than when last we checked Sunday night. If you’re out and not shown on the map, be sure to let City Light know (206-684-3000).
Two power outages making news today:
TRADER JOE’S STILL CLOSED: It’s now going on 36 hours since Trader Joe’s in The Triangle lost power after a rollover crash involving an allegedly DUI driver. We first reported the closure Saturday morning, hours after noting the 2 am crash. No official word on what’s taking so long – Seattle City Light and environmental-services crews were visible at the site yesterday but not so far today. The restoration estimate is now Monday evening.
Meantime, in the southwesternmost end of West Seattle:
96 OUT IN/NEAR ARROYOS: Just before 9 am, according to the City Light outage map, 96 homes lost power in the Arroyos area – see the screengrab above. The current restoration estimate is 7 pm, but the cause is not yet listed.
8:14 PM: Both outages continue. The Arroyos outage is attributed now to “equipment failure.” For Trader Joe’s, one source says it’s expected to be closed again tomorrow, awaiting a part. We’ll be following up with the company and the utility in the morning.
9:11 AM: Thanks to everyone who’s texted us about this, reporting that West Seattle Trader Joe’s is closed right now because of a power outage caused by the flipped-car crash we reported early this morning. Angela, whose photo is in our original report, also sent this video:
One person went to the hospital via private ambulance, indicating their injuries were not life-threatening. Meantime, the City Light map says they’re hoping for restoration around 10:30 am – as with all outages, could be sooner, could be later.
9:22 AM: We just went over to the store to find out more. Lots of crews working out front on repairs. A Trader Joe’s staffer tells us they don’t know how long it’ll take – they’ve been warned it could be several hours.
12:05 PM: Still out, per the SCL map and per driving by. No restoration estimate now. Meantime, as noted in comments, SPD classified the crash as a suspected case of DUI.
SUNDAY MORNING NOTE: The SCL outage map shows the power still out. We hope to get over there around 9:30 to verify that the closure is continuing.
10:17 AM: We haven’t made it there yet but multiple reader messages confirm the closure continues.
NOTE: Our Sunday followup is here.
Thanks to the person who texted with a report of brown water in their neighborhood southwest of The Junction, near 51st and Edmunds – Seattle Public Utilities told them there’s hydrant testing in the area. Any time you experience discolored water, here’s the number to use to let SPU know: 206-386-1800. (They have some additional advice on this page.)
8:36 AM: Thanks for the tips – first we got a text about a “boom” in Gatewood, then Matt e-mailed about a transformer/fuse blowing near California/Myrtle, and now the Seattle City Light outage map shows 49 customers out in that area. Estimated restoration is after noon, but remember that those are just “guesstimates” and it could be sooner (as was the case with the most recent West Seattle outage of note) or later.
1:26 PM: The original estimated restoration time has now come and gone, and there’s a new one, 3:43 pm. The map also now attributes the outage to “tree.”
2:28 PM: And the outage has ended, sometime in the past hour, after 5+ hours.
FIRST REPORT, 8:50 PM: It’s not yet on the City Light map, but there’s a power outage in eastern West Seattle. We’ve heard from Highland Park and High Point so far. More info to come.
8:52 PM: In the time it took us to type that, the map updated – more than 4,100 customers out.
8:57 PM: No word yet on the cause. Even if you didn’t lose power, you might have noticed a flicker about the time the outage started at 8:46 pm – we did, here on the Upper Fauntleroy/Gatewood line. (And thanks to everyone whose texts immediately afterward tipped us to the outage!)
9:06 PM: As you can see on the map (screengrab above), a pocket of South Park is out too. In case this lasts a while, City Light has some helpful advice toward the end of this page.
9:11 PM: The map now has a restoration guesstimate of 1:33 am – we call it that because even the utility acknowledges it’s something of a guess. Could be sooner, could be later.
9:31 PM: If you are out or have to go out, remember that when a stoplight’s out, it’s an all-way stop. For one, as mentioned by Harvey on Twitter, Delridge/Henderson is out.
9:35 PM: Some High Point residents report via comments and texts that they’re back on. Anywhere else?
9:40 PM: The map has updated, now showing 2,700+ customers still out, so the restoration reduced the original outage by about a third. (Adding the new map above.)
9:48 PM: The cause is now described on the map as “equipment failure.”
9:54 PM: More report via comments and texts that the power’s back. And SCL elaborates on the cause via Twitter, “Breaker tripped at substation.”
9:57 PM: Map shows that everyone’s back on, and SCL confirms. If yours is NOT, be sure to call 206-684-3000 and be sure they know.
The photo is from Ben, whose home is among the dozen-plus in West Seattle that have yet to get power back after losing it during the Monday afternoon/evening windstorm. Ben tells WSB, “Going on our 3rd day without power! 47th and Hanford. Okay, it was fun for awhile, a little adventure for the kids. But we’re ready for power now! :) What with the home office and all …” The Seattle City Light map shows Ben’s neighborhood as the northernmost, and largest, remaining outage pocket (5 customers):
Citywide, as of right now, SCL still has 39 outages totaling 110 customers. And the utility is requesting that those still out be sure to re-report the outages.
Seattle City Light still has 13,000 customers without power right now – and has warned that since most of the remaining outages are small, progress will be slower. And in fact, most of the West Seattle markers on the screengrab of the SCL outage map shown above represent one-customer outages – with a few exceptions: 19 customers in the Seola Beach area, 15 each near 34th/Morgan and at 39th/Dakota, and 14 each near 21st/Roxbury and 36th/Webster. If you are still out but NOT shown on the map, you’ll want to check in to be sure SCL knows that – 206-684-3000.