West Seattle, Washington
Thanks for the tip – what was already a bumpy-to-say-the-least stretch of road in the 4100 block of Beach Drive SW [map] is worse this afternoon, with what first responders were calling a “sinkhole,” possibly involving a water break. It’s on the southbound side of the street, and police are directing traffic around it. The Seattle Public Utilities crew that is there now checking it out says a larger crew is on the way to dig into it, so you’ll want to avoid this area for at least a few hours.
12:10 AM: A water break in north Arbor Heights has led to a slide that’s taken out part of a dead-end section of California SW north of SW Roxbury and forcing residents of one house to evacuate.
A sizable Seattle Fire response is here and Seattle Public Utilities crews have arrived too. No report of injuries.
12:18 AM: Police are on scene too and as you can see, California SW is taped off – we are being kept back for safety. “West of Fauntleroy Park” is probably a better description of this area – here’s a map.
7:57 AM: We’re following up on multiple fronts now that it’s light – look for an update later.
ADDED 12:30 PM: We’re still awaiting information from SPU, and checking with other agencies too, including SDOT, since a road is involved. Meantime, some midday photos showing the scope:
We’ll update with anything more we find out.
4:30 PM: SPU says it doesn’t know what caused the 2-inch water-line break. We just went back again to the slide zone and they have lots of heavy equipment at work. We’ve been talking to SDOT about the road and SDCI about the stability of the home(s) in the area – that’ll be in tonight’s story. As pointed out in comments, the slide is in an embankment on what would be the SW Cambridge street end, between 44th SW and California SW.
7:05 AM: Thanks to the texter who reported that water service is out for some High Point residents near 34th SW and SW Holly. They report Seattle Public Utilities says it’ll be out for a few hours.
12:45 PM: More info from SPU spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin: “SPU crews continue to work to repair a vertical break on an 8-inch water main on 34th Avenue SW. Water is anticipated to be back on for customers by 1:30 pm today and crews are expected to be done with the repair and off the street by 3 pm. Crews initially throttled the water main around 4:45 am, which caused some customers to be immediately out of water. About 68 water services are impacted.”
No, it’s not a water break. Your neighbor Joe Szilagyi already inquired with Seattle Public Utilities and shares what he found out:
We had SPU out in the mid block the past two days on 32nd between 97th and 100th cleaning sewers and they had to tap the fire hydrant heavily today to finish the job — all the water is very brown SPU told us approximately from 97th to 100th on 32nd, *maybe* adjacent blocks. It should be fine tomorrow morning sometime if no one uses the water, more usage slows the sediment settling. They said if it’s still brown tomorrow for people to call SPU.
The number to call would be the one we’ve published many times – the one Joe used, too – 206-386-1800.
Three utility updates today:
ARBOR HEIGHTS WATER-MAIN BREAK: Late last night, a reader mentioned a water-main break at 35th/107th in Arbor Heights. The crew was already gone when we got a chance to go take a look. Seattle Public Utilities spokesperson Ingrid Goodwin tells WSB it was a four-inch water-main break around 8 pm and crews had it fixed within a few hours.
The next two involve bucket-truck work for Seattle City Light:
TREE REMOVAL: Alan sent this photo and wondered about tree-removal work visible in the right-of-way near SW Holly and 14th SW:
SCL’s Scott Thomsen tells WSB:
When the trees in this area were last trimmed four years ago, the contractor doing the work did not follow best practices. This compromised the health of some trees with rot and multiple new starts. We stopped using that contractor.
In this cycle of trimming, we are resolving some of the problems that were created. Some of the trees that were damaged are indeed being removed based on their deteriorated condition.
STREETLIGHT SWITCHOVER: As mentioned here toward summer’s end, SCL is continuing to switch arterial streetlights to LEDs. Last night in The Junction, Paul Weatherman took these photos of crews working on SW Alaska just east of California SW:
The arterial work follows the completion of the switchover on residential streets. Here’s the wider view from last night:
SCL told us in August that the arterial conversions should be completed this year.
As Seattle City Light continues getting ready for “advanced metering” (explained here), it’s installing taller utility poles in some neighborhoods. The work plan for next month has just been announced, including three West Seattle areas:
From the City Light announcement we received:
Seattle City Light is continuing to support Advanced Metering services throughout the utility’s service territory by replacing existing utility poles with taller poles, which will host wireless utility data collection equipment. The new poles will be 70 feet tall, which is about 20 feet taller than the existing poles.
From the fliers [that will be distributed to neighbors]:
· This project is part of the communications network to support Advanced Metering, which will automate meter reading and enable enhanced services.
· There are no maintenance power outages planned for this work. Some traffic and parking impacts are expected in the immediate work areas. Crews will be careful to maintain access to driveways.
· Daily work hours are from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In most instances, the work to transfer existing equipment and install the data collection equipment can be completed in one day.
If you have questions about the pole installation and/or “advanced metering,” City Light says you can contact JoAnna Perley, Advanced Metering Deployment Manager, 206-733-9648 or email@example.com.
Thanks to Kathleen for the tip – a power outage at the bottom of the Highland Park Way hill is affecting the West Marginal Way/Highland Park Way intersection. She says City Light and Seattle Police are there. The SCL outage map shows only nine “customers” out, on the south side of the intersection, but in that area, one customer can represent a sizable business facility. The map attributes the outage to “equipment failure.”
From the “just in case you were wondering” file: After hearing about a water problem in south Arbor Heights late today, we checked with Seattle Public Utilities. Spokesperson Andy Ryan tells WSB,”We had a 4-inch water main break this afternoon (in the 10800 block of) 37th Ave. SW. Water was back on at 5:15.” Just a reminder – if you have a water problem, the SPU number to call to report it is 206-386-1800. (And then let us know! Unlike electricity outages, water outages don’t have an online map.)
7:29 AM: Texter reports, “Water is pouring out of a manhole cover and into the street at 18th Avenue SW and SW Thistle Street (northeast corner).” Could be extra-dangerous since the temperature is still below freezing, so we wanted to let you know. They’re reporting it to Seattle Public Utilities (206-386-1800). We’ll check on it a bit later.
10:25 AM: As pointed out in comments, an SPU crew is at the scene, and some neighbors are without water; we just went by for a photo. 18th SW is closed north of Thistle.
As promised, we followed up with Seattle City Light today about Saturday’s underground-electrical-vault problem that took out power for almost 4,000 homes and businesses. It happened right outside Spruce/LA Fitness at 39th SW/Fauntleroy Way/SW Alaska shortly after 1 pm; people reported hearing explosions, and then – as shown in the top photo – smoke began pouring out of the vault covers in the street. Some WSB commenters noted that there had been a “planned” outage in the area the night before, and in his response to our inquiry, City Light spokesperson Scott Thomsen confirmed a connection:
The underlying cause of the vault fire and outage was the failure of a piece of equipment called a j-box, which is essentially a high-voltage power strip.
The planned outage [Friday night] allowed our crews to install new equipment, including cable, which was spliced into an old cable. After it was energized, the j-box connected to the section of old cable is what failed. The crew isolated the damage and made repairs.
Seattle Fire’s time on scene was relatively short – all but one unit was cleared within less than an hour; we checked today with SFD spokesperson Lt. Harold Webb, who explained, “City Light was on scene when we arrived and quickly secured the vault and did not require further SFD standby.” But effects of the outage kept them busy, he added: “We had numerous elevator removals [in the area] due to widespread power outages.” No one was hurt. The last 130+ customers without power didn’t get it back, as noted in our updates, for almost eight hours.
ORIGINAL REPORT, 1:25 PM: Seattle Fire is responding to a call characterized as a “minor explosion” near Fauntleroy and Alaska. At least one witness say it’s blown off a “manhole cover” near Spruce/LA Fitness. Power is out to more than 3,200 homes and businesses in West Seattle as a result, according to the City Light outage map. More to come.
1:32 PM: This has escalated to a “vault fire” callout.
1:38 PM: Adding a photo. Lots of emergency vehicles and big traffic backups, so avoid the Fauntleroy/Alaska area TFN.
1:49 PM: City Light says they hope to restore power “within a few hours.” SFD has canceled some of the units responding to the vault fire (for the commenter who asked what that means – it’s an underground vault that’s part of the electrical system). No word of any injuries so far.
1:55 PM: Now up to more than 3,900 homes and businesses out – this is on the City Light map as two separate outages, 3,200+ and 600+. Adding a screengrab momentarily for the record:
1:59 PM: And then … some got their power back, so the outage has returned to 3,200+. Thanks for the updates in comments – that’s usually first word of power restoration!
2:12 PM: Commenter Matt shared the photo you see above – the smoke coming from underground right in front of Spruce/LA Fitness just after explosions were heard. Meantime, the number of homes/businesses without power is down to 1,820.
2:33 PM: Seattle Fire has completely cleared the scene, meaning the fire is out. In addition to those still without power – an outage also affecting some traffic lights in the area – we also have several mentions that Comcast service is out.
2:52 PM: Just added above, our upload of Matt’s video (linked in comments) of the vault smoke from earlier. Meantime, more comments are saying power’s back, even in the immediate vicinity. Thanks for the updates!
3:55 PM: Down to 136 out, per SCL map.
9 PM: Five hours after that note – they’re still out. Meantime, a Spruce resident has published video from the aftermath of what happened this afternoon:
9:22 PM: Minutes before the estimated time of restoration, the power’s back for all, according to the City Light map. (Call SCL if yours is NOT back yet!)
Thanks for the tips about a water break at 11th and Barton in Highland Park. We just talked with Andy Ryan from Seattle Public Utilities. He says an eight-inch main is broken; they don’t know yet how the break happened but they first heard about it just after 4 this afternoon. 37 customers are affected. Crews are on the scene, but there’s no estimate of how long it’ll take to get it fixed.
Water crews are back out this morning repairing the 8-inch water main. Last night crews responded to the break and throttled the main until they could return today. Customers may have noticed a diminished volume in their water service last night.
Currently water is shut down and crews are fixing the pipe. We expect to have the repair complete and water back on by 3 pm today. About 9 water services are impacted by the shutdown.
We just checked with Luna Park Café and they are open, no water trouble, so it’s apparently NOT affecting the mini-business district there.
P.S. Thanks to original tipster Stephanie for the photo above.
9:22 PM: Though it’s a rainless night, water is rushing downhill in the Luna Park area under the West Seattle Bridge. We checked it out after a tip from Stephanie. A Seattle Public Utilities worker was checking it out along 30th SW, uphill and west of Avalon Way; he told us an SPU crew would be on the way over after fixing an unrelated break downtown. We have a message out to SPU to find out more, including whether anyone is without water service because of the break.
10:37 PM: Haven’t heard back from SPU, so we might not get any followup info until tomorrow.
1:52 AM: Thanks to commenter SEW for an update – not fixed yet.
5:59 PM: Thanks for the tips: Power is out in parts of northeast West Seattle, and apparently it’s not all shown on the outage map, which now shows 15 customers out in Pigeon Point/North Delridge – at and near Delridge/Andover – but we’ve also heard from Victoria in Riverside, who says “we are out down here too,” on 16th and 17th SW. This is likely related to a crash in the 4500 block of West Marginal Way SW that another texter says involved a vehicle hitting a utility/light pole – we’re checking on that. If you’re also out of power but NOT on the City Light map, please let us know in comments (after you’ve called SCL to let them know your outage is not showing – 206-684-3000).
6:04 PM: Now the map is updated to 356 homes/businesses out of power. Adding a screengrab.
6:51 PM: Just back from the crash scene, which is on the east side of West Marginal Way SW – affecting the northbound lanes – just north of the Duwamish Longhouse. The pole was snapped in two and dangling; the vehicle that hit it was about to be towed. Adding photo. Meanwhile, some have the power back – the count is down to 288 on the SCL map. One crew was at the scene and reported to be calling for more help.
7:39 PM: As reminded by commenters, this is affecting some traffic signals too – if you arrive at one that’s not working, that makes it an all-way stop – do NOT go through without stopping.
9:23 PM: The SCL map has now recalibrated the restoration guesstimate to “pending,” which seems in line with what commenter Amy found out.
11:56 PM: The outage is now in its seventh hour, with the current potential restoration time estimated around (corrected) 4 am. (Let us know if you’re back sooner!)
1:52 AM: And after about eight hours, the outage is over.
Completion is in sight for the project meant to reduce combined-sewer overflows into Puget Sound by Lowman Beach – the Murray Combined Sewer Overflow Control Project. We took the photo after getting this update late today:
King County’s million-gallon underground storage tank is now working after passing all system tests. As early as next week, County operators will work inside the facility to monitor flows at the Murray Pump Station and operate the underground storage tank as needed.
Roadway restoration is complete on Beach Dr. SW. The contractor is now restoring sidewalks near the site. Crews are also working in the access road south of Lowman Beach Park to upgrade a small sewer line. This work is expected to be complete by mid-December.
Landscaping and project art will finish up in early 2017, depending on weather (see schedule in attached update for additional information). A fence will remain around the site until all landscaping is complete. The public staircase on site will not be accessible until all project work is complete. Access to Lowman Beach Park will be maintained as it has been throughout construction.
King County and its contractor appreciate your patience as we work to complete the project as quickly as possible. We will provide another update in December with what to expect during activities that will continue in 2017.
No work at the site during the four-day Thanksgiving weekend.
BACKSTORY: It’s been seven years since first word of a possible storage tank to catch overflows. Six years ago, the storage-tank decision was announced. Major work at the site began in August 2013 with demolition of the residences that used to be on the site. Here’s our pic from two years ago when the tank was halfway done:
When done, the structure will include public-access areas for looking out toward Puget Sound.
Seattle Public Utilities won’t be out in Arbor Heights tonight flushing water mains after all. Its testing of a new flushing technology – previewed here a week ago – ended early. We checked in today with SPU’s Ingrid Goodwin, who told us:
We’re all done flushing utilizing the new method. We flushed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and intended to flush today and tomorrow, but we ran through all of the machine’s filters, so we had to stop.
The first two days we were able to flush two miles of pipe and remove a lot of sediment that had built up in the water mains. The water mains that we flushed were installed in the late 1940s.
We will begin analyzing the pilot results next week. But it appears it was a successful outcome and we avoided sending thousands of gallons of water down the storm drain.
While the flushing was under way earlier this week in the Genesee/Charlestown Hill area, we heard from one resident who reported a prolonged bout of brown water. Goodwin says, “We did receive calls from about a dozen customers who experienced temporary discolored water due to the flushing. Our crews performed some additional spot flushing to help clear the discoloration.” That’s been a risk of conventional flushing too, which has been under way off and on for several months now as SPU works to clear sediment (basically, rust) from the lines.
The West Seattle Flush goes on – with a new twist. 7 months after Seattle Public Utilities announced it would start flushing local water mains to clear the sediment that resulted in brown-water problems in a variety of circumstances, they’re about to deploy new technology.
Next week (Nov 7 -11) SPU will be in two West Seattle neighborhoods testing a new water main flushing technology that eliminates the need to discharge thousands of gallons of water into storm drains.
The new method consists of a utility trailer (photo above) with a filtering system. Connections between the trailer and water main are made with large diameter hoses attached to fire hydrants. Water used to flush the water main is circulated through the filtering system and returned back into the water main.
The attached two map show the two areas where we’ll be flushing water mains and using this new method. I’ve also enclosed the public notice sent to Arbor Heights residents, where we’ll be flushing at the end of the week (Nov 9 -11).
You can read that notice here.
(SCROLL DOWN for newest updates and photos)
1:43 PM: Just getting word of the first significant power outages in West Seattle so far this blustery day – west of The Junction, North Admiral, and the City Light map also shows two other outages – 117 customers near Lincoln Park and 72 customers in Highland Park. (If your outage is NOT on the map, please call SCL at 206-684-3000!)
UPDATED, 1:53 PM: Now the SCL map has updated. We’re adding a screengrab. “Tree” is the listed cause. More than 4,000 customers are out in West Seattle. Also, Seattle Fire is at 44th and Rose in Gatewood, where a tree fell into a transformer/power line – thanks for the texted photo:
(back to original report) All this follows hours of off-and-on gusty winds – we caught some on video a little while ago:
Wind tousling trees in Gateleroy. pic.twitter.com/ZcDSvsFW6Y
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) October 14, 2016
TIDE REMINDER, IF YOU MISSED IT: Busy news day so you might not have seen this, but high tides are coinciding with the strong wind because of tomorrow’s full moon.
(Texted photo added above – Beach Drive this afternoon. Thanks to Craig Joseph for sharing it!) Speaking of which …
NEED SANDBAGS? The Delridge Community Center is out of them but expecting more later today. If you need them urgently, try the South Park Community Center.
2:22 PM: A commenter says Delridge has sandbags now. Meantime, a father and 4-year-old son are being taken to the hospital after being hit by a falling tree branch near Fauntleroy Church (which abuts forested Fauntleroy Park). We got to the scene just as the child was about to be transported to Harborview; his father is still being evaluated.
Too soon for information on the circumstances – we will update when we find out more.
3:13 PM: SFD describes the child’s injuries as serious, the father’s injuries as minor.
(added Friday evening) Fauntleroy Church minister Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski sent this statement:
I was very sad today to learn about the father and son struck by a tree near Fauntleroy Church. As concerned community members, we will be working with the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department to better understand the incident, but our primary concern right now is for the family involved in this accident. They are YMCA patrons and neighbors, and our hearts go out to them.
As I was away from the church today, I also wish to say a big “thank you” to the church and Y staff and community members who quickly responded to offer help and care until emergency personnel could arrive.
(back to previous coverage) Meantime, regarding the power outage – we’re getting multiple reports that traffic signals are out in The Junction, though the outage is only affecting the west side of the street. We’re headed that way for an update.
3:46 PM: Thanks for the updates. About a third of those who were out now have their power back, Admiral/North according to the map. We’re still working our way to The Junction. Meantime, a falling branch seems to have played a role in a crash on eastbound Olson, blocking the turn to southbound Myers.
No injuries as far as we can tell – SFD was not called for medical assistance.
4:11 PM: We just stopped by The Junction. California/Alaska signal is indeed out. And businesses on the west side of the street are still without power, many with handwritten “closed/power out” signs.
Further north, a big problem hasn’t been fixed yet at Hinds/47th – this power-pole problem:
Thanks to everyone who sent photos earlier. This is near Madison Middle School, which has a fire-alarm call right now – don’t know if it’s related. We can hear the alarm from where we’re checking out the power pole situation.
ADDED 4:47 PM: If you’re just getting ready to leave for home .. it’s partly sunny over here, still breezy.
5:07 PM: Regarding the sirens and emergency vehicles – it’s for a possible rescue which we’re covering separately.
Also, tomorrow’s weather alert is now up to High Wind Warning status, 3 pm Saturday-2 am Sunday. We’ll get a separate evening weather story going after our coverage of the potential rescue.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Neighbors of the former Avalon substation building by the southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge say they were surprised to find out, after years of living nearby, that it is contaminated with mercury and set for demolition.
Wednesday afternoon, they gathered with Seattle City Light and Department of Construction and Inspections reps and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold to try to clarify what happened and what’s planned for the site after the building is torn down and the contamination cleanup. Read More
ORIGINAL REPORT, 4:35 PM: Thanks for the tips. As of less than 10 minutes ago, power has gone out for more than 4,200 customers (homes/businesses), mostly just south of West Seattle but including some WS pockets. More to come.
5:01 PM UPDATE: Seattle City Light‘s map also includes another 3,500+ out in parts of Burien. No word yet on the cause – SCL’s current “restoration estimate” is 11 pm, but as we always remind you during outages, that is a guesstimate at best, could be sooner, could be later.
5:28 PM UPDATE: The SCL map now blames “tree” for outage. Restoration guesstimate has updated to 11:25 pm.
6:13 PM UPDATE: SCL now says via Twitter “crews have now determined that the cause was due to a broken utility pole crossarm near the Duwamish Substation.”
6:49 PM UPDATE: All but 588 customers are back on.
SUNDAY MORNING: According to the City Light map, everyone had power restored at some point very early this morning.
(Click map for full-size PDF version)
The second phase of Seattle Public Utilities‘ West Seattle water-main flushing is about to start; the map above shows where the water pipes already have been flushed, and where the utility is going to be flushing starting this Sunday night.
If you missed the run-up to phase 1, SPU reminds you that it “is performing this work to help maintain water quality and reduce the occurrence of discolored water that some West Seattle customers have been experiencing. Flushing won’t eliminate discolored water, but it will help decrease it.” The “sediment” that leads to discolored water, SPU explains, comes from a rust buildup. (We had first word of the flushing plan back in March; the work began in April.)
Phase 2, according to the SPU notice sent to residents in the work zone (see the entire notice here), will involve work Sundays through Thursdays, 10 pm-5 am, over the next four to six weeks. Signs will go up in advance at hydrants that will be opened as part of the flushing. (This WSB story shows how the process works and what’s done at the work zones.)
SPU also notes, “When crews are flushing nearby, customers will experience discolored water, which should clear quickly once crews are done flushing the water main. Running the cold water for a few minutes can also help clear the discoloration.” If you have discolored water that doesn’t clear quickly, or any other water-quality problem, SPU’s 24-hour emergency line is 206-386-1800.
P.S. Here’s a deeper dive into your water’s backstory.