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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL? What Sound Transit heard about ‘draft plan’


Sound Transit has gone public with some of what it heard in its just-concluded comment period on the draft ST3 plan (here’s the official news release).

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.

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SATURDAY: Join Jane’s Walk in The Junction and Riverside

9:43 AM: Before we get to today’s preview – in case you hadn’t already caught this in our calendar, tomorrow brings a once-a-year series of walking tours, and it includes one in West Seattle. From Feet First:

Jane’s Walk is an annual weekend-long festival of 20+ free volunteer-led neighborhood walking tours across the Puget Sound area. In the spirit of the great urban activist Jane Jacobs, walking tours are led and attended by anyone who has an interest in the neighborhoods where they live, work or hang out. Since its inception in 2007, Jane’s Walk has happened in cities across North America and around the world. Feet First the nonprofit promoting walkable communities is the proud local organizer of Jane’s Walk in the Puget Sound region. This year, as we gear up for what would have been Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday, we’re aiming for the biggest and best Jane’s Walk yet.

In our area, Timothy Lowry will lead a walk titled “West Seattle Junction: Changing Landscape and New Opportunities.” Meet at 9 am Saturday at Hotwire Online Coffeehouse (4410 California SW; WSB sponsor).

ADDED 10:46 AM: Local historian/author Judy Bentley just e-mailed to say she’s leading a Jane’s Walk in West Seattle tomorrow too – this one’s in the historic Riverside community by the Duwamish River. Meet at 10 am at West Marginal Place and 17th Avenue SW.

VIADUCT CLOSURE, DAY 8: Friday morning traffic/transit updates

(SDOT MAP with camera/incident links; OFFICIAL #99CLOSURE INFOSITE; ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

5:10 AM: Good morning – we’re starting the second week of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s closure. The early-morning progress report for under-Viaduct tunneling: 208 of 385 feet.

5:29 AM: Bridges and streets on the outbound routes are looking OK – no early incidents. The truck backup from yesterday should not be replicated today – the Port told us Terminal 46’s operator would be opening at 3 am, something it did not do yesterday.

5:47 AM: We’re about to head to the Water Taxi dock to check in on today’s runs – looks like a great day to sail. A commenter asked about the shuttles from Pier 2 – which hasn’t maxed out its parking spots yet – and whether their “continuous” operation had changed. No, said the WT’s Greg Lerner, but: “The one thing we’ve learned is that the shuttle needs to leave from Pier 2 about 11 minutes before departure to ensure riders have the time when they get to Seacrest Park to buy tickets (if needed) and walk down to the boat. Knowing this, we will not send a shuttle prior to this time (between sailings) if we don’t feel it can make it back to depart again by 11 minutes before the next sailing. We’re hoping riders are attentive to our closure brochures that suggest riders arrive at Pier 2 about 20 minutes prior to their departure.”

6:07 AM: Beautiful sunrise. Meantime, the high bridge, is of course, starting to get busy. We’re approaching Seacrest – still lots of street parking on Harbor.

6:21 AM: Check out that view of the eastbound bridge – filling up. Meantime at Seacrest, just for posterity’s sake, we recorded the boarding for the first run of the day:

That’s county Marine Division director Paul Brodeur checking in with the crew toward the start. The count: 78.

6:37 AM: While the high bridge is busy, it’s not yet backed up to the 35th/Fauntleroy entrance, so that’s a good sign. Since it’s Friday, we should look ahead to weekend events likely to affect getting around:

*Sounders FC play San Jose at CenturyLink Field, 7 pm Saturday
*Opening Day of boating season on Saturday – if you’re U-District-bound, note that Montlake Bridge will be open for marine traffic much of the day
*Lung Force Walk on Saturday and The Color Run on Sunday, both downtown

SDOT’s roundup has details on those and more.

6:54 AM: 110 for the second Water Taxi run of the day, down from 137 yesterday. The dock has a soundtrack all its own … sea lions barking from the barge buoys, Canada geese honking as they fly by, jets overhead (saw a KAL 747 earlier this hour), and of course the maritime traffic – Doc Maynard’s Vashon counterpart Sally Fox was visible in the semi-distance earlier as it headed toward downtown.

7:19 AM: Crash reported on the eastbound bridge near the 1st Avenue exit.

7:23 AM: Thanks to the texter who tells us, from a bus, what’s happening at the crash scene: “2-car collision, east end of WS Bridge, where the lanes coming up from the low bridge merge. Fire truck blocking bus lane and part of the right all-vehicle lane… Drivers still in their cars talking with police [when texter’s bus passed], didn’t *appear* to be serious injury.” Meantime, 7:15 am Water Taxi tally was 198. (Added: Our video from that boarding:)

We’re leaving the dock now, headed to see what the Avalon/Manning situation by Luna Park is looking like after yesterday’s troubles.

7:34 AM: That helicopter over the bridge is TV checking out traffic because of the crash.


Meantime, another bus passenger sent a photo (added above) saying it looks like the crash is clearing. (Added) And seconds after we typed that, SDOT verified via Twitter that ****the crash has cleared.****

7:41 AM: Checking out Avalon at Harbor/bridge onramp/Manning/etc. intersection, all is well – 21X and 116 just went by on the way to the bridge.

8:03 AM: Spent a few minutes observing at Avalon/Manning.

No left turning, no backups. (Did everybody divert today, or lots of people with three-day weekends, maybe?) Next, we’re heading to check out the bicycle commute under the bridge.

8:38 AM: From our stop on the path/trail by West Marginal Place:

Steady stream of riders going by. Low bridge has not opened for maritime traffic so far this morning, by the way.

9:02 AM: Just dispatched, Seattle Fire crash response to 9th/Barton.

9:25 AM: Haven’t heard any further details on that – the SFD response has closed, so here’s hoping that’s a good sign. By all accounts, today’s morning commute hasn’t been too bad. If you have any new questions about traffic or tunneling, please comment (or e-mail us at editor@westseattleblog.com) since as usual we will be on the media conference call, happening around 11:30 am. And we’ll have afternoon/evening coverage again, starting around 4 pm. (Inbetween, if there are any significant incidents affecting major corridors such as one of the bridges, we would publish a standalone report, as always.)

West Seattle Crime Watch: Prowler on video; the ‘theft’ that wasn’t

Two reader reports, the first one with video, the second one with gratitude:

The Admiral resident who shared the clip reports:

I wanted to let you know that we had a “hot prowl” early (Wednesday) morning in our house in the Admiral District. At about 3:30, my wife awoke seeing someone in our hallway. She was half-awake, but when she quickly realized it wasn’t me she shook me awake and started screaming. He took off down the hallway and jumped out of the same window that he apparently entered the house. The screen had been removed and it is the one window that doesn’t completely lock, (we will be fixing that today!). We saw that there was someone headed up the Hinds Street hill, west of our house. We called the police, who came pretty quickly and did a check of the area.

Our security cameras caught footage of the man, an African-American man in his 20’s, about 6’ tall, with tight corn rows, and was wearing grey sweats, sweatshirt, and high tops.

Recognize him? Burglary detectives would be interested.

Our second report is “the theft that wasn’t” – from a reader who did want to express appreciation for the person who did a kind deed:

I had a recent incident that I wanted to share. I had been expecting a package being delivered to my house. When it didn’t show up, even though the tracking info said it was delivered, I immediately assumed that it was stolen by those pesky package thieves. So I frantically called FedEx to see what they could do about it, if anything.

After verifying all of my info they told me that the package was accidentally delivered to someone else’s house and the person who received it contacted FedEx to get the package back to its rightful owner. As soon as I heard those words I felt guilty for assuming the worst and instead was overwhelmed with feelings of gratitude for that Good Samaritan. I wish I knew who they were so I could repay them. I am grateful that they did the right thing by returning it to FedEx.This incident is definitely a reminder that good things do happen and good people do exist.

Thank you, Good Samaritan!!

UPDATE: Possible shots heard south/west of Admiral

10:13 PM: Police are checking reports of possible gunshots heard just before 10 pm. We heard the dispatch sending officers to an area north of Madison Middle School, and we also received a message from someone several blocks north of that report. No victims have been reported, and we haven’t heard anything further on the dispatch, but wanted to make note. Police say they want to hear from anyone who thinks they hear gunfire – the more reports they get, even if your location/direction information is vague, the better the chance they can find evidence, if any.

12:14 AM: We haven’t reached police to determine whether they found evidence of gunshots, fireworks, or none of the above – but commenter Mike reports seeing fireworks in the area.

WHITE CENTER ANNEXATION? Dates set for first-round public hearing


ORIGINAL REPORT, 8:44 PM: Before Seattle city leaders can put potential annexation of White Center and vicinity on the ballot for voters in that area to consider, they need approval from a King County entity called the Boundary Review Board. Before the BRB makes its decision, it holds a public hearing. We’ve just learned the dates are set for its hearing on the Seattle annexation proposal: June 13th and 14th, starting at 7 pm both nights, at the Technology Access Foundation‘s Bethaday Community Space at Dick Thurnau Memorial Park (605 SW 108th). Documentation for the hearing is online – here’s the official notice; the online file for the proposed annexation is here. The city’s rep on the longrunning annexation issue moderated a public discussion at White Center’s Dubsea Coffee back in March; see our report here. If the Seattle City Council decides to seek annexation, a vote in the affected area could be sought in 2017 or 2018. But the BRB hearing is the first step.

ADDED FRIDAY MORNING: We followed up this morning with Seattle city government’s point person on the proposed annexation, Kenny Pittman. He said the city is still waiting for its formal notification of what’s on the BRB website, so it hasn’t made an official announcement of the hearings yet. He also said the city has yet to set up the webpage it promised at the March Dubsea meeting, with information about the proposal and process. We asked if any further community conversations are scheduled; not yet, he said, but he did mention that he’s been invited to the North Highline Fire District board’s meeting on May 16th (7 pm, NHFD HQ, 1243 SW 112th), and will be bringing along a Seattle Fire assistant chief.

CONGRATULATIONS! 6 students honored by American Association of University Women

2916 west seattle scholars
(From left: Yuxuan Zhu, Carynia Smith, Casey Hart from WSHS; Casey Iwamoto, Sara Johnson, Lilly Truong from CSIHS. Photo by Tonna Kutner)

The photo is courtesy of the American Association of University Women‘s Seattle branch, showing six of its recent honorees, students from West Seattle and Chief Sealth International High Schools. The announcement:

Six local high-school senior girls were recently honored by the Seattle Branch of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for their scholarship in the areas of Mathematics, Science, and Technology. This was the 16th Annual Scholar Recognition reception, which recognizes young women scholars from high schools around the Seattle area, nominated by their teachers and counselors.

Dr. Anne Goodchild, UW Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering was the keynote speaker for the event, held at the Best Western Plus Executive Inn in Seattle on the evening of Wednesday, April 27.

From West Seattle High School: Yuxuan Zhu (Mathematics), Carynia Smith (Science), and Casey Hart (Technology).

From Chief Sealth High School: Sara Johnson (Mathematics), Casey Iwamoto (Science), and Lilly Truong (Technology).

AAUW is a national organization which advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

VIADUCT CLOSURE, DAY 7: Afternoon & evening traffic, transit, tunneling updates

(SDOT MAP with camera/incident links; OFFICIAL #99CLOSURE INFOSITE; ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

4:09 PM: Our afternoon/evening commute watch is under way. First – if you haven’t seen it yet, we followed up on this morning’s big issues during today’s media conference call. We’ve also just updated the resulting story with new information from the Port.

30th/Avalon/Yancy project update – we just went by and while the flashing-beacon signs are in, the crosswalk was chalked, not striped. So we’re checking with SDOT on that.

We also just talked by phone with a local resident who asked us to share a plea for people cutting through residential side streets to get around clogged arterials: PLEASE, PLEASE DRIVE SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY. She’s in Highland Park but the plea could be from anywhere. The frustrated drivers using cut-throughs have almost hit at least two people on her street. Let’s at least get through all this without sending people (or pets) to the hospital … or the grave.

4:48 PM: Police are diverting from their previously planned traffic-management posts downtown to an unannounced protest march southbound on 5th, approaching Cherry at last report. SDOT is updating on Twitter.

5:12 PM: The downtown protest – which is about the shooting death of Che Taylor and other deaths – has closed Cherry east of 4th, according to SDOT (that’s between City Hall and SPD HQ).

5:23 PM: Just got word from KCDOT’s Jeff Switzer – who also sent the photo – that the need for more bike parking for Water Taxi users led SDOT to install a temp corral at Seacrest:


5:56 PM: “It’s gridlock right now downtown,” and not just because of the aforementioned protest, we just heard SPD say via scanner.

6:31 PM: Buses are still running late – someone just texted us a screenshot of a list of how far behind many are. Also, see comments. (And thank you yet again for the commute reports.)

8:21 PM: It’s official – the tunneling machine is now more than halfway along its path of digging beneath the Viaduct – 195 of the 385 feet, as of less than an hour ago.

TERMINAL 5: Port expects draft environmental statement May 23rd, two meetings in June

IMG_1921 (1)
(WSB photo of Terminal 5 from March)

Our first report from last night’s Southwest District Council meeting:

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR TERMINAL 5: Paul Meyer of the Port of Seattle provided a quick update (as he had at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council last month). First, a recap of how they got to the point where they decided – as community members had urged – to prepare a draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed “modernization” project at Terminal 5 in east West Seattle. Then, a quick status report: “We’re almost there,” said Meyer. “We’re about to publish it.”

This time, he had dates: He said they think the publication date will be May 23rd, but it’s not completely locked in yet. Two meetings are scheduled for comments – June 7th at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) and June 9th at the Alki Masonic Center in West Seattle. Meyer said they’re expecting a 30-day comment period which would close June 21st if they publish on May 23rd. But – “they’re still writing” the document, he warned, so the dates MIGHT change.

NEXT REPORT: The bulk of last night’s SWDC meeting focused on community proposals for a share of the city’s Neighborhood Street Fund; the council has to decide which proposals to approve for sending forward in the process.

YOU CAN HELP! West Seattle 5K volunteers needed, appreciated

(WSB photo from 2014 West Seattle 5K)

If you’re not walking, running, or rolling in the West Seattle 5K along Alki on May 22nd – can you help make it a success? From race director Jeff Mensing:

We are very much in need of volunteers to help with the West Seattle 5K Run/Walk on May 22nd during the race, especially because one adult is needed at every intersection of the route. If you can volunteer on Sunday, May 22th, shifts starting from 7:45 and 8:30 until 11:30 AM, we would be very grateful! If you are interested or available, please email wshs5kvolunteers@gmail.com with your name and availability.

The WS5K (co-sponsored by WSB again this year, and every year from its inception in 2009!) benefits West Seattle High School via its PTA.

VIADUCT CLOSURE, DAY 7: What we’ve found out about today’s traffic trouble spots and tunneling progress


ORIGINAL REPORT, 11:58 AM: As of less than an hour ago, the Highway 99 tunneling machine is close to the halfway point of the 385-foot stretch from one side of the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s underside to the other. The latest tunneling tally is 182 feet, as shown on the updated WSDOT graphic above. Meantime, we’re just off today’s conference call for media. Participants today: Dave Sowers, WSDOT’s tunnel-project administrator; Jon Layzer from SDOT; and Travis Phelps from WSDOT (regarding regional traffic).

We asked Layzer about the two traffic situations that dominated discussion in our channels this morning.

Regarding the truck backup on East Marginal, Layzer said, “The port had been opening the gate at Terminal 46 at 3 am, an early opening instead of 7 am – but (for) today, they had evaluated projected volumes of containers … and decided not to open early – that obviously had a significant impact. We are in communication with the port, asking them to strongly consider opening at 3 am for the duration of the Viaduct closure.” (We are now checking with the Port to see how they’re handling this request.)

ADDED 4 PM, PORT’S RESPONSE: The reply to our inquiry, from port spokesperson Peter McGraw:

A number of factors with traffic this morning. I understand there was a train loading that blocked traffic longer than usual, along with heavier traffic.

We will continue to work with the terminal operator on traffic issues.

There will also be truck holding areas adjacent to T-46, along with additional gates for trucks to access the terminal.

The terminal opens at 3 am on its busiest days of the week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. The operator already added one day this week and will do so again next week—at their own expense.

It also operates a regular day shift on Saturdays. So there are four additional shifts to take trucks off the road during commute hours.

Unfortunately, truckers are not using the early shifts to the full extent possible, and it’s not always possible to open the terminal at 3 am five days per week.

We will send out a request to the trucking community to use the 3 am gates for the duration of the closure.

(BACK TO ORIGINAL 11:58 AM REPORT) Regarding the clog at Avalon, Layzer said, “We did send Metro and SDOT folks out to observe performance yesterday and this morning … we do have parking-enforcement officers lined up to do a sweep of that corridor. We evaluated a request to extend the bus lane further south, but didn’t feel that was needed. We’ll continue to monitor that. (Also), we spoke to someone yesterday about the left turns (onto Avalon from the exit off the bottom of the Admiral Way hill) and don’t have a status on that.” But he did say they’re also evaluating the pavement markings. (He also expressed appreciation for the community collaboration here on WSB sussing out some of the West Seattle-side trouble spots – so thanks again to everyone who’s been reporting in.)

Layzer also was asked about train traffic in SODO leading to delays of motor-vehicle traffic, and replied that SDOT has “reached out to Burlington Northern and asked for their assistance to avoid peak periods for their train-building activities in particular” but they “don’t have any confirmation that (the train line) will adjust.” He said SPD officers also have been dispatched to 1st Avenue S. in SODO to monitor the situation.

Back to tunneling progress, it was repeated twice that it’s still “too early for us to start speculating when they’re going to open,” said Sowers. Also, they are close to going under the spot where the machine will be within 15′ of the underside of a Viaduct column.

What’s up for your West Seattle Thursday

(Anna’s Hummingbird, photographed “in her lichen-covered nest” by Mark Dale in Gatewood)

Sorry to have skipped a few daily previews since the Viaduct closure began – today we’re back on track! From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar and inbox, highlights for today/tonight:

PLANT SALE: 11 am-3 pm, the Landscape Horticulture program at South Seattle College (WSB sponsor) is having a plant sale, north end of campus – details here. (6000 16th SW)

TINKERLAB AT HIGH POINT LIBRARY: 4-6 pm drop-in fun with STEM-based activities/crafts at High Point Library. Free! (35th SW/SW Raymond)

CINCO DE MAYO AT CYCLE U: 6-8 pm, you’re invited to a Cinco De Mayo party at Cycle U/West Seattle – details in our calendar listing. (3418 Harbor SW)

9030 35th SW @ DESIGN REVIEW: 6:30 pm, one project on the Southwest Design Review Board‘s schedule tonight, a 5-story, 40-unit, 32-offstreet-parking-space project at 9030 35th SW. As always, the meeting will include a chance to comment; it’s upstairs at the Sisson Building/Senior Center. (California SW/SW Oregon)

NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER: Annual West Seattle gathering, 6:30 pm at Alki Statue of Liberty Plaza – info in our calendar listing. (61st SW/Alki SW)

COMMUNITIES OF THE DUWAMISH & THE RIVER THAT RUNS THROUGH THEM: 7-8:30 pm (doors open 6:30) at the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse: “Learn how the Duwamish River is being restored and how community involvement is changing the future of Seattle’s only river. Free League of Women Voters Public Forum. Guest Panel: James Rasmussen, Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group; Paulina Lopez, DRCC/TAG Community Engagement and Outreach; Josh Baldi, WA State Department of Ecology; Ellie Hale, US Environmental Protection Agency. (4705 W. Marginal Way SW)

NORTH HIGHLINE UNINCORPORATED AREA COUNCIL: Do you live work just south of the city limits – White Center, Top Hat, Shorewood, etc.? Your community council meets tonight, 7 pm, North Highline Fire District HQ. Agenda’s here. (1243 SW 112th)

‘DEATH OF A SALESMAN’: ArtsWest continues its production of the classic drama, 7:30 pm curtain time tonight. (4711 California SW)

Highland Park Uncorked: What’s new this year!

Big changes this year for the Highland Park Improvement Club‘s annual wine-tasting fundraiser, Highland Park Uncorked, coming up Saturday, May 21st:

Registration is now open for our 8th Annual Highland Park Uncorked! We are so excited to be planning this event, with a few changes that will be sure to impress you!

Register now, as we’re sure to sell out.

A few noteworthy changes & new events:

*We now provide the wine for you! We’re working with 8 local wineries to bring you some amazing wines to try! So leave your bottles at home, the wine is on us…

*Everyone gets a commemorative glass to take home! Because you are our valued guest and supporting our community, we think you all deserve one.

*Silent art auction! With so many amazing talented artists in our very own neighborhood, we will be highlighting them with a new silent auction, in addition to our regular raffle. Our club is deeply rooted in this community, and it’s a perfect opportunity for us to share some of our local talents with you all.

*Wine Roulette! Test your luck by spinning our wheel and pulling a wrapped wine bottle from our ‘wine cellar,’ ranging from high-end bottles, worthy of sharing with the boss, to barely guest-worthy, but still drinkable. No matter what, you walk away with a bottle, the club gets a donation, and it’s a great opportunity to win a top-quality bottle of wine for a cheap price.

So register now! As a reminder, we book out in tables of 10. So book an entire table, or we’ll put smaller groups together so you can cozy up to some new friends.

(WSB is among the co-sponsors of HP Uncorked again this year.)

VIADUCT CLOSURE, DAY 7: Thursday morning traffic & transit updates

(SDOT MAP with camera/incident links; OFFICIAL #99CLOSURE INFOSITE; ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

5:04 AM: Good morning! Welcome to the last day of the first week of the Viaduct closure. Since last Friday, the tunneling machine has dug 175 feet of the 385-foot distance it needs to go to be clear of the Viaduct’s underside – that’s the total as of about an hour ago.

5:19 AM: We’ve looked all around and so far this morning, no crashes or incidents. The big theme at yesterday’s briefing with city, county, and state traffic/transit reps was “don’t go back to your old ways” (as well as, thanks for what you’ve been doing to ease things so far).

5:40 AM: Still wide open out there. We’ll have someone out at Seacrest again this morning to see how the Water Taxi runs are going – usage has remained well above previous levels but with room for more. Here’s the schedule.

6:01 AM: The high bridge is starting to look busy. (Added) So does KING 5’s helicopter view of I-5 NB, just north of the West Seattle Bridge.

6:12 AM: Reminder if you didn’t catch our update last night – sometime today, between peak periods, SDOT will stripe the new crosswalk at Avalon/Yancy.

6:22 AM: Sunshine at the Water Taxi dock (and tomorrow’s forecast is even sunnier):


Our photo shows part of the line for the first sailing of the day, which we’re told had 100 on board, up from 95 yesterday. Meantime, scanner mentions some backup at Spokane/East Marginal Way (checking on whether that’s truck traffic for the port terminals). And thanks to Paul for today’s first commute report.

6:33 AM: The bridge backup is really kicking in.

6:56 AM: The 6:45 West Seattle Water Taxi run is down from the past few days, 137 passengers, just about half the capacity. On the bridge, it’s busy but not backed up to the Fauntleroy end yet.

7:02 AM: Heard a little more (via scanner) about Spokane/Marginal – it’s trucks backed up waiting to get into Terminal 46. Here’s the live camera view; here’s a screengrab from a moment ago:

Police are on scene making sure the intersection’s not blocked and monitoring for safety issues (busy bicycle route, among other things).

7:13 AM: Remember our discussion here the other day about cars cutting under the bridge and turning left onto Avalon just before the bridge ramp? Just heard a dispatch for SPD to check it out.

7:24 AM: 198 on the 7:15 am Water Taxi run, down about ten percent from yesterday. If you are heading out on land – the bridge is now in full backup mode.

7:30 AM: Via Twitter, Jeff reports, “Admiral backup back to Monday-Tuesday level. To the Stevens staircase.” Meantime, the low bridge is looking pretty busy – haven’t had a maritime opening since 5 am, but likely some high-bridge diversion. (The “live” view is atop this story.)

7:44 AM: Michael tweets, “Lower Spokane is the worst it has been during the closure.”

7:53 AM: 160 on the Water Taxi a few minutes ago, up one passenger from yesterday. Our crew at the dock says there are reports of shuttles getting caught in traffic (more than usual) so dropoff, bike, driving (free parking at Pier 2) might be better ways to go if you’re headed to Seacrest before the last morning-rush run at 9:15. Also, we’re continuing to get texts from people saying the truck backup on East Marginal is still affecting other surface vehicle traffic.

8 AM: Another Twitter report on the surface trip – from @aussieshed, “From south Delridge Way SW to east side of lower Spokane Bridge – 45 minutes…so far.”

8:35 AM: Like the traffic, the commute reports in comments pick up as the morning goes on, and Avalon is getting panned today. Our crew headed back from the Water Taxi dock about 15 minutes ago experienced it too. We’ll be on today’s conference call with WSDOT and SDOT to talk about tunneling and traffic, and will be asking about Avalon enforcement as well as about the truck backup on East Marginal.

8:42 AM: South Park Bridge has closed to surface traffic/opened for maritime traffic. Live camera’s here; screengrab for posterity’s sake:

8:50 AM: South Park Bridge is open to surface traffic again.

9:04 AM: Here’s the ongoing truck situation – live pic of E. Marginal/Hanford:

9:28 AM: Paul sent this photo of the bicycles on the 8:15 am Water Taxi:


And **now** it looks like the East Marginal truck backup is finally easing … at least a bit.

BIKE TO SCHOOL DAY: Alki Elementary’s pedalers

File May 04, 10 19 03 PM
(Photo by Don Brubeck)

It’s not just the Viaduct closure that’s putting more people on pedals – Wednesday happened to be Bike to School Day, and Alki Elementary students led the way, as usual.

(This photo and next by Terry Kegel)

Not only did they have scenic rides to school, they had a bike rodeo too.


This year, May is being celebrated in our region as Bike Everywhere Month.

ROAD WORK: 30th/Avalon/Yancy crosswalk installation Thursday

Heads up for tomorrow: The last major component of the 30th/Yancy/Avalon/Andover safety project is scheduled for tomorrow, NOT Friday as previously reported: SDOT says the crosswalk striping across Avalon will happen on Thursday, outside peak hours, the contractor promised the city. Pushbuttons for the flashing crossing beacons on both sides of Avalon are scheduled for installation tomorrow, too. The work at this multi-point intersection has been under way for more than a month.

COUNTDOWN: 10 days to West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day 2016!

Like lemonade? You’ll find it at more than half a dozen sale sites on West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day – now just ten days away.

Into vintage stuff? Lots of that.

Want to make music? One sale promises a piano; another, a pump organ.

Film fan? Old movie posters at one sale.

There are cat toys, dog toys, a saddle, a hand-carved rocking horse, a sale laden with “elephantiana” … Collectors’ items and art from a multitude of nations … Clothes, toys, gear for kids of all ages … Everything but the kitchen sink. Wait, one sale DOES HAVE a kitchen sink. Another will have a small clawfoot tub.

While doublechecking sale listings as our mapmaking process continues, we made notes of some of the most unusual items, and what you see above is still just a fraction … Saturday, May 14th, 9 am-3 pm (with a scattering of sales starting earlier and/or going later), is the big day, all over West Seattle. 330+ sales will be on the map when we publish it here and at westseattlegaragesale.com this Saturday, one week in advance of sale day. Sellers keep telling us they most enjoy meeting their neighbors; even if you just want to wander around near your neighborhood, you’re likely to have multiple choices. It’s the 12th year for West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day, ninth year that we at WSB are coordinating and promoting it. One week from Saturday … more countdown info tomorrow!

West Seattle schools: Alki Elementary principal Shannon Hobbs-Beckley leaving after this year

After three years of leading Alki Elementary School, principal Shannon Hobbs-Beckley has just announced she is leaving. Here’s the letter she sent to her school community (thanks to the person who forwarded it):

Three summers ago, I was enjoying the break between school years when I learned of the opportunity to apply for the role of principal at Alki Elementary. I was energized by the possibility of leading a school with highly skilled staff members, successful students and dedicated families, all within my own community. When I joined this school, it was to become a part of Alki. I am forever grateful that I took the risk to apply and that I was chosen as the next leader for the Alki community. Alki Elementary and this community are everything that I imagined; a school comprised of intelligent, innovative and hardworking teachers and staff members; brilliant, creative, joyful and persistent students; and active, informed, committed and supportive parents. It is a place where I feel inspired, challenged and proud.

It is with mixed emotions that I share with you my plan to leave Alki at the end of this school year. I am electing to seize a new and very different leadership opportunity than anything I have done before, either professionally or personally. I have accepted a leadership position at an American School in Brazil. My family and I are moving in mid-July and will begin working and attending school there right away. I am nervously anticipating acclimating to a new school, a new culture, a new language and a new way of life. I am also excited to experience the thrill of lifelong learning, the meaning of global citizenship and to grow as a person and an educator. I will carry each of you with me, in the warm memories of how honored I have been to serve you for the past three years.

As we work together to conclude this school year and lay plans for what lies ahead, I am confident that the Alki community will continue to thrive. We have worked hard to build a school characterized by collaboration, academic excellence, acceptance, compassion and positive outcomes for students. This is a school where staff, students and parents work together for the social, emotional, physical and intellectual development of each child. These traditions remain. Your unwavering commitment to the school, students, staff, and to one another will ensure that the mission of success and excellence for all students persists for many years to come.

The process for my replacement will commence immediately, as Alki looks forward to the next school year. We will keep you updated on the hiring process.

Thank you all for your kindness and support.


Shannon Hobbs-Beckley, Principal
Alki Elementary School

Hobbs-Beckley came to Alki from the Kent School District.

GiveBIG, day 2: Donate by midnight!

In case you hadn’t heard, or forgot, the annual GiveBIG donation drive for hundreds of nonprofits was extended through today because of technical glitches with the Seattle Foundation’s new donation software. So this is one last reminder – you have until midnight TONIGHT to give to participating organizations who will then be eligible for added “stretch” dollars. As usual, we made a list of local participants and their special donation links for the event – you’ll find it here.

VIADUCT CLOSURE, DAY 6: Afternoon/evening commute coverage for Wednesday

(SDOT MAP with camera/incident links; OFFICIAL #99CLOSURE INFOSITE; ‘low bridge’ closed? LOOK HERE)

(Click any view for a close-up; more cameras on the WSB Traffic page)

4:05 PM: No incidents so far but we’re committed to having traffic/transit watch atop the page during peak commute times as the Viaduct closure continues, so here we go for Wednesday afternoon.

5:08 PM: Crash on the 1st Avenue South Bridge – Seattle Fire and Washington State Patrol are on the way. Don’t know which side yet. (Update – here’s the camera view.)

5:24 PM: If you haven’t seen it yet, we did cover today’s multi-department media briefing on how traffic’s going. (Have finally added the video, too.) Bottom line, they’re still urging you to continue whatever changes you’ve made, because they’re helping. And if you take the Water Taxi – consider shifting earlier or later so passenger loads are more spread out. Speaking of which, thanks to Ashley for this photo of the line for the 5:15 from downtown:


5:52 PM: Just in from Jeff Switzer at KCDOT, Water Taxi numbers:

199 riders at 4:45 pm, 221 riders at 5:15 pm

5:58 PM: The “low bridge” has just closed to surface traffic.

6:11 PM: And the bridge has reopened.

7:50 PM: Another tunneling update tonight from WSDOT – 162.5 feet along the under-Viaduct way, getting closer to the halfway mark. Here’s the full evening update, including an overview of pm traffic and transit.

FOLLOWUP: Parks’ work at East Admiral tree-cutting site

(WSB photo)

If you were among the Admiral-area residents who noticed helicopters overhead at midday … no crime, no crash, just TV crews looking for an aerial view of what you see above: As reported here Tuesday, Seattle Parks sent this piece of heavy equipment called a Spyder to the slopes where news of illegal tree-cutting sparked an outcry back in March. As we first heard from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Tuesday, Parks decided to send the crew to clear away blackberry overgrowth and look for any further evidence of trees cut beyond the 100+ already estimated, while helping prep the site for “eventual restoration.” Otherwise, the city says the investigation continues; no charges so far. The work is expected to continue tomorrow.

VIDEO: Viaduct closure traffic briefing on Day 6

ORIGINAL REPORT, 12:20 PM: Almost didn’t make it to today’s multi-department briefing on Viaduct-closure traffic … because of the traffic. The bridge was still backed up to the crest at 10:30 am, and 1st Avenue S. was bumper-to-bumper. First highlight, the daily late-morning tunneling update:


149 feet of the 385 to get the machine clear of the underside of the Viaduct. But, Dave Sowers of WSDOT told us and the other media at this morning’s briefing (held as usual on the downtown Water Taxi dock, because of the Viaduct backdrop), they don’t want to predict when they’ll be done with the under-the-Viaduct phase – let alone speculate on whether there’s any chance of finishing that sooner than the “about two weeks” timeframe. The ground remains stable around and over the machine, Sowers said, and everything “looks great.”

(From left, SDOT’s Jon Layzer, Metro’s Victor Obeso, WSDOT’s Dave Sowers)

No Seattle Tunnel Partners rep at this briefing (unlike the one via phone yesterday, which was focused on tunneling), since this was supposed to be about traffic and transit. We asked Victor Obeso from Metro if the afternoon problems headed this way were going to lead to any changes in the southbound routes that have been getting stuck behind trains at Lander. Short answer: No. Longer answer: They’re continuing to monitor and evaluate.

More to come in a bit. We also recorded it all on video so you can watch for yourself once we have it uploaded. (UPDATE: Here’s the video:)

ADDED 1:36 PM: Other toplines – unlike the Water Taxi, where passengers can be very precisely counted, other modes of travel can only estimate trends since the closure began. Bus usage in general is estimated to be up a single-digit percentage overall, Metro says, but they ran more than 70 extra trips the first three days. Sound Transit, 10 percent for light rail, 15 percent for Sounder trains. Something else that’s up: Jon Layzer of SDOT noted a big increase in “blocking incidents,” although deployment of Incident Response Teams and other people to help clear them has been helpful.

Anything they’ve learned so far that will be kept post-closure? he was asked. While he didn’t commit to anything, he did promise they would have an “after-action report” to look at such things.

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