West Seattle, Washington
First there were eight, then there were two. Since we first saw the two “scenarios” to which the Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront options list has been narrowed, and relayed them to you in as-it-happened coverage from City Hall late yesterday, we also have been glad to facilitate the sharing of opinions as well. You’ve heard from West Seattle’s representatives on the Viaduct Stakeholders Advisory Committee, Pete Spalding (his reaction here) and Vlad Oustimovitch (his, here). You’ve heard from dozens of WSBers in comments on our Viaduct reports (all archived here). Now another West Seattleite’s voice — that of the veteran journalist who wrote editorials for the West Seattle Herald for years, until his position as editor of the WSH and Ballard News-Tribune was cut last week. Jack Mayne contacted us this week and asked if we would be interested in editorial contributions. WSB itself has not taken official editorial-style positions on issues since our first year, before evolving into a news site. But this is certainly a place for voices to be heard, and read. Here is what Jack Mayne has written about the latest turn in the road to the Viaduct’s future (followed by a personal note from him):
BOTH VIADUCT OPTIONS DOOM WEST SEATTLE
Editorial by Jack Mayne
Special to West Seattle Blog
Yesterday, transportation officials chose two preferred options to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Both of them would shaft West Seattle, dooming commuters to long, slow traffic-snarled slogs to downtown, and even dooming promised added bus routes by enmeshing them in the traffic mess either option would create.
We strongly urge anyone who commutes to downtown daily, or who travels north of downtown to Ballard and beyond: Attend and make your concerns known at a public forum this Monday, December 15th, beginning at 5 pm at Town Hall.
The first option chosen is a new elevated viaduct, starting at Safeco Field and connecting to the Battery Street Tunnel. At first blush, this sounds as though it would be a good replacement for the viaduct the governor has said she will tear down in 2012.
But it is not.
Gone would be the Seneca Street offramp that allows people working downtown to move directly into the central city.
There would still be an offramp onto Western Avenue just before the roadway enters the tunnel, as is the case now. This arrangement would mean a commuter would either have to drive north of the city center and backtrack on surface streets, or would have to exit State Route 99 at King Street and then negotiate numerous traffic signals and downtown city traffic to their destinations.
But the real stake through the heart of this proposal – which would have an end cost of well over $3 billion – is that Mayor Greg Nickels has vowed again and again to never allow an elevated roadway along the waterfront. Nickels, Metropolitan King County Executive Ron Sims, and Governor Chris Gregoire are the three who will make the final decision. Further, the Seattle Downtown Association, the Metropolitan Seattle Chamber of Commerce, and numerous politicians have opposed the construction of another elevated roadway to replace the viaduct.
That option appears to be only a stalking horse for the politicians who want it their way or no way.
The second choice by the transportation agencies is the real disaster for West Seattle. It needs a stake driven so deeply into its heart that it never, ever comes up again. That is the so-called surface and transit option.
A two-street surface esplanade has magical music for many downtown romanticists — but West Seattleites, think what it would mean to you.
Pigeon Point resident Pete Spalding said this on West Seattle Blog last night:
“If you leave West Seattle and drive through downtown going to north Seattle you will encounter 28 stop lights, a 90 degree turn to proceed through the Battery Street tunnel and a 30 mile per hour speed limit. On top of this there is no mention of how the ferry traffic (entering or exiting Colman dock) will be figured into the traffic flow.”
Remember, buses will travel many portions of this route, too, so taking the bus may not save commuters any time.
Besides Nickels and Sims, we are told that West Seattle resident and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen is in favor of not replacing the viaduct with anything but city streets, thus making downtown streets into clogged transportation corridors.
Not only will this option cost almost as much as the elevated option, more than $3 billion, but it will doom West Seattle resident to an estimated two hour commute each way. Traffic will mean buses will be caught in the gridlock.
You can forget going downtown for anything but the most important of missions, considering the traffic snarls on the way, then the exorbitant cost of parking once you get there.
Shoppers will find it is faster, cheaper and easier to journey to newly renovated Southcenter, with relatively easy access via Highway 509 and free parking once there.
The 20 percent of Seattle’s population that lives here seems to mean nothing to the politicians who are making this choice. The only question on final judgment now is Gov. Gregoire, who does have a wider constituency to answer to.
We urge West Seattle residents to crowd Town Hall next Monday night and demand that we have a say in this. Old-timers remember the bleak days when the West Seattle Bridge was down and being replaced. Many businesses went under, others barely survived. Getting to the job center downtown was a daily nightmare.
The one good thing out of this is the decision to keep the deep-bored tunnel option on the table for the future. That is a best answer to moving traffic through the city. It would not permit direct access to Ballard, but it would to the north. The tunnel as now conceived would start at Qwest Field and come out a couple of blocks north of the current mouth on Aurora, allowing connection of some surface streets around Seattle Center.
We need to kill the surface and transit option once and for all — or else maybe we should take up the old cause of leaving Seattle and becoming the City of West Seattle (again).
Note from WSB editor/co-publisher Tracy Record: We are checking with Councilmember Rasmussen re: his current official stance on Viaduct replacement; in 2006, this link reminds us, he voted with a majority of Council colleagues to support the cut-and-cover tunnel option, and clearly voiced opposition to an elevated replacement.
Now, one more note. After Jack met with co-publisher Patrick Sand and me earlier this week, we also offered him the opportunity to publish a personal note regarding his change in status, as so far as we can tell from the newspaper’s website and current print edition, it has not posted anything aside from changing the name on the masthead. Read on for Jack’s message:Read More
Cold? What cold? More than 100 people gathered at Our Lady of Guadalupe for tonight’s tree lighting. That’s Father Jack Walmsley leading the countdown and the blessing – reminding the crowd this date was chosen for a reason special to OLG – and that’s parish member and Channel 13 reporter Brian Callanan emceeing with Father Walmsley. Of course, caroling ensued:
And thanks to WSB’er Celeste, here’s a photo of the tree, post-lighting:
If you want to see the OLG tree, it’s atop the city’s highest hill (500-plus feet), 35th and Myrtle, east of the reservoir/water tower/future park site (map). Tomorrow and Sunday night, two more great chances for outdoor holiday caroling and celebrating, as the Christmas Ship and its miniflotilla visit West Seattle shorelines – see the West Seattle Weekend Lineup for times and places.
Thanks to Bob Bollen for that sea-spray shot from south of Alki Point (your photos are welcome too! – firstname.lastname@example.org). No reports of major problems in the area so far, but here are some links to watch:
Latest forecast (wind advisory’s in effect till midnight)
National Weather Service “storm reports” (high wind gusts, etc.)
City Light power-outage list
WSDOT trouble spots via Twitter
Washington State Ferries “service bulletins”
King County road alerts
Live 911 log for Seattle fire/medic calls
Got a link to add? We’d love to hear about it. P.S. We checked with Our Lady of Guadalupe a bit earlier and tonight’s 7 pm tree lighting is still on, at last report. ADDED 9:22 PM: A bit of slushy snow earlier, as mentioned in comments. And we got e-mail about a snowplow/sand truck stationed on the south California SW hill (near Ida; here’s a map) just before 8 pm. Will check later if it’s still there. 10:06 PM UPDATE: Newest “forecast discussion” is out. Looks like things aren’t too crazy-cold until tomorrow night, though snow showers are still a threat during the day.
Thanks to several WSB’ers for e-mailing us in the past day and a half or so to point out that those speed bumps have just gone in on 16th SW north of South Seattle Community College. The ironic and head-scratch-inducing aspect of the installation, however, is that they are very close to the massively pitted stretch of 16th SW that was supposed to be repaved this year (but as we reported last month is now on hold till 2009). So what’s up with that? we were asked. We in turn relayed the question to SDOT, whose communications chief Rick Sheridan managed to track down the vacationing project engineer to retrieve this explanation:
The speed cushions installed by SDOT on 16th Avenue SW are part of a series requested and approved as a small Neighborhood Street Fund (NSF) project. After the community requested them through the NSF process, SDOT studied vehicle speeds in the area and determined that speeding could be controlled with these devices. Speed cushions will be installed on 16th Avenue SW, SW Dawson Street and 21st Avenue SW.
When the work is complete, 16th Avenue SW will have two sets to help address speeding. The first set, reported by your readers, was installed in an area that is not scheduled for repaving. The second set will be installed in an area of 16th Avenue SW that, funds permitting, will be repaved and so we are waiting until that work is accomplished.
Got questions? We do our best to get answers, so we’re always glad to get notes about sightings like this … we don’t say “thanks” often enough. Any time: email@example.com (or if you’re on Twitter, @westseattleblog)
One year ago tomorrow, we covered a public meeting about Hiawatha Playfield improvements, at the adjacent community center. In the report we subsequently published, we noted that the city expected construction to be complete this fall. This past June, Parks sent an update saying work would be done by March 2009. But late today, we got an update from the Parks Department, which is now talking about construction completion by September of next year, almost 7 years after the first public meeting on the project:Read More
You’ve certainly seen that bumper sticker before. But there was something plaintive about seeing it on the side of a car door parked outside a school where parents are about to plot strategy to try to save their kids from getting moved out of their school because of district budget troubles. Two nights after Cooper Elementary officially materialized on Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson‘s list of “potential final recommendations” – with the “potential” proposal being, close the Cooper program and move Pathfinder K-8 into the Cooper building – dozens of members of the school community gathered in the library, as heralded by the whiteboard near the school’s front doors:
Key points of what they said and what they’re strategizing, ahead:Read More
(added 1:44 pm, video of the tree that’s going to fall on WSB HQ someday)
Got a note from Jo on Alki, and we’re seeing it here in west-facing Upper Fauntleroy (over Lincoln Park) – strong wind within the past half-hour, and sideways rain. Batten down! More to come. The forecast was updated less than an hour ago, by the way, for the metro area:
REST OF TODAY…WINDY…RAIN. HIGHS IN THE LOWER 40S. SOUTH WIND 20 TO 30 MPH WITH GUSTS TO 45 MPH.
TONIGHT…RAIN TURNING TO SHOWERS AND WINDY. PRECIPITATION MAY MIX WITH OR CHANGE TO SNOW AT TIMES WITH SLUSHY ACCUMULATIONS OF AN INCH OR TWO ON HIGHER HILLS AWAY FROM THE WATER. LOWS IN THE LOWER TO MID 30S. SOUTHWEST WIND 20 TO 30 MPH EXCEPT NORTHWEST WINDS NORTH OF SEATTLE. WIND DIMINISHING OVERNIGHT.
Regardless of what the weather does or doesn’t do, this is perhaps the very best pre-Christmas weekend – second-to-last weekend before The Holiday, so nobody’s in pre-holiday panic mode yet. And what a wonderful thing that is, since we have a tree lighting tonight, Christmas Ship visits Saturday and Sunday nights, Santa in The Junction and at Westwood Village, wondrous musical offerings, and the WSB Forum members inviting you to a great party and donation drive on Sunday … It’s not all holidays, though – there’s “hardcore karaoke” tonight at Skylark (WSB sponsor), for example, and a circus/acrobatics show at Youngstown! In all, more than 50 West Seattle events listed ahead:Read More
On this day after the state, county, and city went public with the final two “scenarios” for an Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront replacement, we are continuing to publish expanded reactions to the proposals, starting with the West Seattleites who have been part of the Viaduct-vetting process as members of the Stakeholders Advisory Committee. This committee does not get to vote on what it wants to see – it’s been brought together from various groups and areas with a particular “stake” in this, and has been used as something of a sounding board, through a series of long and arduous meetings (for which they are not compensated). Late last night, we published the reaction of committee member Pete Spalding of Pigeon Point; this morning, here’s what we’ve received from committee member Vlad Oustimovitch of Gatewood:
As I’m sure everybody has already learned, the combined project team from the three Departments of Transportation (Washington State, King County and City of Seattle) announced two options for dealing with the damaged Alaskan Way Viaduct. Unfortunately, the two options selected, a new waterfront side-by-side viaduct with no downtown exits, and a surface option that simply boosts the capacity of existing surface streets without maintaining through capacity, are both options that will generate incredible opposition from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. The rebuilt viaduct option has been deemed unacceptable by both downtown and environmental interests, and the surface solution is unacceptable to both the business community as well as all of the commuters that depend on the Viaduct to get to their jobs. West Seattle, more than any other community, would be seriously impacted by the surface solution. Neither of the two options offer a solution that will garner support from a broad base of constituents, and will undoubtedly once again lead us into acrimonious debate, dividing the region and stalemating the process.
The good news is that at yesterday’s meeting the stakeholders took the initiative for a diplomatic solution, with 24 out of 25 stakeholders stating that it was important to avoid the battles that would ensue from the decision to limit the options to the two offered, and to work on a compromise solution. David Brewster wrote an excellent article in Crosscut
“A peace treaty for the Viaduct wars” that explains how we are trying to broker a solution that is acceptable for the greatest number of stakeholders. Not just the stakeholders on the committee, but to all the stakeholders in the region. This would include different components of surface improvements, as well as a bored tunnel that would allow through capacity similar to what it is today.
I realize that many people in West Seattle would like to see another elevated solution that maintains the drive with the best views in the region, but I think that we all recognize that the most important thing is to maintain our ability to get around. The bored tunnel offers us two things, first the potential to retain the existing viaduct during construction, which is not possible with a rebuild and secondly (but perhaps most importantly) a political alliance that allows the Viaduct issue to finally get settled. If we do not consider the interests of everybody in the political equation, then it is very possible that we will be left with the surface option, which to me is not an option at all. We need to maintain our transportation capacity. The bored tunnel, although slightly more costly than a rebuild is a good investment. Economic studies have shown potential losses to our regional economy of up $3.4 billion dollars a year during any closure of the Viaduct and the loss of tens of thousands of jobs.
We need a solution, not another impasse that could have disastrous consequences not only to West Seattle, but to the whole region. That is why I am working very hard with the other stakeholders to help craft a diplomatic solution to stave off the crisis that will certainly result from the selection of the two alternates announced yesterday by our political leaders. I am disappointed that after a year of working on this, our leaders have decided to pit us against each other. To me, that is not an option. We need to work together in these difficult times.
I read all the responses posted on the West Seattle Blog on the subject on the Viaduct, so please take the time to post a comment. It is very useful to me to get feedback.
Thanks to Vlad and Pete for agreeing to share their thoughts. In the pipeline for later today – a guest editorial from former West Seattle Herald editor Jack Mayne.
If you want to follow just our Alaskan Way Viaduct coverage, by the way, here is the direct link to all stories we’ve flagged for that category (newest to oldest) – if you read via RSS, find the WSB Categories list in the right sidebar, where you’ll note each category has its own RSS feed.
For all the project information, and links to send your thoughts directly to decisionmakers, there’s an ever-growing website at alaskanwayviaduct.org. For other coverage, you can also check the automated feed on the WSB “More” page – in addition to pulling links from regional media mentioning West Seattle, we also programmed that feed long ago to include Alaskan Way Viaduct mentions too.
This is what we’d been waiting for before another Snow Scare ’08 post: The local National Weather Service forecasters just posted their latest 4-times-daily “forecast discussion” moments ago. Read it here; the fact the phrase “explosively developing low pressure” appears in the first line, sounds like a sign of Trouble On The Way, but the “discussion” seems to be downgrading the snow likelihood around here (and the “winter storm warning” will be canceled for points south of Everett:
IN THE LOWLANDS [tonight] WE COULD STILL SEE SLUSHY ACCUMULATIONS ON HIGHER HILLS AWAY FROM WATER WITH SNOW LEVELS DOWN TO NEAR 500 FEET AT TIMES. ANY SNOW THAT DOES ACCUMULATE DOES NOT APPEAR TO BE WIDESPREAD AND SIGNIFICANT THROUGH EARLY SAT MORNING.
Snow or no, low temps are still on the way, they say:
HIGH TEMPERATURES WILL STRUGGLE TO GET ABOVE FREEZING OVER THE UPCOMING WEEK.
Disclaimer: If you’ve lived around here more than five minutes, you know the forecast and 4 bucks will get you a cup of coffee. ADDED 11:30 AM: Just in case – one of the neighborhood mailing lists we monitor has just received a helpful copy of the city’s snowplow-route map; you can get it online here.
Turns out the West Seattle Cheetahs (most recent WSB story here) aren’t the only West Seattle team playing in the state recreational-soccer championships at the Starfire complex in Tukwila this weekend —
That’s the U17 West Seattle Xtreme. They play Avanti United for the title in their class at 3:45 tomorrow. Then the Cheetahs’ (U12 girls) game vs. the Tracyton Tornadoes is at 9:15 Sunday morning, and at 3:45 pm Sunday, the U18 Eagles are up:
Their title game is against the Ambush. Tim McMonigle of the West Seattle Soccer Club says, “This is a big deal, as we have never had this many teams vying to win at the state level. These teams have won our district (District III), and then were one of the top two teams after the semi-finals against other District winners from around the state, and are now the top two teams in the state. The winner can rightfully say they are the best in the state for recreational soccer for their age group.” If you plan to go cheer them on, admission is $5 for 12 and up, parking is $5 unless you are a Starfire member. Want to know more about the West Seattle Soccer Club and its teams (more than 1,300 players this fall alone)? Here’s the info-laden website. Good luck to all!
Next Thursday, the proposed 7-story residential/retail/commercial building at 4502 42nd SW (map) goes back to the Southwest Design Review Board for the first time since a tough review session 14 months ago (WSB coverage here). This morning, its new design proposal is already available online (check out the full presentation here; the image above is looking toward the project’s north and west sides) – and development-watchers will note the architect has changed; Junction-based Nicholson Kovalchick is now on the case, replacing Mark Travers. The review meeting’s at 6:30 pm Thursday, Madison Middle School (right before the 8 pm review for the redevelopment of The Kenney).
No shortage of big news last night – from the Alaskan Way Viaduct “scenarios” getting narrowed down to two, to Cooper Elementary parents and teachers meeting to plot strategy to save their school (our report’s coming up later this morning), to Snow Watch. But one event that some might have overlooked contained big news all its own – because of neighbors from all over West Seattle celebrating community projects that received city $. (And taking home reusable shopping bags, shown above!) The periodic Neighborhood Matching Fund celebration brought people from all over the city to Alki Elementary – and a WSB reporter was there too – story and photos ahead, along with information that can help you seek out this kind of grant for your own neighborhood project:Read More