Always lots going on when the Southwest District Council meets. Its members include representatives from many neighborhood groups and other organizations based in the section of West Seattle that the city calls the Southwest District (the city calls the rest of WS the Delridge Neighborhoods District; here’s the map). Last night, its new co-chairs began their terms – Erica Karlovits, president of the Junction Neighborhood Organization, and Chas Redmond, from the Morgan Community Association (among many other groups). On the agenda: Three major aspects of how West Seattleites get around and will get around in the future — Metro’s forthcoming RapidRide, the Spokane Street Viaduct widening project, and the Alaskan Way Viaduct Central Waterfront decision-to-come – read on for the latest:
That’s Jack Lattemann from Metro. We reported last night that he announced an upcoming Youngstown Arts Center (January 21) open house about Route 50, which will run between North Delridge and The Junction. He said it’s scheduled to start in early 2010, running every 15 minutes in peak hours, every 30 off-peak. Money for it, he said, will come from shutting down the downtown-to-airport 194 when Sound Transit light rail begins.
Now, to RapidRide: As we first reported last June, West Seattle’s route will be known as the C Line. The first RR to get rolling will be the A line (Federal Way to Tukwila), and Metro’s hopeful its operations will help work out some of the bugs before West Seattle fires up. Street improvements are needed to accommodate RapidRide, and Latteman says SDOT and Metro will split them – Metro will be handling the work needed in The Junction and at the Fauntleroy ferry terminal.
When it was time to question Lattemann, some voiced concerns about the articulated buses that RapidRide will use — since, as Metro boss Kevin Desmond reiterated in the City Council storm briefing on Tuesday (WSB coverage here), those buses tend to fail in snow/ice. Lattemann says Metro is talking about figuring out how to keep its own key routes open if SDOT can’t help with everything. But he also said the RapidRide buses are similar to models used in Vancouver, B.C., that negotiated hills well during that city’s recent snow (which he said totaled more than ours).
Also from Lattemann, an apology for not having returned to West Seattle for a RapidRide neighborhood-group update in quite some time (the major round of open houses was a year ago); he said a “rebudgeting” phase changed the schedule for neighborhood meetings. But he agreed to a request to return later this year with an update, perhaps around midyear.
Next, a Spokane Street Viaduct project update from consultant Art Brochet. He says most of the “preliminary work” along eastbound lower Spokane Street — closed back in September (WSB coverage here) for that work – has been done, and work on the eastbound 4th Ave ramp starts next month – here’s a graphic we’ve published before showing what it’ll look like:
Brochet said that right now the biggest problem will be the closure of the 1st Ave ramp onto the WS Bridge, when work starts on the actual added lanes (which will be built north of the existing SSV). When it’s closed, traffic from downtown will have to either go over the low bridge or take I-5 to return to West Seattle. Redmond asked if SDOT would use that as a reason to reopen the issue of keeping the low bridge from opening during rush hours (as first reported here October 21, that request was formally denied).; Brochet says they’ll take it up again, but ultimately, the Coast Guard still has the final say.
He also had an update on something that Karlovits, among others, has been asking about – what about emergency response, if only one lane is open for through traffic at certain points during SSV construction? Brochet says they’ve been working with the Fire Department and have developed a plan to keep two lanes open during most of the work, except possibly for times when equipment must be moved and there’s no way around the one-lane constraint.
He wanted to get one more project on everyone’s radar — repaving work on 1st Avenue South, between Hinds and the Sodo building, starts next month. He says it’ll involve replacing 75 percent of the sidewalks, and some of the storm drains and water lines, as well as replacing the road pavement. This will include major lane restrictions, with 1 lane going south and 2 going north.
Last but not least, the Alaskan Way Viaduct status — you’ll recall, the decision on what to do about the “mile in the middle” Central Waterfront section has been delayed from the expected year-end, to the end of this month. Following up on the recent community conversation that West Seattle-residing City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen convened at Uptown in The Junction (WSB coverage here), the Southwest District Council will be sending a letter to Governor Gregoire, County Executive Sims, and Mayor Nickels saying they support the “bored tunnel” option that has picked up considerable steam in the weeks since two other options (new elevated, and two surface streets) were announced as the finalists. (Support for studying the “bored tunnel” also is the focus of a letter that West Seattle’s two members on the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, Vlad Oustimovitch and Pete Spalding — both of whom were at the SWDC meeting last night — sent to the three elected officials, along with another committee member, Don Newby, who represented South King County.)
The Southwest District Council meets the first Wednesday of each month, 7 pm, at South Seattle Community College, and everybody’s welcome.