Alki Point sidewalk project tour: Work may start next month

In an icy wind, with seagulls and crows chasing an eagle overhead, we toured the Alki Point sidewalk project zone this morning with SDOT’s Sandra “Sam” Woods (foreground with documents) and Eric Sill, Alki Community Council leaders, and neighbors. Its goal: To finish the pedestrian connection on the north/west side of Alki, from the park’s western end at 65th SW to where open waterfront begins again at the Beach Drive turn. Much of the money for this work is coming from the Neighborhood Street Fund. It’s been a controversial project – some upset neighbors even threatened a lawsuit at one point. The plan detailed during today’s tour goes to great lengths – and widths – to avoid taking away the long-used perpendicular parking spaces outside waterfront homes (the major source of controversy) as seen here:

Along most of the currently sidewalkless area, the new sidewalk will be built out in what currently is part of the street, which as a result will be dramatically narrowed (it’s not an arterial anyway), while the parking spaces will remain on the other side of the new sidewalk. Technically, some of those spaces will be “public parking, but it will feel private,” Woods explains. Read on for more details from today’s tour:

Just east of where that photo shows Woods reviewing the plan with Alki Community Council president Jule Sugarman and trustee Lee Johnson, the project will start at 63rd/Alki (the Cactus Restaurant corner), as reported here a year ago. There it will feature a significant “traffic calming” installation – this photo of the “blueprint” gives you a hint (sorry, no electronic copy yet):

At the top of that drawing – north side – the pedestrian area by the Denny Party monument on the water side will extend into the street, and a triangle of crosswalks will direct traffic to continue on the arterial, heading south on 63rd. Then, a block west, a raised crosswalk will replace this one:

Because of the inconsistent layout of the existing sidewalk and parking (tour participant Libby Carr observed “this has to be the least consistent sidewalk in the U.S.”), the sidewalk will not be a straight shot from 65th to Alki Point; part of the problem is that the city right-of-way is not a uniform width, ether – 80 feet along one stretch, 60 feet along another. Other factors require the city to handle some sites differently from others, such as this home, where Woods says a small retaining wall will be required, because of a steep drop:

The curb height also will vary, 6″ raised in some spots, 3″ rolled in others, and flat with the street in the case of one house, because of drainage issues. Then, as you get to the turn to Beach Drive, sidewalk again will be built in what now is the street, and some landscaping in the right-of-way will have to go, like the rocks here (although the city points out the sidewalk and raised curb will be a better barrier to errant drivers):

Outside the former Rip Tide apartments turned condos, this stretch of asphalt marked “sidewalk” will be extended a bit and also transformed into bonafide concrete sidewalk:

No changes are envisioned for the public parking area by the lighthouse, what might be called West Seattle’s best-kept public-parking secret (yes, that’s ALL public lot):

Southwest of there is the one stretch where several parking spaces on the water side of the street are going away (although a new one will be added just past the project area on Beach Drive, where a curb cut will be eliminated):

Woods explains that the public right-of-way actually extends significantly into what are currently used as front yards for some of the waterfront homes there, but the yard space will not be taken for this project. Finally, the work will end with another raised crosswalk right at the Alki/Beach turn, before the open waterfront begins again:

Woods says this bid was won as part of a $1 million package of projects (in West Seattle, that also includes the 30th SW “Snake Hill” sidewalk work in the Delridge area – both projects originally won funding approval 15 months ago, as we reported here), and it’s up to the contractor, Construct Co., to decide which they’ll tackle first; she notes that since the area is so well-used in summer, it would be optimal if they decide to do it sooner than later, and “sooner” could mean as soon as next month. Toward that end, doorhangers were being distributed today – we encountered an SDOT employee placing them about midway during our tour:

Area residents and passersby also will see some white dots and lines in the street from demonstration markings made by Woods and Sill during today’s tour. You can read more about the project on the city website, though the detailed plans shown today are not there yet.

10 Replies to "Alki Point sidewalk project tour: Work may start next month"

  • nudibranch February 13, 2009 (4:08 pm)

    Yeah! I’m so glad this sidewalk is finally built!

  • KSJ February 13, 2009 (4:23 pm)

    I love walking around the viewpoint and I’m really glad this sidewalk will be in place soon so I don’t have to cross the street twice (once with no sidewalk near the point). Sounds like they made some serious concessions for the people who live and park on this stretch of road, so I truly hope that this solution satisfied all parties.

    I do have a question – I just read an article about how they are reclaiming long-established backyards that encroach into city park space near Seward Park. Why then make exceptions for people whose front yards encroach into the public right of way? Wouldn’t the sidewalk work better for the general public if they reclaim the land that belongs to all of us?

  • jeannie February 13, 2009 (5:52 pm)

    By the way, WSB, that is one kick-butt lede! Your journalistic skills shine.

  • Creighton February 13, 2009 (6:47 pm)

    I too am happy this is finally going in. For the greater good of West Seattle it’s the right thing to do.

  • Larry Carpenter February 13, 2009 (11:26 pm)

    Thanks to Sam Woods’ tour on a cold and windy morning and Tracy Record’s usual high-quality photos and word pictures, we all have a much better idea of what this sidewalk will look like.

  • zomg February 13, 2009 (11:36 pm)

    This will be great!

  • carraig na splinkeen February 14, 2009 (8:19 am)

    I truly want to believe that this level of effort on the part of the city would extend to all neighborhoods, not just those where people of higher income live.
    As for the project itself, it’s about time.

  • Nulu February 14, 2009 (10:34 am)

    Truly tortured cityspeak…
    “Technically, some of those spaces will be “public parking, but it will feel private,” Woods explains.”
    What will happen when one of those “feels private” entitled spaces becomes occupied by a pesky beach goer?
    Is this special treatment for the vocal, litigious haves?
    All while the city is passing codes to allow new houses to be built with no parking at all.
    Sidewalks for all.
    Public land for all.
    Streets for all.

  • Will February 14, 2009 (7:05 pm)

    Finally the sidewalk right of way will not have cars and other obstructions blocking walkers.

  • acemotel February 16, 2009 (11:43 am)

    KSJ: agree! Private encroachments on the public right-of-way should NOT be allowed. And there are a number of yards and landscaped areas that are encroaching in this project!!! The city should TAKE BACK what belongs to the public.

Sorry, comment time is over.