From last night’s Southwest District Council: A new turn in a long-simmering concern about the the West Seattle RapidRide bus route. Fairmount Community Association‘s Sharonn Meeks and Fauntleroy Community Association‘s Vlad Oustimovitch obtained the group’s support to take the concern to King County Executive Dow Constantine, asking him to reopen the discussion about how RapidRide will get from Morgan Junction to the West Seattle Bridge. Currently, plans call for it to go up California SW through The Junction, then turn to SW Alaska and again to 35th SW and SW Avalon before getting to The Bridge; some have long suggested Fauntleroy Way would make more sense. Why take another look now? There’s one big reason – read on:
The big reason: The city is launching a formal planning process for The Triangle (as reported here last fall, and there’s now a new webpage for the effort, too, from which the above map comes) – with development revving up there, like Link. So with that process in mind, it’s time to take another look, Meeks and Oustimovitch said.
He declared the route “was not part of a rational planning process” and is only a legacy of the fact the Seattle Monorail got killed – RapidRide is scheduled to go along what once was the monorail route – “nothing to do with Bus Rapid Transit.” Following Fauntleroy would be more rational, for multiple reasons, they say, including the fact that a long stretch between Morgan Junction and The Triangle has just been rebuilt. But even without that factor, they say route planning — which includes RapidRide station locations — needs to be part of the Triangle process that’s about to rev up.
“I think there are enough facts out there to reopen the discussion about the alignment,” Meeks said. “If the route were to take Fauntleroy … those streets already have been dug down and rebuilt and are ready to go. If you go down the the currently proposed route, you’re talking about digging streets and resetting concrete, with (a route with) a lot of 90-degree turns. I think we need to go back to the table for the discussion of using our arterial for what it was designed to be.”
Terry Williams of the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce interjected, “Alaska to 35th doesn’t say, ‘RapidRide’ to me.”
Oustimovitch: “Without the 90-degree turns, there’s more efficiency and also more comfort – if you have people standing, everybody might be thrown to the side (when turning) … Since we’re doing the Triangle plan, we can talk about things, even potentially incentives for developers to build additional parking that might act as a parking reservoir.”
Meeks concluded, “This is a peninsula-wide issue.”
Next step: Oustimovitch is drafting the letter to be sent to County Executive Constantine. The dozen-plus Southwest District Council reps who were at the meeting voted unanimously to support asking him to reopen the route discussion; those who were absent will be contacted by e-mail.
Meantime, we have a message out to the county today seeking a general RapidRide update. Earlier this week, the feds finalized plans to help fund the West Seattle route with $21 million, though that was money the county knew about last year and was already counting on, so it did not represent a new development in the plan; the most recent major development had been discussion last summer that the RapidRide branding would not launch on this route – which replaces the 54 – until 2012, instead of 2011.
(A couple more SW District Council-related stories are still to come.)