Hot topics on tap tomorrow: Highway 99 traffic; West Seattle Triangle

Two West Seattle meetings of note tomorrow tackle hot topics: First, the Highway 99/Alaskan Way Viaduct construction work and its effect on traffic to and from West Seattle. The South Portal Working Group, an advisory committee focused on that side of the 99 project, meets at 4 pm Wednesday, for the first time in a few months. Its agenda includes a project update, with committee members specifically asked to be ready to answer this question: “Do you have any feedback regarding the way traffic has been managed during construction?”. West Seattle reps in the working group include Pete Spalding from eastern West Seattle, Vlad Oustimovitch from western West Seattle, and Junction lawyer Jerry Cohen.) The meeting’s at the Sound Transit Board Room at Union Station on the south end of downtown.

Then at 7 Wednesday night, South Seattle Community College Board Room, the Southwest District Council – whose members are from neighborhood groups and other organizations around the west side of the peninsula, which the city calls the “Southwest District.” The SWDC has expressed concern over the city-led Triangle planning process – especially a suggestion that some parts could be rezoned for 85-foot-tall buildings – and will hear from the city planners on the project, Susan McLain and Robert Scully, tomorrow night. They’ll also hear from SDOT about SW Alaska “rechannelization” – changes planned to that street’s flow through the Triangle and Junction for the RapidRide bus service. The agenda also includes new Department of Neighborhoods director Bernie Matsuno. All are welcome at both meetings.

32 Replies to "Hot topics on tap tomorrow: Highway 99 traffic; West Seattle Triangle"

  • J May 31, 2011 (2:15 pm)

    I have some feedback for the South Portal Working Group: if SDOT is serious about the 35 mph restrictions on 99, they need to make the signs clearer, and probably aggressively enforce the limits for a while.

    As posted, because the 35 mph signs are a part of the “curves ahead” signs, it could be taken to mean that you should reduce your speed just in that immediate section. This is reinforced by the 50 mph speed limit sign that’s left up after the first 35 mph sign. Does SDOT want drivers to slow to 35 just for the curves, and speed up between, or what?

    And every time I drive it, I’m the ONLY car adhering to 35–ALL the other cars just whip around me at at least 50. I’m trying to do the right thing, here…. Some clear guidance and support would be appreciated.

  • squareeyes May 31, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    I haven’t seen SPD enforcing the bus only lane on the WS Bridge at all since 99 was narrowed. I get so steamed at all the cars/drivers in the bus lane merging over at the 99 ramp.

  • KBear May 31, 2011 (2:38 pm)

    Closing the Columbia on-ramp might help with the southbound traffic flow. It’s gonna go away anyway…

  • defenestrator May 31, 2011 (2:46 pm)

    One piece of advice they give on their site is to take light rail… very helpful advice for West Seattle residents! :)

    I guess it’s helpful if you’re coming from Sea-Tac or Tukwila. I don’t think too many people in Rainier Valley would be using 99 if they’re heading north.

  • K May 31, 2011 (2:53 pm)

    45 minutes to downtown seattle. EVERY DAY from the Admiral dist. unless I am on the road by 7 am. 7:15 at the latest. the traffic is atrocious. And I have noticed a DRAMATIC increase in the past few months of the number of people who “cheat” and go on the lower bridge, only to shoot back up right at the entrance to hwy 99, where the semis come up from the shipyards. It has made the far right hand lane on the upper bridge a parking lot. This began a couple months before the 99 lane closure. These people don’t even put a blinker on and believe it is their right to just bully on in at the merge point…cutting people off who have patiently waited in that line since the got on the bridge. An average of 10 minutes these days. This closure has brought out the absolute WORST in people – ie. a sense of entitlement…thinking they are better than the rest of us.
    People are pretty pissed off these days. My commute times both to and from downtown on 99 have easily doubled.
    ONE SUGGESTION…get the cops out there in the a.m. to bust those people that think they can just drive in the bus only lane. There is NO beter time for the cops to be out there. what a revenue generator for the City! Way more people are mad so more of them are taking the liberties of doing the illegal thing…ie: driving in the bus lane.

  • K May 31, 2011 (2:55 pm)

    Oh and Kbear that is a terrible idea…don’t close columbia earlier than needed. That would leave ONE downtown exit, which would also require the bulk of downtown workers to back track, as the western ave exit is at the north end of downtown.

  • CandrewB May 31, 2011 (3:08 pm)

    Closing the Columbia St exit will all but ensure I add myself to the number of single occupancy vehicles traveling to Downtown and back.

  • austin May 31, 2011 (3:21 pm)

    Mmmm water taxi. Delicious.

  • KBear May 31, 2011 (3:33 pm)

    Closing the Columbia on ramp would not affect the number of downtown exits, as it is not an exit. It’s an on-ramp, and it’s not going to be there much longer anyway. Closing it now would alleviate some of the congestion going southbound in the afternoon.

  • Nulu May 31, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    And K,
    It is not a ‘cheat’ to go over the old low bridge and then up. It is legal to follow that route.

  • CandrewB May 31, 2011 (3:39 pm)

    So all of the WS bound buses would take 1st S to the low bridge?

  • KBear May 31, 2011 (3:46 pm)

    Alright, make it bus-only for now. Even that would help. But those buses are going to have to be re-routed when Columbia does close.

  • AntsInMyPants May 31, 2011 (4:04 pm)

    Kind of inconvenient the meeting will be held at a time when it seems like a lot of interested people will be shortly starting their long commute back to the west side. Look forward to reading the notes.

  • Lauren May 31, 2011 (4:08 pm)

    How is it cheating to use alternate routes? I can think of at least 4 ways to get on 99, and don’t consider any one of them the “correct” way.

  • CandrewB May 31, 2011 (4:10 pm)

    It would at least be liveable when the 1st Ave ramp to the main bridge is up and able. The low bridge detour is unacceptable with the Coast Guard calling the shots.

  • elevated concern May 31, 2011 (4:12 pm)

    Actually, the major backup will begin in the Junction should they determine that 85 feet is now the appropriate building height for more density. How many units of apartments can fit into the empty car lots? Thousands.

  • Franci May 31, 2011 (4:40 pm)

    I take the low bridge most mornings and I DO use my blinker to merge into traffic.

    As far as being ‘unfair’ to everyone sitting on in the lane on the bridge.. One of the reasons I take the low bridge is that when getting on at Delridge I felt the same way. The Delridge traffic would SIT without moving for minutes then creep along for a few seconds then SIT again.

    All this time the traffic on the mainline of the bridge and the one ramp from Admiral is moving along alot faster than the Delridge traffic.

    You are more than welcome to join those of us using the low bridge if you like.

  • Megan May 31, 2011 (5:00 pm)

    45 mins to downtown?!?! I drive from Admiral to Everett every morning leaving around 7:45 and it has never been more than an hour to Everett.

  • Recall McGinn May 31, 2011 (5:49 pm)

    It will get better, I am sure. My only concern is if a car breaks down or if there is an accident where 99 narrows to 2 lanes, then it will be one or no lanes. Drive safely and follow the limits.

    I have been taking the water taxi lately and I love it. Transportation options are available to those who want them.

  • CandrewB May 31, 2011 (6:23 pm)

    Any word on if they are thinking of having the first Water Taxi sailing earlier than 6:45? That’s what keeps me from using it most of the time.

  • old timer May 31, 2011 (7:28 pm)

    The water taxi is of use only for a special population.
    If you need to take connecting busses to the shuttle, and then connect to busses once on the other side, the time cost is prohibitive.
    Try planning your trip from Westwood, or Fauntleroy, or
    High Point to an appointment on First Hill using the water taxi. Then, come back.
    Try doing that same round trip planning for a job in the South Lake Union area.
    Yes, you could do it, but what a time suck.

  • Recall McGinn May 31, 2011 (7:35 pm)

    Sitting stuck in traffic is a “time suck” also.

  • Mack May 31, 2011 (8:21 pm)

    The 1st and Spokane ramp is supposed to be finished by the end of the year. That will be a big improvement over the detour.

  • Diane May 31, 2011 (10:21 pm)

    can someone please give me a clue how to find “South Seattle Community College Board Room”; I’ve never been to the school; just clicked on link to get directions to the campus
    then looking at campus map, I don’t see anything that says ‘boardroom’

    • WSB May 31, 2011 (10:41 pm)

      Same place they always are (haven’t I seen you at SWDC before?). Anyway, I’ve run links to the maps several times before, didn’t seem anyone was using them and didn’t have time to haul them all up again this morning, but things are less hectic now. It’s in the Robert Smith Building, RSB on this map:
      Then a closer map of the RSB:
      See president’s boardroom toward the bottom of your screen. – TR

  • Bruce May 31, 2011 (10:38 pm)

    I’m lucky enough to be able to take a vanpool to work at Microsoft in Redmond, which reduces the 90 min bus ride or 60 min car drive to only 30 min. If you have a regular commute, there are some good incentives to join an existing one or start a new one on
    Too bad they can’t add a bus route from West Seattle to the light rail station in SODO, and/or turn the bus lanes into HOV lanes…

  • SaraJeanQueen May 31, 2011 (10:46 pm)

    I agree that I hate the cars roaring down the bus lane… but has anyone else noticed busses do the same thing? I swear they almost knock my little car over when I’m “parked” waiting to get on the bridge.

    And IF the police did chase down these violators, where would they pull over?? There’s nowhere to do so.

    I’m just trying to get to I-5 south; I feel K’s pain. Definitely longer commutes, especially Tues-Thurs.

  • austin June 1, 2011 (7:53 am)

    There’s not any reason to run a bus from West Seattle to light rail in SODO because there are already buses that run from WS to the light rail in the international district, pioneer square, university st. station and westlake.

  • CMT June 1, 2011 (9:34 am)

    squareeyes – how else is one supposed to get onto 99 without using the bus lane to get over? That’s what I do. I get on the bridge from Fauntleroy and there is no other way to get to 99.

  • WS commuter June 1, 2011 (9:49 am)

    Nothing wrong with using the low bridge – I don’t understand where some get the ill-founded idea that it is only for truck traffic. The low bridge is just a gamble in the morning – if it opens, you’re screwed. And sometimes, its just as slow and congested as the upper bridge.

    CMT – there is a zone where the “bus only” lane is open for cars to merge to the far right lane for 99 – that zone is just east of the Delridge on-ramp, up over the top of the high bridge, where that zone then reverts to “bus only” Count me as one of the people who cheer when those cheaters do get pulled over (but also count me as one who is frustrated at the total lack of SPD presence the last couple of weeks to enforce that lane).

  • Diane June 1, 2011 (10:08 am)

    Thanks TR; nope, this is probably only meeting I’ve never been to, partly because I didn’t know how to get to the campus, or specific location of meeting room, and didn’t have/make time to research; I will make sure to save details & maps on how to get there; for some reason I thought SSCC was further away; have never ventured out to find it
    so thanks for the links; hopefully will get there tonight; also want to meet new Dept of Neighborhoods director, who I think I met a ways back, but none of the announcements have posted her photo; and I’d love to hear a different perspective on the Triangle process

  • drb June 1, 2011 (10:30 am)

    I’m getting up at 5:20 every morning now on the road by 6:30am or so and arrive at the UW in about half an hour. If you can get out and about early! Almost zero traffic at 6:30am (almost anyway…)

Sorry, comment time is over.