West Seattle roads: ‘Rechannelization’ decision for SW Alaska

(Click image for full-size view)
The final decision is in, says SDOT – SW Alaska will indeed be “rechannelized” between California and Fauntleroy, adding transit lanes to parts of the stretch, a westbound bike lane on one section, and removing some parking. It’s mostly the same proposal that was circulated, though without a standalone public meeting, earlier this year (here’s our most recent story, from July.) According to a letter just sent to area “stakeholders” announcing the decision, the only notable change is that parking on SW Alaska in front of Capco Plaza (home to QFC, liquor store, future Petco) will NOT be removed. Read on for the letter from SDOT’s Jonathan Dong:

Dear SW Alaska Street Stakeholder:

To support the planned RapidRide C Line, which is scheduled to begin service in fall 2012, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has finalized plans to change the configuration of SW Alaska Street between California Avenue and Fauntleroy Way. After listening to and reviewing comments from the community, SDOT will be making the following alterations to SW Alaska Street:

· Install an eastbound business access and transit Lane (BAT) between 42nd Avenue SW and 40th Avenue SW

· Install a westbound BAT lane between Fauntleroy Way and 42nd Avenue SW

· Remove parking on the north side of SW Alaska Street between California Avenue SW and 42nd Avenue SW and north side of SW Alaska Street between 41st Avenue SW and Fauntleroy; remove parking on south side of SW Alaska Street between 42nd and Fauntleroy

· Install a westbound left turn pocket at California Avenue and SW Alaska Street

· Install an eastbound left turn pocket at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street

· Install a westbound bicycle lane between Fauntleroy Way and approximately 30 feet west of 41st Avenue SW


King County and SDOT conducted extensive outreach to collect feedback on the proposed changes to SW Alaska Street. During the community outreach process, property owners and residents raised questions about the potential impacts of removing parking capacity, the traffic impacts of installing a BAT lane, and why a bicycle lane is needed on SW Alaska Street. In response to these issues, SDOT did further study and made improvements to the channelization plans.

Traffic Analysis for SW Alaska Street

SDOT conducted a traffic analysis on SW Alaska Street and conducted traffic counts on May 17, 2011. Average weekday daily traffic volumes range from 3,178 vehicles to 7,605 vehicles depending on the location. Based on the counts that were taken, the volumes have changed minimally since 2005 and are lower on Alaska in 2011.

To study the effects of a change from the existing four-lane cross-section to the two general-purpose lane configuration (with bus lanes), SDOT conducted a traffic analysis using the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Highway Capacity Methodology (HCM). This analysis showed no significant impacts from the new configuration. The delay per vehicle for eastbound traffic is projected to be virtually unchanged and the increase in westbound delay was also insignificant: from 3.4 seconds to 4.7 seconds.

In response to concerns raised by the community, SDOT has agreed to monitor traffic on SW Alaska Street after the BAT lanes are installed.

Parking Utilization Analysis

In response to property owners’ concerns about the removal of on-street parking on SW Alaska Street, SDOT conducted an analysis of parking utilization for the West Seattle Junction parking lot located at 42nd Avenue SW and SW Oregon Street, and the QFC parking garage. Data also was reviewed from a parking study that was conducted in 2009.

Parking data shows that for most of the day, parking is available in the West Seattle Junction and QFC parking lots. The exception is during 5:30 and 7:30 pm, when parking utilization is above 70%.

In response to concerns about the removal of on-street parking on SW Alaska Street between 42nd and 41st Streets, SDOT reconfigured the channelization plan to allow parking to remain on the north side adjacent to the QFC store. In addition, SDOT will work with the Junction Merchants Association to improve signage that directs people to available parking facilities. The department will also work with Seattle City Light to improve alley lighting near the Junction Merchants parking lot.


SDOT is scheduled to implement these changes to SW Alaska Street and the associated bus stop improvements in winter 2011. Over 7,000 riders per day will benefit from these improvements.

If you have further questions about the West Seattle RapidRide improvements, please contact Jonathan Dong at (206) 233-8564 or email: jonathan.dong@seattle.gov

This letter addresses only the stretch west of Fauntleroy; changes also are planned for the stretch between Fauntleroy and 35th SW, as well as SW Avalon Way in the Luna Park area (as noted toward the bottom of this SDOT webpage).

39 Replies to "West Seattle roads: 'Rechannelization' decision for SW Alaska"

  • JayDee September 14, 2011 (7:09 pm)

    Why did they use an outdated (very outdated) aerial photo to show the restriping? The one they used is stupid — I had to load Google Earth to see what they were talking about in the present day. I am still not clear how the parking shown in the “before” (like pre-2007) relates to the QFC or the current parking.

    A license for Google Pro is affordable and you’d think that SDOT would use reasonably up-to-date imagery for their maps. The Google photos are georeferenced and you can download whatever year you wish.

    • WSB September 14, 2011 (7:17 pm)

      Yes, that came up in one of our previous stories. This still shows Hollywood Video and some of what else was torn down to make way for Capco Plaza.

  • Cakebake September 14, 2011 (7:18 pm)

    Blah blah
    I bet its lame when its done
    Just like everything else they do
    Except the overpass next to the stadium, we need more shortcuts and flow expansions!
    Not cut traffic for bike lanes and overstuff areas with 10000$ weak speedbumps!
    Think big and think flow!

  • G September 14, 2011 (7:19 pm)

    What a waste of time and money. A bike lane – to where? How many folks are going to be on their bikes in February when it’s 40 degrees, wet and the wind blowing sideways?

    What happened to commonsense in Seattle? You know, the people who designed a great bus system and built great planes?

  • mightymo September 14, 2011 (7:34 pm)

    I’m interested in why they think there’s a great need for eastbound drivers to turn right on 42nd. I understand there are places to go that direction (Jefferson Square, residential), but I almost never see anyone make a turn there. Not enough for a dedicated turn lane. I guess they did a study of traffic patterns.

  • JayDee September 14, 2011 (7:37 pm)

    The idea is they are supposedly trying to sell us that this is a good idea, like the final Admiral Way design (that at least considered public opinion). When I travel Fauntleroy during the weekend and the occasional weekday evening, it doesn’t seem that bad. But I wondered how it would work at Alaska and California because there are backups now, weekends or weekday evenings. So if you are trying to persuade people why shoot yourself in the foot using bad materials? No good comes from it and your proposal is weakened from the start. It’s like they start off saying “Nevermind…” which is not a good idea, IMHO.

  • JN September 14, 2011 (7:39 pm)

    Thank god! Finally a little bit of consideration for cyclists in West Seattle. Now if only they would add bike lanes along California…

  • Curiouser September 14, 2011 (7:56 pm)

    As it is, I can hardly find on-street parking in the Alaska Junction area. And where will new parking places be added to replace those taken away? Well, maybe more businesses will just go away, thus eliminating some of their traffic. :-(

  • sitting in traffic September 14, 2011 (8:18 pm)

    I will be in favor of dedicated bike lanes when there is a licening fee for bkes that use streets
    (i know you already pay) but thats for your car not your bike.
    only a couple more years of Mayor McPedels and there will be lots of jobs taking care of the mess they are making. Remember when they put one lane and planting strip down california ave what a mess
    what metro wants is a bus lane only on every main street, same bozo that has 2 lanes onb I5 in downtown and no way to ever expand

  • Herman September 14, 2011 (8:48 pm)

    It look me a long time to grasp what these pictures mean. I’ve been driving this route for 10+ years, and I can finally tell you why this is stupid.
    Put yourself headed west on Alaska in the evening commute, where the number of lanes will be reduced from two to one (plus a bus lane). A lot of cars don’t want to go directly into the Alaska/California intersection (long light), so they turn left at either 40th, 41st, or 42nd. Rather than bypassing those cars in the other lane, all traffic on Alaska will be forced to stop and wait for them to make their left turn.
    I, for one, will swerve into the Bus lane to get around them.
    A dedicated bus lane is simply not needed. Buses are rarely if ever impeded by traffic on that street. This blind prioritization to Rapid Ride will not make sense. You will see.

  • Herman September 14, 2011 (8:53 pm)

    To mightymo: The reason that is a “right only” lane is because it is a bus-only lane. Cars are forbidden from that lane unless they are going to turn right on 42nd.

  • metrognome September 14, 2011 (8:53 pm)

    Let the complaining begin!!! Nothing the government ever does is good enough for West Seattle, so the government should do nothing!! Well, except for the liquor superstore; now we can jump out of the car during the traffic jams and buy that fifth or two we need to relax …

  • Aman September 14, 2011 (8:55 pm)

    What! No Viaduct? Hmmmmm.

  • Billy September 14, 2011 (9:25 pm)

    What a bunch of BS. I agree with sitting in traffic. I don’t have a problem with the cyclists. I have a problem with a painted bike lane. Some riders are all over the road and don’t even signal. Let alone obey the rules of the road.

  • Stu September 14, 2011 (9:28 pm)

    metrognome you msde my day. That is to funny about the traffic jam and the liquor store. Unfortunately you are probably correct.

  • Cakebake September 14, 2011 (10:11 pm)

    I love how bike lanes are popping up during the summer
    Too bad once the weather turns our traffic will be stuck with the lanes and no bikes on em at all

  • miws September 14, 2011 (10:16 pm)

    …..(i know you already pay) but thats for your car not your bike.


    So, they should drive their car instead, taking up even more room on the road on which you are already stuck in traffic?



  • JN September 14, 2011 (11:37 pm)

    You know, I am one of the cyclists who commute year round. The reason you don’t see more is because there is no comprehensive, safe infrastructure for cycling. My property taxes and the taxes I pay when I purchase items goes OVERWHELMINGLY towards paying for the damage you selfish jerks inflict upon the roads I have to cycle upon every day while you self-righteously speed pass within inches of my handlebars. You have dominated this city for far too long, and I welcome this small consideration the city has shown. If you want to drive everywhere, move the heck out of the city, where cars are much more of a hindrance than a benefit.

  • george September 14, 2011 (11:50 pm)

    So where did they take into consideration the nightmare that will be the construction project at Cali. and Alaska when they build the next super structure on the corner?

  • Max September 15, 2011 (6:58 am)

    You know, all this road work and multi-use apartment projects will continue until developers have West Seattle clogged up with traffic and infrastucture like the rest of the city. Or….we could always start fighting back and try to slow down this seemingly unregulated growth.

  • monroe1200 September 15, 2011 (8:28 am)

    Sign me up Max!!! We need to voice our concerns and fight for what we believe in, we have seen the messes in the other neighborhoods of the city and I say NO THANKS!

    JN-First off, chill on the caffeine. You seem so angry this morning, calling people “selfish jerks” just for voicing an opinion that you don’t agree with. I would think that a little excercise on the bike would relax you. I also think that your advice to move out of the city would benefit cyclist more than car drivers (less cars in the country to get in your way).

  • DTK September 15, 2011 (9:24 am)

    If this plan puts even more delivery trucks on 41st between Oregon and Alaska we, as neighbors who are affected, need to file a class-action due to lowered property values…

  • godofthebasement September 15, 2011 (9:41 am)

    Good idea, Max. We should never build anything ever again. That’s working out great for Detroit. And I’m totally behind your anti-infrastructure stance. After all, who needs infrastructure?

  • Max September 15, 2011 (10:21 am)

    I’m not saying not to build anything ever again. I’m saying to regulate growth according to the contraints of the roads, infrastructure, and especially the consideration of the people that live in the area. And I’m not against infrastructure. I’m against mass density development into our neighborhood before impact is realized and infrastructure is in place, ie. sewers and roads. Key word in my previous post, “slow down”, not stop.
    But I have asked this question before, and not got an answer.
    When, would you say that enough is enough. Will it be when we have multi-use 5 story, 150 unit apartment buildings lining California Ave from Admiral to Morgan, and a Wal-Mart in place of Admiral Theater? Serious question.
    And, I don’t understand the Detroit reference.

  • wsguy September 15, 2011 (10:24 am)

    JN – congrats that you have the health and job situation that allows you to cycle to work.

    The idea that we can eliminate cars & trucks from the road is completely unrealistic. It would destroy the economy.

    The business infrastructure is dependent on automobiles & trucking.

    To say that automobiles have dominated the city too long????

    Why stop there – how about we go back to only horses and wagons allowed or maybe just foot traffic.

    Continuing to make it more difficult for people to get to work does not help the business environment. McSchwinn’s and the CascadeBicycle Club’s stated goal of removing cars from Seattle is an utopian vision that does not consider the consequences to people who need to drive to work for a living.

    Ride your Bike – feel morally superior to those that can’t or don’t ride. But to say that cars have dominated the city for too long and must change is totally unrealistic and a blind ideologic position.

  • mightymo September 15, 2011 (10:38 am)

    Thanks, Herman, that makes sense.

  • WS commuter September 15, 2011 (10:58 am)

    JN – when you use language like “you selfish jerks” you reveal yourself as a fool – someone not to be taken seriously.

    I bike for recreation and respect those who do for work. But I am – daily – irritated by the particular group of bikers (I know not all) who behave badly on the road – who are aggressive and stupid – running red lights, weaving in and out of lanes, etc. These types – while excellent candidates for Darwinian thinning – are nonetheless why so many otherwise reasonable car users have less sympathy for bikers. And there are a lot of these aggressive, stupid bikers out there.

    Perhaps you’re not one of them. I hope so. But when you resort to ad hominen igorance, I just ignore any of what you have to say.

  • hmmm September 15, 2011 (12:29 pm)

    @WS commuter – So you won’t take JN seriously for his comment but you suggest that aggressive bicyclists should die (Darwinian thinning)??? Brilliant.

  • WS commuter September 15, 2011 (4:16 pm)

    hmmm – you didn’t read my comment closely … I don’t – at all – suggest aggressive bicyclists “should” die … I merely point out the effect of natural selection on a human being who rides a bycycle recklessly and arrogantly.

    I’m all for bicyclists. I ride a bike. But many – too many – of them behave badly on the roads (and of course, just like too many car drivers do the same).

    I do find the moral superiority affected by some of the bike snobs posting here amusing. And I’m guessing – in my ignorance, perhaps – that such snobbery is part of the arrogance I see too often in traffic – a sense of self-entitlement that leads some (not all!) bicyclists to do stupid things.

  • JN September 15, 2011 (7:23 pm)

    @wsguy, I think you misunderstood my point. I am not advocating the total eradication of cars/trucks, what I was saying is that easily over 95% of our taxes has gone to building roads for cars, repairing damage done by cars, with such an insignificant amount of consideration for cyclists that it is a slap in the face. My taxes have supported a mode of transportation I do not engage in, and my chosen mode has been ignored and insulted repeatedly. And what do you refer to when you say “job situation”? I work in the shipping department at my workplace, so pardon me, but you seem to infer that you have to be rich to ride your bike to work. I can’t afford a car/would rather spend my hard-earned money on other things, so I can guarantee that you make more money than I do. And ws commuter, how is driving a car not selfish? A motorist takes up about 100 square feet of the road space to drive one person, I take up 5 square feet. Seems like the definition of selfish to me. And I see motorists running red lights at a minimum every other day. I have seen maybe 2 cyclists run a true red in my 2 years of bicycle commuting downtown. And if you had people threaten to run you off of the road, slow down next to you, cuss you out and honk, then speed off, I think you would apply the sobriquet “jerks” to them, as well. Perhaps you’re not one of them. I hope so.

  • Mel September 16, 2011 (12:01 am)

    This is actually a case where the City SHOULD do nothing.
    Pretty much any attempt to wedge in a bus lane, dedicated turn lanes and a bike lane that weaves and disappears can do nothing but make a mess that could potentially even cause accidents.
    It might be a better idea to run a bike lane down a street other than Alaska, and concede that this is a stretch where the “Rapid Ride” (sorry, I have a hard time saying that without laughing) will have to share.
    Hey! Maybe if they paint a picture of a bus with arrows above it, that would help everything!

  • jno September 16, 2011 (9:05 am)

    I do find the moral superiority affected by some of the car snobs posting here amusing. And I’m guessing – in my ignorance, perhaps – that such snobbery is part of the arrogance I see too often in traffic – a sense of self-entitlement that leads some (not all!) car drivers to do stupid things.

  • austin September 16, 2011 (6:28 pm)

    ^ agreed 100%. Most of the complaining that goes on on this website is by drivers whining and acting superior and deserving about.. well, everything. People, if driving is not working for you to such an extent, maybe it’s time to try something else.

  • Dawson September 16, 2011 (9:20 pm)

    Remember, we bike commuters are SDOT’s traffic calming solution. A zephyr of steel and rubber, blood and bones. Many of us that ride our bikes aren’t happy with the street designs either. Unfortunately the designs we seem to frequently get refuse to take into real world considerations of how vehicles move and interact despite comments to the contrary. Have a little empathy. We’re all trying to get to our respective destinations.

  • Blue Collar Enviro September 18, 2011 (3:33 pm)

    Thank you, SDOT, for listening to the bus riders who don’t have time to show up to lots of neighborhood meetings.

    As a taxpayer, I despise paying extra sales tax to put more buses on the road just so they can sit in traffic, and are not allowed back into traffic lanes by drivers who just refuse to obey the law that says to yield to buses. Transit lanes are essential because of the minority of drivers who don’t obey the law. I’m sorry the the law-abiding majority of drivers have to lose a couple lanes because of it. But, bus service isn’t cheap. Let the buses on through.

  • Jake Jackson September 18, 2011 (10:07 pm)

    This is yet one more reason to make sure that Michael McGinn is politically neutralized. “Traffic calming” is the latest term for the bicyclista mayor’s plot to make it impossible to drive a car in Seattle. Time for drivers to make noise. Throw the incompetent jerk out!

  • JN September 19, 2011 (4:30 pm)

    @Jake, the sheer number of people driving cars makes it “impossible to drive a car”in Seattle. Driving your personal motorized vehicle should not be any easier than, say, taking public transit or other forms of transportation.

  • Bruce September 22, 2011 (11:15 am)

    Good job SDOT. I look forward to riding RapidRide.

  • Chetan September 22, 2011 (11:43 am)

    Thanks to SDOT.

    No matter what the obstructionists say, increased transit priority in a time when transit ridership is going up, and car use is going down, is a good thing.

Sorry, comment time is over.