Port possibilities, crosswalk concerns @ Delridge District Council

(Terminal 5, photographed earlier this week by Don Brubeck)
A triple bill of transportation-related guests at last night’s Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting – Seattle Port Commissioner Courtney Gregoire, City Councilmember (chairing its Transportation Committee) Tom Rasmussen, and just-confirmed SDOT director Scott Kubly, who, in his third West Seattle appearance in two weeks, heard about safety concerns outside two local schools.

First: With the expanse of closed-and-idle Terminal 5 in the line of sight for thousands of West Seattleites daily, its future was a major topic for Commissioner Gregoire.

Almost two months have passed since the last ship called at Terminal 5, and even if you’ve missed our coverage of why it closed – in short, for modernization – you can’t miss the stark sight of what’s not there. Back in June, the port explained the work that needs to be done so that it can handle the mega-ships that are coming online, some capable of carrying 18,000 containers.

Bigger ships mean fewer port calls, Gregoire noted, and that is heating up competition for those calls, up and down the West Coast, from Prince Rupert, B.C., to Long Beach, California. It means that despite the historic rivalry between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, they have to work together, she said, to keep business in the Puget Sound region. Tacoma, for example, is now home to some of the work that had been at Terminal 5, pre-closure. Collaboration between the ports benefits the entire region, she stressed.

But even with Terminal 5 modernizing and reopening – the port is targeting 2018 – and drawing the mega-ships’ business, the amount of freight here still would not be expected to pass historic highs, having peaked almost a decade ago. However, the terminal has factors in its favor for the future, such as rail access, which, Gregoire observed, takes trucks off the roads. On the other hand, the work to be done is several-fold, including a newly approved study about possibly deepening the channels, both the west waterway alongside T-5, and the east waterway.

Besides T-5, Gregoire heard about local brainstorming regarding what to do with T-5 before it reopens. While she was noncommittal, she expressed willingness to meet with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (whose meeting last week included a citizen-led discussion) and other local groups to hear ideas, noting that ideally, the site will generate some revenue, somehow, during its out-of-commission years.

(P.S. Your next currently scheduled chance to hear from a Port Commissioner in West Seattle is October 9th, when Stephanie Bowman speaks at the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce‘s monthly lunch – details here.)

Next: SDOT director Scott Kubly‘s third Q/A stop with West Seattle community groups, following the Southwest District Council on September 3rd (WSB coverage here) and the WS Transportation Coalition on September 9th (WSB coverage here).

In addition to general Q/A, Kubly heard about the ongoing concerns about Delridge Way pedestrian safety outside the Boren Building, now home to Arbor Heights Elementary for two years as well as K-5 (future K-8) STEM, permanently. Kubly was told that they need a midblock crosswalk (as originally pitched by the community) rather than what’s now been changed by the city into a crosswalk at Graham, which means the equivalent of two football fields of extra distance to be covered to get into the front doors. (We reported on the Boren Building community’s concerns and requests six months ago.) Though the city had voiced concerns about a midblock crossing, STEM parent Kathleen Voss presented Kubly with a long, printed list of citations showing that midblock crossings are acceptable in school zones. Kubly said he hadn’t been to the site yet but would look into the situation.

Finally: Councilmember Rasmussen’s discussion with the DNDC was highlighted by his pitch for Transportation Benefit District Prop 1 on the November ballot, the sales tax/car-tab fee to raise money to “buy back” some of Metro‘s planned cuts; he also was thanked for working on the issue of potentially requiring “impact fees” for development (here’s our report from last week).

The Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meets on third Wednesdays at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, 7 pm.

4 Replies to "Port possibilities, crosswalk concerns @ Delridge District Council"

  • Sunny.206 September 18, 2014 (7:08 pm)

    I see a lot of meetings on our transportation/bus problems but not seeing a lot of changes. Does anyone see that they’re going to start spending our money more wisely?

  • Jim September 18, 2014 (8:58 pm)

    Every time I see statements that a mid block crosswalk is deemed unnecessary, I think of the Seattle Public Utilities mid block crosswalk (to their parking lot) near Airport Way and Lander St. The crosswalk is 275 feet from the Lander St intersection which is a complete traffic light controlled intersection with crosswalk signs. The exit from their building is 150 feet from the Lander St. intersection. This crosswalk has a bump out, two large escape islands, a flashing crosswalk overhead sign, painted “stop here” lines, with redundant “stop here” signage. The city seems more concerned about the safety of their employees then they are about our school students.

  • StringCheese September 19, 2014 (1:40 pm)

    The truth is, BOTH crosswalks are needed on Delridge. Most Urban Design Guides and transportation research recommend crosswalks be located no greater than 200-300 feet apart. Even WITH the a crosswalk at Graham, the distance between the Graham and Juneau crosswalks is over 1200 feet. Adding in the crosswalk at the Boren school entrance basically halves this distance and places a crosswalk where it is needed most.
    Personally, I don’t think that this should be an either/or project. In fact, installing both crosswalks at the same time should dramatically reduce the cost over installing them separately.
    If reason doesn’t win out on that, then the mid-block crossing at the would-be intersection of Raymond/Delridge (if Raymond wasn’t interrupted by Longfellow Creek) which aligns with the naturally occurring crossing patterns of the school needs to be completed first.
    The piece above mentions this but I believe it bears repeating that the Boren building is currently hosting over 700 students between the ages of 4-11 years. Even after AH gets their much-needed, long-awaited new building, STEM will be expanding to a K-8 with enrollment of at least that many students and potentially more when the roll-up is finished. This is an investment not only in the present but in the future. Boren is no longer an interim site that will sit unused for years at a time. If this is the reason the city didn’t follow through on these concerns when they were raised in June of 2012, then no such excuse can be used at this point.
    I urge SDOT to bring their traffic engineers to the actual location and watch the pedestrian flows at the end of the school day. Research has well established that there is only so much that normal human beings will do when crossing a street. People will wait for a break in traffic rather than walk 2 football field lengths out of their way (4 lengths if they have to walk back on the other side). This does not make them bad parents or bad citizens — it makes them human.
    To put it in further perspective, here are some fun math facts:
    – A average Seattle city block is approx. 364ft.
    – A long Seattle city block might run 660ft.
    – It is reasonable to assume that a legal crosswalk (marked or not) exists at each end of these blocks.
    – Someone exiting a building in the middle of a block would be expected to walk 182ft to the nearest crosswalk (330ft at most).
    – The distance from the actual dismissal door to the Juneau crosswalk is approx. 600 feet. The distance to the proposed Graham cross is 660 feet.
    – Again, even with a new crossing at Graham that puts 1260ft. between crosswalks.
    Block length stats from: http://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_Average_length_city_block_in_Seattle

  • sophista-tiki September 20, 2014 (9:55 pm)

    just do a guerrilla crosswalk. Its needed. Skip getting fake permission. about 25 yrs ago I made my own bike lane up Fremont ave and nobody ever said anything about it.

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