(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.