West Seattle, Washington
(WSB photos by Torin Record-Sand)
Today, firefighters from Station 37 in Sunrise Heights came to High Point Branch Library to read “No Dragons for Tea” to preschoolers and to explain basic rules of fire safety. They opened the reading with news that Engine 37 will be replaced soon by a newer fire engine. More on that shortly. First: Brian Shaner read for the storytime today.
Other firefighters from Station 37 – Lt. Paul Adams, Jorge Bernal, and Tiffany Colman – were present for the reading. After reading, Bernal suited up to introduce the children to what a fully suited firefighter looks like.
The goal of this part of the presentation is to help kids know, if they ever are in an emergency situation and come face to face with a suited-up firefighter, that they shouldn’t be scared.
After about 25 minutes, everyone was invited to take a tour of Engine 37, which was parked outside the library.
We asked SFD spokesperson Kyle Moore later about the replacement plan for E-37. He confirmed: “Station 37 is getting a new, larger engine before Christmas. The new Engine 37 will have a modern cleaner-burning engine with additional safety features but the same pumping capacity. The older engine will be turned into a reserve engine.” E-37 is one of three that SFD is replacing, he added, along with E-35 in Ballard and E-20 in Queen Anne/Interbay.
Also tonight, a two-part update from King County Wastewater Treatment District on West Seattle’s own “pit,” the 60-foot-deep hole being excavated for the million-gallon combined-sewer-overflow tank across from Lowman Beach.
First, KCWTD’s Doug Marsano says excavation crews will NOT be working this Saturday after all; one more Saturday of excavation work is still expected, November 1st. But the following Monday, this will happen:
King County contractors will use the east part of the 7000 block of Beach Drive SW (between Lowman Beach Park and the project site) to assemble a crane that will be used to finish digging out the Murray CSO Control Facility tank area. The crane will be delivered and assembled on Monday, October 27 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Neighbors and park users should expect traffic delays of up to 15 minutes on the 7000 block of Beach Drive during these hours.
To maintain local access, there will be no parking on Beach Drive S.W. between the project site and Lowman Beach Park from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Flaggers will work with drivers to ensure safe passage around the assembly area.
Further details are in the official project notice here.
As reported here just three days ago, WSDOT announced digging had begun for the pit going down 120 feet to rescue the Highway 99 tunnel-machine cutter head. Tonight, WSDOT has announced the digging is on hold. Here’s the entire update:
On Oct. 23, WSDOT archaeologists monitoring the access pit excavation observed a deposit containing shell material that requires further evaluation and may indicate the presence of cultural materials. No artifacts or human remains were found. WSDOT has very strict protocols when archeological material is discovered and those protocols were followed today. Excavation activities in the access pit have stopped and we are now coordinating with the Federal Highway Administration and tribal governments, and the Washington State Department of Archeology and Historic Preservation to determine the next steps. As more information is available to share with the public, we will pass it along.
The image above is a screengrab from the project’s monitoring cameras, which are online “live” here.
Two scenes from the Junction/Triangle area:
FAUNTLEROY/EDMUNDS: Most of the future site of the mixed-use Whittaker is now cleared; just the last section on the southeast corner, the old Chevrolet showroom and service area to the west, remains (our photo was taken from Fauntleroy, looking southwest). A few blocks west:
4730 CALIFORNIA: Michael shared that photo showing that the facade of the midblock mixed-use project on California between Alaska and Edmunds is finally in view. Work on this project began with demolition in June of last year.
4:47 PM: Police are blocking most if not all of the 26th/Roxbury intersection because of a crash, reported to involve a bus and pedestrian. If you need to travel in that area, find alternatives for now.
5:11 PM: Police just announced over emergency radio that they’ll be reopening Roxbury.
9:26 PM: The pedestrian is a 25-year-old man, according to SFD, who suffered a severe arm injury and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in serious condition. We don’t have police information about the crash but commenters say a Sound Transit bus hit the man.
(Added 4:42 pm: Rainbow this afternoon, photographed by Julie)
3:39 PM: Weather experts (like West Seattleite @MetPatrick22) have been watching this for some days – and now the National Weather Service has issued a formal alert, in the form of a “special weather statement”: Looks like it’s going to get windy on Saturday. At this point, gusts aren’t expected past 45 mph, but they’re watching closely. Here’s the full text of the alert.
4:11 PM: Again, that’s just for the weekend, but things are a little crazy right now – burst of hail followed by major downpour.
— Nathalie Wargo (@nathaliewargo) October 23, 2014
All week long, just in case of sunbreaks or clear skies, Alice Enevoldsen has been hosting events at local libraries, leading up to today’s partial eclipse of the sun. Right now, she’s at High Point Branch Library for a viewing party, and yes, as the photos tweeted by librarian Nathalie Wargo show, some of it’s been seen!
— Nathalie Wargo (@nathaliewargo) October 23, 2014
You have to look through a safe viewer – looking directly at the sun will harm your eyes – but they’ll have something for you to use, if you didn’t make or don’t otherwise have your own. As laid out in Alice’s most recent edition of Skies Over West Seattle here on WSB, the eclipse peaks at 3 pm with the moon’s shadow covering slightly more than half the sun. HP Library, by the way, is at 35th/Raymond, and Alice promised that even if viewing was or became impossible, she’ll have an astronomy talk inside.
3 PM UPDATE: Kevin Freitas has been tweeting while the eclipse is in view:
— Kevin Freitas (@kevinfreitas) October 23, 2014
The sun has continued to come and go. From here, the eclipse will wane, still partly visible for another hour or so.
ADDED 3:22 PM: Back to rain/sun mix. More eclipse photos:
(Copyright 2014, Jason Gift Enevoldsen)
ADDED 6:39 PM: We stopped by Alice’s viewing event for a pic of our own (that’s her in red):
And one more photo, from Trileigh Tucker:
That’s Rob Duisberg holding binoculars projecting the eclipse view.
12:46 PM: Thanks to the person who texted us that photo of the suddenly fenced-off play structure at Roxhill Park and asked what was going on. We’re still investigating, but according to one round of e-mail forwarded to us, there is a safety concern with the custom-created metal “turret” on the community-built castle structure, which might be removed as a result, or moved. We’re working to find out more, but in the short run, please note for starters that the play structure – opened a year and a half ago after an extensive community funding/building project – is closed off.
1:12 PM UPDATE: Even the group that reported the safety problem didn’t get notice that the play area would suddenly be shut down, according to this e-mail just received from Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council chair Amanda Kay Helmick:
On October 8th, the WWRHAH Community Council wrote an email to Carol Baker at Parks mentioning the way the turret was leaning substantially to the left, and we were concerned that although, it has always leaned, it looked worse. We let her know that we are dead set on keeping the turret if indeed it needed to come down – and re-purpose it elsewhere at the playground.
Carol Baker emailed back on the 17th saying that “We had our parks engineer, architect and trades staff out earlier this week. They are developing plans but it will be repaired on site. Won’t know timeline until plans are finished but will let you know when I do.”
WWRHAH received confirmation today from Carol that “Initial plan was as I said below (above). However, there are people in the department who are concerned that the safest approach will be to temporarily remove the head. When it comes to safety we must error on the side of caution. ” Parks management has been reminded how important this special artwork is to the community who supported the play area rebuild. I will let you know when I know more.”
We are dismayed that the Community was not informed that the work would be taking place immediately, and the park closed. We have a call into Parks now to get a timeline and confirmation that the turret will be saved and re-purposed.
1:57 PM UPDATE: Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad answered our inquiry:
The turret over the play structure is an art project that is filled with reflective tiles that are quite heavy. A recent inspection has our structural engineer concerned that the tiles may be too heavy for the Trex structure onto which they have been attached.
Out of an abundance of caution, we closed the structure — for the moment. We’re going to bring in a truck to pluck the turret off the top of the structure and re-open the play equipment to kids.
We’ll take the turret back to our Westbridge maintenance facility (located in West Seattle) to strengthen it before taking it back and replacing it.
We don’t know when that truck will be out, but it will be ASAP.
Our preference would have been to notify the community before the fences went up, but we felt it was important to act quickly.
2:48 PM: Update from Hammerstad via Twitter – Parks will be putting up explanatory signs at the play area this afternoon. Turret removal is not likely before tomorrow.
Apparently not all West Seattle (Athletic) Club members received the e-mail announcement that the fitness center at 2629 SW Andover is closed today and tomorrow, as the court-ordered deadline for its owner to pay $1.1 million nears. E-mail from several members this morning indicated the closure has indeed happened, without explanation (and we just went over to photograph the sign on the door). We added the announcement last night to our most recent update (read it here).
The closure so far seems to match the scenario laid out in a club employee’s e-mail to some of its fitness instructors; that e-mail suggested the club would reopen under new management/ownership. As first reported here in early October – and reiterated by property owner John Pietromonaco when we spoke with him Tuesday – this Friday is the deadline for owner Sam Adams to pay $1.1 million, mostly back rent, or face eviction. Pietromonaco told us that if Adams failed to do that, he had a plan to keep the club running. If any new information on the club’s future becomes available today, we’ll add to this story.
SOLAR ECLIPSE VIEWING PARTY – OR ASTRONOMY PRESENTATION: 1:15-3 pm, Alice Enevoldsen of Alice’s Astro Info and Skies Over West Seattle fame will be at High Point Branch Library for a solar-eclipse-viewing party, just in case there’s a break in the weather; if the eclipse isn’t visible, she’ll give an astronomy presentation, so come to the library anyway! (35th/Raymond)
SEATTLE LUTHERAN HIGH SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE: School-open-house season continues with tonight’s 7-8:30 pm open house inviting families to West Seattle’s only independent high school. Details in our calendar listing. (41st/Genesee)
OPENING NIGHT FOR ‘DOGFIGHT’: 7:30 pm at ArtsWest (WSB sponsor), it’s the first performance of the musical “Dogfight,” described as “the romantic and heartbreaking story of three young marines in 1963 on the eve of the deployment to the small but growing conflict in Vietnam.” Directed by AW’s new artistic director Mathew Wright. (4711 California SW)
Some have auctions, some have walk-a-thons, some have “direct drives” – whichever the method, it’s the time of year when PTAs ask for the support of their communities (and school funding has certainly been in the news lately). From Arbor Heights Elementary:
Join the Circle of Friends! The Arbor Heights Elementary PTA invites any and all members of the West Seattle community to Join the Circle of Friends by participating in our direct fundraising drive October 13-31st! 100% of funds raised by the PTA go to support programs that enrich the educational experience of students at Arbor Heights! The Arbor Heights PTA funds its $74,000 annual budget (which, shockingly, is bigger than our school’s operating budget provided by the State!) through various charitable giving events (membership drive, direct drive, annual auction, etc.).
This year PTA priorities (voted on by the membership) include: Young Authors Day, 5th Grade Camp, Instrumental Music, Kindergarten Aides, Playground Equipment, Academic Enrichment and Field Trips, Safety Patrol, Library, Global Reading Challenge, Sports Equipment, and Teacher Requests for innovative learning.
Visit arborheightses.seattleschools.org to learn more, download a donation
form, donate online, or set up a recurring donation! Thank you!
If you have a school fundraiser under way or coming up and want to invite the community to be part of it, please make sure we know about it – thanks!
(WS bridge and Highway 99 views; more cams on the WSB Traffic page)
The second bridge camera is back, so we have four views once again in our daily traffic watch. Meantime, two reminders:
SUNDAY – HARVEST FESTIVAL: Junction streets are closed and buses are on reroute for the 10 am-2 pm festival (and the setup/breakdown time before/after). Details in our most-recent preview.
MONDAY – WATER TAXI SCHEDULE CHANGE: The 7-day-a-week, all-day West Seattle Water Taxi schedule ends Sunday; next Monday, the 5-day fall/winter schedule begins – preview it here.
By Tracy Record & Patrick Sand
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Their names weren’t all spoken during Wednesday night’s launch meeting for the 35th SW Road Corridor Safety Project. But the knowledge that five crashes on “I-35” had ended their lives – five deaths in seven years – hung heavy.
“There are so many reasons we want to eliminate these serious crashes,” said SDOT‘s Jim Curtin, opening the first “issue identification” meeting for the project, which he is managing. “… We want to create a street that’s more forgiving, so when people do make mistakes, the consequences aren’t so tragic.”
What began Wednesday night – 8 months after it was promised – is intended to result in changes and improvements within a year, along the three miles of 35th between Avalon and Roxbury – three miles that have seen 1,065 crashes in the past 10 years, Curtin said.
(May 2013 crash at 35th/Roxbury: WSB photo by Christopher Boffoli)
Distraction is blamed for about a third of the crashes. After that: Speeding, impairment, failure to grant right-of-way. Despite the absence of a major safety campaign, there has been progress.
(October 2008 speed sign at 35th/Willow, where recent studies showed the highest average speed)
The speed limit along the project area is 35 mph; studies from the past year show that speeds have “come down considerably since 2007,” Curtin said, but they are still over the limit. 85 percent of the traffic is going almost 41 mph at SW Willow, 38.5 mph at SW Brandon, 36.5 mph at SW Roxbury. At those speeds, “we’re rolling the dice .. pedestrians do not typically do well” if hit at those rates of speed.
Backing up: He began with a presentation; not recommendations or suggestions, but instead, the project’s goals and facts. We recorded those first 46 minutes on video, including some Q/A:
Below, you’ll see the slide deck Curtin walked through during that opening presentation:
Curtin stressed that 35th is “a neighborhood” – 488 parcels along the three-mile stretch in the project zone, 73 percent of them single-family homes, 11 percent apartments/condos/townhouses – so when there are crashes, they are virtually (and sometimes literally) “in people’s front yards”:
(January 2010 crash at 35th/Cloverdale – WSB reader photo by Bruce)
While he stressed repeatedly that “tonight, we’re not jumping into solutions at all,” it was clear that some are eager, even ravenous, for solutions. One man who said he’s had two cars “totaled, absolutely totaled” decried people who drive on 35th SW “as if it were the Indianapolis 500,” particularly in the years since it became the last north-south two-lanes-each-way road through the heart of West Seattle.
(Seen April 2010 at 35th/Webster, shared by MAS)
He continued, “If you put 35th on a road diet, you won’t need more people to enforce (the speed limit).” (He was challenged loudly by other attendees and Curtin had to put the brakes on what almost accelerated into a shout-down.)
The speed van and radar trailers are among the measures implemented since 2007 that have brought speeds down somewhat, “but there is still room for improvement,” Curtin declared. (Our archives include this long list of changes made as of a 2008 discussion (note that a road-diet study was mentioned then, six years ago).
Police enforcement has brought some progress over the years.
(WSB photo: April 2011 emphasis patrol on 35th)
Southwest Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske told attendees about an enforcement period in which SPD made contact with 200 drivers over four months, with 70 pulled over for “talking on a cell phone while driving,” 40 for speeding, and the other 90 for “various violations” (including other forms of distracted driving). He said they might be back on 35th, and they are hoping to “do the same thing … in different areas.” The overtime is covered by grants they seek.
In Q/A, Curtin and Wilske were asked how road design might affect the stated major causes of crashes, distraction and impairment. “The way we design our streets have a huge impact on how people behave on our streets,” Curtin replied. “We have great big wide streets,” and, for example, that encourages people to speed, he says. “That’s why in Seattle our neighborhood streets are designed to be 25 feet wide with parking on both sides,” very little room to speed.
One resident of 35th mentioned that other drivers “don’t like their momentum broken” by, for example, his necessary turns into his own driveway, or buses slowing/stopping to pick up people. He suggested it would be worse “with three lanes” – referring to widespread suspicion that a “road diet” (rechannelization) is already decided. “Nobody’s said anything about three lanes at this point,” said Curtin, reiterating that this is the discussion stage, not the design stage.
But the topic came up again and again, and Curtin mentioned something he’s said before – that while Seattle has “done more than 30 road diets,” usually preceded by “gloom and doom,” the latter does not come to pass. (Fauntleroy Way SW, rechannelized in 2009, is a frequent example.)
Another point he made: While every intersection is a legal crosswalk – and you’re required to stop – SDOT won’t mark them “on roads like 35th” unless there is a signal. If they “change things significantly on 35th,” that would allow more marked crossings, he noted.
Was there ever a traffic change that didn’t work out? Curtin was asked. He brought up California SW, “which we put on a road diet twice, in 1970s and 1990s,” and while, he said, it worked well along most of the stretch, it did not work in the heart of The Junction, so they reversed it. “And that’s the beauty of a road diet – it’s just paint,” so if it doesn’t work out, the road can be repainted.
That led to a question about the state of SW Alaska, westward from 35th. Curtin pointed out its status as a bus route – “every time a RapidRide bus passes you, that’s hundreds of people who would (otherwise) be in cars” – as some solace for traffic concerns.
After those 46 minutes of presentation plus Q/A, breakout conversations were offered for topics including a proposed neighborhood greenway on 34th SW, which will be studied, Curtin said, next year – and what Curtin acknowledged might be “difficult choices” involving hot topics such as parking and channelization.
The 40-plus people in attendance were invited to offer their thoughts at three tables – broken geographically into the north, central, and south sections of 35th. Notes were written on huge sheets of paper mapping section of I-35.
WHAT’S NEXT: Curtin couldn’t stress enough that this is the input phase – offer your comments and concerns now, before something is designed/proposed. Next big chance to do that is meeting #2, same format as this one, though Curtin promised “tweaks”: 3:30 pm next Tuesday (October 28th), 3:30-5 pm at Southwest Branch Library, which, unlike Wednesday night’s venue, is on 35th (at SW Henderson) … a spot where we’ve covered a few crashes in the past year alone, including this one exactly one year ago:
(WSB photo: October 2013 crash at 35th/Henderson)
In February of next year, SDOT expects to unveil and circulate “design alternatives,” with a decision to be made in spring. In the meantime, if you have something to say, say it, urges Curtin: “If anyone feels they’re not being heard at these meetings, send me an e-mail at any time (email@example.com) … I’d be happy to come out and walk the corridor with you … I’d be happy to meet with you whenever and wherever.”
What would YOU do to make 35th SW safer? Come tell SDOT Tuesday – or via the contact options here.