By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
ADMIRAL WAY SAFETY PROJECT: This was the marquee presentation of the night, led by SDOT’s Emily Ehlers. A few hours earlier, we had published a preview with information and maps the city had sent – see that here. Much more information was contained in the slide deck that was presented during the meeting – you can scroll through it atop this story.
What was said, and asked:
Ehlers said that speeds along the stretch “are consistently higher than the posted speed limit.” Volume ranges from 6,000 daily at the bottom of the hill to 14,000 at the top. 22 of the 45 crashes involved “vehicle runoffs,” going too fast and veering off the road. Ehlers did not know the daypart breakdown, nor a count for bicycles.
With 441 on-street parking spaces along Admiral between California and 63rd, they tracked space utilization in December and determined it’s underutilized, Ehlers said. It was pointed out to her repeatedly as the meeting continued that they should measure in summer, when usage would almost certainly be higher. Ehlers agreed.
She showed six cross-sections, starting with 63rd to 60th, removing the two-way left-turn lane, preserving parking on both sides – 63 spaces – and adding a buffered bike lane., while reducing the lane width to 11 feet.
From 60th to Stevens, climbing the hill, maintain the 2-way left turn lane, reduce travel lanes from 12 feet wide to 10 feet wide, and consolidate parking on the north side – most of it is there anyway, and most homes on the south side, Ehlers said, have alternate access. 58 parking spaces would remain.
Cross-sections in the slide deck (see above) included:
-Lander to 47th, they’re consolidating parking on the south side, and will retain 71 spaces.
-47th to 44th, the street narrows,
-44th to California, no change to parking. Bicycle lane makes way for a shared lane.
Timeline: Once a plan is finalized, implementation is expected in August.
ANA member Mark Jacobs – who described himself as a frequent bicycle rider – said the corridor works fine the way it is.
Don Brubeck, an Admiral resident who is also president of West Seattle Bike Connections and described himself as a car and bicycle owner, says he will feel much more comfortable with buffered bike lanes. “There will be more people feeling they can (engage in everyday activities on bicycles)” with this change. “I think it’s something we can live with.”
Admiral resident Dennis Ross asked: How will consolidation of the parking spaces work – how will they be sure people don’t park in the areas where it will no longer be allowed? Ehlers: Well – it won’t be a legal parking space. She said most places where parking will be removed have alley access or other options. There are 800 on-street spaces within a block of Admiral, she said.
Another attendee wondered if studies of bicycle traffic were available (no, was the reply). How much will these changes cost? he asked. “It’s just paint, so we estimate $50,000 to $75,000,” Ehlers said. “How do we find out if it’s money well-spent?” Jody pressed – specifically, if more bicycles use it? Ehlers said there wasn’t a simple way to measure that but she said SDOT will try.
Transit advocate Marci Carpenter called attention to usage patterns around the former Life Care Center site at 47th/Admiral/Waite, where Aegis will be building another retirement center. ANA president David Whiting said the new facility will have a different entrance, so patterns might be different.
Area resident Jackie Ramels said that her neighborhood has no alleys; parking will remain on the north side there, she was told. She said people don’t park there because she and neighbors have had cars hit, repeatedly. Most of the crashes, other neighbors chimed in, are on the downhill side, and at night. Ehlers said that this re-engineering of the street will make it safer. The residents park on the south (uphill) side because it’s not safe on the north side, they stressed.
Another resident of that area spoke up next and talked about the “double curve’ in the area, suggesting there are more crashes than likely are shown in city records. “You either park in front of your house where your car is going to get hit sooner or later, or you park across the street and walk across four lanes, which I do every day – it’s dicey, because people come flying down the hill.” He said the street “totally changes in the summertime,” and people start parking on both sides. “I’ll end up having to park (up to) four blocks from my house sometimes.”
Ehlers at that point promised they will recount parking in June. She also said they could petition the city for an RPZ.
Kathy Dunn, saying she has been bicycling in that area for 20 years now, says she’s anecdotally seeing increased bicycle traffic. She lives within view of 63rd/Alki and sees speeders in the summer time – “the road is so wide, it looks like a speedway to them” as they head away from the beach and toward the bridge.
Another resident identifying herself as a pedestrian who lives in the Admiral business district area pointed out that parking around the Schmitz Park area is heavily used during the summer and wonders if that was taken into account. “How far does it spill past the park in summer?” Ehlers then asked. Way up the hill, she was told.
Jacobs then said, what about a protected bicycle lane going uphill, and shared bicycling going downhill, like on the stretch of Admiral Way north of the West Seattle Bridge? Ehlers said they’ll look at that.
A resident from 61st south of Admiral said the whole area is filling up for blocks year-round. In his view, removing the left-turn lane through the west stretch of Admiral would make it more hazardous because it’s used by many people. He also said the uphill path would make more sense than adding one on both sides and removing parking, and that he feels the best use of money in that area would be to fix sidewalks – which he said he uses all the time to walk on the hill.
Another resident who identified himself as a traffic engineer asked for more details on the parking counts. Ehlers said she didn’t have full details on exactly when they did it, but she believes that staffers went out early in the morning last December on two weekdays and a weekend day, not on a holiday.
Gary wondered about alternate routes for bicycles – such as through Schmitz Park. “When I bike, I prefer not to be on the arterial, because you’re breathing all the exhaust fumes.” Ehlers noted that 45th is identified as a future neighborhood greenway.
ANA’s Dave Weitzel said that doing this without studying the area during the peak time didn’t seem right.
Concerns were raised about the condition of the pavement where bike lanes are proposed. Ehlers said they thought it looked pretty good when they checked it, but that they had received photos from Brubeck showing otherwise.
Another question clarified that speed humps are not an option here because it’s an arterial.
Next person said that speed doesn’t seem to be the main danger on the stretch – it’s distracted driving – “at least speeders are looking up,” he said.
SDOT’s Sam Woods agreed that distracted driving is an increasing hazard. She rides her bicycle to work on an arterial (not in WS) every day but says, “the reason we want (buffered bike lanes) is that it gives you more space if someone IS distracted.” Distracted driving, she added, is “changing the way we design streets.” She added that maybe pedestrian-crossing improvements can be considered where people will have to cross the street to access parking.
It was stressed that, along with taking comments by e-mail – email@example.com – there are other chances to discuss/find out more about the plan, including the May 6th Southwest District Council meeting (7 pm, Senior Center of West Seattle) and an open house set for Thursday, May 21st (update: details on the project webpage). Those who live along/adjacent to the corridor will get mailers, the SDOT reps promised.
P.S. If you can’t view the slide deck atop this story via our embedded viewing window, go here to see the PDF version on the city website.
Also presented/discussed at ANA:
20 MPH ZONE: Shauna Walgren from SDOT said this is part of the pilot project for the plan to lower non-arterial streets’ speed from 25 mph to 20 mph, as part of the Vision Zero initiative (first reported here two months ago, including the following map):
Orange on the map shows 2015 pilot zones, and blue shows what could be added in 2016. The area focuses around two schools and a park and a route down to Harbor Avenue SW. The signs and legends will be installed in May-June, and at least five studies already have been done – this would be one of eight pilot projects citywide, and afterstudies will be done in October. If speeds are still high – 85% over 25mph – traffic-calming devices will be considered – those would be more costly, Walgren noted, with traffic circles costing $20,000, for example.
The zone is basically, south of Admiral and east of Admiral – south of Lafayette and east of WSHS, including sections of:
42nd (south to Hanford)
SDOT chose the pilot zones based on collision history as well as proximity to schools. “Will there be any enforcement?” she was asked. “No,” was the quick reply.
SUMMER CONCERTS AT ADMIRAL: ANA’s Dave Weitzel said the popular series is set for July 23rd-August 27th, 6:30 pm Thursdays as in previous years, with Ayron Jones and The Way expected to be on the slate for this year’s series. ANA is still looking for sponsors (WSB will be among them, as we’ve been since the very first year back in 2009), and they’ll be looking for a new organizer for the series, as former ANA president Katy Walum plans to give up that role after seven blockbuster years.
SIDE NOTE: ANA, now a 401(c)(3), is acting as a fiscal agent for the Morgan Neighbors coalition to hold the $25,000 settlement from the 6017 California SW appeal. (It’s a role that other nonprofits in turn used to fill for ANA, until it obtained its nonprofit certification.) That means ANA gets five percent, $1250, “which is kind of like winning the lottery, for a small group,” president Whiting said, reluctant as they were to accept the funds. (One night after the ANA meeting, we heard an update on this at the quarterly Morgan Community Association meeting – MoCA will be administering the settlement money as a grant fund for neighborhood projects.)
CANDIDATES: Lisa Herbold and Tom Koch both spoke to the group, which, like most other community councils, is hosting visiting candidates as campaign season continues. Herbold said she’s been out talking to people and is glad to hear that people aren’t against growth so much as concerned that the city is doing a lousy job handling growth. She promised to fix that, and to bring people into the process “so that you can help make the right decisions.” Koch went into details of his major issue, which is related to growth – impact fees he says the city could have been collecting as part of the development process over the past quarter-century. He says those uncollected fees could have totaled as much as $1 billion by now.
Questions included whether the city is spending too much on helping homeless people. Herbold said a big reason why homelessness is increasing is income inequality – “we’re becoming a city of haves and have nots” – she said “it’s in all our best interests” to become a city ‘where everybody has a roof over their heads.” Koch said he’s frustrated with the city because, again, the impact fees that could be collected aren’t being collected. He also noted, “A lot of people who are homeless have jobs – this is something a lot of people don’t realize.”
OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS: Marci Carpenter from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition said WSTC is collecting opinions before deciding whether to endorse the city’s draft transportation levy – you can contact WSTC through its website, as well as attending its next meeting. No timeline for its endorsement decision yet, she said.
NEXT MEETING: ANA meets on second Tuesdays most months, so that means 7 pm May 12th. Land Use 101 and more Council candidates are on the May agenda.