That’s the plan for SW Roxbury, which SDOT is about to unveil at the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council‘s April meeting, under way until about 7:30 pm at the Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson). An open house is also planned April 16th. First, WWRHAH is hearing briefly from City Council District 1 candidate Lisa Herbold (we’ll add details later on what she says, and other parts of the meeting that aren’t related to the Roxbury presentation).
6:27 PM: SDOT’s Jim Curtin begins his presentation, saying the details (which you can see in the slide deck above) aren’t much different from the previous discussion, and that implementation will start in mid-August. The package, he recaps, has short- and long-term “engineering solutions” for SW Roxbury from Olson on the east to 35th SW on the west. He also recaps the road’s conditions, which are at the start of the slide deck – 52 percent of what’s along Roxbury in that stretch is single-family residential housing. The traffic flow goes from an average of 13,000 vehicles a weekday at 35th to 25,000 vehicles each weekday at Olson. The roots of the project lie in the fact so many people speed – more than 5 mph over the speed limit, on much of the stretch – the average at 30th SW is 41 mph, “a big problem” in SDOT’s view. The stretch has seen 223 crashes with 112 injuries over just the past three years.
The changes are at 60 percent design, close to “ready to go,” Curtin said, and they are coordinating with partner agencies including Metro and King County Roads (though SDOT is accountable for the road from curb to curb). 100 percent design is expected in June, and that’s when they’ll mobilize their crews, in hopes of getting the work done by the first day of the 2015-2016 school year.
Just a few tweaks from the draft plan. From 17th to 35th SW, rechannelization is proposed, “which means we will eliminate a lane of traffic and bring Roxbury down to its surroundings, including parks and schools … while still maintaining travel times that are essentially unchanged for people who are driving. There will be short sections of bus lanes for the 120 and RapidRide; we are going to repave Roxbury from 17th to ’18th and a half’ … a really, really rough section of road.” The curb will be fixed and ADA-complaint curb ramps will be put in, 8 each at 17th and 18th SW.
300 new linear feet of sidewalk will go in, on the south (county) side of the street across from Roxhill Elementary (photo added above), past the auto-parts store and casino – “the last section of Roxbury without sidewalks,” Curtin said, adding that the city and county have secured a grant to pay for this.
No rechannelization is planned east of 17th. At the White Center intersection – 15th/16th “funky five-way split,” as he described it – curb painting and audio pedestrian signals are part of the plan. Then from Olson to 15th SW, the speed limit will be reduced to 30 mph; two new radar speed signs will go in to support that; and other “spot signage” improvements are planned. That will include changes targeting the “persistent collision patterns” at 4th SW and 8th SW. For the latter, Curtin said, the patterns are rear-end crashes. The county has put in a “warning” beacon that isn’t making a difference. Engineers concluded, Curtin said, “we need people to slow down” – as is the case with the “spinout” crashes at 4th SW – and they believe that will make a difference. (Later, he said, they hope to take that “all the way down the hill” toward 509.)
Back to the west – A “shared bus lane” will go in near Roxhill because of operational requirements for Metro and school buses; a potential bus-layover zone is being considered by Roxhill. The Metro transit stop that’s currently right in front of Roxhill Elementary will be moved to the west of 30th (where it had once been). WWRHAH’s transportation chair Chris Stripinis asked if that would create a situation like the notorious C-Line stop at Fauntleroy/California – Curtin cited reasons why it won’t, including a “partial lane” that vehicles will be able to use to get around.
No bicycle lanes right now; bicycle facilities will be considered “later” – likely 2016 – said Curtin; right now, the curb and pavement are not in good-enough shape, and so the area that later will become bicycle lanes will for now be “buffers” between vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
For rechannelization doubters, Curtin hauled out a slide he acknowledged has been shown at many meetings lately – other rechannelized streets including Fauntleroy and (outside West Seattle) NE 75th have seen decreases in crashes even as traffic volume edged up a bit.
Beyond all this, he said, in the long term: If the Transportation Levy to Move Seattle passes, SDOT hopes to “completely rebuild” SW Roxbury, with repaving and even in some places “taking it down to the dirt” and redoing it. Also, a pedestrian signal at or near 12th SW would be a long-term priority, according to Curtin (it came up often at previous meetings). Anything else missing? he asked. WWRHAH co-chair Amanda Kay Helmick suggested a crosswalk at 24th and Roxbury. Between 35th and 30th, Stripinis suggested, some visual cue for crossers would be helpful, since because streets don’t connect from both sides, and drivers don’t tend to stop even for the implied crosswalks at corners.
WWRHAH secretary Joe Szilagyi asked about the parking spots along Roxbury by Taqueria Guaymas at 17th. They’re staying, said Curtin, adding, “Despite what you read … we actually like parking at SDOT,” for reasons including, “it slows people down.” Speaking of slowing down, though they’re not proposing rechannelization of the entire length of Roxbury now – even though it was frequently suggested, Curtin said, during the comment period – it might be looked at again in the future. Also for the wish list, Helmick added, a roundabout for the Olson end, and more mowing and vegetation clearing so people who are walking and biking can get through.
Though it’s technically beyond Roxbury, several people brought up the walking/biking dangers of going down the hill from Olson toward SW Cloverdale and South Park, as something that should eventually be examined.
Curtin then put up the engineering plans for Roxbury, starting with the 35th/Roxbury intersection, which he said “works remarkably well.” (A side discussion erupted regarding sidewalks on 35th, and Curtin reiterated that the city has some in the works all the way to 106th. Not part of the project in the spotlight tonight, but still of interest.) One stretch is still undecided – the eastbound side near Roxbury Safeway, where they had been looking at a bus lane but decided they don’t need it. Maybe a right turn lane? Right now, by the way, Curtin said, the 28th/Roxbury intersection “functions really well,” too. At 26th, there’ll be a right-turn-only lane heading southbound, and then it’ll be a bus-only lane on the outside, east of 28th, with a bus-and-turn lane on the westbound side, turning onto 26th and heading toward Westwood Village. This intersection’s design isn’t completely finalized, though, acknowledged Curtin – “we’re still kind of wrestling with (it).”
7:20 PM: Overall, he summarized, “this project is universally loved by everyone at SDOT,” where he says some wondered how the road ever had “so many lanes.” If you have comments, go to the Open House, and/or e-mail Curtin – firstname.lastname@example.org – ASAP.
Rest of the meeting:
WALKABOUT RECAP: We covered the March 30th Westwood Village Transit Hub “walking tour encore” with WWRHAH and agencies including Metro, SDOT, SPD, Parks. Helmick recapped the results, including what they’d like to see to enhance pedestrian safety from here – crosswalks, visibility, and more. She says WWRHAH is expecting a response within a month. Stripinis recapped his report on the road/pavement condition around the transit-hub area. “The (condition) for the bus-travel lanes is significantly lower than the non-bus-travel lanes,” he said, adding the concerns about homes shaking when buses pass, largely because of the poor condition of the pavement. Either the road needs to be rebuilt or maybe Metro can use lighter buses, Stripinis suggested.
GRANT: Helmick said a Neighborhood Park and Street Fund grant will pay for another gravel path into the Roxhill Bog area, which will help get access for local students’ environmental education, among other things, and will also fund some “thinning out” of vegetation in the area. That will complement the previous grant won for interpretive signs in the area; an attendee expressed concern about graffiti vandalism of those signs, and Roxhill Bog steward Scott Blackstock said he’s found himself fighting that weekly these days. Might a “graffiti wall,” open to artists, be a solution, rebooting it every six months? Szilagyi wondered.
MICROSURFACING IN ARBOR HEIGHTS: WWRHAH’s Eric Iwamoto, who is the council’s representative to the Southwest District Council, recapped SDOT’s briefing at its meeting last week regarding upcoming microsurfacing work.
Read our coverage here. (As covered in our story, SWDC also heard about the transportation levy from SDOT director Scott Kubly; Helmick pointed out that he’s due at the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council meeting next week, 7 pm December 8th at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center.)
WANT TO BE ON THE WWRHAH BOARD? No volunteers came forward at tonight’s meeting; secretary Szilagyi said he’s going to continue volunteer help but will not run for re-election to that office. Helmick pointed out that if she wins election to the City Council, she’ll have to step down from the co-chairship. If you’re interested, e-mail email@example.com ASAP.
SPEAKING OF CITY COUNCIL: As mentioned earlier, District 1 candidate Lisa Herbold spoke briefly at the start of the meeting (like many community councils, this one is hearing from candidates as the election approaches). She mentioned issues of interest including equity in areas including income and policing.
She was available for Q/A; she had mentioned spending 17 years as a City Council staffer (working for outgoing Councilmember Nick Licata), and when someone remarked “That’s amazing,” she replied: “As somebody with a background in community organizing, you learn to appreciate the small victories, the small, incremental changes, if you don’t, you get burned out.” She elaborated, saying it’s been really fun because every few years, councilmembers change which committees they chair, so staffers get to work on different issues. She was also asked what she thinks about proposed campaign-finance-reform measures; she said in particular, she’d like to hear what people think about the “voucher” proposal.
P.S. There’s a candidate forum tomorrow (Wednesday), 7 pm, at the 34th District Democrats’ meeting at The Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California SW.