PHOTOS: ‘Wall-to-wall’ Westwood transit-hub-and-vicinity tour, the sequel

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

You can complain and explain until you’re out of breath, but few things beat showing a problem spot firsthand to those who can at least help find solutions. That’s the idea behind the classic “walking tour” with community members and government reps.

One in Westwood on Monday afternoon was a sequel/followup to a similar one exactly 15 months earlier (WSB coverage here), from the “wall of buses” on Barton to the one on 25th, and beyond. It showcased what had changed, what hadn’t changed, and what will soon change.

This one, like the one at the end of December 2013, was requested by the Westwood-Roxhill-Arbor Heights Community Council, represented this time by chair Amanda Kay Helmick and WWRHAH’s Southwest District Council delegate (and SWDC co-chair) Eric Iwamoto. Also like the December 2013, other participants included Metro, SDOT, SPD, Seattle Parks, reps from County Executive Dow Constantine and City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen‘s offices, plus King County Sheriff’s Office transit deputies.

Ahead – what’s changed, what hasn’t, and more:

The group gathered by Roxhill Playground and headed north to walk the perimeter of Westwood Village – 29th to Trenton to 25th to Barton, and then back to the 29th/Barton starting point.

The mission: Visiting and revisiting safety concerns – particularly pedestrian safety, in an area where so many walk, with schools, shopping, transit, and both multifamily and single-family neighborhoods.

The concern along the east and south sides of the route: The Westwood Village area has become a major transit hub without any planning/facilities for ideal flow of buses and passengers. At the starting point, the southeast corner of 29th/Barton, waiting/laid-over buses can back almost up to the corner; a buffer would be ideal. The dangers peak around 4 pm; a crosswalk, said Helmick, would be ideal.

Across the street on the northeast corner, the sidewalk has challenges, forcing pedestrians almost to stand in the street:

Continuing along 29th, overgrowth was noticed – and then pointed out by a neighbor who noticed the group and pulled over to find out what was going on.

He said the neighborhood had complained to Target, which owns its site on the southwest side of Westwood Village, asking them to mow on the street side of the fence as well as the store side of the fence. (In the end, he talked with Evan Clifthorne from Councilmember Rasmussen’s office.)

Turning eastward onto SW Trenton, the group, which also included SDOT traffic engineer Dongho Chang, took note of the fast-moving cars headed to and from the Westwood Village entrance by the Post Office .

Then, once the group reached the aforementioned entrance, the stairway down from Southwest Athletic Complex across Trenton was a focus of attention, particularly regarding how students walk into and through Westwood Village, which in general, participants agreed, didn’t seem pedestrian-friendly at all.

East of the Trenton entrance, cars were parked illegally, east of a “no parking east of here” sign (while oddly, the legal parking west of the sign was untouched).

At 25th/Trenton, another path was noted, on the north side of the intersection, where trees had been cleared between apartment buildings.

As the group headed south along 25th, it was pointed out that the bus zones were moved after the 2013 walking tour, so they’re not so close to the curb cut for entering WWV, but Helmick suggested painting the curb of the no-parking zone would help.

At this spot, looking over Westwood Village’s east parking lots, she observed that it would be ideal if the shopping center hosted a true transit center, rather than having had one pop up piecemeal around its perimeter, in the vein of, “Here are the buses; good luck with everything else.”

The group moved on and discovered some spots in need of repair (“Find It, Fix It,” anyone?) including a drain grate with a loose crossbar, and a stop-sign that could be easily jiggled. The northwest corner of 25th/Barton also sported a bus-stop sign with BAY 4 atop it, and Deb Barker from the Morgan Community Association pointed out that it’s where you can catch Sound Transit 560 to Sea-Tac Airport – though it’s a long suitcase-roll from other stops in the area. Metro pointed out fresh concrete marking where a full shelter is coming to the stop (trash can and all).

The vast irregular intersection of 25th/Barton was suggested for traffic calming; it was temporarily home to a 4-way stop during work in the area a year or so ago.

Moving onto SW Barton, the awkward pedestrian routing into Westwood Village at 26th SW became a topic of discussion.

Its challenges include the crosswalk painted across the curb cut, and the fact that people wind up walking across parking lots rather than onto any designated pedestrian path at that spot, whether they are heading toward McDonald’s or toward Rite Aid, and/or beyond. (Added) This is where a woman was hit and killed crossing the street in 2008.

Then, back to the transit zone, looking across Barton to the pedestrian island that was trashed again recently (as reported and shown here), and a discussion of how drivers try to pass stopped buses on the eastbound side – not realizing because of visibility, among other things, that they can’t.

Perhaps even some paint would help with the island’s visibility, it was noted – or maybe it could be enlarged.

As WWRHAH had announced recently, Metro is planning to add more lighting on the Roxhill Park side of Barton, where buses are boarded.

At this point, two Metro Transit deputies (part of the King County Sheriff’s Office) joined the group.

Not too much trouble at the bus stop lately, they said, but intoxicated people remain a frequent problem. (Liquor, available nearby at multiple WWV locations and at Roxbury Safeway, was also a problem noted on the December 2013 tour.)

And that’s where it broke up. WWRHAH will continue to follow up, as it had after the December 2013 tour; its next meeting is next Tuesday, April 7th, 6:15 pm at Southwest Branch Library (35th/Henderson), as one good point for getting involved.

10 Replies to "PHOTOS: 'Wall-to-wall' Westwood transit-hub-and-vicinity tour, the sequel"

  • sw April 1, 2015 (2:37 pm)

    Nice work. Glad to see these walking tours taking place, as firsthand experience on site speaks volumes.

    Was anything mentioned about the condition of Barton Street East of 35th? That road is being decimated by the increase in bus traffic. Lots of patches, but is still sketchy and dangerous on wet days. The entire street needs to be torn out and repoured to current engineering standards in order to handle the increased load.

    • WSB April 1, 2015 (2:44 pm)

      Apologies, I meant to include that – I did hear mention of the toll buses have taken on the road (including, I believe, 26th to the south).

  • sophista-tiki April 1, 2015 (3:10 pm)

    Currently in Montana so I missed the TRANSIT HUB OF DOOM tour. because I’m sure there a lot of neighborhood negative impact thats been conveniently glossed over.

  • Oakley34 April 1, 2015 (3:33 pm)

    Thanks for the breakdown. Bright Green/Yellow paint for that little concrete island barrier would indeed be a good idea. Glad to hear Bay 4 is getting a trash can. I sorely wish metro was obligated to put at least a little bin on the pole at every stop in the city. While I’ve waited at that particular stop I’ve mused that nearby businesses who sell food in takeout bags or snacks should also bear some responsibility, as all that trash is bought there and then consumed at that Bay 4 spot above the pharm. How does metro determine what gets a bin and what doesn’t? I’ve seen a few along 35th that are clearly put there (and presumably emptied) by a frustrated homeowner, and some that seem to be metro official, and some that seem to maybe be sponsored? Sadly even there people manage to just litter. Wow sorry to go so offtopic but this issue is close to my heart (y’know…in that it gets my blood going). The ped crossing by the post office, while perhaps not totally ped friendly, seems to actually get good respect from drivers I see there .

  • AmandaKH April 1, 2015 (4:27 pm)

    @SW – Our Infrastructure Chair, Chris Stripinis, put together an incredibly detailed letter about the condition of the roadway on the “bus loop”. He also mentioned the vibration felt in multiple houses as buses go by on Roxbury. We emailed them on March 20, and I handed Paulo Nunes-Ueno a hard copy at the tour. We will let you know any word we receive.

  • HC April 1, 2015 (6:55 pm)

    Thank you for everyone’s time on this important topic!

  • DelridgeDiz April 1, 2015 (9:10 pm)

    Great to see a candidate paying attention to local, community fixes. If more council members were active in these kinds of activities, we wouldn’t end up with debacles like the tunnel.

  • McBride April 1, 2015 (9:16 pm)

    Fantastic work from a small, but mighty team. Imagine if it were a large and mighty team. It’s not just busses making a mess, this council has worked with SDOT, SPD, Parks, and other departments to get some real positive changes for the community. Sound appealing? Got some change you want to make? Or do you just like the afterglow of doing something completely awesome? Go see about that. Go find out that instead of being frustrated you can be empowered. Go do something cool. Bonus, sometimes people will say really nice things about how great you are.
    Worth noting, if you’ve ever felt like you’ve just had to just take a candidate’s word for it during election year, you can chat with Amanda about what Else she’s been getting done for West Seattle. Might be worth your time.

  • datamuse April 2, 2015 (8:49 am)

    Nice job, WWRHAH. I pass through this area frequently and it’s basically a nightmare for everyone, whether you’re in a car or on foot (weirdly, I encounter the fewest issues when navigating Westwood on my bicycle, aside from QFC frequently blocking their own bike racks).
    I realize WWRHAH probably can’t do much about the layout of the Westwood parking lot, but it’s one of the worst I’ve ever encountered, and the traffic and sidewalk issues highlighted here make it worse.

  • wakeflood April 2, 2015 (8:50 am)

    I second those thoughts, McBride. You cannot win if you do not play, as they say, and Amanda and the rest of the gang are changing things for the better in our community.

    A big THANK YOU for all you guys do.

    And a big note of support for Amanda Kay Helmick on her run in D1. If you like representative and active Councilmembers who get things done, you’ll really like Amanda.

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