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.