(ADDED: Seattle Channel video of committee meeting – SDOT director’s report starts 1:44 in)
SDOT has “already started making some changes” to the SW Admiral Way Safety Project plan, director Scott Kubly just told Councilmember Tom Rasmussen and the rest of the City Council’s Transportation Committee.
Rasmussen had told us that a briefing would be part of today’s meeting; it happened during Kubly’s periodic “director’s report” presentation, which as usual addressed multiple issues, though only two were discussed before the committee, including this one. (See the full pre-submitted written version of his report above.)
Rasmussen expressed an overall concern about the public-input portion of projects like this – suggesting, as residents have said, that it would be better for agencies to come out and say, there’s an issue we want to address in your neighborhood, and ask for ideas on addressing it, rather than beginning the public-input process by showing up with a proposed plan that invariably draws a negative response, with some walkback invariably following.
Kubly’s response to that was to say that it could stretch out a process for so long that people would lose interest – and/or that an entirely different set of participants/stakeholders might turn up if a year or so elapsed between the start of the discussion and the presentation of a plan. He also pointed out that some projects, like this, are outgrowths of existing “modal plans” (in this case, the city’s Bicycle Master Plan).
But he did acknowledge that community input is leading to some changes already in the plan, which was first presented in April with changes to Admiral Way west of California SW including addition of a bicycle lane, other channelization changes, and removal of 200 on-street parking spaces. When SDOT said it had done parking studies in December to generate its contention that the parking wasn’t needed, community members’ jaws dropped, pointing out that peak parking season in the area is summertime because of Alki Beach Park usage. SDOT agreed to study the parking again in mid-summer; Kubly indicated that “data collection” is under way (as project manager Emily Ehlers had told WSB last week).
“Allow us to collect the data in July, see what that data suggests is the right solution for meeting all of our goals – predominantly safety, for all users,” implored Kubly, adding, “We’ve already started maing some changes based on what we’ve heard … We’ll add back a lot of the parking in the highest-demand areas but without sacrificing some of the safety improvements that we’re making – we’re going through an iterative process … we’ll go back to the public with some design modifications we’ve made,” including changes to where the bicycle lane would be buffered from parked cars and where it would be buffered from the travel lane. The written version of his report says the next public meeting might not happen until September.
More than an hour and a half before Kubly’s appearance at meeting’s end, Admiral Way residents Jackie Ramels, Chris Thayer, and Brenda Gage spoke during the general-public-comment period that started the committee meeting. Thayer mentioned that Alki and Schmitz Park are both parks “with no dedicated off-street parking,” as even acknowledged by the city website. Gage mentioned that she and her three small children would have to cross Admiral Way if parking is removed in front of her house. She voiced a wish that “SDOT (would have been) more collaborative with us.” She also expressed gratitude for the 47th/Admiral light and crosswalks that opened recently, and mentioned that the group’s online petition is up to almost a thousand names. (Rasmussen also mentioned the signal/crosswalks before the meeting concluded – he and Kubly were there for its “completion celebration” two weeks ago, as reported here.)
When this meeting’s archived video is available online via the Seattle Channel, we’ll add it to this report. (NOTE: As of late night, it’s been added.)