West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Though rain has just led to postponement of what was to be SDOT‘s second night of work to add red markings to the bus lane on the eastbound West Seattle Bridge, we’ve obtained a little light reading for everyone interested in what else the city is pursuing for improving traffic in what’s now dubbed the West Seattle Bridge-Duwamish Waterway Corridor.
The bus-lane markings are the first of 27 potential action items comprising the heart of a report to be presented during Tuesday morning’s meeting of the City Council Transportation Committee, chaired by West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen. It traces back to January, when Rasmussen announced the city would launch a “West Seattle Bridge Corridor Management Task Force.” Then at the end of July, he said its recommendations would emerge this month – and here they are.
The report includes three documents – first, a slide deck; second, a project list, third, a “white paper,” which includes declarations such as, “Traffic volumes on the West Seattle Bridge and Spokane Viaduct are projected to increase 26-33% over the next 20 years.” None of the possibilities are particularly dramatic; it’s more incremental – such as the long-expected upgrade of Delridge Way to a RapidRide corridor; possibly turning the West Seattle Water Taxi into a two-boat run for more-frequent service.
The slide deck has the toplines:
The project list elaborates on them (click “zoom in” in the lower right of the Scribd embed, and you should be able to read the details):
And the “white paper” goes even further, adding some other possibilities, as well as facts you might not have heard before (such as “King County Metro currently operates 13 routes over the West Seattle Bridge during weekdays. There are 29,300 total riders and 765 buses in the corridor each weekday.”).
In those documents, you won’t see what SDOT had already long since ruled out, adding another lane to the eastbound-bridge-to-northbound-99 bottleneck. But the “white paper” does mention the possibility of looking at re-adding a 4th Avenue onramp to the Spokane Street Viaduct section of the WS Bridge (the last one was closed in 1993).
The “white paper” also goes extensively into the long-contentious issue of low-bridge openings for marine traffic during commute times, particularly as they affect bicyclists, who don’t have a nearby alternative as do motorized vehicles, and freight. It acknowledges some improvements in the way things have been working, and suggests a few more, most intriguingly, in the last paragraph of the entire “white paper”:
The Swing Bridge control system is a computer based programmable controller system. There are over 2200 individual commands and steps in the process to completely open and close the bridge. Through careful critical path analysis of the opening and closing sequence there is an opportunity to reduce the electrical/mechanical functional time. We cannot control the time necessary for a vessel to safely transit the waterway, but if we can reduce the overall opening time by only 30 seconds, it can save over 15 hours of delay time per year.
WHAT’S NEXT? The Tuesday-morning meeting at which this will be presented is at 9:30 am at City Hall. (Councilmember Rasmussen was still reviewing the report when we talked to him earlier today; we were going to ask him for comment at what was supposed to be a photo opportunity in the bridge-painting zone tonight, but that’s now been postponed for weather, as mentioned above.) If you can’t be at Tuesday’s meeting, Seattle Channel will carry it live, online and on cable channel 21. As you review the documents, you’ll note that some of the suggestions have funding, more don’t, so these will be potential issues in both the upcoming city budget process and the campaign for the Move Seattle transportation levy, as well as issues to bring up with the candidates for West Seattle/South Park’s City Council District 1 seat.
MONDAY MIDDAY P.S. As pointed out in comments, you’re invited to come discuss the overall West Seattle egress/ingress issue at this Thursday’s WS Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center (6400 Sylvan Way).
7:29 PM: From the Seattle Education Association meeting downtown: Members have voted to accept the contract.
SEA members approve new contract! #SPSstrike
— Seattle EA (@SeattleEA) September 21, 2015
The vote was conducted by ballot, five days after negotiators for the union and Seattle Public Schools announced a tentative agreement last Tuesday morning. We published toplines in our coverage of union leaders’ Tuesday afternoon decision to suspend the strike; they’re also linked from this page on the union website.
8:10 PM: The union hasn’t released percentages/numbers, but some educators’ tweets indicate it was a sizable margin of approval. Separate from the contract, some loose ends left from the weeklong strike are yet to be worked out, such as how the six missed school days will be made up, and how key year-end dates, such as graduations, will be affected. We’ll be checking with the district to see if they have an estimate on how long it’ll be until those details are worked out.
8:55 PM: The union’s news release just arrived:
6:11 PM: Today we’ve seen sun, wind, rain … and a rainbow. Thanks for sharing photos; this one is from Travis on the east edge of The Junction, via Twitter.
ADDED 7:15 PM: Thanks to David Williams from this view from the Charlestown/44th vicinity:
P.S. Autumn officially arrives at 1:22 am this Wednesday morning (September 23rd).
ADDED 10:43 PM: And congratulations to newlyweds Meghan and Matt Miller – who came home from their wedding reception to find the rainbow over their Highland Park home!
5:29 PM: For more than a day now, according to two reports we’ve received, at least one squirrel has been inside Terjung’s House of Gifts in The Junction, visible through the window. The two people who’ve mentioned it – including the one who just texted the photo – say they couldn’t figure out any way to track down the store’s owners, even via neighboring business owners. So we’re publishing this in hopes maybe someone who reads it will know and be able to alert them (or will have some other idea of what to do).
5:47 PM: Thanks to Wendy, who says in comments: “I just called them & they are aware. They tried to catch him this morning, then put a catch/release trap in the store and plan to check on it after dinner.”
Three West Seattle Crime Watch notes:
MISSING A LOVED ONE’S ASHES? Dawn‘s home and car were broken into last night near Fairmount Park. Someone found some of her stolen belongings and messaged her via Facebook – mentioning along the way that he found some other items too, particularly the ashes of someone named Charlotte Goodman. If you have any idea whose those might be, go here and Dawn can mediate. Police have the info too.
HIT-RUN: Any info about this?
My car was hit (Saturday) afternoon while I was shopping at the Jefferson Square Safeway. The right rear bumper is badly damaged. I was wondering if you could put a short notice in the blog to see if anyone saw anything. … I have a 2014 Honda Civic (white color) that I bought just two weeks ago.
You can contact the victim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WEST SEATTLE BLOCK WATCH CAPTAINS NETWORK: The next crime/safety meeting in West Seattle is this Tuesday night, September 22nd, 6:30 pm, as WSBWCN meets for the first time since summer recess. Lots on the agenda – details on the WSBWCN website. (You do NOT have to be a BW captain, or even member, to attend – all welcome.)
1:44 PM: Looking for something to do this afternoon? After King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and project manager Mary Wohleb ceremonially cut a big yellow ribbon, raingarden tours are under way in Sunrise Heights and Westwood until 4 pm – find the map here. It’s all to celebrate the completion of 91 roadside raingardens in planting strips spread across 15 blocks in those two neighborhoods, to keep stormwater out of the combined-sewer system and, in turn, keep untreated wastewater from overflowing into Puget Sound when the Barton Pump Station in Fauntleroy is overwhelmed. This is one of two King County Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) reduction projects in West Seattle that date back to early public meetings in 2009, and it was the county’s first-ever project of this type (the other project is the million-gallon Murray CSO storage tank being built across from Lowman Beach Park).
ADDED 3:24 PM: First, our video of the short round of speeches that began the event – Kristine Cramer from the KC Wastewater Treatment Division spoke first, then Councilmember McDermott and Wohleb.
As McDermott pointed out, “Neighbors spoke up, and the county listened.” That hinted at the pre-construction controversy for both West Seattle CSO projects. After early meetings dating back to 2007, three options for reducing the Barton basin (map) overflow were presented in 2010, and this was one of them; the other two involved stormwater-storage facilities on the Fauntleroy Schoolhouse back lot, or under upper Fauntleroy Way across from the ferry dock, which generated much opposition, given the historic unofficial park status of the area.
Once the “green stormwater infrastructure” plan was announced in late 2010, that too generated skepticism – the city had tried it in Ballard and that did not go well, to say the least. In 2011, the county tried to calm the most common concerns with a special meeting to address them.
Before today’s ceremony, we talked with project manager Wohleb, who said none of the fears had borne out, so far. No ponding, for example – if anything, she said, the bioswales are draining water more quickly than expected. While this coming fall/winter will be the first rainy season post-completion, some raingardens were done before last winter, so we asked if they have any data. Not so far, in part because the Barton Pump Station itself has been out of commission for construction, too, KCWTD says.
Wohleb also had words of praise for the entire project team, including the contractors >Goodfellow Brothers and designers SVR. Also mentioned today: The copious amount of communication with neighbors (look at all the block-by-block updates on this page, just as an example).
WHAT’S NEXT: If the county needs more stormwater to be taken out of the system, four more blocks could get raingardens – shown in the project map above as “delayed”; they were designed and permitted, just in case. If you’re in the project area and interested in a home raingarden or cistern, the rebate program through RainWise is funded through next year; check it out to see if you’re eligible.
And note that projects like this are in the works for Highland Park and South Park – here’s the county project page for that.
Something to say about the Barton CSO project? The county has set up an online survey – just go here.
Thanks to Karen Berge for sharing photos from Saturday’s free Port of Seattle-presented boat tour of the area’s “Working Waterfront.” Karen reports the tour traveled along both the East and the West Waterways north of the Duwamish River; above, a closer look at one of the container ships in port at the time, the CGA-CGM Attila. The tour also traveled past Vigor Industrial‘s shipyard on Harbor Island:
One of the more eye-catching sights there, a partly wrapped state ferry – the M/V Tacoma, undergoing work at Vigor, same place it was built in the mid-’90s (when the shipyard was known as Todd):
As the tour headed into the Duwamish River, Karen says they traveled under the low bridge as well as the high bridge:
If the tide had been any higher, she said, the low bridge would have had to have opened. Along the Duwamish, the sights turned to many a barge:
That included the one that generated some controversy among local environmental advocates for bringing in contaminated sediment from Bellingham :
Speaking of controversy, the tour also went by West Seattle’s Terminal 5:
Part of Shell’s Arctic-drilling fleet is still expected back at T-5 after the short drilling season, but the city Hearing Examiner’s decision is still pending, regarding whether additional city permits are needed.
Along with the diversity of facilities along the waterfront, the diversity of vessels was in view too. With the reconfiguration of Highway 99 and Alaskan Way on the south side of downtown, you don’t get as much of a view of the Coast Guard’s ships any more – here’s what was visible from the tour:
Karen concluded, in her note with the photos, “What I found most interesting was the opportunity to see a different perspective of places that I think I know so well. I cross both of the West Seattle bridges frequently, but have not had opportunities to see the underside of these bridges from a boat.
“Today, we saw parks, buildings, and industrial facilities in a different way than we have seen them before. I’ve gone to Jack Block Park as a destination, but have never seen it or any of the surrounding shoreline from the water, so it was incredibly interesting to see it in that context.
“It was also interesting to see the mixture of newer versus older buildings and learn more about those that I’ve never pondered. For example, our tour boat passed by the old Fisher Flour Mill and when asked, no one could identify it by name.” She adds that port reps say they’ll be offering the “working waterfront” tour to other neighborhoods – West Seattle was the first.
Next Saturday – September 26th – you can get expired/no-longer-needed prescription drugs out of your home and into a safe drop-off container at the Southwest Precinct, during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, 10 am-2 pm. The announcement is from SW Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis. Nationally, it’s a DEA initiative, as explained:
The National Prescription Drug Take-Back addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Many Americans are not aware that medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are at alarming rates, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that many abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, many Americans do not know how to properly dispose of their unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.
The precinct is at 2300 SW Webster; the public entrance is off the east side of its parking lot on Webster west of Delridge.
(Seen from Don Armeni Boat Ramp on Friday night – photo by Don Brubeck)
Happy Sunday! From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
PANCAKE BREAKFAST FUNDRAISER: 10 am-noon at Alki Masonic Center in The Junction, join Westside Wildcat Junior Football and Cheer for a benefit pancake breakfast, $6 per person or $25 for families for a breakfast including pancakes, eggs, bacon, turkey sausage, coffee; more info in our calendar listing. (40th SW & SW Edmunds)
WEST SEATTLE FARMERS’ MARKET: 10 am-2 pm in The Junction, year-round, with locally grown/produced fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, beverages, more. (California SW between SW Oregon and SW Alaska)
SECOND-TIME SALE, DAY 2: 11 am-1 pm, shop the gently used items you’ll find inside the Fellowship Hall at Fauntleroy UCC Church: “Bargains on almost anything you could need or want, all clean, culled, and organized.” (9140 California SW)
FAMILY FUN FESTIVAL: Noon-2 pm, come have fun inside High Point Community Center – details here – free admission with a nonperishable food donation for the West Seattle Food Bank. Hosted by Bethany Community Church. (6920 34th SW)
RUNOFF-REDUCING RAINGARDENS TO BE DEDICATED: 1 pm at 32nd SW & SW Kenyon, the King County Wastewater Treatment Division celebrates the completion of one of its two major Combined Sewer Overflow projects in West Seattle, the one for what’s known as the Barton Basin, because it feeds down to the Barton Pump Station near the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. This project resulted in 15 blocks of roadside raingardens built to catch and absorb or reroute rainwater that used to go into the “combined sewer” system, resulting in several overflows of untreated wastewater into Puget Sound most years. After the 1 pm ceremony, you’ll be able to tour three areas of the project, each with a different “palette” of plantings, 1:30-4 pm.
CIDER PRESS: It’s the annual cider-press event with City Fruit at West Seattle Nursery, 1-3 pm – bring your own growler or buy one at the event – and if you have fruit to press, bring that too! More info here. (California SW & SW Brandon)
JAMTIME, LIVE: At C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), 1-3 pm. (5612 California SW)
(Saturday’s sunset – photo by JayDee)
TRAFFIC REMINDER FOR TONIGHT: The city expects to continue working on the West Seattle Bridge eastbound bus-lane markings overnight tonight, as noted here.
MORE … on our calendar!