By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
No, the city’s new strategies for clearing crashes more quickly won’t compromise investigations.
So promised Seattle Police traffic section Capt. Eric Greening during the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting. He and SDOT’s Traffic Management Center manager Adiam Emery were there to talk about the city’s new emphasis on Traffic Incident Management (TIM), as first detailed in an August 3rd media briefing downtown focused on a new analysis by consultants.
WSTC also heard on Thursday night from the transit-advocacy group Seattle Subway, which is encouraging West Seattleites to join them in pushing Sound Transit for a bolder vision/plan than is currently being explored for next year’s “ST3” ballot measure.
TRAFFIC INCIDENT MANAGEMENT: Recently promoted Capt. Greening described himself as a former Arbor Heights and South Park resident. He is SPD’s top point person for TIM now that he’s leading the Traffic Section (which, he noted, includes Parking Enforcement Officers). The Captain talked about how traffic and parking enforcement officers now will be undergoing training – but he also pointed out that when the Traffic Collision Investigation Squad is called in for major incidents, they have to take their time investigating, and that won’t change, so the officers will work on more efficient detours, for example, at those types of scenes. Asked later about the length of investigations – when you’ve been out there a while, what more is there to see? – his reply: “Depends on the complexity of the scene … (but) we can always do a better job … and there are improvements we can make; it’s my plan to look into that with my sergeant.”
Emery explained how TOC has moved just this year from 5 days/13 hours a day to 7 days/16 hours a day (with someone on call for the remaining eight hours, and capable of accessing online systems remotely to get messaging out about incidents), and she recapped the background of the consultant study. Since it’s been relatively widely distributed, including here, she said she’d focus on what has changed. By year’s end, she says, the city will have about 200 cameras. She talked about all the coordination that’s required to coordinate clearing an incident – other agencies/departments might be involved, say, Seattle City Light if a utility pole was hit, etc.
Asked by board member Mark Jacobs how it’s decided whether to close roads because of conditions that some types of vehicles could handle, Capt. Greening said that while police have to decide whether it would subsequently take all their resources to police that.
Board member Jon Wright asked what would happen differently if the “fish truck” crash happened today. the city reps mentioned coordination, awareness, understanding where resources are, are all factors that have helped them clear incidents a lot more quickly recently.
Towing policies came up in the city’s new plan – so who pays if the driver’s own towing service can’t make it to the scene fast enough? The city will pay to get the car “to a safe place” if need be, where the driver’s own towing company can come pick it up later.
How well does Metro interact with the city? It’s been “amazing,” said Emery.
Board member Michael Taylor-Judd asked about how to get an illuminated alert sign on Delridge Way SW so people can be warned sooner of incidents/closures ahead. Emery said some signage funding is part of the MoveSeattle levy going to the November ballot – she also referred him to this report with future signage strategy (we didn’t see a Delridge mention, though).
SEATTLE SUBWAY: Meeting guests don’t often bring tchotchkes. But the trio from all-volunteer Seattle Subway did – including T-shirts with the group’s logo. They explained their emphasis on what they call “ST Complete” as opposed to the “ST3” proposal, saying their idea “might get us to 16th and Roxbury [with light rail] while ST3 might only get us to The Junction.” Their message is that rather than building the system piecemeal, with some additions every ballot measure, “let’s just plan a complete system and keep building.”
They also explained that despite the group’s name, it’s not advocating for a completely underground system – just, completely grade-separated; they don’t support “at-grade” proposals: “Any line between Tukwila and downtown pretty much should be grade-separated, including (West Seattle).” Their vision also includes two light-rail lines through the south end – not just one that would run through West Seattle and head south to Burien, but also one along the Duwamish. To get between WS and downtown, they believe, would require a new bridge, more like the current high-level one than the low-level bridge; actually running light rail along the existing high bridge, they say, “is a (former Mayor Mike) McGinn-era option that just wouldn’t work.” Seattle’s done “audacious” things in the past – like the Space Needle – so why not this? they asked. Plan for 30 years of construction, not 15.
If you like the idea, they suggest, flood Sound Transit with feedback – you can do that via its ST3-specific website.
Also at WSTC’s meeting:
PORT COMMISSION CANDIDATES’ FORUM: WSTC is inviting the Seattle Port Commission candidates to its September meeting, and also is participating in organizing a candidates’ forum for Seattle City Council District 1 and Positions 8 and 9 on October 13th.
PENINSULA PROJECT-TRACKER: Vice chair Tom Linde is putting together a spreadsheet to track West Seattle-relevant projects and their status, how to comment, etc. This is in the early stages now.
CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES: Both Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock showed up at the meeting, not to speak, but just to listen – both a bit late, but they stayed until the end.
WSTC meets fourth Thursdays, 6:30 pm, at Neighborhood House’s High Point Center, all welcome.