The challenges of getting to, from, and around our peninsula make transportation a hot topic just about any time. So here’s our view of the top 10 transportation stories, for another 2016 lookback:
#10 – UNDER-THE-BRIDGE PROJECT WINS NEIGHBORHOOD STREET FUND
(May 2016 photo contributed by Chris, showing one traffic-choked morning at south section of the project zone)
In October, West Seattle Bike Connections found out that its proposal for the Harbor/Avalon/Manning/Spokane intersection, basically under the west end of the West Seattle Bridge, would be funded. This will help with safety and flow at an increasingly busy confluence of paths, roads, and bridge on-/off-ramps.
#9 – FAUNTLEROY EXPRESSWAY CUSHIONS RE-REPLACED
(WSB photo, June 2016)
674 quake-safety cushions under the deck of the Fauntleroy Expressway (southwest end of the West Seattle Bridge) had to be re-replaced because of a design flaw. The work started in May and, despite requiring more than a few bridge closures, proceeded fairly painlessly, traffic-wise, over the ensuing two months.
#8 – WASHINGTON STATE FERRIES VOWS TO FIX FAUNTLEROY-VASHON-SOUTHWORTH
After a summer of problems that made things miserable for many trying to get to and from Vashon – and for Morgan Junction/Fauntleroy drivers/riders trying to get around the traffic – WSF launched a process to gather comments and make an action plan, including an October open house. Next step, launching a task force – including ferry users.
#7 – ADMIRAL WAY RECHANNELIZATION
A year and a half after announcing a controversial plan to rechannelize Admiral Way between The Admiral District and Alki, SDOT finalized it, announced it in summer, and restriped the road in fall.
#6 – DOC MAYNARD BECOMES WEST SEATTLE’S WATER TAXI
What began with an Argosy Cruises vessel in the ’90s finally got its own brand-new vessel in 2016, as M/V Doc Maynard officially took over King County’s West Seattle to Downtown Seattle run in January (four months after its dedication).
#5 – LOWER SPEED LIMITS
(WSB photos, 12/20/16)
When the mayor announced Vision Zero in 2015, it came with a promise of lower speed limits on many roads around the city. Two major West Seattle arterials were cut from 35 mph to 30 mph in 2016 – Fauntleroy Way SW in February, Delridge Way SW in December. Residential streets were cut to 20 mph.
#4 – TUNNELING MACHINE DIGS AWAY; VIADUCT CLOSURE NOT SO VIADOOMY
While the Highway 99 tunnel isn’t technically a West Seattle project, it could be argued that our area will be affected more than most. After earlier trouble, the tunneling machine made a lot of progress this year, and is taking a hiatus right now after making it past the two-thirds-of-the-way point. In spring, WSDOT closed the Alaskan Way Viaduct for 10 days – shorter than expected – while the tunneling machine went beneath it, and while it was inconvenient, it wasn’t as Viadoomy as some feared.
#3 – 35TH SW PHASE 2 SLOWDOWN
Amid continued controversy about the effects of Phase 1, SDOT changed its game plan for Phase 2 of 35th SW rechannelization. Rather than unveiling a full plan for the northern section, in August, it used an open house to announce some “options.” A walking tour followed days later. What’s next and when? No recent updates, so we’ll be following up in the new year.
#2 – FAUNTLEROY BOULEVARD FINALLY GETS BUDGETED
When the mayor announced his budget plan this fall, it included money for the long-discussed project to turn Fauntleroy Way SW in The Triangle into a more-multimodal boulevard-style stretch of roadway. SDOT has since announced the “re-initiation” of the project, with design discussion promised in 2017.
#1 – SOUND TRANSIT 3 PASSES, WITH WEST SEATTLE LIGHT-RAIL PLAN
Many details are yet to be worked out, but West Seattle is scheduled to get light rail in – or by, if some way is found to accelerate things – 2030, as part of the Sound Transit 3 package that was finalized in June and passed by voters in the November election. ST3’s loudest champion was West Seattleite Dow Constantine, King County Executive and chair of the Sound Transit board. In the new year, we’ll be taking a closer look at what happens next, and when.
Next lookback – the annual list of most-commented-on WSB stories – late tonight or early tomorrow.