By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After the first two RapidRide H Line options for Delridge Way SW failed to generate “a lot of enthusiasm,” as SDOT spokesperson Dawn Schellenberg puts it, there’s now a third one on the table. And even if you don’t ride the bus, it will change the road – so you’ll want to take a close look.
“Option 3” (embedded above, and in PDF here) will be in the spotlight at the next RapidRide H Line drop-in info/input event – 5-6:30 pm this Wednesday at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, to be followed by a 7 pm Delridge Neighborhoods District Council discussion of the H Line. You might even have previewed it at one of the H Line open houses in Burien and White Center last week.
We obtained more information via a briefing with SDOT and Metro reps downtown. SDOT is much more closely involved in planning the RapidRide conversion of Route 120 than it was in planning the 2012 conversion of Routes 54/55 into the C Line, for reasons including the money that city taxpayers now pay for more bus service.
Along with Schellenberg, the meeting included SDOT project manager Thérèse Casper, Metro outreach specialist Jenna Franklin, and SDOT communicator Karen Westing.
Before we go through the details, note that this is not necessarily anything resembling a final design. So they want to know what you think. But it is about more than where the bus will stop – it’s about “redesigning” much of Delridge, and it incorporates some other projects that have been discussed in past years. Even before the H Line was announced and named, in fact, some changes were discussed a few years ago under the Delridge Multi-Modal Corridor project umbrella.
“It’s an opportunity to put those pieces together,” Schellenberg said.
The “pieces” potentially include:
-Paving north Delridge Way (the south section was repaved in 2013)
-“Boulevard-like” sections of Delridge, with landscaped medians, as community advocates have long proposed
-Crossing improvements at some stops (such as SW Findlay, where a crosswalk with flashing beacons is under consideration) and other safety work that came through the Your Voice/Your Choice (formerly Neighborhood Park and Street Fund) process
-The streetlight project that was supposed to have happened by now will be “folded into this”
-The city Office of Economic Development’s work with Delridge businesses
Looking at the map above (best viewed full-size on the city website), Sections A and B are where the potential “landscaped median” could go. One big point for this section, the SDOT team told us, is “where we’re putting in the bike (lane)” and where they’re not. They say that local advocates including West Seattle Bike Connections “felt that for the northern section of Delridge, it’s served well by the 26th SW Greenway” – so the bicycle lane(s) wouldn’t start until SW Graham, headed southbound. They’re still considering starting the lane a bit further north, at SW Juneau – where the access to Delridge isn’t as steep – but for now it’s penciled in at Graham while they continue collecting data about parking on the southbound side related to Louisa Boren STEM K-8 School.
Wherever it starts, the southbound protected bicycle lane would run “the whole length all the way to Cambridge – then we would look at wayfinding, and how to (get riders to) the 17th SW Greenway.”
Including the southbound lane will remove parking from one side of the street, and, the SDOT team says, they didn’t feel they could remove parking on both sides because of the “multi-family housing” in the area, plus the narrower width of Delridge in Section E. As it is, they still describe co-existence of the protected bike lane and RapidRide stations as “a design challenge.”
We asked how many parking spaces are proposed for removal under this concept; they promised to get us that number
(but have yet to, as we get ready to publish this on the MLK Day holiday, so we’ll ask again on Tuesday and add it when available). UPDATE: From SDOT on Wednesday, how the proposal would affect on-street parking:
Parking spaces on the west side of Delridge Ave SW:
Segment C: Approximately 100 on-street parking spaces removed
Segment D: On-street parking is restricted
Segment E: Approximately 170 on-street parking spaces removed
(back to original report) “Everyone has some skin in this game,” Schellenberg said – part of the road will be used for a transit lane, part will be used for parking, “we’re trying to find reasonable, intuitive ways to meet our goals.”
Casper pointed out that they’re also continuing to work on closer stop spacing than RapidRide routes usually have – more like a third of a mile than a half-mile. They’re also looking at “important pedestrian destinations” for station locations, not necessarily just repurposing existing bus stops – on the map, for example, you’ll notice SW Findlay, which is in the heart of the “Brandon node” business area.
The current draft envisions keeping some stops – like northbound at Oregon – that are used by other lines, but won’t be RapidRide stops. And some of the stops would consolidate existing stops for pairs that “reflect each other” – for example, consolidating the current Webster and Kenyon stops to Holden. While the increased stop spacing might mean more walk time to get to a stop, the faster travel time should make up for it, the SDOT team said.
This again is all in the planning/analysis period. Metro’s Franklin reiterated that they’ve been gathering a lot of community input already and will be comparing what they’ve heard online to what they’re finding out via in-person outreach: “We’re still listening.”
Casper added, that includes a lot of details such as – if there’s a landscaped median, where would left-turn breaks be needed? So as feedback time continues, be sure to bring up those types of details. Franklin said it again: “Refining the project is the next step, so it’s important to get involved now.”
For those familiar with project staging terminology, by the way, Schellenberg says the status of this one is close to “10 percent design.”
WHAT’S NEXT: First, the Delridge meetings at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge Way SW) this Wednesday (January 17th)
– SDOT/Metro drop-in meeting 5-6:30 pm, focused on the Delridge section of the route; Delridge Neighborhoods District Council discussion at 7 pm. On Thursday afternoon, there’s a walking tour involving plans for art on the corridor, with two times/places you can catch up with participants – details here.
Once they’re further along in design, they’ll get the word out to the public. They hope to have a “preferred alternative” within a few months.
Then, before the year’s out, Franklin said, the County Council would have a formal process for going on record with “this is the route and these are the stations.” Construction planning would start after that, with “another outreach process,” Schellenberg said.
P.S. The current online feedback session closes tomorrow – so if you haven’t participated yet, go here. (About 780 people had participated by the time we met with the project team – but there’s still room for many more opinions/comments.)