West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
One day into 2019, West Seattle community advocates filled a room at the Sisson Building/Senior Center for the Southwest District Council‘s first meeting of the year.
Here are our toplines of what they heard and discussed:
POLICE UPDATE: Southwest Precinct Operations Lt. Steve Strand said the precinct has three new officers and another one on the way, so is at or “close to” full staffing; there had been concern that the Bike Squad or another “proactive” group would be “taken away” but nothing has happened so far to indicate that’ll happen. The Bike Squad is “still active,” often in The Junction, sometimes at Westwood Village.
He also had year-end stats for the precinct’s jurisdiction (West Seattle and South Park):
Now that the new year has begun, baseball season is in sight – at many levels, including youth leagues. Another has opened registration for 2019: West Seattle Little League. Something new for WSLL this year: A new website, supported by Little League International, “more secure than our old site and more user-friendly,” says WSLL’s Kathy Powers. “We welcome all children between ages 4 – 12 going to school or living within our WSLL boundaries.” The website change means that you’ll need to create a new login; go to the site and click the REGISTRATION tab, and you’ll be guided through the process from there. Registration is open through January 31st; practices start the first week of March, and the WSLL Jamboree is March 23rd. If you need a scholarship, email email@example.com – for other questions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re now one week away from the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s permanent closure. In case that wasn’t already top-of-mind, local transportation managers have been offering daily briefings and announcements to keep it there. Today: Expanded hours for the Free Waterfront Shuttle that’s been available downtown since summer, potentially making it useful to some Water Taxi riders. Here’s the announcement:
The Free Waterfront Shuttle is expanding operating hours to better serve morning commuters.
Currently operating 7 days a week from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., the shuttle will add morning service to its North/South loop weekdays starting at 6 a.m. The expanded hours of operation will begin on Monday, January 7.
This service will provide a viable option to move commuters, tourists and residents through downtown at peak commute times during the upcoming SR 99 viaduct closure. The free service is brought to you by the WSDOT-funded DowntownSeattleParking.com and managed by Commute Seattle and the Downtown Seattle Association.
Additionally, all shuttles are now equipped with real-time arrival information that can be found online along with other shuttle information at DowntownSeattleParking.com/Shuttle.
The Free Waterfront Shuttle service launched in July 2018, and has given over 90,000 free rides to downtown, Pioneer Square, and the historic waterfront. Tourists and locals have embraced this free service as a way to get to and from the waterfront. Adding early morning operational hours makes the shuttle a viable commuter option during the upcoming months of viaduct closure and removal. The North/South Loop will connect Chinatown/International District, Link Station, King Street Station, Ferry Terminal, and Seattle Center to different locations along the waterfront from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays. The shuttle will continue to operate on Saturday, Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
“Visitors and residents love the free shuttle, and we’re thrilled to expand the service. We worked diligently with public and private partners to increase the operating hours that will provide more access to our vibrant downtown and historic waterfront,” said Downtown Seattle Association President & CEO Jon Scholes. “Expanding hours during peak commute times will provide another option to help move through our city during the viaduct closure.”
Additionally, real-time arrival data displays precise shuttle location allowing riders to know exactly when their shuttle should arrive at 15 stops along two routes throughout downtown Seattle. The app and mobile site will display exact shuttle location and approximate arrival time. Real-time arrival maps can be viewed online or by downloading the free DoubleMap mobile app for Apple and Google Play devices. Once downloaded, select the Waterfront Shuttle route option.
“Nearly 90 percent of riders say they are spending more time on the Waterfront and other area destinations because of the shuttle—which arrives every 15-20 minutes,” said Jonathan Hopkins, Executive Director of Commute Seattle. “Now traveling to and from the waterfront is even easier for commuters and visitors with longer hours of service and real-time information. We are working to make this experience a breeze.”
The shuttle offers two routes, North/South Loop and East Loop, linking the downtown core with the waterfront businesses and Pioneer Square.
Here’s a map of its stops.
Just a quick reminder in case you missed the announcement over the holidays – you’re invited to a free morning showing of “Mary Poppins Returns” tomorrow (Saturday, January 5th) at the Admiral Theater. No admission charge – the showing is sponsored by West Seattle dad (and King County Executive) Dow Constantine to boost WestSide Baby in its work helping thousands of kids and their families, so if you can, bring “diapers (sizes 4-6), wipes, new kids socks/undies, or funds in any amount to help kids and families in need.” The movie’s at 10 am; the theater is at 2343 California SW; first-come, first-served!
Another West Seattle business got the utility-bill scam phone call today and wanted to share the alert. Sleepers in Seattle in The Junction tells WSB they got one of those calls where the claim is made that a utility bill has gone unpaid and cutoff is looming unless payment is made immediately. All local utilities have issued repeated reminders that they don’t do business this way – here’s the City Light scam-alert page, for example.
12:28 PM:Thanks for the tips. According to the flight tracker, that helicopter over Westwood, Gatewood, and vicinity is registered to the Department of Homeland Security. We’re looking around on the ground and researching further. The tracker now shows it heading north (added) and then south again.
12:39 PM: Adding a screengrab from FlightRadar24 showing part of the circling it’s done. It’s close to our HQ east of Lincoln Park currently. The tracker shows it started its trip up in Arlington.
12:55 PM: Added a photo. While DHS has a variety of agencies under its wing, the FlightRadar24 page for this helicopter has a closeup shot that shows a Customs and Border Protection logo. (Added – We got a better picture from its flyover. Substituted above. Same logo.)
1:17 PM: Looking for someone to ask about this, but in the meantime, the Customs website has a one-sheet that says this type of aircraft is usually used:
“… to perform missions such as aerial patrol and surveillance of stationary or moving targets. These LEHs are the optimal aerial surveillance platform in metropolitan areas because their vertical lift capability and maneuverability enable operations from off-airport sites and in close proximity to congested airports.
Electro-optical/infrared sensors and video downlink provide intelligence and communications support that enhance officer safety during high-risk operations and increase covertness during surveillance operations.
Video recorders document suspect activities for evidentiary use. The AS350s often fly with a crew of two (pilot and observer).”
1:52 PM: After looping around the north half of the peninsula a while, the helicopter is no longer shown on the tracker. Meantime, our inquiry to the CBP media contact for this region drew an auto-reply saying he’s out of the office because of the federal government funding lapse (aka “shutdown”).
In our report last night on a City Hall briefing about changes related to the Viaduct-to-Tunnel transition – aka #Realign99 – we mentioned temporary bus lanes, including the 4th Avenue S. offramp from the eastbound West Seattle Bridge. We asked SDOT after the briefing when that work would be done. They didn’t have an answer then – but today, they’ve announced work will happen tomorrow:
Temporary bus lane construction will occur on Saturday, January 5.
To manage the increased volume of traffic on our city’s streets and changing traffic patterns in advance of the SR closure beginning Friday, January 11, we’re rechannelizing key streets downtown starting Saturday, January 5. Streets include the Spokane Street Viaduct, the eastbound off-ramp to 4th Ave S and a short section of 4th Ave S approaching Spokane St.
These dedicated bus-only lanes will allow buses coming in from West Seattle to access the SODO busway and improve bus travel time throughout the SR 99 closure.
The graphics included with our Street changes for SR 99 closure begin January 5, 2019 flyer show what’s changing.
Here’s what you can expect:
On the Spokane Street Viaduct in the eastbound direction, the right lane will be converted to a bus only lane from 1st Ave S and will continue to the 4th Ave S exit to the signalized intersection at 4th Ave S. On 4th Ave S, we are adding a short bus-only lane heading northbound approaching Spokane St. These changes will be in place by 11 PM on Saturday, January 5.
To accommodate this change, we have modified the island separating the north and southbound lanes on 4th Ave at Spokane St and a third northbound lane was added in December.
Rain is expected to occur after Saturday, January 5, so these lanes will be installed prior to these weather impacts. Completing this work one week early ensures that we avoid delays associated with weather for this installation in order to allow buses to begin using the lane on January 11. So, while we are installing these lanes on Saturday, January 5, there won’t be any buses using this lane until after 8 PM on January 11.
Please note that these are temporary bus lanes and will be restored to general travel lanes open to all vehicles in mid-February when the northbound off-ramp to Dearborn St is opened and King County Metro resumes northbound service on the SR 99 corridor.
And another reminder – the first #Realign99 closures start tonight – the Atlantic and Royal Brougham exits from/to 99 in the stadium zone close permanently at 10 pm tonight, exactly one week before the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s 10 pm January 11th permanent closure.
Lara reports brown tap water this morning in the 3800 block of 42nd Avenue SW. She says signage indicates Puget Sound Energy work is planned in the area but no crews were in view. Anyone else? Be sure to report discolored water to Seattle Public Utilities if it ever happens to you – 206-386-1800.
(Steller’s Jay, photographed by Mark Wangerin)
Highlights for today/tonight!
The Bloodmobile will be parked in front of the building from 1:30-4:00 pm.
Every day, people undergo surgeries and organ transplants, suffer traumatic injuries, and many people receive ongoing blood components for cancer treatment. Having blood readily available is essential when unforeseeable emergencies happen. Your single donation can impact the lives of up to 3 local patients! While all blood types are needed, our community is especially in need of O+ and O- donors.
(4025 Delridge Way SW)
LIBRARYLAB: All-ages drop-in STEM activity at Southwest Library, 2:30-4 pm: “Librarylab is an all-ages program that introduces science, technology, engineering, and math concepts through play, experimentation, and discovery. Drop in for self-directed challenges and let us show you how to do and create amazing things as you tackle our building challenges.” (9010 35th SW)
LOOK INTO THE FUTURE … via our complete calendar!