West Seattle, Washington
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Next week, as many West Seattleites grapple with downtown-bound Viadoom, at least three will be heading the other way:
The state Legislature convenes on Monday, so your 34th District state legislators (all of whom live in West Seattle) will be going south, to Olympia.
Before then – State Reps. Eileen Cody and Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen.-elect Joe Nguyen are offering you a briefing and Q&A this Saturday morning (10 am January 12th, Delridge Community Center, 4501 Delridge Way SW).
We checked in with Sen.-elect Nguyen for this December story – and then sat down to talk with Reps. Cody and Fitzgibbon recently to get their take on what’ll be big this year.
8:35 PM: Our area’s largest political organization has a new chair: Gina Topp was elected tonight to lead the 34th District Democrats. She succeeds David Ginsberg, who decided after one 2-year term not to run again. Topp had previously served as treasurer. We’ll add more details from tonight’s meeting after our crew returns.
ADDED EARLY THURSDAY: First, the pitches made by Topp and the other two chair candidates, on video:
FIRST REPORT, 4:29 PM: Not long after multiple people called 911 to report hearing gunfire in the High Point area, police got a report of a damaged vehicle near 31st and Bataan. They’re investigating, but there’s no report of any injuries so far. Updates to come.
4:36 PM: Photos added. And our crew says the helicopter in the area is just TV.
5:37 PM: Per scanner, police are looking for a suspect, and the search has blocked some parts of the area.
5:54 PM: Also per scanner, a suspect is in custody, after an arrest outside West Seattle.
11:52 PM: The jail register shows the suspect, a 37-year-old man, was booked for investigation of drive-by shooting, unlawful gun possession, and assault.
ADDED THURSDAY: The incident was written up today on SPD Blotter.
FRIDAY NOTE: The suspect remains in jail, bail set at $150,000. We’ll be checking later today on whether he is charged.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
X marks the spot.
WSDOT and other agencies gathered local news media near that spot at midmorning today for the latest briefing looking ahead to the weeks of 99-less-ness while work is done for the viaduct-to-tunnel transition. We recorded it all on video:
No huge headlines at the briefing, but its context was shaped by today’s tougher-than-usual morning commute out of West Seattle, one that hadn’t yet subsided when we headed out for the 10:30 am briefing. The main event factoring into the hours-long backup was a stuck truck blocking one lane of NB 99; that was enough fodder to imagine what things might be like once all of 99 is out of commission for 3 weeks starting Friday night.
SDOT‘s director of downtown mobility Heather Marx (a West Seattleite) urged commuters to be kind and patient with each other. Seattle Police Assistant Chief Steve Hirjak said police will be taking special measures to help tow trucks get though when needed, and that a new auxiliary tow yard has opened “closer to downtown” so that crews involved in clearing incidents won’t be out of service for as long as usual.
Those tow trucks might be busy with other things during #Realign99 – Marx said, “We will tow with alacrity” if people violate the temporary no-parking zones that are planned in various spots. Hirjak reiterated that police will be deployed to keep certain intersections moving, but their goal is more to move people along than to cite them, though ticketing is not “off the table.”
Seattle Fire Deputy Chief Ron Mondragon said SFD will keep close watch on response times, and if they have to take extra measures downtown such as using transit lanes, they will.
Among the many other things that will be watched and adjusted if necessary once the effects of the Highway 99 closure are fully up to (or more like down to) speed next week: Metro bus operations. Post-briefing, we asked Metro’s Bill Bryant the question we continue to hear – will the buses that formerly used The Viaduct be stopping anywhere south of downtown? He says the inbound buses will all stop at either Yesler or James for starters, but that will change if it turns out to be a logjam. (Here again are the Metro routes [PDF], both temporary for #Realign99, then interim, then permanent.)
As for the #Realign99 work itself, WSDOT’s Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program deputy administrator Dave Sowers said what began when the 99 ramps in the stadium zones were closed is “progressing” well. WSDOT published this time-lapse video of the built-then-buried tunnel approach ramp being unearthed:
That part of the ramp was built in 2013 – the same year tunnel-digging began, after the tunneling machine arrived from Japan.
If all goes well, the tunnel could open as soon as the night of Sunday, February 3rd, WSDOT has said. Remember that if you’re not using the tunnel, 99 won’t be of use for another week or more after it opens, because work will continue to finish the new Dearborn ramp. If you missed it last week, here’s the WSDOT video explaining how getting into downtown via that ramp will work:
WHAT’S NEXT: At least one more briefing before the Friday night closure.
Thanks for the tips on these following our coverage of other recent closures:
IRASHAI RESTAURANT: Though the “open” sign remains illuminated and flashing, the Japanese restaurant in The Admiral District has closed, according to the note on its door, first noticed by Kim. The note says, “We hope to serve you soon with a new restaurant and a new menu.” (We did note recently that there was an application for a change in its liquor license.) Irashai opened a year and a half ago in a space that previously housed Mawadda Café.
CHECKMATE DRY CLEANERS: This first surfaced in comments on our coverage of the West Seattle Pizza Hut‘s impending closure – commenter GatewoodGuy noted that the cleaners next door had recently closed too. We went over to verify and found a note on its door citing “personal matters” and referring customers to Q Cleaners in The Junction. This is the second dry cleaners to close in West Seattle in six months, following the Alki Cleaners closure in July.
That’s part of the police presence at West Seattle High School following investigation of a threat that is not believed to be credible, according to a letter just sent to families by WSHS principal Brian Vance. Thanks to the parent who forwarded it to us – you can see it here (PDF). Vance writes that the threat was reported by a student who said it was a specific threat toward her, and adds, “Although the phone message does not appear to be a credible threat, we will continue to have extra SPD and District Security on campus.”
(Varied Thrush, photographed by Robin Sinner, shared via the WSB Flickr group)
Five for tonight:
INFO SESSION: At South Seattle College (WSB sponsor), you’re invited to find out about the two-year (six quarter) Bachelor of Applied Science in Hospitality Management degree program at a 6-7 pm informational session tonight. Details in our calendar listing. (6000 16th SW)
LIGHT RAIL STAKEHOLDERS: Just a few months until the “preferred alternative” for routing and stations is set to be decided. The process of getting there resumes tonight, 5-8 pm, with the Stakeholder Advisory Group‘s meeting downtown. Open to the public, but no comment period.
34TH DISTRICT DEMOCRATS: Special start time as the area’s largest political organization chooses new leadership. 6:30 pm at The Hall at Fauntleroy. (9131 California SW)
DISTRICT 1 COMMUNITY NETWORK: The new West Seattle/South Park supergroup we wrote about here last month meets tonight for the first time, 7 pm at South Park Community Center. (8319 8th Ave. S.)
SEE TODAY’S FULL LINEUP … on our complete calendar.
If you have a little one who’ll be starting preschool next school year, it’s not too soon to start looking. This might help: The West Seattle Preschool Fair, next Monday (January 14th), 5:30-7:30 pm at St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church. The whole family’s welcome; no admission charge – but please preregister by going here. The fair is presented by the West Seattle Preschool Association.
7:17 AM: Good morning. Third-to-last day for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, which closes forever at 10 pm Friday. Texter reports a problem backing things up on NB 99 near the stuadiums.
STILL HAVE A VIADOOM/SEATTLE SQUEEZE QUESTION? We’re going to the next multi-agency media briefing this morning and taking along any lingering questions – comment, or contact us, if you have one.
7:52 AM: Don’t know if it’s new or the same blockage but official traffic reports now mention a stuck truck blocking right lane of NB 89 at Holgate.
Commenters say Admiral is way backed up.
8:01 AM: Reports of other approaches to the bridge backed up too.
8:15 AM: Low bridge backed up too. SDOT says an incident response team is with the truck on 99. Also – crash reported at 35th/Morgan.
8:47 AM: SDOT says the truck on 99 has been moved to the shoulder.
10:05 AM: We’re on the way to the Viadoom briefing and the high bridge is still backed up to Nucor. Also, two cars pulled over in the right eastbound lane across from Walking on Logs – couldn’t tell if it was a fender bender or one driver assisting another. No emergency vehicles on scene.
10:15 AM: Made it to the 1st Avenue S. offramp.