West Seattle, Washington
When the West Seattle High School Cheer Team goes to state competition in a week and a half, they’ll be busy! Along with the news we shared earlier this month about the program’s Comp Team qualifying for state, head coach Jasmyne Agregado tells us 15 of the athletes that she and co-coach Nadine Nguyen lead also have qualified in the Co-Ed Game Day division. Agregado choreographed the Game Day team’s division-winning routine. State competition is set for Saturday, February 2nd, in the southwest Washington town of Battle Ground.
Whether it was out of jubilation, relief, or both, King County Executive (and West Seattle commuter) Dow Constantine opened today’s #Realign99 (aka Seattle Squeeze, aka Viadoom) media briefing by exclaiming “We are halfway there!”
The briefings before and during this time of Highway 99-less-ness have rotated between jurisdictions, from the WSDOT (state) work zone to SDOT (city) and Metro (county) operations nerve centers. This afternoon, media were invited to the latter.
Though there’s “light at the end of the tunnel,” as Constantine said wryly at briefing’s end, those present all but pleaded, don’t go back to your old ways. Though traffic’s been worse this week than last, they’re still seeing a significant amount of change, and that’s kept this more unpleasant than nightmarish. Before we get to today’s toplines, here’s the full video of this afternoon’s 25-minute briefing and Q&A at the Metro Transit Operations Center on the south side of downtown:
Speaking after Constantine were Metro’s Terry White, SDOT’s Heather Marx, and WSDDT’s Dave Sowers. Their key points:
White: No ridership stats for Metro yet but they’re working on it. They do know their added-as-needed buses have carried 27,000 passengers. The West Seattle Water Taxi is still running at triple the usual ridership for this time of year, 14,810 rides through this morning, and lots of room still left. Even the Vashon Water Taxi – which, unlike West Seattle, does not have added service – is up 17 percent, carrying 7,140 riders through this morning. “The marathon is not over … We really need you to continue the good work you’ve been doing.” He concluded by expressing gratitude for everything from the added bus lanes to Metro drivers.
Marx noted that bicycling across the “low bridge” (per its counter) has more than doubled. We asked her if the added police assigned to areas such as the temporary 4th Avenue (and bridge offramp) bus lane had started issuing citations; she said they have. Overall, she said, the commutes are peaking about an hour earlier than pre-Viaduct. As a result, they’ve been implementing traffic-control measures earlier (as early as 5 am in SODO), too.
Sowers said WSDOT’s noticed an increase in walk-on state ferries passengers on Seattle-bound routes including Vashon. As for the work to get the tunnel connected and open, he said construction continues to be on schedule for the February 4th tunnel opening goal, and that 80,000 people have registered for the celebration-weekend events – free viaduct and tunnel walking, fee-required fun run and bike rides.(Here’s where to go to register.) Last night’s downpour forced crews to hold off on some paving but that’s not a setback and they’re expecting more-favorable weather in the days ahead. A lot of electrical work remains to be done, Sowers added.
After the speaking-at-podium briefing/Q&A ended, reporters were invited to talk with a Water Taxi captain and Metro operator who were on hand. We took a moment to ask the former – Neal Amaral – what it’s been like. He’s a longtime captain of the boat that’s regularly on the route, the Doc Maynard. He said it’s been good to see some “new faces” as well as regular riders, and that it’s been pretty good sailing weather – no fog problems. Balancing the fast turnaround with other vessel traffic at the downtown dock, including the Kitsap fast ferries, has been a challenge.
P.S. Questions about the Water Taxi or Metro? You might be interested in tomorrow night’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, 6:30 pm Thursday, Neighborhood House High Point (6400 Sylvan Way SW), with County Executive Constantine expected as the spotlight guest.
(Rendering by Hybrid: How the project would look from California SW)
Tomorrow night, the Southwest Design Review Board takes its next look at 18 rowhouse-style townhouses proposed to replace the vacant strip-mall building at 5242-5248 California SW. The packet for the meeting is available here (57 MB PDF). The plan includes one offstreet-parking space for each unit and describes the site as “a mix of street-facing & courtyard townhouses.” The 6:30 pm meeting at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon) will include public comment. The packet explains how the project incorporated feedback from its first review back in November 2017.
Story and photos by Jason Grotelueschen
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Neighborhood advocates gathered on Tuesday night at the Southwest Precinct for the first 2019 meeting of the West Seattle Block Watch Captains Network (WSBWCN), to discuss issues and opportunities for the community.
It was the group’s first meeting since October, and featured idea-sharing for neighborhood improvement, an update from police leadership and a presentation about 9-1-1 effectiveness.
WSBWCN co-leaders Deb Greer and Karen Berge called the meeting to order and asked attendees to go around the room and share thoughts regarding two key questions:
On the second day since the closure of the West Seattle Pizza Hut at 6501 35th SW (as previewed here two weeks ago), we went by to look for signs of the space’s future. As our photo shows, the signage is already stripped; a dumpster’s in place on the south side of the building, but nobody is around to ask, and there’s still nothing in city files. The signage posted in the ex-restaurant’s windows says CLOSED, and nothing more. As originally pointed out in a comment on our previous story, Checkmate Dry Cleaners to the west also has closed (though its signage remains).
We checked with police this moning about a dispatch we heard early today following reports of gunfire seen/heard in Highland Park. SPD spokesperson Det. Mark Jamieson checked the resulting report for us and summarizes:
At around 12:35 am, 911 received several calls reporting possible shots being fired near SW Holden St / Highland Park Way SW. A witness was standing on his ground floor balcony and reported hearing a single shot to the west of that location before observing a vehicle traveling east on SW Holden St. The vehicle stopped in the street near the witness and one occupant fired three additional shots into the air before the vehicle left the area heading northbound on Highland Park SW. No victims, property damage, or shell casings were located. An area check was conducted but officers did not locate the vehicle.
Midweek already! From the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar:
BABY STORY TIME: Bring your up-to-1-year-old(s) to High Point Library at 11:30 am for stories, songs, and rhymes. (3411 SW Raymond)
HPAC TALKS CAMP SECOND CHANCE: At 7 pm, the centerpiece of tonight’s Highland Park Action Committee meeting is a “facilitated, structured conversation” about whether the group should support extending the sanctioned encampment’s stay in southeast West Seattle. The full agenda is outlined on the HPAC website. HPAC meets at the Highland Park Improvement Club. (1116 SW Holden)
SCHOOL LEVY INFO: Ballots are going out for next month’s Seattle Public Schools levies. Still have questions? Get answers during a presentation at tonight’s West Seattle High School PTSA meeting. 7 pm at the school. (3000 California SW)
OPEN MIC: 7 pm signups at Great American Diner and Bar for weekly open-microphone session, hosted by Alan Sobel. (4752 California SW)
SEE WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING … by going here.
5:30 AM: Good morning! Nothing major so far.
BUS LANE ENFORCEMENT TODAY: We brought this issue up during Tuesday’s media conference call with transportation/transit agencies. SDOT’s Dawn Schellenberg later told us, “We checked in with SPD and they confirmed [today] an officer will be posted at the beginning of the 4th Ave/Spokane off-ramp where it begins to loop off of mainline, and also one down the loop ramp approximately midway to prevent reentries into the bus lane.”
5:42 AM: Early train activity – SDOT and Metro have both tweeted alerts about East Marginal/Spokane.
5:53 AM: Camera still shows that blockage, so if you’re eastbound, we’d advise high bridge if possible rather than surface.
6:15 AM: High bridge is starting to fill up.
6:27 AM: Train has finally cleared on lower Spokane Street.
6:36 AM: Trouble on NB I-5 just north of the West Seattle Bridge, by I-90. One lane blocked. Meantime, after a rainy night, it’s just misting right now.
6:49 AM: I-5 problem is cleared. Spokane Street cam shows the train arm down again – so if you are planning to take lower Spokane, be forewarned, busy morning at the railroad crossings.
7:09 AM: No new problems – just busy. Meantime, the Tacoma crash mentioned by AdmiralDon in comments has just cleared, if you have to head that far.
7:27 AM: Thanks for the commute reports in comments! Monitoring regional traffic watch, “better than yesterday” seems to be a common sentiment … so far. … AbBr tweeted about a stall just past the Fauntleroy entrance to the high bridge. Haven’t seen it on a camera but – heads-up in case it hasn’t cleared yet.
7:45 AM: LOW BRIDGE ALERT – it’s closed to surface traffic as of a minute ago. Also, another mention of a stalled/pulled-over vehicle on the eastbound high bridge.
8:02 AM: Low bridge has reopened.
8:05 AM: If you’re Beacon Hill-bound at the east end of the bridge, SDOT reports a Columbian Way/Spokane blocking situation. … If you’re noticing the SFD response headed for South Park, there’s a medical emergency (not a fire) aboard a barge along S. Riverside.
8:30 AM: The Incident Response Team has arrived to deal with the stall. Also – the rain has intensified. Bridge still packed both ways.
8:50 AM: No change as top of the hour approaches. … Today’s progress report will be focused on an afternoon media briefing about how transit’s going, so if you have questions on that front (Metro/Water Taxi/Ride2 in particular), please let us know!
9:39 AM: Belated report as we just had to cross the bridge ourselves. Bus and car pulled over just at the merge point. Looked like collision aftermath. SPD was there. Also noted them in the 4th exit ramp bus lane. Now heading back to WS!
10:51 AM: Back from downtown errands; took a surface route back and experienced some of the things we’ve written about, such as traffic revisions at certain intersections – no right turn allowed on Dearborn from 5th to get to 4th, so we had to head to 6th, where right turns to Royal Brougham were prohibited. Finally got back to 4th from Spokane (no left from westbound, so we had to deploy the “u-turn route,” just short of a train track that was in use). 4th was clear from Spokane to Michigan to the 1st Ave. S. Bridge to Highland Park Way. (By the way, here’s that bus-involved crash we mentioned last hour.)