By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
AVALON PROJECT: As the project’s second week of ~14 months of work concludes, project team reps came to WSTC. So what’s new? When the 35th work starts in early May, that street will be down to one lane each way, said project spokesperson Adonis Ducksworth. And some early 35th work could start as soon as next week, which is one week before the big work starts, he said. First, the latest weekly update on the project, received a few hours before the meeting:
This week, crews are demolishing and removing the road on the east side of SW Avalon Way from SW Genesee St to SW Yancy (Zone B) so we can rebuild the base before beginning to pave on the east side of SW Avalon Way as early as Saturday, May 4. Paving is highly weather dependent so it can be postponed if weather is wetter than anticipated.
From Saturday, April 27 through Sunday, May 5, we will be closing the east side of the intersection of SW Avalon Way and SW Genesee St to make water utility repairs. Crews will need to work across multiple lanes of traffic in the intersection. We also anticipate work on 35th Ave SW (Zone E) to begin as soon as the week of May 6. You can expect to see no-parking signs go up as early as next week. …
Overview of upcoming work for next week:
*Lots of construction activity including jackhammering, removing the east portion of the roadway, large trucks, machines, noise, dust, and vibrations.
*We will coordinate with residents for driveway closures.
*Uniformed police officers will typically be onsite
*Typical work hours from 7 AM – 7 PM (no noise from equipment like jackhammers before 9 AM on Saturday and Sunday or before 8 AM on weekdays)
*We have heard that Seattle Public Utilities will be working to make some water service renewals along SW Avalon Way. They will coordinate directly with neighbors as their work is scheduled.
*Buses are making in-lane stops. Please follow the safe passageways set up for your safety. Starting Monday, April 22nd the northbound stop at Genesee will be temporarily closed.
*The contractor is coordinating with King County Metro to reroute route 50 from Saturday, April 27 through Sunday, May 5.
Project questions included the closure of 30th SW, with WSTC board member Chas Redmond saying it reduced part of the access to that neighborhood and Ducksworth contending it was a safety issue, and board member Marty Westerman asking about Avalon business access, with Ducksworth mentioning what SDOT had told us in a pre-construction briefing – that they are trying to do some early work there. Some discussion of the project’s effects on bicycle riding also ensued. At some point, travel will be on ground-down pavement, Ducksworth warned, while also saying there would not be plates in the road during May, which is “Bike Everywhere Month.” WSTC board member Deb Barker also wondered what further steps SDOT would take to communicate important messages – more on-site signage and enforcement, she suggested. The project team said another sign was planned, for starters.
SAM ZIMBABWE: He joked he gets “like one more week of being the new guy” before recapping his background. We recorded his entire appearance:
He said SDOT and Seattle are dealing with issues “similar” to his previous city, Washington, D.C. He described himself as “collaborative.”
He noted that he had arrived at the start of five years of major transportation changes in and around downtown, beginning with the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure and continuing through incremental light-rail expansions opening through 2024, an “ever-changing” transportation landscape resulting.
And he made note of the Move Seattle levy reevaluation and reset. “You only get to do that once if you get to do it at all. … Now it’s our responsibility to deliver on that.”
Among other things he has to focus on, he mentioned that SDOT is one of the most “rapidly aging” city departments, so they have to deal with that.
With millions in third-party transportation investments coming into the city, he said that’s a big challenge to deal with, too.
WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd had asked Zimbabwe to be prepared to address the group’s legislative priorities.
*West Seattle Bridge Corridor Improvements – Zimbabwe said they’re “working on the quiet zone” related to Terminal 5
*Light rail – Ben Walters is the city’s new point person.
*Fauntleroy Boulevard – Still on hold pending how the light-rail project turns out. Some interim improvements are still likely this year, Zimbabwe affirmed in response to WSTC board members’ concerns.
“The department’s done a lot to piss people off in terms of decisions that seem to be political” rather than otherwise, asserted Taylor-Judd.
Controversies including the 35th NE bike lane removal came up. Zimbabwe promised overall to be “more transparent.” The Bike Master Plan should be accelerating, not downsizing, he was told, with a contention that the Center City Streetcar didn’t make financial sense.
What about geographic equity? He said “we’re starting to work on that.”
Don Brubeck from West Seattle Bike Connections mentioned disappointment with what’s fallen out of the Bicycle Master Plan implementation proposal. He said the downsizing seemed more political than realistic. Zimbabwe insisted, “It’s not a retreat from bike projects, it’s being realistic about what we can deliver.” Brubeck suggested the draft implementation plan was “mileage-building” by, for example, adding a stretch in High Point that was on an already-calm street between calm streets.
Taylor-Judd brought up the Duwamish Longhouse Safety Project not making it into the Neighborhood Street Fund project vote (as discussed here). SDOT reps are visiting the Longhouse this afternoon to talk about it.
Zimbabwe had little to say about the Highland Park roundabout; Redmond pointed out that King County had recently built a roundabout at 8th SW/SW 108th.
How did he get to the meeting? someone asked. Bus, he replied.
WSTC meets fourth Thursdays most months, 6:30 pm at Neighborhood House High Point.