By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The half-billion dollar project that’s about to start on West Seattle’s eastern shore was the first of two big focuses at this month’s Southwest District Council meeting.
That’s the slide deck from the briefing on Terminal 5 (see it here in full-size PDF).
The Port of Seattle/Northwest Seaport Alliance sent a team of five for the occasion, almost equal to the SWDC attendance. They offered more construction details than we’ve heard in previous briefings, as well as other updates about T-5 activity, including Matson having moved its weekly cargo calls to T-5 as of last week (as reported here).
Matson’s volume is less than 20 percent of former cargo operations, the port says, 200 to 400 trucks per day.
Part of the T-5 modernization project will involve “building two small buildings near the dock, the longshore break room.” August 15-February 15 is the time of year when the most intensive pile-driving will happen – and any other in-water work – because of fisheries issues. They’ll be driving concrete piles, for example, to support the big cranes that will be needed. Key dates include: Groundbreaking/demolition is expected this July, piledriving starting in August, new cranes arriving in January 2021, Matson leaving T5 on March 2021, international operations starting April 2021 (the lines will be Maersk and MSC, which in the meantime are moving from T-46 downtown – one-third of which will be converted to a cruise-ship dock – to T-18 on the east side of Harbor Island).
They’re evaluating bids now. Whoever gets the job has to meet permit conditions including an air-quality-management plan. They’re monitoring diesel fine-particulate matter to be sure it meets the envisioned conditions. There’s also a noise-management plan. The port says it’ll be a “huge improvement” that all cargo-handling equipment is committed to be Tier 4 (explained here). Their “goal is to get to 30 percent” shore-power use in first 10 years – they hope to exceed that but are “going to have to wade through the commissioning process of the different vessels that are out here.” They’re also working on getting shore power at all their terminals.
Back to noise issues: Broadband alarms are to be used by all mobile cargo-handling equipment.
As for the railroad “quiet zone” that is part of the permit, they are “currently working with SDOT and Burlington Northern to define what we need for (one) between the gate and the railroad bridge … it has to get approved by Federal Railroad Administration … and the city builds it … we provide the check … we’e making great strides on that and looking forward to see what it looks like” — It was cautioned that the train operator still has the discretion of blowing the horn. The quiet zone has to be in place before the expected-in-2021 occupancy, but otherwise there’s no timeline.
Regarding truck traffic, there’s a queue-maageement plan, aimed at avoiding backups. They will move some of the truck processing further into the terminal to “minimize trucks sticking out into the right of way.” They will be starting meetings “very soon” with both the city and the terminal operator. The bridge currently leading into the terminal will get an added lane. That will be done by restriping – no physical expansion needed to add the lane. They’ll be improving signaling along the Spokane corridor, all the way to East Marginal/Hanford, as well as adding signs/cameras for the SDOT traffic-info system, and looking at other possibilities such as closure of the north leg of W Marginal Way SW at the five-way intersection and providing railroad-delay notifications to local businesses/motorists. They eventually expect a 50/50 split between trains and trucks for T-5, but in the short run, mostly trucks.
Stormwater was a big issue in lease discussions, they said, also touching on a few of those points (see the slide deck).
A project website is in the process of being set up. “We want to be a good neighbor,” said the port reps.
DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOODS: DoN director Andrés Mantilla, a West Seattle resident, is “about a year into the job now.” He is continuing to work on his commitment to connect with the city’s hundreds of community groups. “This meeting comes at an important time” with the department making an “important pivot.” One of their key shifts is a “much more intentional process” partnering with other departments and agencies at the front end of processes, including bringing feedback “early” to elected officials and policymakers. He said the community concerns DoN has surfaced in the light-rail planning process, for example, have all ended up “making it onto the table.”
They have to be flexible about how they interact with people’s approach to community. He said they’ve changed the way they deal with grants, and that includes talking with other grant programs that aren’t under their auspices. They’re trying to “lower the barrier” for participation in the process: “Not everyone’s a trained grant writer.” Mantilla said the city’s new CTO Saad Bashir has been helping them craft new, more usable tech tools, looking at efficiencies given that city grants have a variety of ways to apply.
Regarding the Your Voice, Your Choice participatory-budgeting program, “it took some time to find its way” and they’ve talked about whether it could be coordinated with the Neighborhood Street Fund (which is under SDOT’s wing) “if the community has a broader vision.” They’re adding more staffing capacity to YVYC.
He said they’ve set up a Strategic Initiatives Team, working on major multi-year projects,”helping the community navigate the process.” And he talked about DoN’s involvement intended to help build trust. They’re now involved in a lot of processes to represent “the community voice.” Though he says they won’t be returning to the days of one DoN coordinator per neighborhood district, he says he hopes to expand the ability of community-engagement coordinators (DoN currently has four) to be at the table in key conversations.
All this “only works with executive support,” Mantilla said, adding that Mayor Jenny Durkan is very clear that this is the way she wants to go, less top-down. They’ve learned that “they need stronger connections with neighborhoods and communities” and said he had heard about “missteps in the past couple years” – which seemed likely an allusion to ex-Mayor Ed Murray‘s 2016 declaration that the city should cut ties with neighborhood district councils.
In the next few months, DoN will “be formalizing what that feedback loop looks like” and he also said the announcement this week of higher visibility of city services in 7 neighborhoods (South Park among them) would be a way for DoN to flex its engagement muscles.
They’re also going to take a look at Find It Fix It – working for some, but not for all. He also said DoN is “very supportive” of concepts like the new D-1 Community Network. “I want to get to a space where we are able to have conversations” as opposed to being perennially in a “reactive mode,” Mantilla said.
A few other things they’re working on:
-Community Resource Guide
-Neighborhood Snapshots being frequently updated
-More participation in city budgeting
He mentioned some of the local hot-button city issues, from homelessness to ST3 to HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability implementation (and connecting historic preservation to this) to planned policy changes regarding DADUs/ADUs. There’ll be a West Seattle-specific focus group about that, he said.
He was grilled a bit about changing other DoN policies. The department’s budget is $13 million, including $4 million of granting and the people who work on it. They’re funded by the city General Fund. The partnership with SDOT for some community engagement – such as the Bicycle Master Plan Implementation revision discussions, for example – will result in some interdepartmental transfer “rather than some money (going) to a third-party consultant.”That led to a somewhat wider discussion of city budgeting, including that every department has an outreach-and-engagement budget.
Also at SWDC:
COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS: These included a tasty reminder: Endolyne Joe’s (WSB sponsor) will be donating much of its proceeds on May 7th to the Fauntleroy Fall Festival, noted Bruce Butterfield from the Fauntleroy Community Association … The Junction Neighborhood Association‘s next meeting is in June, noted its director Amanda Sawyer, who is SWDC co-chair and ran the meeting.
The Southwest District Council meets first Wednesday most months, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building.