Barton safety and Delridge changes @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

(WSB photo, July 3)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Three weeks after a woman was hit and killed crossing SW Barton by Westwood Village, the West Seattle Transportation Coalition brought in SDOT to find out what will be done to improve safety there, after years of community pleas.

That was the biggest of three topics dealt with at the WSTC’s July meeting.

With SDOT’s longtime Vision Zero leader Jim Curtin on another \assignment, the safety-emphasis program is now being led by Brad Topol. He spoke to the concerns on SW Barton that have been long spotlighted. “My goal is safety and trying to find the best solutions to get to that.” He notes there’s long been a pedestrian median there; it was rebuilt when a RapidRide stop was installed 5+ years ago. “We’re currently reviewing our full crash history at this location.”

Topol revealed the driver was arrested for vehicular homicide.

(We subsequently checked back with SPD, which confirmed the 78-year-old man is under investigation; records show no evidence of a jail booking nor of charges (yet) being filed.)

Topol also said one change is in the works for the area: “We had already planned prior to this to install a pedestrian concrete bump-out on the north side of the street,” which he said would be a visual cue to slow people to slow down. He doesn’t have an exact construction date yet. It will be a standalone concrete bump-out ($5,000-$10,000, he said). No flashing beacon currently planned, though.

WSTC members/attendees were underwhelmed. Topol acknowledged he hadn’t been to the site yet. Members/ attendees explained the long backstory of how the site became a bus terminal/layover spot without real planning. Among those present: Former WSTC member Amanda Kay Helmick, who long advocated for safety there; she has moved from this area but came back to advocate again. “I really really want to see SDOT and Metro collaborate on this effort … to have a fatality there at 9:30 in the morning, that means there’s a really really big problem there.”

Topol also mentioned that 26th/Barton, east of the fatality site, qualified as a “high-collision location” so they’re working on left-turn signals from Barton to 26th. They’re also looking to install a Leading Pedestrian Interval at the signal there. He wrapped up by noting that the driver in this case was allegedly under the influence – drugs, not alcohol – and contending that no amount of engineering can stop that. He left the meeting with Helmick planning to show him the intersection and its problems before he headed back off-peninsula.

Also at the WSTC meeting Thursday night:

DELRIDGE CHANGES FOR RAPIDRIDE H LINE CONVERSION: The update brought by project manager C.J. Holt from SDOT is mostly what was unveiled two months ago. Holt noted that elements of this project have been around for more than a decade. The project is a “true partnership” because Metro is the lead south of Barton, SDOT is the lead north of there. To recap the latest: They’re upgrading “10 station pairings,” three rapid-flashing beacon crossings, and other pedestrian improvements. “Every stop (will) have some crossing controls,” he declared. He mentioned a variety of other plans including a greenway route “around an infamous stairway” at Pigeon Point. Repaving north of Myrtle (south of there, the road was repaved in 2012), and spot repairs elsewhere as needed. As we’ve previously reported, concrete rebuilding is planned to Genesee, then a “lighter” repaving north of there because Sound Transit light rail construction will affect the area. The plan is going through a technical review now and an update will likely go back out to the community this fall (October-ish).

WSTC had sent a letter recently (see it here, PDF) expressing concern about the Brandon/Findlay area, three points in particular:

1. We oppose 24-7 all-day bus lanes between SW Andover St and SW Oregon St;

2. We oppose the consolidation of the existing Route 120 bus stops at SW Brandon St and SW Juneau
St into a single stop at SW Findlay St; and

3. We demand that, if consolidation does move forward with a single stop at Findlay or some other
location in between the two stops, the new Rapid Ride stop must have a full traffic or pedestrianactivated
signal installed with the painted crosswalk and not just a rapid flashing beacon.

The letter is “being reviewed,” Holt said. But if the stop stays at Findlay instead of Brandon, it may need a safety upgrade such as a half-signal, he said. He said they’re also addressing concerns on the east side of Delridge – talking with Louisa Boren STEM K-8, for example, to formalize a walkway/path “to improve that access” at Graham. He also noted (as we had previously reported) that some parking will be removed. In discussion, Holt noted that the Delridge/Andover intersection is being “redesigned” – “we’re taking a hard look at that intersection.” They’re still deciding whether to put a median between Andover and Genesee, since light rail might end up taking that away.

ANOTHER INTERSECTION: Also brought up in the discussion, Fauntleroy residents’ repeated pleas to SDOT for safety improvements at Fauntleroy/Rose, where people cross to get to a Lincoln Park entrance.

CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATE: Brendan Kolding spoke with WSTC tonight; Phil Tavel and Lisa Herbold spoke at last month’s meeting. We weren’t able to cover that meeting so in the interest of equal time we’re not detailing this part of this one, either. You have one more chance to see the three candidates side by side, in the League of Women Voters-presented forum at West Seattle (Admiral) Library, 6 pm Monday (July 29th)

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition will take August off; most months, it meets on fourth Thursdays. Watch for updates.

27 Replies to "Barton safety and Delridge changes @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition"

  • SteveP July 28, 2019 (11:27 pm)

    Vehicular homicide? Was the driver under the influence?

    • WSB July 28, 2019 (11:54 pm)

      See paragraph 8.

  • Craig July 29, 2019 (7:23 am)

    I don’t think it is fair to say that flashers wouldn’t have prevented this tragedy.  There needs to be a rapid flasher at Barton at a minimum. I’m  curious and concerned that “establishing a walking route for students” indicates that SDOT/Metro are thinking about taking out the existing Boren crosswalk when establishing the crossing at SW Graham St.   The school community has a history of pushing back on this idea given that the crosswalk, which was picked by the WS community as the NPSF project a few years back, needs to be located where students and families will use it.    At the time we at the school and SDOT staff concurred that people simply do not walk 200 feet to a crosswalk which is why there were so many mid block crossings at the school before the crosswalk was installed.   A Graham crossing is needed for the bus stop and neighborhood but the two crossing should not be consolidated at Graham IMO.   I think that the greenway rerouting around the “infamous stairway” is actually located on Puget Ridge  as opposed to Pigeon Point.  I had heard from SDOT staff that the Greenway is likely being moved from 17th  and Orchard (where bikers now have to navigate a stairway) to 18th Ave SW.   The original route was supposed to be equipped with a ramp vs the stairway that was built.  18th was avoided because of a blind corner at Myrtle.  It will be interesting to see what is done to keep bikers safe at this location if the greenway is shifted to 18th. 

    • D July 29, 2019 (1:52 pm)

      Another thing to note: the intersection at graham drivers tend to speed upward of 50 mph, so the section by the Louisa Boren is safer for students to cross. 

  • Marty2 July 29, 2019 (8:18 am)

    A bump out on Barton Street will do very little to improve safety at this location.  When buses are parked on Barton or at the bus stop, it is very difficult to see pedestrians waiting to cross from the south side of the street.  Flashing beacons will alert drivers that pedestrians are crossing the street and make this location much safer for everyone.

    • dsa July 29, 2019 (11:21 am)

      I agree, a bump out does not seem like an effective warning or safety improvement for that matter in this case.  The flashing lighted crosswalk markers embedded in the pavement is what gets my attention.

    • Olafur July 29, 2019 (6:55 pm)

      I believe those are two separate issues.  The bump-out is proposed for the north side, to protect pedestrians crossing from the north.  The buses are on the opposite (south) side of the street.  You’re right, though, that a flashing light would help pedestrians crossing in both directions.

  • gorillita July 29, 2019 (9:22 am)

    I note that most people use the crosswalk when going to businesses on that end of the mall.  but it’s a long way to go if the bus lets you  off  directly opposite Target and you are headed to that store.  Perhaps another crosswalk on that end?

  • N.A. July 29, 2019 (9:37 am)

    Why not put the bus stop over on Roxbury?  It is a wider street.    In addition to impeding traffic, and causing hazards for pedestrians, bringing sketchy individuals to our area, the buses are destroying  26th and parts of Barton.

    • KBear July 29, 2019 (11:53 am)

      NA, what kind of “sketchy individuals” are attracted by bus stops? Bus riders, perhaps?

  • Jim P. July 29, 2019 (11:34 am)

      “Topol acknowledged he hadn’t been to the site yet.”Not exactly optimal when heading for a discussion of a given place to not actually *look* at the place.That set of intersections is dangerous for pedestrians.  The “cross” light at 26th is not nearly long enough for elderly and mobility impaired (I am both) and with a retirement facility right there…

  • Enid July 29, 2019 (11:38 am)

    N.A., talking sense will get you nowhere when it comes to Metro.  It would also make sense to provide additional service to Arbor Heights during the day rather than having buses/drivers who are not on break sitting at WV doing nothing and serving no one.

  • Jort July 29, 2019 (11:44 am)

    In looking at the PDF, it appears that the West Seattle Transportation Coalition is opposing 24/7 bus lanes for parts of the Rapidride Corridor because … they want to preserve parking? Interesting. Do parked cars count as transportation? Also, they’re “demanding” these things? That seems severe.

    • Jon Wright July 29, 2019 (12:18 pm)

      Seriously? That’s your one takeaway from all of this?

      • sam-c July 29, 2019 (1:18 pm)

        But surely, all the folks who come to do presentations or performances at Youngstown can just strap all their materials (easels, boards, etc for the public agencies, e.g. or the instruments for  performing musicians) to the back of their bicycles.

        • Lagartija Nick July 29, 2019 (3:12 pm)

          There are at least four free public parking lots at Youngstown to store your private vehicle. Maintaining public street parking for private vehicles in a transportation corridor is ridiculous.

        • Darryll July 29, 2019 (4:36 pm)

          Haha! Yes. But only until they start removing bike lanes as part of the H Line “improvements.” Then we can all just start driving again. 

          • Ice July 29, 2019 (9:07 pm)

            What’s stopping you from driving now? When I drive, the thing that slows me down the most isn’t bikes or bike-lanes, it’s other people making the same decision to drive that I made. 

      • Jort July 29, 2019 (2:12 pm)

        The WSTC doesn’t send very many letters to public officials. But, for at least the last 5 or so years, when they do send letters, they’re most often geared towards preserving parking and private automobile access to city streets. WSTC holds meetings on a variety of topics, but only  seems to speak up in an official manner to stick up for parking spaces, car lanes and other private automobile-related priorities. The majority of WSTC’s “official” positions (or “demands”, like this letter states) are to take the side of private automobiles whenever SDOT planning identifies a conflict between the automobile status quo and alternative transportation modes like transit, walking and biking. So, yes, since this letter is the one of the few official, sent-to-public-officials output of the organization, I found it to be a pretty important takeaway.

      • Gene July 29, 2019 (5:30 pm)

        That’s Jort for you- 

      • Ice July 29, 2019 (9:23 pm)

        My take from this is that the people running the West Seattle Transportation Coalition have a serious case of wind-shield bias. Their second main point of three is that they are fighting to protect 4 parking spots in public ROW, at the expense of a bus only lane, for an institution that has over 40 of it’s own parking spaces. This helps nobody who uses public transit as their main mode of transportation.

  • skeeter July 29, 2019 (1:28 pm)

    I just read the WSTC letter referenced in the article.  They oppose all-day bus lanes because they think private car storage is a better use of the public right-of-way.  I’m really scratching my head here.  Shouldn’t limited street space be used to move people quickly and safely?  Why in the world would we choose car parking over faster and more efficient bus routes?

    • Jon Wright July 29, 2019 (4:20 pm)

      The parking in question is that which is in the vicinity of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and Delridge Community Center. So it’s about supporting activities at those facilities vs. providing private car storage per se.

      • KM July 29, 2019 (8:03 pm)

        Only for drivers though, since SDOT hasn’t provided bike lanes (and taken some away in the new design) from the same stretch. Not to mention both centers have off street parking already.

  • AMD July 29, 2019 (7:06 pm)

    In positive news, the signals at 15th & Roxbury had their timing adjusted in the past few days so that pedestrians get several seconds to start walking before the vehicle light changes.  This should curb the “car that thinks it can zip through a left turn before the pedestrian gets in the road” behavior.  I’m very excited by this change.

  • JRR July 30, 2019 (8:26 am)

    The missing link in all the thinking locally about transportation is how to make sure pedestrians can get to buses, trains and other options safely. It doesn’t matter how many buses run or what parking is removed if you have to play personal Frogger to cross the street. Where are the pedestrians on this coalition? Where are the elderly? Where are the people of color? 

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