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 westseattletc.org for updates.