At bridge-detour ground zero, HPAC readies for traffic-mitigation process

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When SDOT goes public in a week and a half with lists of potential ways to deal with bridge-detour traffic, HPAC will be ready.

This month’s meeting of the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge was mostly an open discussion of what’s been problematic since the West Seattle Bridge closure turned up the volume on traffic along routes to the 1st Avenue South and South Park bridges.

The meeting, led by Kay Kirkpatrick, included guest appearances by two members of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force, which had its third meeting earlier in the day: Colleen Desmond of Highland Park and Mark Aytch from the Roxhill area

Aytch wondered if HPAC already had been asked for input to suggest potential mitigation. Kirkpatrick noted that HPAC has sent detailed letters with SOOT (including this exchange) – plus the pre-existing dialogue, years of trying to get something done about Highland Park Way/Holden – but had not formally been asked for suggestions.

SDOT, which did not have a rep at this meeting, has said the draft lists for HPAC’s area and other affected neighborhoods (plus lists of bicycle and freight proposals) have possible projects drawn from all sorts of previous community processes.

Some of what Wednesday’s attendees discussed: West Marginal Way SW, and SDOT’s already-in-design Highland Park Way SW/Holden Safety Improvements project, which also includes some speed humps on side streets. One attendee was concerned about the bottleneck at W. Marginal/Highland Park Way. Another was concerned about people using SW Portland as a cut-through, and wondered about a NB left-turn arrow at Highland Park/Holden. Kirkpatrick said they’ve been waiting for a reply on that from SOOT project point person James Le. Concerns also were raised about cut-through traffic on 12th, with drivers leaving Holden, and potential danger for kids in the area, many of whom are out riding their bicycles in the street (which passes Riverview Playfield). An attendee suggested “local access only” signage might be helpful. Yet another cut-through observation came from Kirkpatrick – she recounted a sighting of a U.S. Coast Guard vehicle towing a boat along 11th SW.

Another trouble spot brought up – 16th/Austin, and how the Holden-bound traffic can cause trouble there. It was subsequently pointed out that arterials around the peninsula are inconsistently signed for speed limit – California is still 30 mph, while 35th is 25 mph.

Until the lists go public, with online and paper surveys, there’s not much else community groups can do aside from knowing what they want to see and hoping to find it on the lists – not a sure thing since all those previous processes would have reflected conditions before the bridge closure turned traffic on its head. Meantime: “A lot of information for everybody, and a lot of decisions that haven’t been made yet,” was how Desmond summarized the WSBCTF process so far. (While the Task Force wasn’t involved in making the forthcoming lists, they’ll be involved in feedback.)

Also mentioned during the HPAC meeting, one official feedback process that has just begun – the Stay Healthy/Keep Moving Streets survey, as noted here. (Several of the closed-to-through-traffic streets are on greenway blocks in HPAC’s areas.)

HPAC usually meets fourth Wednesdays, online until in-person meetings are safe again. Watch hpacws.org for updates.

23 Replies to "At bridge-detour ground zero, HPAC readies for traffic-mitigation process"

  • Sharon - North Admiral June 26, 2020 (5:54 am)

    Neighborhoods that are affected by the increased traffic need to speak up as much as those affected by those not being able to use the Bridge.  One hopes that SDOT has a long list of adjustments that have to be made now  rather than waiting until we are  commuting  again.  1.  West Marginal is a mess at 30 mph.  No one goes that speed.  Those that try to go 30 mph are run down by everyone else going 40+ mph. So much weaving in and out.2. When coming off 509 and trying to turn right from Highland Park (westbound ) to West Marginal (Northbound ) there should be green arrow to allow the right hand turn to keep traffic moving.  The light at Highland Park & West Marginal is having very large back ups.3.  We do need to be kind to each other and not cut thru neighborhoods on smaller streets.  It is frustrating but we are all in it together.  More positive signage for those neighborhoods affected to encourage others to slow down,  and not cut thru.4.  I am also hoping there is a group of individuals reminding people of West Seattle to help small businesses, non profits, schools in West Seattle.  5.  What is the plan for fixing the bridge northbound on 4th avenue.?  It is cut down to one lane lane.  It has been that way a few years.  We lived thru the bridge being out once, we can do it again.  We need to speak up, communicate the issues, and support one another as we go thru this together.  

  • Airwolf June 26, 2020 (6:26 am)

    What about the Holden & 16th intersection?  That needs improvements like turn only lanes and left turn traffic light

  • Flivver June 26, 2020 (6:40 am)

    Another problem area: northbound W. Marginal south of Holden. People are going in the left lane which is a left turn only to go up Holden then stopping at the last minute to merge into the right lane which goes straight to northbound W Marginal. AGRIVATEING for us waiting in line. City can extend barriers south to block that without impeding access to businesses

  • BRN June 26, 2020 (7:19 am)

    “…16th/Austin, and how the Holden-bound traffic…”. Yes if it’s backed up too far people are turning right to go up Austin to 19th Ave SW and accessing Holden there. Have already asked SDOT to be closed to local access only. We who live on this small section of 19th Ave SW have a hard time getting in and out.

    • Delridge Resident June 26, 2020 (4:31 pm)

      Howdy neighbor! I have made similar pleas to SDOT about our 19th/Austin intersection and, while I’m encouraged to hear others made similar requests, I am discouraged that there has been no response… Maybe we can reach out to Colleen?

  • Chris June 26, 2020 (7:24 am)

    One thing community groups could start doing is a petition to separate West Seattle from the city. Clearly the city doesn’t want us. If this were the Aurora bridge it would be fixed within a year. Free West Seattle! Let’s be in charge of our roads, police and schools(and permitting!)

    • Rick June 27, 2020 (9:28 am)

      Been,there,done that. If memory serves me,at least twice. Maybe we could get some advice from chop and become our own country.

  • David June 26, 2020 (8:54 am)

    I’m really looking forward to seeing someone try to explain the mechanics of how 10% (10,000 people a day, >10x the previous number) are going to start riding the water taxi. And how another 10% will ride bicycles (also 10x the previous number), while sharing the low-bridge path with a brand-new 5% (5,000 people a day) who will just walk.
    The existing “proposal” looks more like someone made up the difference by adding up imaginary numbers for every hypothetical, without asking any of the relevant departments whether it’s physically possible. They might as well have thrown in another 10% who will ride unicorns.
    It’d be far better if they just ‘fess up to the fact they did nothing for three months, and get crews out ASAP to start shoring up the detour routes. The detours are already a charlie-foxtrot during rush hours, and it’ll get far worse as things reopen.

    • WSB June 26, 2020 (10:42 am)

      I didn’t have time to get into this yesterday but 10 percent is NOT 10 percent of the 100,000 (which keep in mind is a total that counts most twice, among other things, as it’s an entire day of traffic). The numbers were in an earlier slide deck and represent peak-time trips. The walking percentage, for example, boiled down to 500 people (which, some observed, still seems high).

      • David June 27, 2020 (12:48 am)

        WSB, thank you for your response – but I’m afraid it leaves more questions than it answers.
        The “percentage” slide (for lack of a better descriptor) had no qualifiers about peak times, so it wasn’t unreasonable to believe they were talking about total trips per day. I’ll gladly take your word for it that they’re talking about peak times, but without definitions for peak times or their relative volume to “off-peak”, we can only guess how much alternative transit is needed during off-peak.
        The few actual graphs they present don’t suggest that off-peak traffic is so much lower that alternative transit won’t be needed. If anything they seem to show that traffic is already saturated for most of the day, long before full reopening.
        So we’re still probably looking at a fantasy of at least twice as many as they acknowledge (within the subset of peak times) walking to Seattle, Bellevue, Shoreline, etc. Probably more. And we’re still looking at fantasies of the water taxi carrying far more people than we have capacity or parking for, more bike trips than people willing to make them, etc.
        Personally, my favorite is “water transit”. I really am looking forward to seeing how they propose to increase it 10-fold: Either it’s going to be darkly amusing, or it’s going to be both astonishing AND helpful. (Maybe a shuttle network and unprecedented benevolence from retail parking lots, to avoid the parking issue? A new ferry and dock that WSF didn’t know they had? Who knows?) It’s a win either way.

    • Chemist June 26, 2020 (12:24 pm)

      If winter’s schedule of 12 round trip sailings on a 278 person boat stays, given the heavily directional travel, I’d be surprised if more than 4,000 folks in a day are served (and fewer if distancing happens).  Hopefully SDOT dusts off the viadoom playbook.

  • Chemist June 26, 2020 (9:54 am)

    If I recall correctly, 35th was signed 35 mph until just before the vision zero project that widened the lanes.  Isn’t Admiral Way still signed 30 mph too?

    • Rick June 26, 2020 (12:47 pm)

      We need a catchy slogan “Stay alive,don’t go over 25,anywhere,even I5”. Does that work?

      • David June 27, 2020 (1:03 am)

        I love it. XD
        It’s the natural result of living in a city run by developers and billionaires, who refuse to let themselves be taxed. We already have some of the most regressive taxes in the nation, yet govt keeps raising more-regressive taxes (tolls, tabs, etc) as well as regressive de-facto taxes (tickets that have little to do with safety and everything to do with revenue).
        Eventually they’ll just drop the speed limit to 0 everywhere, and hand out tickets to anyone caught driving a car worth less than $50k.

  • Mj June 26, 2020 (11:13 am)

    I have provided the City a plan that would significantly improve the operation of the HPW at WMW intersection at relatively low cost. 

    With over 30 years of experience in Traffic Engineering I would hope the City will make my suggested improvements, a WB to NB right turn lane, and two WB through lanes via re allocating the low volume WB to SB left turn pocket to through traffic.  The few left turns would be rerouted via 2nd. 

    I also recommended the City revert the speed limits on the streets back to the prior values that were more in line with technical standards. The City had no technical basis to change the limits. The streets in question are Principal Arterials!

    • tsurly June 26, 2020 (1:01 pm)

      Beating the speed limit drum again are we?

    • AdmiralBridge June 27, 2020 (4:40 pm)

      This is the singular biggest improvement we could make.  The turn lane on HPW is useless (no place to turn to) and in my 2 dozen plus RT since this debacle began, I have seen literally TWO vehicles turn left onto SB WMW.  No way does this justify bottling up the right hand turns…

  • Trickycoolj June 26, 2020 (11:38 am)

    High Point is getting very difficult to get in and out of for those of us that live along streets intersecting with Sylvan. Even mid day on a weekday it’s near impossible to make a left turn and visibility is getting really bad as all the center median plantings are tall enough to hide pedestrians, bikes, motorcyclists, and  small cars. Morgan and Sylvan is especially challenging since we  can’t get to the light  a block away on Lanham without driving on the closed Safe Streets on Graham due to the way the grid is laid out  at 31st. 

    • Midi June 26, 2020 (1:13 pm)

      +1 on this – I’ve been driving far out of the way to get to the light, because it seems the only way to get out of the HP neighborhood. The Safe Streets closures are making it a challenge to navigate the area, especially as most of the streets are only wide enough for 1-way traffic even though the streets operate for both directions.

  • JL June 26, 2020 (11:40 am)

    4th Ave Bridge update from SDOThttps://www.seattle.gov/transportation/projects-and-programs/programs/bridges-stairs-and-other-structures/bridges/4th-ave-s-bridge-seismic-retrofit-projectWe are continuing to coordinate the design for the repair of the 4th Ave S Bridge with the railroad. When we closed the lane, we expected to have the lane open by now. Union Pacific owns the right-of-way (ROW) under the bridge, and because of this, we are required to obtain an access permit from Union Pacific Railroad to work around and within Union Pacific ROW. The permit prohibits construction work on the bridge from taking place from the Argo rail yard, which means that we need to complete the repairs from the bridge deck. This arrangement makes the design and construction of the bridge repairs much more complex. Thank you for your patience.   

  • Donn June 26, 2020 (1:25 pm)

    When we had the fog the other day in the morning, we could barely leave our house because our yard smelled of vehicle exhaust. If was coughing bad. Went back in and turned on our air filters to high and waited it out. There’s always a backup past our driveway on Roxbury due to the light at 30th. Cars 20 to 30 in a line. It’s not like we can afford to move. And wondering who would buy a place now with that much traffic in front of your house.

    • Roxhill June 27, 2020 (8:13 am)

      Agreed!  Roxbury is getting ridiculous!  The lights need to be timed better as the side streets are getting dangerous with cars cutting through trying to get around the LONG line of cars. It also seems like cars are going faster in WS not slower (25 mph).  I have yet to see anyone get pulled over for a speeding ticket – it’s a free for all!

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