By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Stay Healthy/Keep Moving Streets were launched as a pandemic response, but some will outlast COVID-19.
The no-through-traffic streets comprised one of two major discussions at this month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting; the other recapped what’s new with the West Seattle Bridge and detour-traffic mitigation.
STAY HEALTHY STREETS: SDOT’s Summer Jawson brought this update. She reviewed some of the basics of how the program got started, and what they’re seeing – people out and about, distanced, little car usage. She acknowledged they do still get some questions – from “can my delivery get through?” to complaints about racism expressed toward people gathering.
For a refresher, here are maps of the Stay Healthy Streets in West Seattle:
High Point/Sunrise Heights and Puget Ridge/Highland Park/South Delridge; the Alki Point route (more on that shortly) is a “Keep It Moving Street” because of its proximity to a park. Data-wise, they have documented an increase in pedestrians.
She also reviewed results of their online survey, answered by more than 9,000 people.
Regarding whether the Alki Point “Keep Moving Street” – Alki SW west of 63rd, and Beach Drive south to 63rd – will become permanent, they’re still exploring options, Jawson said:
While nearby residents are strongly supporting making it permanent – one in attendance showed a video contrasting previous racing/traffic problems with the pastoral present – there are concerns from others that it’s like privatization, and that it constrains disabled people’s access (though there are parking spots set aside). It’ll remain a Keep Moving Street at least until King County goes to Phase 3, as previously announced. The two SHS in West Seattle are part of the group that the city has already said will be permanent, though details have yet to be finalized.
Jawson said they’re also interested in finding out whether any other stretches, especially greenway, might be suitable for turning into a Stay Healthy Street. The ones that are destined for permanence will see work next year – potentially 4 miles in West Seattle – and they want to hear from people abut what’s working and what’s not working. “We really want to hear from the community about what these streets could be in the future … as a community asset and part of your neighborhood,” Jawson said. Contact her with ideas. (StayHealthyStreets@seattle.gov) Outreach workers are cataloging what’s working and not working on every SHS; they’ll have an email list signup soon for each individual area. She also mentioned the newly announced Trick or Street block-closure program.
Q&A: Are electric scooters allowed on SHS? Yes.
Does SDOT have specific survey data to share about specific WS Stay Healthy Streets? They’re still picking through it, Jawson said.
They’ve clarified some things such as wildlife advocates/scientists who have to drive in with their equipment – that’s “local access.” not just residents.
After area resident Loren Schwartz showed the before/after video and talked about the online petition they’d set up to gather support, one meeting attendee said that there’s a sentiment that some feel left out and excluded. Schwartz noted the disabled-parking spots that were added, and also recommended that people can drive to 64th and be steps away from the area. He says he’s seeing lots of seniors and mobility-challenged people using it.
Meantime, before the Stay Healthy/Keep Moving Streets discussion concluded, Jawson mentioned the new bees on 34th SW.
See them in the bicycle zone near the southwest corner of Walt Hundley Playfield.
The meeting began with the hottest ongoing transportation topic in West Seattle:
WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE: Sara Zora and Trevor Partap were West Seattle Bridge Safety Project guests from SDOT, primarily there to talk about traffic mitigation, though Zora first gave a quick review of where the repair-or-replace decisionmaking process stood, while admitting that’s not the primary focus of her work. No new info beyond what we had covered earlier in the week. SDOT currently thinks the mayor’s decision is likely going to happen in November, but they’re not certain. Bottom line:
Zora’s first official topic was the low bridge. Here’s where the access policy stands:
Sign installation was planned last weekend, the cameras will be installed in November, in time for the expected start of warning notices in December, and official $75 tickets in January. “It’s going to be really interesting to see how the behavior either shifts or doesn’t,” Zora observed.
Moving on to the traffic-mitigation projects in Reconnect West Seattle, for which she serves as mobility manager, she said they’re continuing to evaluate the detour routes, but her presentation was meant to focus more on “implementation,” starting with these toplines:
Some of the components, such as recent concrete-panel replacement near 32nd and Barton, are meant to ensure that detour routes are better-maintained, Zora said. She also talked about the Home Zone program to address traffic calming on neighborhood streets from Georgetown to South Park to Highland Park (SDOT will be talking more about this at the HPAC meeting at 7 pm Wednesday). WSTC board member Deb Barker, who is also president of the Morgan Community Association, advocated for SDOT to expand that program next year into other neighborhoods such as hers.
She recapped the recent changes at West Marginal/Highland Park Way and said the islands there are being evaluated. As for the rest of West Marginal, where proposals for a NB freight-only lane and a two-way protected bicycle lane on part of the SB side have sparked some controversy, Zora said that no decisions have been made yet – conversations are continuing.
Next, a quick update on East Marginal Way, a safety project that is key for both bicyclists and freight drivers:
Zora said they’ve made some improvements on East Marginal and are hoping the rest of the project will be possible next year, though SDOT did not receive two grants for which it applied.
WHAT’S NEXT: Watch for a different date for the November meeting, as the fourth Thursday is Thanksgiving. Also watch for video of this meeting to appear soon on the WSTC YouTube channel. Meantime, for the latest on the bridge, you can watch the Community Task Force meeting at noon Wednesday – find the stream here.