See the West Marginal Way alternatives that headlined West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s January meeting, as city gets ready to seek feedback

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Proposals for the north stretch of West Marginal Way SW are about to go under the public-feedback microscope.

They were briefly discussed as part of SDOT‘s presentation at Thursday’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, but they were the major news from the meeting, including an announcement of a February 18th “open house” and an upcoming mailer.

SDOT‘s been considering possibilities for West Marginal for some months – beyond the safety improvements near the Duwamish Tribe Longhouse, which are already locked in. One previously discussed idea, turning one northbound lane into a freight-only lane, is off the table, as we’ve reported before. So what this is all about is what’s going to happen to the southbound side, from the bridge to the Longhouse:

Here’s what’s being proposed – first, two options for what is being referred to as “Section 1”:

As that slide shows, Option 1 for Section 1 would be, keep it the way it is. Option 2 would turn the outside southbound lane into a 2-way protected bicycle lane:

For Section 2, doing nothing is not under consideration. Three options are, including continuing that potential 2-way protected bike lane all the way to the Longhouse:

Of note, West Seattle Bike Connections, which had been previously briefed on the options, is supporting the second one, rather than potentially extending a bike lane all the way to the Longhouse.

A primary argument for some kind of change on the southbound side is that it would be safer to be continuously one lane for the stretch south of the bridge, rather than the current conditions, where it goes from one lane to two lanes and then back again.

for further elaboration on the proposals, post-meeting, SDOT provided us with the mailer that will be sent to West Seattle households, promoting the February 18th online open house:

SDOT also has a survey open for West Marginal Way businesses. And from the WSTC presentation, here’s the timeline for decisionmaking:

In the meantime, SDOT is scheduled to present the options at this Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s Bicycle Advisory Board, 6 pm February 3rd, online – the agenda has information on how to participate/watch.

Here’s a quick look at what else happened at the WSTC meeting:

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE UPDATES: The West Marginal updates were part of a wide-ranging bridge-related update that largely recapped what we have covered in recent meetings, especially this month’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting. No high-bridge update, said SDOT’s Sara Zora, but they expect to get the 30 percent design plan for repairs in early February.

SDOT’s Trevor Partap opened with the bridge data presented at the Community Task Force meeting, comparing how all three area cross-Duwamish bridges were doing. Zora also talked about Reconnect West Seattle‘s achievements so far. One note: In March, Metro will add some hours to three West Seattle routes – 50, 60, and 128. They’ll be planning for more additions in September. SDOT is also working on a Travel Options Portalthis RFP is seeking a consultant to help with that.

Regarding low-bridge enforcement, no citation/traffic data disclosed yet. On-call health-care providers are the next group they’re working on adding access for. They also had a reminder of what we reported earlier this week – that the southbound 1st Avenue South Bridge repair work is now expected to start in early March. Though the project is approved at up to 15 days, Partap said WSDOT is working on shortening that. Back to the Low Bridge – they’re not expecting to “add new user groups” for a few months, Zora said. They’re being “quite conservative” with traffic allotments for the bridge, looking ahead to Terminal 5 opening to freight, and wanting to save capacity for that. As for the idea of opening the low bridge to on-call health-care workers, they’re sending out a survey soon in hopes of figuring out how many people that would affect.

SOUND TRANSIT: ST reps recapped where things stand – next big milestone, release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the middle of this year (to be followed by the full EIS and routing/station-site decisions in 2023).

The ‘guiding principles” survey results are at ST, meantime, offers you the chance to catch up via the current “online open house.” You can find out more about where things stand as well as reviewing the alternatives that are being studied for both the routes and station location/types. Follow every mouseover and arrow … you can dive deeply into every part of the proposal. (WSTC board member Deb Barker pointed out the graphics use “old base maps” – on Fauntleroy, for example, The Whittaker is not shown).

ST’s Cathal Ridge took over to talk about the ‘realignment’ decision-making process, stressing that it’s not affecting projects that are in construction – just early-stage projects like ours. We’ve featured these numbers recently – West Seattle to downtown, for example, has seen a 73 percent cost estimate increase. He also mentioned the recently released information comparing the revised costs with the projected costs of West Seattle tunnel alternatives. The cost numbers are now being reviewed by a consultant – as discussed at the ST board meeting earlier in the day,

As for the overall realignment process, ST’s Matt Shelden handled that part of the presentation. “We’re seeing pressures in both the cost and the revenue side.” Overall, they’re foreseeing an $11.5 billion gap between now and 2041.

They have three ways to close it – get more money, cut costs, or lengthen the timelines.

They hope to be asking your opinion in March or so; final decisions are due by midsummer.

In Q&A, ST was urged to involve more people in the station development, and to educate the community on what the EIS will be about so they can provide informed comment.

GET INVOLVED: Speaking of involvement, WSTC welcomes more community participation – February 25th is the next meeting, 6:30 pm online.

38 Replies to "See the West Marginal Way alternatives that headlined West Seattle Transportation Coalition's January meeting, as city gets ready to seek feedback"

  • JAG January 31, 2021 (9:40 pm)

    I have never once seen a bicycle on that stretch since I started driving it 5 days a week last February. The two lanes are needed and used by cars. After they fix the bridge would be the time to look into this. 

    • rpo January 31, 2021 (10:50 pm)

      What purpose does the 2nd lane have for the quarter mile section where it exists? The only thing I see it used for is for drivers to pass a few cars at 60 MPH and blow through the light where the cyclists cross the road. 

    • Foop January 31, 2021 (11:39 pm)

      Lot of bikes use it as it’s the only connection from WS to green river trail, but they are relegated to an uneven sidewalk, and if there another bike coming from the opposite direction you’re screwed. Maybe if folks drove < 50 mph they’d see more

  • Don_Brubeck January 31, 2021 (9:41 pm)

    The SDOT presentation is missing some context. Here is a map showing where this is on West Marginal Way.

    • rg February 3, 2021 (11:39 pm)

      Not exactly. The Longhouse is 1 mi down from the SW Spokane / W Marginal Way / Chelan intersection. Southbound — the nightmare that is merging and going around a bend ends at SW Marginal Way Pl when the road expands to 2 lanes. Considering the entire stretch down to Highland is only 2.5mi, Section 1 Option B + Section 2 Option A or Option B means reducing 40% of the southbound route to 1 lane.   All of the businesses on W Marginal appear to have adjacent and back parking, including the Longhouse.  Eliminate W Marginal on-street parking until the bridge is back and guarantee its return to the Duwamish within 30 days of the new bridge opening.  Extending the sidewalk from Idaho to the Longhouse and installing another crossing is already happening. Radical concept — improve. Route bikes from SW Marginal Way Pl to 17th Ave SW to 16th Ave SW to Dakota.  These can be paved without disturbing W Marginal traffic. Now we’re only talking about the block between Dakota and Idaho. Since the city has yet to figure out how to street clean bike paths, utilize the sidewalks. Most of this section of sidewalk runs along parking lot entrances or parking lot roads – throw up mirrors so bikers and parking lot drivers can see each other. Ask the Parks Department to keep their gates open. Beef up the Idaho crossing and repave the existing Duwamish River Trail.   

  • Don_Brubeck January 31, 2021 (9:54 pm)

    I have to drive this route frequently and I bike on the Duwamish Trail.  Continuing the single southbound lane beyond West Marginal Place to the Duwamish Longhouse will improve traffic safety for all people using
    West Marginal Way SW and the trail. Speed, reckless right-side passes are the problem there. Not congestion.  Crashes are severe and frequent. Try searching “crash West Marginal” on West Seattle Blog to see.  The
    bridges are the choke points, not the southbound traffic lane at the north end of WMW. West Seattle Bike Connections, Duwamish Valley Safe Streets and West Duwamish Greenbelt Trails support the proposed bike
    lanes north of the Duwamish Trail end, and support a parking lane from there to the Duwamish Longhouse & Cultural Center and the signalized crossing for the longhouse and park. More here.

  • Auntie January 31, 2021 (10:08 pm)

    Are they seriously considering making southbound Marginal Way one lane of traffic? I guess SDOT hasn’t noticed that the West Seattle Bridge is broken and everyone from the north end of West Seattle is using Marginal Way to get to the First Avenue South Bridge. Maybe they should wait until there is a viable route out of West Seattle for all those people who are currently using Marginal Way. Also, SDOT might need to be reminded that Marginal Way is the main freight thoroughfare, so making it one lane of cars and trucks would be some kind of nightmare.And I’m sure someone will let me know, but where are all those bicyclists on Marginal Way going to or coming from? They can’t be headed to or from the First Avenue South Bridge. They have access to the lower bridge to get out of West Seattle.

    • bill February 1, 2021 (9:59 pm)

      Auntie: Remember, every person on a bike is one less car in front of you. “All those” bicyclists are going places to the south: South Park, Georgetown, Burien, South Center, and farther. The riders going to south SODO and Georgetown are indeed headed for the 1st Ave bridge; there is a very nice separated bike and ped path across the bridge.There is no safe and convenient route south from the lower Spokane bridge through southern SODO. The stretch along Marginal from the lower bridge to the ped crossing is very poor for bikes – uneven sidewalks, blind driveways, a congested, potholed, alley-like industrial street (16th). The southbound capacity constraint on motor vehicles is the Highland intersection and the 1st Ave bridge. Getting to the backup quicker does not make your trip faster! 

    • Mark47n February 3, 2021 (4:55 am)

       a lot of bicyclists travel on this stretch, just not on West Marginal, which, even as a seasoned city cyclist, sounds a bit terrifying. They are going to South Park, the Green River Trail to get to Tukwila, Kent, Parts of SoDo, and…it doesn’t matter. This section is often traversed on paths through the parks and can be…interesting at night and the paths are bumpy to say the least, to say nothing of the tracks crossings, some of which are messy to navigate.

  • rpo January 31, 2021 (10:54 pm)

    I’ve seen three vehicles make highly unsafe passes using the center turn lane in West Marginal in the last 2 days. Both cars did so while driving 70+ and passing vehicles already going 10+ over the limit (and yes, I was one). Since the bridge closed, I’ve never seen a single car pulled over on that road despite it being a huge revenue source and frequent contributor to the blog’s accident posts. Will SPD ever enforce safety on that stretch?

    • Wsideroller February 1, 2021 (6:21 am)

      What model radar gun were you using?

      • winniegirl February 1, 2021 (10:11 am)

        I always wonder this, too.  I had someone yell at me on a side street for speeding and I was going 21 mph – I barely use the gas pedal to travel at that speed.  People can’t estimate speed by just “feeling”.

        • rop February 1, 2021 (2:36 pm)

          It really is not that hard to estimate speeds. If I am going 42 MPH (as I was the last time it happened) and a car flies past in the turn lane like I am barely moving, they are not going 43, 44, or even 55 MPH. Plus there are 3 radar signs on the road. They display speeds up to 59 MPH and everything above that flashes SLOW DOWN.

  • Craig January 31, 2021 (11:04 pm)

    This is management by exception and not well thought out, despite being well intended. Like others have said, reconsider this once the bridge is fixed, but not until. A major artery for 20% of Seattle’s population  has been removed and not the time to reduce capacity to aid the super minority of the roadway users (cyclists) of this route who also have their own alternative routes. Yes, more people should ride bikes. Yes, I ride a bike. No, it’s not worth it to negatively impact the exponentially larger group for the tiny percentage of bike users during this emergency arterial outage. 

    • wscommuter February 1, 2021 (8:26 am)

      Strongly agree – I am (mostly) a bike commuter and this idea is breathtakingly stupid.  The canard that the bottleneck is “only at the bridges” is patently false.  The two lanes SB on WMW are necessary for cars and trucks to feed as efficiently as possible to both the 1st Ave S Bridge and to folks who are continuing south to 599, etc.  Jamming all that traffic into a single lane in order to add a bike lane would be the height of irresponsibility.  

      • rpo February 1, 2021 (2:38 pm)

        It’s already one lane before and after the short section they are proposing to convert to one lane. It will literally make zero difference in the travel times southbound.

  • Jon Wright January 31, 2021 (11:47 pm)

    That stretch of road could be 10 lanes wide and it wouldn’t made a bit of difference: West Marginal is not the bottleneck, the intersections at either end are. Giving up that second southbound lane for a safer experience for everyone is not going to increase the amount of time it takes to drive through that corridor.

    • Andrea February 1, 2021 (9:05 am)

      Agree with you! They are only talking about a small section to be one lane only, after the on street parking they added it is back to two lanes.

  • Bad to worse February 1, 2021 (5:29 am)

    Has anyone suggested making the low bridge a tall bridge will lessen the W Marginal way traffic? Its gotten far worse since $75.00 fine.  $3.00 – 5.00 toll for each willing participant each way may work good.  

    • Question Authority February 1, 2021 (9:26 am)

      Put another way the $75.00 fine is working as designed, people who violated the rules are now doing it less.  Your quite late with the toll idea but realistically it’s currently $75.00 each way, every day if you wish.

  • WS Taxpayer February 1, 2021 (7:22 am)

    No build until the bridge is fixed.

  • raybro February 1, 2021 (7:49 am)

    Here is a novel idea, leave West Marginal alone.  Quit looking to spend money where it is not required and put it toward bridge repairs.  SDOT, for once, use common sense.

  • Mj February 1, 2021 (9:00 am)

    Bad to worse – the Low Level Bridge is a Toll Bridge, the toll is $75!

  • Rico February 1, 2021 (10:03 am)

    I am a bike commuter but also drive and commute by car.   I have commuted on bike on and off in the City since 1990.Most of the bike infrastructure seems to be designed as part of the city’s war on cars to make driving as miserable as possible while marginally addressing the needs of bike riders.   This is just idea fits that category.   There are significant and relatively inexpensive things the city could to to make getting around on a bike easier.  This is isn’t one of them.   This is short sighted. Obviously, Herbold doesn’t ride a bike  – but where is she on these transportation issues?    Do we have a voice representing West Seattle???? 

    • bill February 1, 2021 (10:03 pm)

      Rico: The “war” is a war between cars. There are now too many cars in the city for everyone to drive freely everywhere anytime. 

  • Kathy February 1, 2021 (10:27 pm)

    How could this proposal possibly hurt law abiding car and truck drivers?  They are already lining up in the left lane so they don’t have to merge near the Longhouse. On the other hand, there is a missing link in the West Duwamish Trail that people biking this route have been dealing with for many, many years that will finally be resolved by this proposal. I have participated in the Bike Everywhere Day station at the Spokane Street Bridge and we counted quite a bit of bike traffic in the morning rush hours  coming up the West Duwamish Trail to cross over to downtown on the Spokane St. Bridge. Including someone on a unicycle who said they commuted 30 miles on that route. 

    • mark47n February 3, 2021 (5:00 am)

      I wouldn’t say there’s a missing link on this trail, it’s just a bit awkward. It’s not like the missing segment of the Burke-Gilman so I’d probably consider this a bit of hyperbole.

  • Alki resident February 1, 2021 (11:30 pm)

    SDOT needs to focus their energy on the repair. This lane discussion/proposal is NOT going to keep cars moving. What they should be doing is giving us actual updates with real deliverables and dates. We deserve details, not vague responses. Their weekly updates are terrible (I’ve already gave them feedback via email).   

  • bill February 2, 2021 (12:29 am)

    This should have been emphasized with bold type: “it would be safer to be continuously one lane for the stretch south of the bridge”. The aim of this project is to make the road safer for drivers, despite the death wish many appear to have. Adding a bike lane is a secondary opportunity. It also deflects blowback onto bicyclists, instead of forcing drivers to acknowledge a consequence of their bad behavior.

  • DRC February 2, 2021 (6:36 am)

        Just leave it alone! This city has screwed up enough streets

  • Al February 2, 2021 (11:58 am)

    Looks great, this should really help slow commuters. Have they considered adding in a few of those cement barrier bicycle parking areas to the street? Like the ones we added to California Ave in the junction that sit empty 99% of the time? If we added a few of those around the long house, we could effectively reduce car parking, while maintaining the same lane reduction excuse we currently have in place. 

    • Chemist February 9, 2021 (11:29 am)

      You mean bike parking corrals like the one on California by The Bridge?  It seems like that should be required if it’s a bike trail and our bikeshare/scootershare programs are supposed to have a special focus on West Seattle residents.

  • wetone February 2, 2021 (5:19 pm)

     The more SDOT slows streets down the faster motor vehicles go on other streets. Zero common sense at SDOT these days. One has to remember that most people at SDOT making these decisions work from home and or ride a bike to work. Until SDOT opens roads back up and Seattle starts holding people accountable for braking laws it will continue to get worse for those that have to leave there homes.

  • AR February 5, 2021 (8:47 pm)

    Please don’t eliminate the car lane.  I have ridden the route many times.  Very few bikes – no bicycle congestion.  Yes there is a short period where you need to ride on the side walk.  Rarely have I ever had congestion on the sidewalk and yes you do need to be careful riding on the sidewalk by slowing down for this short period of time.Make West Marginal way two lanes in both directions.  When the amount of traffic is low (which is not very often) you can ride your bike on the road for the short distance.Save the money and work on something else more important.

  • Steve Thornton February 18, 2021 (12:18 pm)

    The reason you see so few bikes on this street is because reckless car drivers make this route incredibly frightening.  Put some speed bumps down while you’re at it.

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