By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Changes in the traffic-safety plan for 16th SW were part of what HPAC – the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – heard about at its September meeting.
This was HPAC’s first meeting after summer break, led by co-chairs Kay Kirkpatrick and Craig Rankin. Before the updates from SDOT, a port team presented an update:
TERMINAL 5 & PORT OF SEATTLE: From the Northwest Seaport Alliance and/or Port of Seattle, Lindsay Wolpa, Peaches Thomas, Steve Balaski, T-5 program manager Emma Del Vento, and Curtis Stahlecker were all at the meeting. Wolpa gave a presentation, starting with an overview of the NWSA (the ports of Seattle and Tacoma) – 3 million cargo containers each year, 58,000 jobs – then recapped the T-5 project toplines. Balaski explained what the port’s trying to do to help with the worldwide supply-chain jam:
They are “feverishly working” on how to address this, and how to keep their export clients’ goods flowing.
Even though T-5 remains an ‘active construction site,” they continue storing containers there, as we’ve reported. “Do your Christmas shopping early,” Balaski advised. He said bringing T-5 back online – it stopped being a regular cargo terminal in 2014 – is important. “It will allow us to remain a competitive port going into the future.”
The new cranes brought to T-5 in June are now being called “the largest cranes on the West Coast” and integral to T-5 handling the extra-large ships to which cargo lines are moving. Otherwise, the port would be “at risk of losing some of this activity.”
Del Vento gave the facts and figures about the 185-acre project, with the north berth opening in January, the south berth opening a year later. Then Stahlecker took over. He talked about “permit conditions” for T-5 including noise management, from quieter backup alarms to the railroad “quiet zone.” Traffic mitigation is part of his portfolio too, and he said the port/alliance has been working with the city on that – such as variable timing on nearby lights to improve traffic flow as needed, including the 5-way. It’ll become a 4-way intersection once the “quiet zone” is in place in early 2023.
In Q&A, Wolpa was asked about electrification of trucks, as is happening elsewhere. Seattle isn’t as far along, she said; Balaski added that there’s “a lot of energy” around alternate fuels, for trucks, even for locomotive engines, and some shipping lines (he mentioned Maersk building methanol-powered ships). What about salmon impacts? Stahlecker talked about stormwater management – “any water that goes into Longfellow Creek will be treated” and an overflow line through Jack Block Park will be rerouted. What route will the trains follow? Existing tracks largely go along the yellow line:
How will the T-5 traffic affect other traffic on Harbor Island? The “gate management is a huge piece of it,” said Wolpa, and they’re going to try to “work to keep as many trucks off the road as possible.” In ensuing discussion, it was noted that the idea of a shuttle for West Seattle-residing Harbor Island workers has arisen; “that’s a difficult one,” said Wolpa, who sits on the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force and one of its subcommittees. SDOT’s Matt Beaulieu acknowledged that it’s “going to be a couple of rough months” between the opening of T-5 and the reopening of the West Seattle Bridge.
SDOT TALKS 16TH SPEED-CUSHION CHANGES AND MORE: David Burgesser, Shauna Walgren, and Sara Zora were there from SDOT to talk about the state of various traffic-mitigation measures, both planned and proposed, as well as some that have been built and others that have been scrapped. Burgesser said most of the Home Zone work will be complete by year’s end, including the SW Barton Neighborhood Greenway. Here’s where the speed hump/cushion installation stands:
Some changes were explained by Beaulieu:
He said SDOT “got too far ahead of ourselves” in announcing those south 16th SW speed cushion plans before consulting with the Fire Department, and then realized “we needed to look at 16th a little differently than we have.” (Yes, SFD really does need to use the “hairpin turns” off Holden/20th, said Beaulieu in response to a question from Rankin.) So instead, here’s what they’re considering to address speeding issues on 16th:
Burgesser then got into specifics of some other completed work:
(Beveling means leveling of some sections where sidewalk panels had been pushed up by tree roots, for example.) Walgren then mentioned some changes planned for part of SW Webster:
They’re asking property owners for a vote and hoping to get 60 percent support, Walgren said. Another block of Webster will have a different look:
Along the SW Barton Greenway section, they’re going to plant 100 trees, and are asking residents for feedback. Meantime, here’s what’s ahead for part of 14th:
On parts of 9th and 14th, they have sent or will send letters for feedback on “voluntary conveyance swales”:
Most of the above will happen next year, though the SW Barton Greenway – including crossing changes – is scheduled to be done by year’s end.
SDOT also plans to collect new traffic data in the Home Zone project areas next month. Regarding the question of the much-criticized SW Trenton Stay Healthy Street section, the SDOT reps said the “mixed feedback” is being evaluated by another team. That team could come to the next HPAC meeting with an update, Walgren offered.
In Q&A, Webster resident Barb said she hadn’t received a survey and that the design doesn’t address the section between 11th and the street end where everyone uses an informal trail. Walgren said pedestrian improvements on that street will connect to the trailhead. How have the Webster comments been so far? SDOT had a meeting planned the following day to review all the comments but so far they’re mostly positive, Walgren said.
Rankin commented that the work areas in some cases seem disconnected from where crashes are actually happening. Walgren said the “after-studies” should show any unaddressed issues.
Michele Witzki wondered about visibility at the 14th/Thistle stairway because of a 6-foot fence. Burgesser said they plan a “protected space” – something like a curb bulb – for people to be able to step out more safely as they get to the top of the stairway.
Karyn Angulo from 16th SW was asked for feedback on the changes in the plan for that street. She asked SDOT to do something to make up for the fact there won’t be speed bumps after all. Even after the bridge reopens, she said, 16th will continue being a sped-on arterial. Zora promised they are evaluating “alternatives” with SFD and could return to HPAC next month with updates on how those discussions were going.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Along with a land acknowledgment, the meeting’s opening honored the Duwamish Tribe by reminding people about the opportunity to support the tribe via Real Rent Duwamish … Don’t forget to take the Seattle Parks Strategic Plan Survey … Also: As noted in the meeting announcement, HPAC is conducting its own survey to see what people would like to hear about at future meetings … The Heron’s Nest Project has an October fundraiser (as noted in this WSB story).
NEXT MEETING: HPAC meets on fourth Wednesdays most months, 7 pm, online until further notice, so next meeting will be October 27th. Watch hpacws.org for details.