SDOT’s new director tours Fauntleroy

(WSB photos)

Even before starting his job, SDOT‘s new director Greg Spotts (above left) invited people from neighborhoods around the city to ask him to visit for “listening tours” – and the Fauntleroy Community Association did just that. This morning, Spotts made good on his promise, despite the snow (he’d originally been booked to visit a few weeks ago, but even snowier weather forced a postponement). He and SDOT’s interim transportation-operations director Dusty Rasmussen spent more than an hour getting a firsthand look at some of Fauntleroy’s transportation challenges, which the FCA has long been nagging the city about. The tour started in the north Lincoln Park parking lot, where Spotts declared that he’s passionate about streets along parks, observing that this particular park entrance isn’t particularly welcoming to “non-vehicle arrivals.” FCA president Mike Dey talked about the ferry traffic that queues up in the afternoon and on weekends, and how some drivers flout the rules that are. supposed to keep the parking lane clear during peak hours. Others pull midblock U-turns and there was talk of whether a hardened center line might prevent that. Crossing Fauntleroy is a challenge at some spots along the park, too.

From the park, they headed southbound on Fauntleroy to the ferry dock, where the main challenge happens in bursts – getting 120 vehicles (the capacity of the ferries usually on the route) out at a time. A public-safety officer is there to direct traffic some of the time; there’s also been talk of a signal, though Dey noted that the FCA doesn’t support that. He also mentioned the planned terminal/dock replacement, and a quarter-century-old city resolution opposing expansion of the dock. Continuing south, next stop was the Endolyne business district.

There’s been some traffic calming here, after previous pushes by the FCA – more pedestrian features have been applied to the 45th/Wildwood intersection, and 45th has some speed humps. One remaining major point of concern – the hill to/from Marine View Drive and chronic downhill speeding. Spotts observed that it “looks like a ramp.”

After a stop at Wildwood Market for warm beverages, the group was planning to continue eastbound to the Fauntleroy Church/YMCA/Schoolhouse stretch of California SW – which can be perilous for pedestrians. We had to drop out before then, with another scheduled event to cover. We did hear Spotts make one commitment along the way – he promised to come back in January/February for a better look at some of the conditions Dey had mentioned.

P.S. If you’re in Fauntleroy and want to get involved with the FCA, they meet second Tuesdays at the schoolhouse (9131 California SW), 7 pm; you can watch via livestream, too – info’s at

28 Replies to "SDOT's new director tours Fauntleroy"

  • Danimal December 20, 2022 (12:21 am)

    Fauntleroy Way is a major arterial connecting major neighborhoods with major vehicle traffic destinations. It is not necessary nor acceptable to slow down traffic on that road anymore. It’s already aggravatingly slow getting from one place to another behind a self-appointed citizen speed cop. Pedestrians already have places to cross safely. They need to use common sense when doing so. Flashing pedestrian-activated warning lights at existing crosswalks are all that is needed. Also, u-turns are legal in Seattle – when it’s safe to do so and when the u-turn does not impede traffic. Enforce the law, don’t waste money preventing legal road maneuvers. And the entrance to that park is just fine. I’ve never had an issue getting into it, on foot or via bike. Let’s focus on getting the road speed back up to intelligent, sensible levels, and get the crumbling roads repaved, before we waste any more money on unnecessary feel-good, back-slapping projects.

    • jsparra December 20, 2022 (7:16 am)

      Thank you Danimal. I whole heartedly agree with every word of you text. Common sense…so simple.

    • WSBiker December 20, 2022 (8:04 am)

      As someone who lives along this road and doesn’t own a car, I could not disagree with this position more. The complete lack of sympathy for anyone using the road except for people driving through as fast as possible is self-centered, and the way it is presented condescending.If this visit from the SDOT director at least results in a crosswalk with flashing beacons at Fauntleroy and Rose, that is well worth it.The position that U-Turns are legal is inaccurate in many cases – see below.

      • Barton December 20, 2022 (12:12 pm)

        I didn’t read Danimal’s comment as unsympathetic or condescending but realistic.  Fauntleroy is a major arterial that has to move a lot of traffic, including hundreds of cars disembarking a ferry en route to downtown, and all parties need to use common sense to ensure that traffic moves efficiently and pedestrians and bikers remain safe.   Cross walks with flashing beacons would be great, as would a signal light when exiting the ferry.  A hardened center line to prevent a totally legal u-turn would not.  (The highlighted section is consistent with what Danimal stated – you can make a U-turn if the drivers approaching from both directions can see you, i.e. “when it is safe to do so”). 

        • WSBiker December 20, 2022 (1:44 pm)

          Barton – thank you for the thoughtful response. I found descriptions in Danimal’s comment such as referring to people who drive at or below the speed limit as “a self-appointed citizen speed cop” and generalizing all suggestions from Spotts’s visit as “unnecessary feel-good, back-slapping projects” as condescending and without sympathy for people who use other transportation methods. My personal experience in witnessing both preventable and near-miss collisions due to illegal U-turns, make me in full support of a hardened center line. You’ll notice the non-highlighted section of the municipal code I included in my previous comment mentions U-turns can only be made “without interfering with other traffic” – rarely have I witnessed a U-turn on Fauntleroy where that’s the case.

      • Flivver December 20, 2022 (12:34 pm)

        WSBiker. Danimal’s comment simply speaks of the real world we drive in. Not condescending just simply realistic. The fact that you are carless is great but please understand that the other 99.999% of residents need good car access.

        • WSBiker December 20, 2022 (1:47 pm)

          Flivver – while I appreciate your response, I disagree that reckless speed, reticence to stop for pedestrians, and dangerous U-turns should be considered realistic. While I’m obviously in the minority among Seattle residents for not owning a car, I know people like me are far more than .0001% of the city’s population. I also don’t think good car access is dependent on issues such as speed and at-will U-turns.

        • Jort December 20, 2022 (6:54 pm)

          Oooo, gonna have to call you out on that one, Flivver. I’m not sure where you’re getting your “99.999%” of Seattle residents being drivers statistic, but, it’s pretty obviously wrong and easily disproven. There are “only”‘ 610 cars per 1,000 residents here, and that ratio continues to drop. In 2018, the U.S. Census reported that only 44.45% of Seattle residents (a minority) drove alone to work. But, yeah, no matter what way you count it, it’s not “99.999%” and that is just flatly false disinformation. Flatly false. 

          • Flivver December 21, 2022 (11:38 am)

            Jort. Fact check. Wasn’t commenting on who drives to work. I stand by my comment on the # of people who own a car.  But for those who don’t own a car provide documentation showing that they NEVER use a ride share or taxi or rent or ride with someone. After all, those a GASP…cars. 

          • WestSeattleBadTakes December 22, 2022 (8:07 am)

            Selective reading strikes again.

    • April December 20, 2022 (10:38 am)

      Totally Agree with @Danimal!!

    • Jort December 20, 2022 (11:30 am)

      It’s always refreshing to hear car drivers say, out loud, “I want to drive as fast as I feel like driving and I have absolutely no concern about the consequences to anybody else whatsoever.” It’s very clarifying and instructive. Here’s the deal: you’re going to drive slower, and that’s how it’s going to be, period. If you’re stuck behind a “self-appointed citizen speed cop” driving “too slow,” ask yourself, is this person driving within the legal speed LIMIT? Note the word LIMIT as in MAXIMUM LIMITATION. If they are, then guess what? Deal with it. Slow down and drive safer, and if this is too hard, it’s time to hang up the keys for good. Yet another “law and order” type who thinks that the actual law doesn’t and shouldn’t apply to them, because “it’s OK if I do it.” Gross.

    • cwit December 20, 2022 (11:49 am)

      Where are the existing crosswalks on that stretch of road in front of Lincoln Park?  I can only recall the one by the ferry entrance/exit.

    • J December 20, 2022 (11:58 am)

      Agreed. And blocking uturns seems unfair to everyone who is trying to get to the Ferry dock from the south and southeast neighborhoods. It seems they’d have to drive wayyy north of the ferry to come back the opposite way on fauntleroy. 

  • Kyle December 20, 2022 (4:15 am)

    FCA just screams NIMBYism to me. Opposed to a traffic signal to help that intersection? Much more expensive to keep paying someone to direct traffic forever and ever not to mention the increase risk of injuries/accidents. Also the dock should expand. Pretending that ferry traffic and all the residents of Vashon won’t increase over the next 50 years is putting your head in the sand. But hey keep protecting and oppressing growth in the area. Home prices must not be high enough yet.

  • revilo December 20, 2022 (7:45 am)

    I agree with Danimal.  Is this one of the tours that we were able to invite the new director on?  Truly unfortunate I have not heard back yet about the tour I invited him on when SDOT reached out.  I’m assuming their decision of tours has already been made.

  • jsparra December 20, 2022 (8:25 am)

    Could not agree more Danimal!! Common sense please.

  • Wseattleite December 20, 2022 (11:21 am)

    Thank you daminal!  I concur. 

  • Shadowtripper December 20, 2022 (11:47 am)

    An appointed head of SDOT by Seattle’s City Council and the Council themselves should be held responsible for the traffic violations occurring on ALL streets within Seattle.  Passing laws that limit law enforcement to do their job, defunding police, creating rules that enable people who break the law to continue without any fear of fines or jail is expecting things to improve while only adding fuel to the fire.  At a time when the City Council comes out and starts supporting the Police Union Guild, supporting officers that arrest  criminals instead of forgiving the offender we may see improvement.  Until then nothing will change until leadership changes.  Traffic calming speed humps help only if drivers relearn the rules of the road and receive tickets to to enforce those rules.

    • WSB December 20, 2022 (12:08 pm)

      The council does not appoint department heads, nor do they report to the council. Greg Spotts and other department directors report to the mayor. The council just confirms them once the mayor has made the appointment. (Same with the police chief.)

  • J December 20, 2022 (11:47 am)

    What’s more important related to Marine View Drive is to have a sidewalk and curb where there isn’t. There is only a sidewalk and curb as you approach Endolyne but there are many people who walk MVD further up the hill to take in the views or to walk down to transportation and businesses. The lack of sidewalks around arbor heights is unfortunate

  • Judy December 20, 2022 (11:57 am)

    Most of the above comments have the tone of persons who don’t live in or near Fauntleroy.  I challenge those advocating more speed, etc., to disclose where they live.

    • WestSeattleBadTakes December 21, 2022 (9:45 am)

      They don’t care, they just want to drive through 

  • Bananas December 20, 2022 (1:18 pm)

    I know there’s disagreement around whether the arterial speed limit on Fauntleroy (and around the city) should be 25 or 30 and a lot to consider in terms of ferry traffic (it’s not going anywhere and we have to find a way to deal with it sensibly), but there’s no reason people need to be blasting down Fauntleroy at 35 or 40 or 47 or cutting through side streets going 30+. We all end up at the same stoplights at California/35th or the four way stop heading up to Barton anyway. 

  • Dee Hayward December 20, 2022 (1:28 pm)

    I live in Fauntleroy.  Given that Fauntleroy goes by two schools, playgrounds and a large public park, I feel slower is better. What’s the big hurry? The stretch from the bridge to the ferry only takes about 10 minutes max….worth it to put public safety first.

  • Dee Hayward December 20, 2022 (1:29 pm)

    I live in Fauntleroy.  Given that Fauntleroy goes by two schools, playgrounds and a large public park, I feel slower is better. What’s the big hurry? The stretch from the bridge to the ferry only takes about 10 minutes max….worth it to put public safety first. I have only said this once – no duplication.

  • Mike Dey December 20, 2022 (3:19 pm)

    If I might chime in here.  Our discussion with SDOT Director Spotts was based responses the Fauntleroy Community Assoc  received from its bi-annual survey of 3,000 residents that live between 35th Ave SW and Puget Sound, and the Arroyos and north Lincoln Park.  For the last 4 years the number one concern of residents has been traffic and pedestrian safety.  Those issues were number two in priority the previous 6 years superseded by crime and personal safety.  There was no discussion about the sped limit as that is not under SDOT’s purview nor was it anything the FCA asked for or was involved in changing.  We discussed, as the BLOG reported, issues of pedestrian and vehicular safety.  The pedestrian safety at Rose and Fauntleroy stems from a teenager being hit by a car there when crossing after getting off the bus on the Lincoln Park side and heading across Fauntleroy to go home.  There needs to be some traffic warning that this location is a pedestrian crossing.  Similarly at Kenyon Place there was a near miss of a pedestrian who was nearly struck by a truck that ran the red light and went around a car stopped for the pedestrian crossing light by cutting into the curb lane to get around the stopped car.  Discussion about the ferry dock was about the intersection and how to deal with the traffic coming off the boat and the local traffic including the buses, aid and police cars.  A traffic light will only help the ferry boat and will stop all the local traffic.  The use of the police officer provides some discretion so the officer can adjust the flow as the situation demands.  The presence of a police officer also calms the tensions of people eager to get home after a long day.  We don’t need any more guns drawn on the dock. One option discussed was a round-about.  Space may not allow its use but it would allow traffic to flow  more freely from all directions.  As for U-turns, the discussion was not a question of their being legal or not but that people in the cars and trucks making the turns are focused on their turn and not seeing other cars or pedestrians.  A number of cars have been T-boned because the U-turn driver did not see them.  Same happened when a bicyclist was hit in the crosswalk this summer when a car turned left onto the ferry dock and didn’t see the bicyclist.  We fully realize that drivers are often tired and focused on making the turns and don’t always see pedestrians and bicyclists.  The question is how to improve that situation for everyone.Lastly, the comments about location.  Most of the increase we see in traffic comes from Southworth.  The population on Vashon is relatively stable in part because of the zoning restrictions.   The focus the FCA has is to try to improve the thru put onto the dock.  There is a choke point at the toll booths that if changed to a system such as Good to Go would allow commuters to just drive onto the dock.  Such a change would make it so much easier for everyone.  WSDOT which runs the ferry system already uses Good to Go on the bridges and tunnel.   Expansion of the dock will not get any more people across the Sound any faster.  The dock will be empty 21 to 22 hours a day and be a very expensive over water empty parking lot.  It will not eliminate cars on Fauntleroy during the peak times of rush hour and or holiday weekends.  Thus, there are better less costly and environmentally sound options that should be used instead.If any of the people commenting on the report live in Fauntleroy we would be pleased to have you join the FCA and become involved in the discussions around making this community a safe and desirable place to live and raise children.   I agree with Judy it would be useful to know where you live to be better able to understand the basis of your comments. 

  • Brian December 21, 2022 (7:19 pm)

    Whatever they need to do to curtail the mid-block u-turns is fine by me. It’s absolutely ridiculous how often folks pull dangerous u-turns without looking at other cars coming when there are multiple opportunities along that stretch to spend 30 seconds properly turning around.   

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