West Seattle, Washington
for this weekend’s Native Art Market and Holiday Gift Fair at the Duwamish Longhouse, crossing guards are still stopping traffic on West Marginal Way, because the newly installed signal isn’t ready yet. Earlier this month, SDOT told the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force that they expected to turn on the signal in “late November,” if weather permitted the crosswalk to be painted. Turns out the weather got in the way of a different aspect of the project. We followed up on the signal statuw before the holiday and got this explanation:
Seattle Department of Transportation crews completed all of the initial work to install traffic signal poles and equipment in early November. The next step is for Seattle City Light to hook up power to the traffic signal so that we can turn it on. Due to the series of severe storms leading to widespread power outages, Seattle City Light has had to reschedule this step for the first weekend in December. Once the power is connected, SDOT crews are ready to take the final steps to unveil the signal lights and paint the crosswalks, which will require dry weather. We intentionally wait to do this until the signal is ready to be turned on in order to avoid confusing travelers.
This signal is technically temporary, with a permanent one to follow.
Thanks for the tips (including Mark, who also sent the photo): Southbound 26th SW has reopened between SW Barton and SW Roxbury. That’s the first time in almost four months that the stretch of 26th has been open both ways. It’s been rebuilt – one direction at a time – to better withstand the constant pounding it takes from buses. It’s been a years-long problem, with neighbors complaining their homes shook when buses passed on the flimsier pavement.
Three months after SDOT closed the Andover bicycle/pedestrian bridge over the west end of the West Seattle Bridge, they’re one month into construction of its retrofit, with two months to go. Here’s the update we just received:
We began construction in mid-October on the SW Andover St Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project and are on schedule to complete construction in the next two months.
The SW Andover St Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge is a vital pedestrian connection between the Youngstown and Genesee neighborhoods. The bridge was built in 1961, prior to the modernization of the seismic design code. This project will strengthen key bridge components to better withstand seismic events like earthquakes.
What’s happening now?
We’re installing new bridge expansion joints, which allow the concrete to naturally expand and contract without cracking. The bridge deck was originally supported by three joints that were not adequately connected to each other to withstand an earthquake. The bridge will be fused together with steel plates, additional rebar, and concrete to improve its resilience to earthquakes.
We’re also strengthening the east side of the bridge where it is secured to the ground. Four long steel rods, called ground anchors, will be installed 40 feet deep into the ground to support this side of the bridge. These improvements will make the bridge stronger and safer in the event of an earthquake.
We are on schedule to complete the work in the next two months. As soon as construction is done, we’ll open the bridge for use again.
Cost of the project is estimated at $1.9 million.
One month after SDOT told us the 35th/Graham pedestrian/bicycle crossing was a few weeks from activation, it’s finally in operation. The signal [map] was originally proposed as part of the 35th SW Safety Project, and then became part of the West Seattle Greenway extension, which SDOT has declared complete (see the map here). Along with the push-activated signal, this intersection – where two people biking and walking have been killed in the past 15 years – has other modifications including turn restrictions and green-painted bike lanes.
The long-in-the-works East Marginal Way South Corridor Improvement Project is finally fully funded. It’s not in West Seattle, but it’s on a transportation corridor for many traveling between here and the downtown waterfront, in modes from bicycling to trucking. Federal and city officials announced today that the project has received a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) program. SDOT says this will enable it to start construction “at the end of 2022,” with completion “estimated for 2025.” The city’s announcement continues:
The grant funding will enable SDOT to do both the safety improvements and the road reconstruction at the same time. This means that there will be fewer disruptions to freight traffic during construction.
Currently, East Marginal Way S faces three primary transportation challenges along the corridor: 1) safety, 2) mobility and increasing demand, and 3) deterioration of pavement. The RAISE grant will now help improve operational and safety deficiencies by widening and strengthening the road to accommodate larger and heavier truck traffic, provide access to freight terminals at the Port of Seattle for the trucks that use the corridor each day, and helping to reduce congestion with improved traffic signals.
Below are some of the improvements in the East Marginal Way S Corridor Improvement project:
-Reconstructing the East Marginal Way S roadway and upgrading the route to Heavy Haul Network standards along a 1.1-mile segment from a point south of S Massachusetts St to S Spokane St to enhance efficient freight flow.
-Constructing a 2-way protected bike lane along a 1.4-mile segment between S Atlantic St and S Spokane St to increase visibility, protect the approximately 1,000 people who ride bikes on this corridor each day, and work toward our Vision Zero goal of ending traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
-Rebuilding the sidewalk on the west side of East Marginal Way S adjacent to the roadway reconstruction to provide a safe, accessible route for people walking.
-Constructing new traffic signals that will work dynamically together to enhance safety and improve traffic flow at several of the City’s busiest freight intersections.
For more details on what’s planned, see this fact sheet. The city says the project funding also includes $7 million from the Levy to Move Seattle as well as from the port and state. Total estimated cost will be $43 million, according to page 19 of this document used in the application for the just-announced federal grant.
After a 19-month pandemic break, a program teaching bicycling and walking safety to Seattle Public Schools students is getting up and running again, starting with a special delivery Tuesday morning in West Seattle. A Cascade Bicycle Club truck rolled up pulling a trailer with 31 bicycles for Louisa Boren STEM K-8 students to use over the next three weeks during PE class.
The program is called “Let’s Go” and has been offered to elementary students in Seattle Public Schools since 2015, with a pandemic break starting last year. The announcement of its resumption says that it teaches “physical fundamentals of helmet safety, balancing, steering, pedaling, and stopping, (and) the rules of safe and courteous riding along with skills to cross a street at intersections.” The city is paying Cascade $2 million over the next five years to bring the program to more than 20,000 students each year.
Thanks to everyone who’s reported in recent days (including Jonny, who sent the photo) that the legendary 367-step Thistle Street stairway, which runs between Northrop Place and 46th SW just east of Lincoln Park [map], is partly closed. The sign, at the west end of the stairway on 46th, is the only sign, and the steep stretch between Northrop and 44th is not affected. It’s a city-owned structure so we first inquired with SDOT, which said it wasn’t a project of theirs, and then finally obtained this info today, that “a nearby private homeowner’s sewer line is being repaired. They estimate that the area will be closed for 1.5 weeks.”
If you’re interested in the future of the closed-to-through-traffic Stay Healthy Streets in West Seattle, here are two more events of note:
HIGH POINT: One of Seattle’s first Stay Healthy Streets is also under consideration for permanent designation, so SDOT is coming to the area Wednesday afternoon for feedback:
We are evaluating options for the High Point Stay Healthy Street and need your feedback on ways to create a space that reflects your community values and needs.
Visit with the High Point Stay Healthy Street team
Date: Wednesday, November 10
Time: 2 to 4 PM – Stop by any time!
Location: On the High Point Stay Healthy Street near the corner of 34th Ave SW and SW Myrtle Street. (map) Our High Point Stay Healthy Street team will be available to hear your input on this Stay Healthy Street and answer any questions you may have.
If you can’t stop by that afternoon, this webpage includes other ways you can offer feedback.
ALKI POINT: This is technically a Keep Moving Street but works the same way – closed to through traffic. SDOT has been seeking feedback on options for its future via a survey and will also brief the Pedestrian Advisory Board at that group’s monthly meeting, online at 6 pm Wednesday. The meeting includes a public-comment period. Participation information is on the agenda.
Washington State Ferries‘ planning process for the Fauntleroy terminal/dock replacement remains in the very early stages. Two of the three advisory groups for the project met last week, and another one meets tomorrow afternoon. We covered the first two meetings, which mostly reviewed the same material, then invited questions from advisory-group members. All meetings in this process continue to be held online. Here’s the slide deck, followed by highlights of what we saw/heard:
Early this morning, one of the three pumps needed for the bridge’s operation started to lose pressure and exhibit atypical noises, requiring SDOT to cease bridge operations while our crews inspected the issue and performed the necessary actions to restart the bridge.
Over the course of the next few days, we will determine if the pump should be replaced or can be repaired. During that time, SDOT will station electrician and mechanical crews at the low bridge during the morning and afternoon peak periods in the event the pump requires additional attention.
On Tuesday, November 9, SDOT planned to replace a different pump on the bridge. There will be no traffic impacts to vehicles when replacing this pump on Tuesday. Any repair or replacement activities required for the pump that malfunctioned today can be performed at that time.
7:35 PM: SDOT says the same pump is having trouble tonight and they’re working on it, but the traffic cam shows it’s still open.
7:57 PM: SDOT says that while it’s open to vehicle traffic, currently the low bridge cannot open for marine traffic.
10:21 PM: SDOT’s latest update:
At approximately 5:30 pm this evening, the same pump on the Spokane Street Bridge (West Seattle Low Bridge) once again began experiencing mechanical issues preventing the bridge from being opened for maritime traffic. This only affected ships, and authorized vehicles were able to continue driving over the bridge as normal.
SDOT mechanical crews responded to the situation quickly and were able to open the eastern side of the bridge, allowing ships to pass through. We plan to expedite repairs of the malfunctioning pump as soon as possible, and will only swing open and close the eastern side of the bridge until these repairs are complete (normally, both halves of the bridge swing open). This will only affect certain marine traffic, and will not impact vehicles authorized to drive over the bridge.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The final candidate forum presented by a local organization brought the King County Executive candidates to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s online meeting Thursday night.
It was a chance for one last look at three-term incumbent Executive Dow Constantine and first-term State Sen. Joe Nguyen, both West Seattle residents, before the voting deadline Tuesday night. WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd and board member Kate Wells facilitated. The questions – which, given the group’s mission, focused on transportation – and answers below are our summaries/paraphrasings, not exact quotes except for what’s within quotation marks. (Added Monday night – here’s the WSTC meeting video; the candidates’ forum starts 31 minutes in.)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
SDOT has proposed a permanent route for the Delridge/Highland Park “Stay Healthy Streets,” with some current blocks to be dropped – but keeping the stretch that’s been the source of the loudest community concerns. They’re nonetheless asking for opinions, and hosting an outdoor “open house” today on 11th SW by Highland Park Elementary, 2-4 pm. In advance of that, SDOT reps were at Wednesday night’s HPAC meeting to talk about the Stay Healthy Streets as well as traffic-mitigation/calming events elsewhere.
STAY HEALTHY STREETS: first, a little backstory. These streets are closed to through-traffic, open to drivers who live, work, study, or otherwise have business on them, and open to people walking/running/riding/rolling in the street. The city launched the SHS concept early in the pandemic as a way to get around with more social distancing, but has expanded the mission beyond the pandemic, and is now making many of them permanent. The Delridge-Highland Park SHS network (designated in May of last year) would be the second in the city (after Greenwood) to be made permanent, SDOT’s Madison Linkenmeyer told HPAC.
She recapped what they’ve heard from the community:
This week, SDOT plans two Highland Park appearances – online Wednesday, in person Friday – to talk about the potential future of Delridge/Highland Park “Stay Healthy Streets.”
Join us Friday, October 29, to kick off your Halloween and Día de Muertos weekend!
We are evaluating making your Delridge-Highland Park Stay Healthy Street a permanent community feature and need your feedback on ways to create a space that reflects your community values and needs.
Enjoy kids’ activities, giveaways, treats, and more!
Location: Stay Healthy Street on 11th Ave SW, next to Highland Park Elementary (between SW Cloverdale and SW Trenton streets)
Date: Friday, October 29
Time: 2 to 4 PM
Learn more about this Stay Healthy Street on our website.
Proposed permanent route
Above is a map of the proposed permanent route of the Delridge-Highland Park Stay Healthy Street. We hope to see you on Friday, October 29 or hear from you by calling 206-727-3565 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will also be attending the virtual Highland Park Action Coalition meeting on Wednesday, October 27 from 7 to 8:30 PM if a virtual event works better for you.
The SHS stretch that’s drawn the most opposition over the months is on SW Trenton, but that doesn’t appear to be proposed for removal – we’re doublechecking on that with SDOT.
ADDED TUESDAY: SDOT’s Madison Linkenmeyer responded to our followup: “Right now we are proposing keeping that section of SW Trenton St. This is based on the speed data, traffic volumes, bicycling and pedestrian data, and focused outreach to the people living on SW Trenton St. We’ll also bring more detail on this at the HPAC meeting. In addition to input on the proposed route, we’d like to hear from the community what education and engineering strategies might work to encourage people passing through the neighborhood to stay on arterial streets, such as S Henderson St, instead of diverting onto neighborhood streets like SW Trenton St.”
Thanks to Joseph for that photo taken this morning on the West Seattle low bridge. The photo reminds us that with one week to go until the start of November, it’s time to share this announcement with you:
Looking for an active transportation alternative to sitting sedentary in traffic jams?
It’s free, easy and fun to sign up, whether you are a seasoned bike rider or want to try out commuting by bicycle for the first time. You can ride anywhere and for any reason as long as your trip is at least 10 minutes long. Once you join, you can also invite friends, family or coworkers to join and form a team of up to ten riders to compete with other groups across the region. Every day you log a ride in November 2021 you get points for participation, a point for every mile you ride and bonus points for encouraging others. Maximize your points by making a goal of riding every day. You have a chance to win prizes and enjoy the knowledge that riders across Washington are silently cheering you on.
Check the West Seattle Bike Connections Resources web page for tips on riding safely and comfortably in rainy weather and for route suggestions to popular commuting destinations on and off the West Seattle peninsula.
Researching a few questions we’ve received about the RapidRide H Line-related road work – not the almost-complete Delridge project, but the other components such as 26th SW road rebuilding and 15th/Roxbury work – we discovered that the project team has twice-weekly “virtual office hours” for updates and questions. The next one is at 4 pm today. You can join via this Microsoft Teams link or by phone at 206-485-0017, conference ID 343 764 643#. If that time doesn’t work for you, email questions/comments to email@example.com.
9:32 AM: Four days after Washington State Ferries put Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth on a two-boat schedule until further notice, the system just announced that they’ve found enough crew to restore three-boat service today. Beyond that? We’re checking. It’s one of three routes for which a reduced-service schedule started this past Saturday.
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: WSF says three-boat service will continue at least through Thursday morning.
As we’ve been reporting, a fourth of Seattle Public Schools‘ bus routes are suspended starting today because of ongoing and anticipated driver shortages. One foreseeable effect: More students on Metro buses. Jessica emailed us to say, “I was on the 128 bus this morning and it was filled to the brim with Madison students. All of the seats were full, and the students that were standing were packed like sardines. There was definitely no room to socially distance.”
We asked Metro what provisions they are making for this. Spokesperson Al Sanders‘ reply: “With last week’s notice from SPS we knew we might see an increase in the number of student riders starting today. We are monitoring the situation to see what adjustments could be needed for the riders.” Meantime, he noted that Metro has a post up for advice that might help new riders.
P.S. Families hopefully know this already, but for the record, the district’s webpage now lists the school-specific routes that are not running.
That’s 35th/Graham, which was supposed to have a signal by now, but doesn’t. It’s been almost half a year since SDOT announced the start of improvements at the intersection for walking/biking – after deaths in both categories in the 2000s and 2010s. Most of the work is done, but not the signal. Andrew emailed the city and us, wondering what happened. We noted that the project website had been updated two weeks ago to say, “The final work at this intersection includes getting electrical power to the traffic signal and installing the detection in the street for recognizing when a person biking is waiting at the traffic light. Due to construction crew capacity, as well as COVID-19-related supply delays, we expect to complete this work in mid-October.” So, now it’s mid-October, and we asked SDOT today for a status report. The reply: “Last week, we received electrical power at the new signal location. We expect to install the new signal arms and turn on the signal in the next couple of weeks.” The signal was originally proposed as part of the 35th SW Safety Project but then was moved into the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway extension.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Like a giant domino setup twisting and turning as the pieces fall, traffic side effects from the West Seattle Bridge closure have manifested all over the peninsula.
But SDOT‘s traffic-mitigation efforts – from speed humps to radar-enhanced signage – have been concentrated in a few areas.
Fauntleroy is not one of them. But traffic was the top concern in the Fauntleroy Community Association‘s most-recent community-wide survey, so they catalogued specific trouble spots – some longstanding – and invited SDOT and SPD to come talk about problems and possible solutions. (Added Friday – here’s the video recording of the meeting:)
While much was discussed at Tuesday night’s online meeting, few commitments were made (as was the case with a similar meeting in 2014) – many suggestions were deemed too costly, infeasible, unwarranted, or not possible due to staffing.
Heather Marx, who leads the West Seattle Bridge program at SDOT, started with an overview of what’s happening now, as they get ready for the “final push that’s going to (make us able) to open the bridge,” with repair construction starting by late November. 100 percent design will be done by the start of November. They’re doing “early work,” as we’ve previously reported, including constructing work platforms offsite. No new timeline for opening – still “mid-2022.”
Sara Zora, who manages the Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation program, gave an overview of that – dozens of projects, including what’s been done in the so-called Home Zone areas – in West Seattle, primarily Highland Park and Riverview.
Then she launched into the Fauntleroy list highlighting what’s been done and what’s not happening. Details are in the full slide deck:
After dealing with spot service reductions during weeks of crew shortages, Washington State Ferries is downsizing schedules until further notice, starting this Saturday. That includes the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route. Here’s the WSF announcement:
Beginning Saturday, Oct. 16, Washington State Ferries will temporarily operate reduced schedules on most routes to provide more predictable and reliable travel. The change comes as the system is exercising maximum effort to crew its sailings in the face of a global shortage of mariners that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
The severe staff shortages are also due to many other variables including an aging workforce, COVID-19 cases, and quarantines. Given what has happened to the response to calls to fill positions on recent weekends, WSF feels there is too much uncertainty to continue the schedule at this moment. WSF will continue to evaluate and strive to return additional boats back into service on a daily basis. Ferry customers are encouraged to monitor the agency website, the WSDOT app and social media channels for updates.
Route-by-route schedule changes
Starting Saturday, Oct. 16, the following sailing schedules will be in operation:
Seattle/Bainbridge, Edmonds/Kingston and Mukilteo/Clinton: One-boat service instead of two
Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: Two-boat schedule instead of three
Anacortes/San Juan Islands: Three-boat schedule instead of four with temporary suspension of vehicle reservations
Seattle/Bremerton: Continued reduced one-boat service instead of two
Point Defiance/Tahlequah: Continued one-boat service as normal
Port Townsend/Coupeville: Continued one-boat service with vehicle reservations as normal for this time of year
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to maintain reliable service, completing the vast majority of sailings,” said Patty Rubstello, head of WSF. “However, to better reflect the service we can currently provide and to minimize last-minute cancelations due to a lack of crew, we made this difficult decision to adjust our schedules.”
Recruiting new employees
Although COVID-19 has not allowed WSF to hire or train new recruits at the same rate as prior to the pandemic, more than 150 new crewmembers have been brought on this year. Prior to COVID-19, WSF hired new crewmembers once a year leading into the busy season. The system is now continuously recruiting new employees, but is struggling to find qualified mariners. WSF is also expanding its recruitment efforts with maritime academies across the country.
Again tomorrow, the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth state-ferry run will be down to two boats because of what Washington State Ferries calls “severe crewing shortages” systemwide. For the first time we can recall seeing, they’ve published a systemwide alert rather than just individual-route alerts. Here’s the systemwide plan for Sunday:
Anacortes/San Juan Islands – two-boat (rather than three) service
San Juan Islands Interisland vessel – regular weekend service
Port Townsend/Coupeville – one-boat service
Mukilteo/Clinton – one-boat service
Edmonds/Kingston – one-boat service
Seattle/Bainbridge – one-boat service
Seattle/Bremerton – one-boat service
Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth – two-boat (rather than three) service
Pt. Defiance/Tahlequah – service suspended
WSF advises checking schedules here for individual routes and adds, “You can view the schedules for Sunday service by looking for ‘Alternate Service’ next to the route name. Please note that some of these schedules are under the ‘Currently Inactive’ section of the list until the start of the service day on Sunday at 3:01 AM.” WSF says it’ll “add back as much service as possible” if more crew members become available.
SIDE NOTE: This will be the third day of major systemwide service cuts – here’s a breakdown of the first day, Friday, from Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom.
Announced today by the city – enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule will resume in a week. The announcement says the first priority will be to clear “unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.” As for vehicles being used as residences:
Parking enforcement at SDOT will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it unless it poses a specific risk to public health such as inadequate sanitation causing a direct risk of illness or injury, inadequate protection leaving the occupants exposed to the weather, or other environmental, fire, health and safety hazards.
So what might that mean to longrunning RV encampments like the one alongside the Nucor Steel plant on SW Andover?
This week, Nucor management sent us a statement from vice president/general manager Matthew Lyons, expressing frustration with the situation. Here’s what he wrote:
The West Seattle neighborhood where Nucor Steel is located, like countless neighborhoods across the city, is experiencing the difficult work of addressing the needs of unhoused people in our city. At Nucor, safety is our most important core value as a company, including the safety of our teammates and our neighbors in the communities where we operate. We are concerned that an RV encampment on city property along the fence line of our manufacturing plant is presenting a public safety threat to residents of the encampment, our teammates, and surrounding neighbors. For example, Nucor teammates and contractors have been threatened with violence and our facility has been broken into numerous times and items have been stolen. Trespassing is occurring with greater frequency and presents a significant safety hazard to those trespassing and to our teammates as we are a 24-hour, seven day a week manufacturing facility.
We know the homelessness crisis is complex and that those living outside face many challenges. We would like to work with the city of Seattle and local nonprofits who assist people who are unhoused to find housing options for residents of the encampment. We believe the location of this encampment poses a potential safety risk to its residents and Nucor teammates and contractors. It would be in the best interest of people living in the encampment, our business and the West Seattle community for our company, local nonprofits and the city to work together to find a solution.
Along with the statement, we received this letter Lyons had sent to Mayor Jenny Durkan four months ago, going into further details about why the company believes the RV encampment meets city parameters for removal as an urgent hazard. A company spokesperson tells us, “Nucor has made several attempts to contact multiple city officials both before and after the letter was sent in June, but with very limited success.”
Now comes the news that the city is reviving the 72-hour parking rule. While today’s announcement said parking enforcement “will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it” in most situations, does that mean no tickets or warning notices? We took that question to SDOT. Their response reiterated that residential vehicles would have to be deemed hazardous, and added:
The first step of enforcement for any type of vehicle is to leave an official warning notice giving the vehicle owner at least 72 hours to move their vehicle. If it appears that people may be living one of these vehicles, we will provide the occupants information about assistance and support services and resources along with a warning notice, or attach this information to the vehicle.
Vehicles which move to another location voluntarily will not be in violation of the 72-hour rule. If a vehicle needs to be repaired to be driven, we will attempt to be flexible and work with the owner and provide a reasonable amount of time if they are demonstrating a good faith effort to get the vehicle repaired.
We first reported on the Andover RV encampment almost six years ago – at which time some of the vehicles already were displaying orange warning notices.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
As the year-plus of work wraps up, many questions have arisen. So we spent an hour talking with SDOT reps CJ Holt – the project manager (with whom we talked multiple times during the planning phase) – and Madison Linkenmeyer from the communications team.
First, the backstory: The H Line plan has been in the works for 5+ years (our archives include this 2016 survey floating same early rechannelization concepts, and some street changes – like the medians – have been advocated by community leaders for even longer).
WHAT’S LEFT TO DO? They’re in the “punch list” phase right now, identifying whether there are issues to address. A little work remains on signals, streetlights, and signage. The biggest “body of work” still left to do involves the landscaping – 140 trees will be planted, in the medians and elsewhere.
ABOUT THE LANDSCAPING: They’re trying to get the 140 trees planted “in the next month or two,” but there’s no specific start date yet – they’re working right now on procuring the trees.
Regarding landscape maintenance: