Transportation 3449 results

City says it’s resuming ‘full parking enforcement’ of 72-hour rule

SDOT – which now oversees parking-enforcement officers after their move out of SPD – says it’s resuming enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule. The announcement does not clearly state whether that involves any change in whether long-parked RVs will be towed, however, so we have that out as a followup question. Meantime, here’s the full text of today’s announcement:

The City of Seattle is resuming full parking enforcement for any vehicle that has remained in one place unmoved for longer than 72 hours, returning to the normal standards which were temporarily paused in 2020 due to COVID-19 public health guidelines. While full enforcement is resuming now, parking enforcement officers will continue to provide official warning notifications on vehicles allowing owners and occupants to move them before enforcement occurs.

Seattle Municipal Code does not allow a person to park a vehicle on the same block of a city street for longer than 72 consecutive hours. Public streets are not an appropriate place for long-term vehicle storage.

Enforcement of the 72-hour rule was temporarily paused in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic public health guidelines. Enforcement resumed in October 2021 with a focus on clearing unoccupied, abandoned, or hazardous vehicles. During this time, the City continued to enforce other parking rules, such as vehicles violating posted signs or leaving cars where parking is never allowed (such as blocking fire hydrants or transit lanes).

Vehicle owners should get back in the habit of regularly moving vehicles to avoid a possible warning and citation. People should also check their block regularly for temporary parking restriction signs, which can be placed with a minimum of 24-hours notice for things like emergency utility work, cleaning, or special events.

The parking enforcement team cannot be everywhere at once and expects it to take longer than usual to respond to the many requests predicted to happen in the beginning. The enforcement process takes time, and the parking enforcement team will respond to violations as swiftly as possible given capacity.

Seattle Public Utilities continues to lead the RV Remediation program, which focuses on cleaning up and disposing of debris and waste around RVs to ensure public health and safety. Days prior to a scheduled remediation event, SPU and parking enforcement staff engage with people staying in RVs to make them aware of the upcoming clean-up activity. SDOT will continue to work with SPU to prioritize the locations of these clean-up efforts over time.

The first step of enforcement will continue to be leaving official warning notices on vehicles, giving the owner time to move them voluntarily and avoid enforcement action. If it appears that people may be living in one of the vehicles, they will receive information about assistance, support services, and resources.

If a car is towed from a public street, instructions to locate the vehicle and documents required to release your vehicle are available online. The first step to find and reclaim your vehicle is to call Lincoln Towing at 206-364-2000 or search for your vehicle on Lincoln Towing’s www.SeattleImpound.com website.

If your car was towed from a private parking lot, look for posted signs with instructions and a phone number for the tow company which operates the lot. If you still cannot locate your vehicle, call the Community Safety and Communications Center at 206-625-5011.

FOLLOWUP: Report card on ‘driver report card’ West Seattle trial

(WSB photo from mid-April)

As chronicled here, the “driver report card” pilot project didn’t seem to have much effect on drivers stopping for pedestrians – and an SDOT rep has acknowledged that. This came during an update given to the city’s Pedestrian Advisory Board, meeting online last night (only two board members were in attendance pending a wave of new appointees expected to join soon).

As reported previously, the pilot project involved signs at two spots in High Point for six weeks, each reflecting the results of data gathering involving whether drivers stopped for pedestrians. Most weeks, the results were worse than the week before. SDOT’s Kadie Bell Sata acknowledged to the advisory board, “It didn’t have the huge impact that would have been great.” She said the project also gathered data – not reflected on the signage – about whether racial bias affected drivers’ tendency to stop, or not. The test has now moved on to Rainier Beach, where six signs are up, three at marked crossings, three at unmarked crossings. One simple change they made after High Point – larger signs. They’re still deciding on other locations around the city to continue the test, part of a grant-funded safety campaign that will also support the 25-mph speed limit. Later in the meeting, the speed limit was part of a Vision Zero safety-program update from Allison Schwartz, who said it’s had some success – a 20 percent decrease in injury collisions and 54 percent decrease in “top-end speeders.” But the city’s traffic death rate is still higher than it’s historically been, she said, with 10 people killed so far this year, including the man killed while walking across a West Seattle street last Friday night and a person killed while bicycling in SODO yesterday morning. Of those 10 people, Schwartz said, four were walking, four were in vehicles, and two were on bicycles.

FAUNTLEROY FERRY DOCK: Alternative locations ruled out; community meetings planned

Two major developments in the ongoing plan to replace the Fauntleroy ferry terminal/dock:

ALTERNATE LOCATIONS DISCARDED: Above is the WSF recording of last Wednesday’s Community Advisory Group meeting for the project. One major development – the possible alternative locations proposed in the early going are not going to advance to the next level of review. So what they’re looking at is what could be built in the same location – a same-size dock, a larger dock, etc. Still under consideration are possible offsite holding areas, coupled with a new dock in the same location. Here’s the slide deck with highlights including the list of which alternatives are advancing and which are not.

COMMUNITY MEETINGS: WSF has just formally announced the next round of community meetings, plus an upcoming “online open house,” as your chance to find out where the planning is at and share your thoughts. The online open house is set for May 18th through June 13th – no link yet; the community meetings will be held online, noon-1:30 pm May 24th and 6-7:30 pm May 25th. WSF says both meetings will cover the same information; register to attend by going here for May 24th, here for May 25th.

Bridge update, draft plan for freight-only lanes, more @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

The West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s monthly meeting included a bridge briefing, an early look at a proposal for freight-only lanes, light-rail comments, and big news from the group’s leadership. That’s where we’ll begin:

WSTC LEADERSHIP: Both chair Michael Taylor-Judd and vice chair Marty Westerman say they intend to relinquish those roles, and to leave the WSTC board entirely after a half-year of transition or so. Both have been involved with the WSTC since it was founded in 2013. With other departures, the board has five openings in its upcoming elections, so if you want to get involved with West Seattle transportation advocacy, now’s the time.

WEST SEATTLE BRIDGE REPAIRS: SDOT’s Heather Marx presented an update. Much of it was a rerun of what the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force was told one week earlier, except for the structural-concrete timeline – she said the third of six deliveries was expected the following day (Friday, April 29th), and indeed, SDOT confirms that happened. Here’s a time-lapse video from early last week as they removed wooden forms from some of the interior concrete:

She said the project can’t control when the concrete supplier can deliver, so they still don’t know when the last pour will be. (As for the next one, SDOT has since told us the fourth pour “should hopefully occur within the next week.”) At the meeting, Marx reiterated that they’ll know the reopening date about a month in advance but they’re not out of the woods yet regarding concerns – supply-chain issues, COVID, the weather, now even wildlife (with the nesting peregrine falcons). Overall, “we know a lot about this bridge, but there are still ways in which it can surprise us.” Q: So how much more time after the last concrete pour? The concrete needs 28 days to cure, and then other tasks need to be done. “After that last pour, we’ll have a date for you” – both a “done with construction/start for testing” date and “open date.” Q: When will the falcons fly? They hatch in May, fledge in June. “The work continues, it’s just a little slower,” Marx said.

FREIGHT-ONLY LANES? Radcliffe Dacanay and Chris Eaves of SDOT were there to talk about a draft plan for freight-only lanes as well as transit lanes that allow freight. They stressed that these lanes would be “tested as pilots,” and reiterated repeatedly that this is a draft plan. The slide deck outlines the key points – see it here.

A few key points: Larger vehicles will be the focus for starters. They’d only locate the freight-only lanes in Manufacturing Industrial Centers – Duwamish Valley and SODO in this general area. They’re not sure when they might try this pilot. Eaves stressed they want to be careful about proceeding on this. WSTC’s Taylor-Judd said that they support the idea of testing something before it becomes full-fledged official. The SDOT reps stressed that this is “what we’re thinking,” very early-stage. Much conversation, notification, and information would happen regarding any location that is under active consideration. Meantime, the Freight Advisory Board and other volunteer boards/commissions are being consulted too.

WSTC COMMENTS ON LIGHT RAIL DRAFT EIS: The meeting was on the day that commenting closed for Sound Transit’s West Seattle/Ballard Light Rail Extensions Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The WSTC sent a letter – here’s an excerpt:

In light of what we have learned in the last 2-3 years, the WSTC strongly encourages consideration of placing some previously dismissed early alternatives back into to the scope of this EIS process for further study and consideration.

• We urge further consideration of the so-called “long tunnel” option along the Yancy alignment to avoid the destruction of many single-family homes and possibly even some taller multifamily structures in the Avalon neighborhood.

• We also call for the reconsideration and further study of the so-called “Purple Line” alternative which featured a crossing of the Duwamish River at a point further south, tunneling through the Puget Ridge approximately along the SW Genesee alignment, then following the current elevated station and guideway alignments along that street before entering a tunnel below the Avalon neighborhood and continuing underground into the West Seattle Junction.

You can see the WSTC’s full letter here.

NEXT MONTH: Tentative guests, pending confirmation, will be Mayor Bruce Harrell and citywide city councilmembers. The WSTC meets most months at 6:30 pm on the fourth Thursday, which means May 26th.

FERRIES: Peak-season surcharges start Sunday

(Fauntleroy ferry dock, photographed in early April by James Bratsanos)

Sunday is not only the start of a new month, it’s also the start of higher fares if you’re bringing vehicles onto Washington State Ferries. May 1st is when the peak-season surcharges kick in. You can check the fares by going here – one example, taking a 14′ (or less) vehicle from Fauntleroy to Vashon would cost you $16.75 today, but $20.80 starting Sunday.

SHELTER SHIFT: Why one RapidRide stop just got reconfigured

Thanks to Ann for the top photo and tip. The RapidRide C Line shelter on northbound Avalon Way at Yancy [map] was hoisted Saturday, moved from the east side of the protected bike lane to the west side. We asked Metro’s Jeff Switzer about it, and got his response today:

This shelter relocation was planned as part of SDOT’s SW Seattle Paving: 35th / Avalon Project, which rebuilt/reconfigured SW Avalon Way in 2019/2020. To support the addition of protected bicycle lanes on this section of roadway, SDOT constructed a transit island for our existing northbound RapidRide stop far-side SW Yancy St to eliminate merging conflicts at the new protected bike lane and to keep this as an in-lane bus stop. We were just now able to finally perform this work with staffing levels stabilizing. Some (photos) from the team to help show our efforts and the result:

FOLLOWUP: Will Fauntleroy Way tree survive curb-ramp construction? Here’s what SDOT is doing

Towering over those road-closed barricades at Fauntleroy Way and SW Fontanelle is the old chestnut tree we told you about a week ago. The tree is on private property, close to the corner where a curb ramp will be built, and the residents of the house on that property are worried that the construction will lead to the death/removal of the tree. They’ve been asking for an update from the city, and received this from SDOT‘s Ching Chan via an email thread on which we were cc’d:

… we will not move forward with construction work at the northeast corner of Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Fontanelle St until our Arborist has had a chance to inspect the tree root system.

The project team just confirmed that our Urban Forestry Arborist and our contractor will be onsite next Monday morning, 4/25 to remove the sidewalk to inspect the tree roots. Our Arborist will supervise the air spading work (break up and remove compacted soil around tree roots using compressed air) to ensure it is conducted properly and that the tree will not be harmed in the process. Our Arborist will conduct an inspection once the root system is exposed. The assessment will then be shared with our ADA Program Engineers to help them determine whether there are feasible alternative curb ramp designs at this corner that can minimize damage to the tree’s root system. This process may take up to several weeks.

We will notify property owner … and tenants at this property once we’ve come to a decision. We will notify adjacent households once construction is scheduled so they are aware and informed of our work scope and schedule.

The tree trunk is currently adorned with signs of support, and the residents are still gathering online petition signatures in support of preserving it.

DELAYED AGAIN: RapidRide H Line now pushed back to March 2023

(Image from kingcounty.gov)

The RapidRide H Line launch is being pushed back again. Metro announced today that instead of launching this fall, the Route 120 conversion won’t happen until March 2023: “Unforeseen construction and materials delays from the regional concrete strike that began in early December 2021 have added several months to the original timeline of the RapidRide H Line project.” The announcement adds, “Under the revised implementation schedule, Metro plans to add more daily bus trips to coincide with the launch of the RapidRide service in March 2023, which will then improve frequent service to provide a bus trip in both directions every seven minutes during peak commute times.” Metro says that “approximately 40% of the overall construction work” has been completed so far. The (corrected) Delridge repaving project that SDOT handled was in support of the expected launch. This is the fourth time the launch has been pushed back – the conversion of Route 120 was originally projected for 2019, then that was pushed to 2020, then to 2021, and then a year and a half ago, changed to 2022.

GONDOLA? West Seattle SkyLink’s response to Sound Transit’s feasibility report

A week and a half after Sound Transit released its feasibility report about whether gondola service could replace light rail for West Seattle, the organization proposing it has released its response. West Seattle SkyLink sent the eight-page response to us last night – read it here or below:

West Seattle SkyLink says the Sound Transit report was no substitute for a “technical engineering study by gondola experts.” They say, “The Feasibility Report was prepared in-house without any analysis by an engineering firm that has experience with gondola technology, design, or construction as is usually the case. There are several US firms qualified to undertake a feasibility study for an urban gondola feeder.” The response also says, “Another glaring deficiency in the Sound Transit Report is the lack of a review of current urban gondola projects … most of these urban gondola projects are being considered as feeders or connectors to a light rail or rapid bus system, just like an urban gondola would be for West Seattle.” The projects they cite range from Los Angeles Aerial Rapid Transit, for which a Draft Environmental Impact Report is due out this summer, to the “cable-car” aerial line that just went into operation a week ago in Haifa, Israel. Much closer to home, SkyLink also notes that Kirkland looked into using gondolas for a connection to a Sound Transit station (the city’s website says a feasibility study was done in 2018 but the gondola alternative was not included in recent environmental analysis).

Overall, the SkyLink response concludes, “The Sound Transit Report did its best to throw as much dirt as it could on urban gondolas as a feeder to its light rail system without noting the many other public transportation agencies, both domestic and foreign, that have found an urban gondola feeder is exactly the appropriate complement to their bus and light rail systems.” Their contention continues to be that a gondola line could be built more quickly and inexpensively, with much less residence and business displacement, but as for how much money and time it would take, that would be up to a “properly produced study” to determine.

Will such a study be commissioned? Sound Transit staff repeated last week, in a presentation to the 34th District Democrats, that it would be up to the board to order it. ST’s Carrie Avila-Mooney added during the 34th DDs’ meeting Q&A that the agency “has no voter-approved money” to study it. The board’s next meeting is Thursday, April 28th, and it will include a public-comment period; watch for the agenda here.

FAUNTLEROY FIGHT: Family pleads to save big tree threatened by SDOT project

Even as the city moves slowly toward a policy aimed at protecting trees, more are taken out daily, mostly for development. A short distance north of Lincoln Park, one big old tree is endangered for a different reason: A city transportation project.

Crews are working right now on the west side of Fauntleroy/Fontanelle [map] to build curb ramps. When they get to the east side of the intersection, Sara says, the huge chestnut tree at that corner of her yard is in danger.

She’s launched an online petition drive to try to save the tree, which they believe is more than a century old. The petition page tells the tree’s story in detail, including Sara’s personal plea:

We cherish this tree and its history. We love observing the animals it provides for, and are honored to behold its abundant glory and all the creatures that enjoy it. I gather snips of the flowers to make arrangements for meditiation. My housemate and her daughter collect the chestnuts annually and use them for arts and crafts! We were set to create a ladder this year so that we could climb it and build a treehouse! We long to protect it. Trees like this are sacred and SHOULD NOT BE DESTROYED!

Similarly, our neighbors over at the Kenney take walks and come to our tree specifically to gather chestnuts for their own decor, and to enjoy its sentimental value, as many of them have grown up visiting this tree in their childhood. We have many West Seattle residents pass by this tree to enjoy its splendor. This is a generational staple of our neighborhood.

After hearing from Sara, we asked SDOT about the tree. Here’s the response we received from spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:

SDOT has not made any decisions to remove this tree. At this point, we are only planning to temporarily remove some of the adjacent concrete sidewalk panels which were already lifted up by the tree roots, so that our arborists can get a closer look at the root structure. Our immediate objective is to better understand our options, and whether it is possible to trim the tree roots in a way that maintains the health of the tree so that the sidewalk can be repaired and the curb ramp installed.

As you noted, this tree is on private property. We have been having an ongoing conversation with the property owner, who has been aware of this situation since last September and understands that they share responsibility with SDOT for repairing the sidewalk damage. Their tenant learned of the situation more recently and initially believed that we had made a decision to remove the tree. We have since spoken with both the owner and tenant to make it clear that this is not the case and we will continue to share information about the tree and curb ramp design and construction as they become available.

Sara’s not taking any chances. Her online petition is collecting signatures, and her housemate’s 9-year-old daughter has written a letter with her own plea:

The petition page even includes a design proposal for building the curb and saving the tree. Sara writes, “I want to be very clear: we absolutely want our sidewalk and streets to be accessible for everyone! There are ways to do this that do not involve killing our tree.”

Need help getting around? SDOT announces ‘Ride Now’

People who are 65 and older and/or living with disabilities have a new transportation option this spring, announced today by the city:

SDOT has launched a new pilot program called Ride Now to provide free and discounted rides to transit stations and other nearby destinations that can be difficult to reach by transit only – specifically for older adults (65+) and people with disabilities and their caregivers. The goal of the program is to provide more accessible, convenient, and affordable transportation options for these community members. The pilot program will be active during the months of April and May 2022.

Eligible community members can request six $20 paper or digital vouchers per month to use for rides from Yellow Cab, Uber, or Lyft. Program participants can request these rides when they want them, no reservations required, and have an accessible ride come right to their door. Vouchers will work on trips that start or end within the city of Seattle, and riders can receive higher discounts off trips that connect to transit.

Eligible individuals include:

Older adults: Individuals aged 65 or older.
People with disabilities: Individuals with any type of disability that impacts their ability to access transit, including physical and cognitive disabilities.
Caregivers: Individuals who travel with the above eligible riders.

You can request vouchers at seattle.gov/transportation/RideNow or by calling 206-684-ROAD [7623]. Vouchers will also be available through some community-based non-profit organizations. This pilot program, the result of a grant, is in addition to services offered by other agencies, such as the Hyde Shuttle and other King County programs linked here.

Here’s who will help the mayor find a new SDOT director

When Mayor Bruce Harrell recently announced his plan for a police-chief search, we asked about the plan for hiring another high-level city position – SDOT director. The reply was that a similar process would launch shortly, and now it has. A Friday afternoon announcement from the mayor’s office says these 15 people have been named to a search committee:

Genesee Adkins, former SDOT Chief of Staff
Cassie Chinn, Wing Luke Museum
Dr. Anne Goodchild, UW Urban Freight Lab
Amy Grotefendt, Transportation Lead, Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Matt Howard, Seattle Department of Transportation
Alex Hudson, Transportation Choices Coalition
Rob Johnson, NHL Seattle Kraken, former Councilmember
Steve Kovac, IBEW Local 77
Lee Lambert, Cascade Bike Club
Geri Poor, Port of Seattle
Rizwan Rizwi, Muslim Housing Services
Monisha Singh, Chinatown International District Business Improvement Assoc.
Yordanos Teferi, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup
Terry White, King County Metro
Yu-Ann Youn, SDOT’s Transportation Equity Workgroup, UW student

The announcement does not mention neighborhoods of residence; our quick cross-check of public records shows only one name that potentially matches to a West Seattle address. The announcement says the committee members “were selected for their technical expertise and vision, lived experiences with the transportation system, and ability to leverage networks to market the position, collect feedback, and provide information to support the process and selection.” The committee is expected to meet for the first time later this month; applications for the SDOT director position officially open on Tuesday. No details yet of other plans for community input into the search. The mayor’s office has said the current interim director, Kristen Simpson, previously SDOT’s chief of staff, doesn’t intend to seek the permanent job.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Avalon-area neighbors walk the (potential) line

(Sound Transit rendering, possible routing at Genesee looking east toward Avalon)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you haven’t yet decided what you want/need to say during the last major comment period before Sound Transit locks in West Seattle light-rail routing and station locations, a community workshop Thursday might help you formulate your feedback on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. (More about that later.)

Some neighborhoods in light rail’s potential path have been studying the proposal independently and extensively almost every step of the way. Among them, Avalon-area residents, some of whom might be forced out of their homes depending on where the train goes to get between the Duwamish River and the West Seattle Junction. They’ve had several meetings with ST, including one last Thursday night devoted solely to Q&A. Hours before that, they accompanied ST reps on a walk through the neighborhood, from the westernmost potential Avalon station location eastward along potential routing paths. We covered both events and have chronicled some of their other discussions, going back almost two years to this one, shortly after they learned the ST Board had decided to study a route through their neighborhood.

Thursday’s walking tour was intended to be a firsthand look at where the station might go, and how the trains would get there. Neighbors and ST reps, plus a rep for King County Councilmember and ST Board member Joe McDermott, gathered first by the Avalon Starbucks and Taco Time. ST’s reps included Jason Hampton, currently the lead for the West Seattle extension. This had been long enough in the works that ST brought the hard-copy equivalent of a slide presentation, customized for this tour.

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FERRY UPDATE: Fauntleroy dock reopening after repair closure

10:33 AM: The week is not off to a good start for Washington State Ferries. The Fauntleroy dock is out of service for repairs. The downtown dock is also down to one slip because a boat from the Bainbridge run made a hard landing, and both the boat – M/V Kaleetan – and dock are being assessed. WSF says Fauntleroy service “will be suspended while maintenance staff assess and repair the issue. The repairs are currently estimated to be completed by mid-afternoon. This means service on the Fauntleroy/Vashon and Fauntleroy/Southworth routes is cancelled until further notice. Service between Southworth and Vashon will continue to run, and the #1 vessel will sail as scheduled, while the #2 vessel will operate unscheduled trips as needed.” We are told at least part of the Fauntleroy problem is related to a worn-out cable. Updates as we get them.

10:44 AM: WSF spokesperson Ian Sterling confirms, “There’s some sort of issue with a cable that is currently being inspected. It’s my understanding the cable is used to help lower and raise the ramp to and from the ferry.”

1:04 PM: WSF says the repairs are complete and the Fauntleroy terminal is back in service with the 1:15 boat to Vashon.

WEST SEATTLE WEEKEND SCENE: Transportation tabling at WS Farmers’ Market

April 3, 2022 12:01 pm
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 |   Transportation | West Seattle Farmers' Market | West Seattle news

While real trains are still ~10 years away, cardboard light-rail trains are being clutched by kids at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market today, part of the freebies at Sound Transit‘s info table. Both ST and SDOT have tables at the market today, we noticed while walking through, so if you have questions for either transportation agency, this is an opportunity to get answers. ST of course is focused on the 25 days remaining to get your comment in about the West Seattle light rail Draft Environmental Impact Statement, while SDOT is mostly there to talk about commuting alternatives. Both tables are on the east side of the market, closer to the north end than the south end. As always, the market is open until 2 pm.

FOLLOWUP: ‘Driver report card’ signs, week 3

It’s the third week for what SDOT says is a six-week pilot program tallying whether drivers are stopping for pedestrians. The two signs in West Seattle are updated on Fridays with results of a count taken by student interns earlier in the week. Above, the sign at the 34th/Morgan marked crossing shows 43 percent this week, up from 28 percent a week earlier; below, 11 percent at the unmarked crossing on Sylvan Way near Sylvan Heights, up from 10 percent a week earlier:

After six weeks here, SDOT says the signs will be moved elsewhere in the city, as it gets rolling on a two-year safety campaign.

COMMENT COUNTDOWN: West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s workshop to help you have your say on light rail

We’ve been mentioning in our coverage of West Seattle light-rail planning that the West Seattle Transportation Coalition would be presenting a workshop to help you shape your feedback, whatever it is. Details are now set for that event. It’ll be both in-person and online, 6-9 pm next Thursday (April 7th), at American Legion Post 160 in The Triangle (3618 SW Alaska). Sound Transit will be there too, but this isn’t a sit-down-and-watch-a-long-presentation meeting, WSTC says:

Our aims for the workshop include:

● Understanding what a public comment is and why it is needed

● How to write effective public comments that get meaningful results

● How to back up your comment

If you want to watch the livestream instead of attending in person, you’ll find the link (and the full announcement) in our calendar listing. Comment deadline for the light-rail Draft Environmental Impact Statement is April 28th.

About that other high-profile city job opening

Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s announcement today of the search process for a new police chief had one WSB commenter wondering what’s up with the search for a new SDOT director. So we asked mayoral spokesperson Jamie Housen. His reply tonight: “We should have some news to announce on the SDOT front soon around the search process, which will be a robust national search and include community input and stakeholder engagement.” When Harrell announced previous SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe‘s departure three and a half months ago, he elevated SDOT chief of staff Kristen Simpson to interim director, but said she wouldn’t be applying for the permanent job. We also asked Housen if the mayor had visited the West Seattle Bridge yet, since those weekly progress-report documents we’ve been getting (on a 4-week delay via public-disclosure request) mentioned it. Housen said, “The mayor’s schedule hasn’t aligned for a site visit to the bridge yet, but it is something we are hoping to get on the calendar, as the bridge’s repair and reopening remains one of the administration’s highest priorities.” P.S. Former SDOT director Zimbabwe, who lives in West Seattle, just started a new job in the private sector, with the design-consulting firm Kimley-Horn.

Dozens of questions, answers, comments @ Sound Transit’s West Seattle light rail public hearing

(Rendering of potential SW Genesee guideway, from page 126 in DEIS Appendix N-2)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

You have four weeks left to officially comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle (and Ballard) light-rail extensions – basically, one last major chance to speak up before its final routing and station locations are settled.

As part of that process, Sound Transit held an online public hearing tonight, this one geared toward the West Seattle segment, currently expected to open in 2032. The DEIS contains results of studies of the possible alternatives for routing and station locations, and the comments will be taken into consideration by ST board members – including King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who spoke briefly at the start of the meeting – at their next major decision point, likely this June.

Three-quarters of the meeting was devoted to Q&A and comments; 22 people offered the latter, half of them advocating for ST to study the gondola system whose advocates have pitched it as an option to West Seattle light rail.

As the meeting began, ST’s Cathal Ridge began with a recap of the project plan, going back to the ST3 vote in 2016. Design starts in 2023; construction of the West Seattle line is scheduled to start in 2026. The official comment period for the DEIS began January 28th, and after it’s over, the board “will confirm or modify the preferred alternative.” He also recapped the alternatives that are being studied while noted that some of them would “require third-party funding.”

OVERVIEW: For an overview of what’s been studied, Ridge turned it over to Jason Hampton, who’s leading the West Seattle segment planning. For context on what’s in the DEIS, here are the focus topics:

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REOPENED: Andover Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, after 7 1/2-month closure

(WSB photos, this afternoon)

Thanks to Dawn for the tip: A West Seattle bridge has reopened. Not THE bridge, but close, literally – the walking/rolling bridge at Andover, which passes over the southwest end of the two-years-closed West Seattle Bridge, is now open again, SDOT confirms. This bridge, too, was closed suddenly – last August, SDOT declared it closed in advance of a planned seismic-improvement project, citing various concerns. The actual work on that project didn’t start until months later. It was expected to be done by the end of January, and then came the concrete strike. But a week and a half ago, SDOT said the contractor had obtained some concrete. Now, work is done and the bridge is back in service.

P.S. We’re working on an update about that “other” bridge.

WATER TAXI: Shuttle service restored to all runs starting Monday

(WSB file photo)

Back when we first reported that the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s summer season would launch April 21st, Metro hadn’t yet finalized the summer shuttle schedule. Now it has, and shuttle service is being restored to all runs as of tomorrow (Monday, March 28th). Metro’s announcement says that “all Water Taxi sailings will be met with shuttle service.” The online schedules for shuttle Routes 773 and 775 don’t yet reflect this, however; we’ll be asking about that tomorrow. Though the Water Taxi has stayed on a seven-days-a-week schedule throughout this bridgeless winter, the shuttle buses did not.

FOLLOWUP: SDOT cancels 16th/Austin reconfiguration plan

One mini-bulletin from tonight’s HPAC meeting, just wrapping up – SDOT has canceled the plan to reconfigure the 16th/Austin intersection. We reported on it three weeks ago after a reader tip. SDOT’s Sara Zora indicated at tonight’s meeting that they got a lot of feedback, and after their traffic-operations team re-examined the plan, they decided to shelve it. They’ll “continue to monitor” the intersection for collisions or other problems. (Our report on the rest of the HPAC meeting will be published tomorrow.)

UPDATE: Another electric-vehicle charging station proposed for West Seattle

7:51 PM MONDAY: A year and a half after installing a public electric-vehicle charging station in The Junction, Seattle City Light is proposing another one in West Seattle – this time, at a former substation site in Morgan Junction.

That’s an outline of the proposal, from the city webpage set up for the project. The site is at 4118 SW Morgan, kittycorner from the east side of West Seattle Thriftway (WSB sponsor). As shown, it could hold up to eight charging stations, which SCL says would be accessed from the north side of the site, off Fauntleroy Way SW. The description adds:

Anyone with an electric vehicle will be able to use the charging station. Drivers will need to pay a fee to charge. The fee is designed to pay for the electricity and the cost of building the station.

Construction could begin as soon as the 4th quarter of 2022. The project will take approximately three months to complete.

This is considered a good location for an EV charging station because it is close to neighborhood retail, services, and major arterial roads. There are currently no public EV fast chargers in the Morgan Junction neighborhood.

The substation was decommissioned 20 years ago and the city says the site is planned for cleanup first, with its existing trees to be removed and replaced. For the next month – until April 22nd – the city is running a survey to see what the community thinks about the plan – you can answer it here.

3:57 PM TUESDAY: We asked SCL spokesperson Jenn Strang about the project’s cost. She responded that “at this juncture it would be premature for us to assign a number to costs. There are many variables yet to be determined before we could form a concrete estimate.”