West Seattle, Washington
On Friday night, we reported on a sudden SDOT announcement that more speed humps were planned for Alki/Harbor Avenues, as well as a section of raised center divider. Thanks to a tip this morning from Carolyn, we learned that the crews are already out today doing some of the work – as of our check about an hour ago, they had outlined six locations for speed humps, and were also restriping the angled parking at Duwamish Head:
Here’s where we saw the six sets of speed-hump markings, all on Harbor Avenue SW except for the last one:
-Just east of Seacrest
-Just east of Don Armeni
-2 sets alongside Don Armeni itself
-Just west of Don Armeni
While we were out photographing those, SDOT’s Ethan Bergerson replied to our Friday followup question about the location of the raised center divider: “The raised center divider will be in the curved part of the road between SW California Place and Luna Park. There will be multiple segments with gaps to allow cars to turn in and out of driveways.” He also said that the restriping of the Duwamish Head parking is part of “refreshing” painted markings in various locations; he added that the crews will be ” making some small repairs to the sidewalk where it has been damaged by tree roots slightly east of Luna Park.”
For many years, Harbor Avenue/Alki Avenue residents have been asking that action be taken to deter reckless driving. In September, two sets of speed bumps were installed in the Alki business district. Tonight, SDOT tells us that more are on the way to the east Alki area. We got the news this evening from SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson:
We are planning to build safety enhancements along Harbor Ave SW and Alki Ave SW between the West Seattle Water Taxi and Luna Park in response to reckless and illegal driving incidents. We have received several requests from neighbors asking for safety improvements such as speed humps to help address this problem.
We will install about a half dozen sets of speed humps, as well as a raised center divider to prevent people from illegally driving the wrong direction to pass other cars. … We will prioritize completing this work as soon as we can. The work requires a few days of dry weather, so we will be watching the forecast closely and ready to mobilize our crews quickly if there is a break in the rain and snow. If the current forecast holds, there may potentially be an opportunity to complete this work within the next week.
Bergerson said they’re also talking with Parks about added speed humps in the Don Armeni parking lot (which already has some bumps). We’ll be following up Monday for more details, particularly where the “raised center divider” is planned.
From Washington State Ferries, two problems on the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth (aka “Triangle”) route – first, it’s down to one-boat service until after 9 pm tonight, as M/V Kitsap had to tie up because of a crew shortage. WSF says it’s solved the problem in time for Kitsap to resume service with a “late 9:15 p.m. from Fauntleroy to Vashon.” Also affecting the route right now, Vashon is down to one slip. WSF says slip #1 is the only one usable right now because of “an issue with the hanger bar in slip #2” and says this may last several days, as repairs “are tentatively scheduled for November 29.” You can check for status changes here.
While asking SDOT some other questions, we inquired today about the most-recent checks of the westbound West Seattle Bridge where it meets the ramp from southbound Highway 99, scene of multiple crashes a few weeks back, and other reports of loss of some vehicle control at that spot. SDOT had said that it would use lane closures last week to investigate further. So we asked what, if anything, they found. Spokesperson Mariam Ali replied, “We did a closer look when we did night work last week. Everything looks in good shape. We will continue to monitor the area after each request.” (Here’s our report on their first “closer look” in October.) So if you have trouble in that spot, be sure to report it to SDOT, even if a crash doesn’t result – here’s how.
As previewed in our traffic alerts the past few mornings, SDOT was out today painting community-designed salmon in the street in High Point. The decorative fish are planned for two “Healthy Street” sections of 31st SW and SW Graham. We went over late today to see what had been completed in the first round of work.
The fish we found are on 31st south of Graham, so it looks like they’ll be working on Graham tomorrow (Sunday, November 13), starting as early as 6 am.
The project is explained here.
12:09 PM: Thanks to Jake and E, who both sent tips and photos after SDOT crews showed up this morning to convert 40th/Edmunds and 41st/Edmunds into 4-way-stop intersections. E, whose photos are above and below, wrote, “As a pedestrian who has almost been run down by the range of distracted-to-malicious drivers, I am ecstatic that SDOT is painting zebra stripes and installing 4-way stop signs along Edmunds this morning.”
Both noted that some drivers seem not to have noticed the new signage yet. West of these new installations, 42nd/Edmunds is a 4-way, and California/Edmunds is signalized.
ADDED 6:10 PM: We went through the area late this afternoon and noted that crosswalks are painted on all four sides of both of these intersections.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Sizable turnout tonight at Alki Bathhouse for SDOT‘s open house to show its “early design” for turning the west ends of Beach Drive and Alki Avenue into a permanent “Healthy Street“ and Neighborhood Greenway. The stretch around Alki Point has had “Stay Healthy Street”/”Keep Moving Street” status since early in the pandemic, declaring the street closed to vehicle through-traffic, but aside from the “Street Closed” signs at either end, it’s been largely unchanged. Now that the city has decided to permanently change the street, the question is how. What they showed at tonight’s open house included added traffic-calming features to narrow the street, such as paint-and-post curb bulbs and a traffic circle. One display tonight showed this array of possibilities:
The other three showed these actual early-design concepts (in the first one, the “cul-de-sac” effect would involve moving the Alki Avenue street-closed sign a bit further west, to where the bike lane ends now, and narrowing the road entrance to one lane):
On the displays as well as on a long paper rendering of the street, attendees were invited to leave post-it-note comments:
Some of the suggestions we read included “more speed bumps” and residential parking permits.
Sheets of paper for longer comments were available too, and periodic reminders to fill them out were shouted over the din. We listened in on some of the conversations; many attendees identified themselves as residents in the Healthy Street area. One attendee talking with SDOT’s Healthy Streets program manager Summer Jawson expressed concern about equitable access to the area; Jawson stressed that they planned to include additional accessible parking spaces, and that none of the current parking would be removed.
ADDED THURSDAY AFTERNOON: SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson sent us a clarification on Jawson’s parking comment, saying she was speaking “in reference to specific areas near intersections where we planned to install painted curb extensions … clarifying that this would not remove legal parking spaces because it is already illegal to park within 30 feet of these intersections (or in the intersection itself). We do anticipate removing parking in a few specific locations to make room for drivers to turn around at the cul-de-sac and to support some of the traffic calming and public space enhancements along the waterfront. One of our next steps on the project will be to complete a parking analysis to map out specific parking changes.”
WHAT’S NEXT? An online open house is planned at noon next Tuesday (November 15); the link is supposed to be posted any day now on the project website. Now that the “early design” has gone public, you also are invited to send comments to AlkiKeepMovingStreet@seattle.gov by December 9.
Long-awaited improvements on a major route for bicyclists between West Seattle and downtown are closer to reality with this SDOT announcement today, one year after they announced the project was fully funded:
We’ve reached a final design for the north segment of the East Marginal Way Corridor Improvement Project. The project is now advertised for construction contractors to bid on! The community has long awaited this project and we share in the excitement of reaching this major milestone. We appreciate community members’ patience, support, and commitment as the design was developed and informed by public input.
The project will serve people biking, walking, rolling, and driving, and improve safety and mobility along this busy freight corridor. We’ll reconstruct pavement, rebuild and improve signals, build a protected bike lane, and more. Construction of the North Segment, which runs between S Spokane St and S Atlantic St, will begin in 2023.
We encourage you to visit the project website to learn more about key features, benefits, and phased construction plans. You can also learn more about the North Segment of the project. …
After we hire a contractor, we’ll go through a materials procurement period to purchase items that can have a long lead time. This time frame is dependent on the supply chain, which has seen significant delays since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once the contractor is on board and we have a better sense of how long materials procurement will take, we’ll set a construction start date and share more detailed information about what you can expect during construction.
Construction will disrupt traffic along East Marginal Way S. We’ll maintain freight truck access to the Port of Seattle terminals along East Marginal Way S but anticipate detouring all non-Port of Seattle vehicle traffic in the North Segment project area. We will maintain a way for people biking and walking to use East Marginal Way S, but the route will shift to avoid active construction areas. We’ll have mitigation and detour plans in place to minimize the effects where possible.
The project – estimated last year at $43 million – will be paid for with local, state, and federal funding. SDOT says it’s still looking for funding to cover sections of East Marginal south of the West Seattle Bridge.
Two West Seattle Bridge notes:
WESTBOUND TROUBLE SPOT: After yet another crash Thursday night where the westbound West Seattle Bridge meets the ramp from southbound Highway 99, we inquired again with SDOT, which had told us after the first four crashes that it couldn’t figure out any particular problem there. In the meantime, we received this dash-cam video today from a reader who reported being involved in Thursday night collision – you’ll see it about :30 in:
Also, in a comment on last week’s crash report, a reader posted this link to a compilation of traffic-cam video from the prior recent incidents. Meantime, here’s the reply sent by SDOT today in response to our Friday inquiry:
We continue to monitor the area after each request. We have not found any construction related issues as we have not worked there since the opening of the bridge in September. Given the number of crashes to date, those vehicles could be leaving oil and other fluids on the roadway. We will take a closer look at this on nights this week as we will be doing work on the West Seattle Bridge. While we do that work we will take a closer look at the trouble spot again and will try to get a sweeper if available, to pass over the area.
(As we were writing this, an SPD dispatcher told officers they’d received a call about a new problem at that same spot, but we watched the live video camera as SDOT’s control center scanned the area looking for evidence of a crashed or stalled car, and none was found.)
OVERNIGHT WORK: Regarding the aforementioned work, here’s that SDOT announcement:
We will be conducting overnight closures of westbound lanes on the West Seattle Bridge Tuesday, November 8 through Thursday, November 10 to complete sign installation and adjustment work.
11:00 p.m. Tuesday – 5:00 a.m. Wednesday: Right hand lane and off-ramp to Harbor Island closed for westbound travelers on the Spokane St Viaduct approaching the West Seattle bridge.
11:00 p.m. Wednesday – 5:00 a.m. Thursday: All westbound travel lanes on the Spokane St Viaduct approaching the West Seattle bridge closed. Access to westbound lanes on the West Seattle Bridge from southbound SR-99 will be maintained during this period.
11:00 p.m. Thursday – 5:00 a.m. Friday: All westbound travel lanes on the Spokane St Viaduct approaching the West Seattle bridge closed. Access to westbound lanes on the West Seattle Bridge from southbound SR-99 will be maintained during this period.
A signed detour route, directing travelers across the Spokane St Swing Bridge (low bridge) will be in place during the closure. Once work is complete, all westbound travel lanes on the bridge will be restored.
10:53 AM: The report and photo are from Ian:
FYI for riders: Someone scattered a bunch of screws along the bike path/sidewalk between T-18 and Marginal. I kicked as many as I could aside but just kept finding more and more…
Ian reported this to the city via Find It Fix It. We also advised contacting SDOT directly by phone – 206-684-ROAD – as it’s an immediate safety hazard.
5:07 PM: Just after noon, Grant Slatton tweeted this photo and update (and has given us permission to repost):
I am down here now dragging around a giant magnet. Also found some on the low bridge bike path.
After that bus hit a barrier on the westbound West Seattle Bridge near the ramp from southbound 99 on Saturday morning, it was attributed to the driver swerving to avoid another vehicle. But it wasn’t the only crash that day in the same spot – and it was followed by at least two others days later. In comment discussions, other drivers have mentioned something seemed awry when they drove through that same section. So we asked SDOT if the department planned to investigate. We heard back late today from SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson, who said it’s a mystery so far:
After these crashes occurred, we sent one of our inspectors to take a closer look at roadway conditions in this location. They verified that all of the signage, road markings, and pavement was in good condition. Our inspector did not see any standing water in this location, although it is possible that it was wetter at the time of the incidents. We did not make any changes to the road in this location during the West Seattle Bridge closure which would alter how people approach or drive over this particular spot.
While it’s difficult for us to determine a specific cause for this series of collisions, now that this trend has been identified we’ll be aware of the location if we see similar crashes in the future. If we do see an ongoing trend, we’ll continue to consider what we can potentially do to address it.
We also typically see an increase in crashes in rainy weather, especially when it first starts to rain after a relatively dry summer. So we would like to remind all drivers at this time of year to slow down and be extra cautious when driving in the rain, and to make sure to take care of any safety-related car maintenance issues like replacing worn-out tires or windshield wipers.
If you encounter a specific problem there (or on any other city street, which is what The Bridge is) and want to contact SDOT about it, they’re at 206-684-ROAD.
As reported here two weeks ago, SDOT says the Alki Point “Healthy Street” is permanent – Alki Avenue SW west of 63rd SW, and Beach Drive SW north of 63rd SW. The city says it will become a Neighborhood Greenway, and that the next step is to talk with the community about its design. So they’ve set two events for that – an in-person open house 6:30-7:45 pm Wednesday, November 9, at Alki Bathhouse (2701 Alki SW), and an online open house noon- 1 pm Tuesday, November 15 (no link yet). In both cases, SDOT says it’ll show the “early design” concept, answer questions, and take comments. (Here’s how last year’s survey turned out.) Possible “traffic-calming” elements, according to a project update that’s going out today, include a raised crosswalk and traffic circle. If you can’t make it to either event, they’ll be taking comments by email/phone until December 9th – email@example.com or 206-727-3565. The project was also mentioned recently by the Alki Community Council as an agenda item at their next meeting (7 pm Thursday, November 17).
Last month, new SDOT director Greg Spotts talked with the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSB coverage here); now, he’s scheduled as the spotlight guest for this month’s meeting of HPAC, the community council for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge. Got a question about which way the transportation policy in the city is going? This is your chance to ask – or just to listen to what he has to say, with so many transportation issues having emerged or intensified in the HPAC neighborhoods during the bridge closure. The meeting will be held online at 7 pm Wednesday (October 26th); video/call-in info is on the HPAC website, along with details of what else is on the agenda. All welcome.
WEDNESDAY UPDATE: HPAC says Spotts had to cancel due to a conflict.
Back on Thursday, we reported that SDOT hoped to have crews out this weekend working on the changes to California/Findlay that are accompanying its new pedestrian-activated “half-signal.” This morning we saw those crews at work; tonight, we noticed the signal is now activated. It cycled through a red-light period as we approached; we’ll be checking with SDOT tomorrow to see if it’s fully operational. The “paint and post” curb bump-outs are installed, as our photo shows, but the concrete median on the south side of the intersection is yet to come.
After reporting last weekend that the California/Findlay “half-signal” was taking shape, we followed up with SDOT to get the timeline for completion of the installation – including other traffic-calming features – and activation. We finally got some information from SDOT today, after crews spent part of the day out at the intersection marking the layout for the street changes including a median island (top photo) and painted curb bulbs.
SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson says the median and curb bulbs will be installed after the pedestrian-activated signal is up and running, As for how soon that will be, he says as soon as possible, but they need to complete electrical work, which could happen this weekend if there’s a break in the expected rainy weather. He says the road markings could be painted as soon as this weekend, too. (Here’s backstory on the project.)
Thanks to Kimm for the photos. It’s not yet activated, but framework for the California/Findlay “half-signal” has been installed.
It’s been almost four months since SDOT told neighbors they would install the pedestrian-activated “half-signal” at the intersection. Neighbors had been pushing for more safety measures at the intersection even before the May hit-run crash that killed 30-year-old Nicholas Wolf just north of the intersection. In addition to installing the stoplight, SDOT said in June that it would be “implementing a painted curb bulb in the southeast and northwest quadrants to improve sightlines for pedestrians crossing at the intersection, and installing a median island on the south leg of California Ave SW, in close proximity to the intersection to reduce the open feel of California Avenue SW, prevent the use of the center turn lane as a through lane, and potentially reduce vehicle speeds.” The report on the deadly May crash said the 16-year-old driver who hit and killed Wolf told police he was going “50 to 55 mph” at the time. We’ll be following up with SDOT tomorrow to check on the timeline for finishing the intersection work and activating the signal.
While some pandemic-related government actions are about to sunset, some are becoming permanent. Among them, a network of closed-to-through-traffic “Healthy Streets,” per this map published this week by SDOT:
What the city had called “Stay Healthy Streets” or “Keep Moving Streets,” originally implemented to create more room for socially distanced riding/walking/rolling, are now simply “Healthy Streets.” Most notable on the map is the declaration that the Alki Point stretch is now permanent, a status it hadn’t had until now. It was created in May 2020 – first the city announced it would close the northernmost end of Beach Drive to through traffic, then almost immediately, it added the westernmost end of Alki Avenue. Over the ensuing months and years, there have been surveys and petition drives, but never until now a final decision on its status. The city has long hinted, however, that it would be permanent, and solicited feedback on a “permanent design.” That too has been (mostly) decided, according to SDOT’s update, which refers to the design survey it circulated a year ago:
The design we’re moving forward with for public engagement is Option 1 from the survey: Stay Healthy Street + Neighborhood Greenway.
This design will upgrade the street to a Neighborhood Greenway and include additional elements of a Healthy Street. As part of the larger Healthy Streets program, we’ve also updated the name of the project to “Alki Point Healthy Street.”
In coming days, we’ll share information about public engagement events in November 2022. We’ll be hosting in-person and virtual events, so that the community has more than one option for attending and giving feedback on the Alki Point Healthy Street design.
If you have a request for our public engagement events in November, please email us at AlkiKeepMovingStreet@seattle.gov.
This is not West Seattle’s only Stay Healthy Street, but it was the one that generated the most discussion/controversy. The plans for the others are in links you’ll find here.
If you tried Flip Your Trip during the West Seattle Bridge closure, you know how the transit-rewards program works. Metro is now expanding it countywide, as announced today. The announcement explains you “can earn points and then redeem them for discounts on future trips, and bike- and scooter-share services.” To participate, you start by downloading the Transit GO app.
Arbor Heights students were met on arrival by principal Christy Collins and the Junior Seahawk:
Wednesday is early-dismissal day for Seattle Public Schools, so all those riders, walkers, and rollers will be heading home soon.
Thanks to Mary at AHES for inviting us to come cover the event! Story tips are always appreciated, at firstname.lastname@example.org or, if it’s breaking news/happening now, voice/text our hotline, 206-293-6302.
Tomorrow you’re likely to see more students walking, riding, and rolling to school, as Wednesday (October 12) is the annual Walk/Bike/Roll to School Day. Many local schools are expected to participate by encouraging; we’ve heard from one, Arbor Heights Elementary, whose principal and vice principal will be greeting arriving students tomorrow morning. Anybody else? Let us know! The weather should be perfect.
The Washington State Transportation Commission – which among other things sets fares for state ferries – has a survey open about a possible addition to those fares. The WSTC says there’s been longstanding authorization for a fuel surcharge to be added to ferry fares if needed to cover a funding gap. So its survey asks what you think of that idea. The survey also asks whether WSF should focus more on moving vehicles or moving people. It’s open for another week and a half – until October 18th – and you can respond to it by going here.
One week ago, we reported that the proposal for a bicycle lane on the Highland Park Way hill – shelved in 2020 – had resurfaced in SDOT‘s application for federal grant money to fund a variety of “Safe Streets for All” projects. We asked SDOT a few followup questions. First, what happens to the project if the grant money isn’t received? SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson replied, “If we do not receive the Safe Streets for All grant, there is not another funding source identified to build this project.” An even-bigger question: What design is envisioned for the lane – which side of the street would it be on, and would it require removal of a general-traffic lane (as was envisioned in the previously shelved plan)? Bergerson’s reply: “We have not begun the design of this bike route. If we receive funding, we would engage the community on potential designs such as the two options you mentioned. We may also consider other possible alternatives like widening the existing trail.” As noted in our story last week, other West Seattle proposals listed in the grant application are mostly smaller projects such as curb ramps.
A new month means a new round of community meetings, and the newest announcement we’ve received is from West Seattle Bike Connections. They’re meeting online tomorrow night (Tuesday, October 4) and welcoming anyone interested in attending. WSBC’s Kate Wells says they plan to “discuss how to advocate for safer streets during the city’s budget process, learn how to get involved in the Seattle Transportation Plan, and more.” Info for how to attend/participate is in our calendar listing.