Transportation 3687 results

FERRY ALERT: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth down to 1 boat, replacement on the way

10:54 AM: The Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth ferry route is down to 1 boat for now – M/V Cathlamet, on the #2 schedule – because M/V Kitsap is having trouble. It’s been stuck at Southworth but WSF spokesperson Ian Sterling tells WSB the plan is to move it to Vashon, without passengers, for troubleshooting. Until they figure out what’s wrong, they don’t know how long the route will be on 1-boat service. You can check boats’ status via Vessel Watch.

12:54 PM: WSF says the Cathlamet continues alone on the route, with “no set schedule.”

2:42 PM: WSF says it’s moving M/V Suquamish off the Bainbridge-Seattle route to replace Kitsap on the Triangle Route.

City councilmembers to consider spending leftover Reconnect West Seattle money for tribal art project under the bridge

(Image from council-committee agenda, incorporating Google Maps photo)

The city is planning to give two tribes $133,000 for public art on up to 14 columns supporting part of the west end of the West Seattle Bridge. Neither happens to be the Duwamish Tribe, whose longhouse is about a mile south.

The project is with the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Tribes, described in the plan as having “Duwamish ancestors” (the same description used during the ceremony before the bridge reopened last year).

The art project is on the agenda for tomorrow morning’s meeting of the Seattle City Council Transportation and Public Utilities Committee; documents say it’s been under discussion for a year and a half.

If you just gave the agenda a once-over, as we did, you might not have noticed – the item is #10 on a busy agenda, with no mention of art or the bridge in the item title – “AN ORDINANCE relating to the Seattle Department of Transportation; authorizing and directing the Director of the Seattle Department of Transportation to execute interlocal agreements with the Suquamish (suq̀ʷabs) Tribe and Muckleshoot (bəqəlšuł) Tribe; and ratifying and confirming certain prior acts,” until you open the slide deck linked from the agenda.

A community advocate called our attention to it. As explained in another agenda document:

This legislation would authorize the SDOT Director to execute interlocal agreements with the Suquamish and Muckleshoot Tribes, funded by $133,000 in remaining funds from the Reconnect West Seattle program. Reconnect West Seattle is the nearly complete mitigation program within the larger West Seattle Bridge Safety Project (ie., the WSB repair and mitigation program). These funds have been budgeted since early in the project for such a tribal partnership … The agreements compensate the two tribes for painting art murals on the Fauntleroy Expressway columns, near the intersection of W Marginal Way SW and Chelan Ave SW which connects the West Seattle Junction with the West Seattle High Bridge. The purpose of the project is to honor the people whose homeland, hunting, and fishing territories Seattle now inhabits, and to build trust between the City and the federally recognized Muckleshoot and Suquamish tribes. Under the agreement, the murals must be completed in 2024 and each tribe will be compensated up to $66,000 for their work

Federal recognition is something the Duwamish Tribe has been fighting for for decades, winning it briefly at the end of the Clinton Administration, only to have the incoming Bush Administration cancel it.

Though the documents say the art will be entirely the Muckleshoot and Suquamish tribes’ responsibility, they also say the city will have to review and approve each design and its accompanying narrative, with these parameters:

The City’s design review will focus on ensuring that the Column Murals’ colors do not mimic those used in traffic signage and that the content does not contain offensive material directed toward any group of people. The City shall retain the right to review and provide feedback on the proposed design within thirty (30) days from the date of receipt of the submission.

And for everyone who worries about defacement risk for public art:

The Tribe shall adhere to the recommendations provided by the City concerning the Column Murals installation to ensure optimal and long-lasting results, as well as ease of cleaning in the event of graffiti. Recommendations may include, but are not limited to, the following: installation within the dry season of 2024 (e.g. June – August); preparation of columns (e.g. power washing, priming), application of quality exterior latex paint; mural protection (e.g. MuralShield), graffiti protection (e.g. Sherwin-Williams Anti-Graffiti Coating). The City shall be responsible for obtaining and covering the cost of any necessary permits for the Column Murals. The Tribe shall be responsible for securing traffic control support from a licensed traffic control provider … The Tribe and the City shall share the responsibility of maintaining and repairing the columns and Column Murals as set forth herein.

This won’t be the first official art project on bridge columns; toward the other end of the bridge, beneath the Spokane Street Viaduct section, bar-code-inspired designs were painted on columns in a $400,000+ project more than a decade ago.. Meantime, you can comment at tomorrow’s 9:30 am committee meeting, remotely or in-person, as explained on the agenda, or just watch via the Seattle Channel.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s what SDOT plans to add, and remove, along Alki Point Healthy Street

(SDOT photo)

More than a year has passed since SDOT announced that the Alki Point Healthy Street – Alki Avenue west of 63rd and Beach Drive north/west of 63rd – would be permanent. A few months later, the city said it was working on the permanent design. They’ve just unveiled finalized designs centering on four locations along the stretch, including the addition of various features including a “cul-de-sac,” a “walking and rolling” lane adjacent to part of the sidewalk, and removal of 60+ on-street parking spaces, while marking three new ADA spaces:

Location 1: Alki Ave SW & 64th Pl SW

-Paint & post cul-de-sac to give drivers an opportunity to turn around before the “street closed” sign
-“Street closed” sign on durable concrete cylinders to reduce cut-through driving on the Healthy Street
-Wayfinding pavement markings for a smooth transition from existing bike path to the Healthy Street
-Approximately 6 parking spaces removed in Cul-de-sac area – raised crosswalk to 64th Pl SW

Location 2: Alki Ave SW and Point Pl SW

-Speed humps to reduce traffic speeds
-Sharrow pavement markings to enhance wayfinding for people biking, rolling, and walking
-Stop signs at intersecting streets

Location 3: Alki Ave SW and Beach Dr SW

-Paint and post to delineate 10’ of additional space for walking/rolling along the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
-Sharrow pavement markings to enhance wayfinding for people biking, rolling, and walking
-Stop signs at intersecting streets
-ADA accessible parking along Beach Dr SW

Location 4: Beach Dr SW and 64th Ave SW

-Paint and post to delineate 10’ of additional space for walking/rolling along the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
-Sharrow pavement markings to enhance wayfinding for people biking, rolling, and walking
-Stop signs at intersecting streets
-Approximately 61 parking spaces removed on Beach Dr SW, from 3300 Beach Dr SW to 64th Ave SW
-Approximately 46 parking spaces to remain available on Beach Dr SW, from 3300 Beach Dr SW to 64th Ave SW

The first “design update” is similar to what was proposed in “early design” – you can compare via links toward the bottom of the project page – but the other three have significant additions, including the “walking/rolling” lane and more speed humps. This is planned for installation next year. Meantime, SDOT’s update says there’s one stretch they haven’t finalized yet – Beach Drive between 63rd and 64th. This and other “Healthy Streets” around the city originally were set up during the early months of the pandemic, but many have been made permanent as reduced-vehicle-traffic streets.

FOLLOWUP: West Seattle Bridge bus-lane camera up and running and citing

A WSB reader texted:

Wondering if you might do a story on the new traffic violation cams on the high bridge – focusing on bus lane violators. I commute daily and take the 1st Ave exit right after the 99 exit and I wait until the last set of red painted lines that say BUS ONLY but I got a cautionary warning letter for this as a traffic violation . In the future the fine will be $75. Can you investigate where/ when it is legal to move over To the far right lane to exit on first?

It’s been three months since the last announcement about the new camera enforcement – when SDOT said in early September that installation was imminent. So first we asked SDOT if the camera – part of a “pilot” program also involving other locations in the city – was indeed up and running and citing. Yes: “The transit lane traffic safety camera on the West Seattle Bridge (high bridge), just east of State Route 99, has been activated. The first time someone is caught in a violation, they will be mailed a warning letter. For any new violations after that, they will be mailed a $75 ticket.”

How many warnings/tickets? SDOT refused to say:

This camera is part of an ongoing pilot program intended to evaluate the effectiveness of automated traffic safety camera enforcement in transit only lanes. The draft report on the effectiveness of the program will be submitted to the State Legislature in July 2024 and will also be available publicly at that time.

To get a report sooner, the spokesperson replied, we’d have to file a public-disclosure request.

To the original texter’s question, about the exact location to avoid if you don’t want to be cited: “The entire bus lane, which begins approximately 0.5 miles west of the exit to NB SR99, is restricted to buses only. The camera is located east of the exit to NB SR99. Drivers taking the exit to NB SR99 will not be impacted by the camera.” Here’s the design-document excerpt that SDOT sent us for a similar question pre-installation, showing the enforcement zone in yellow-green:

Meantime, no hint yet of when newly authorized camera types – like “racing” – might be installed, but we’re continuing to follow up.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s why West Seattle Stadium site might become EV-charging lot instead of off-leash area

You might call this a followup to a followup:

(Parks graphic from June announcement of sites under consideration as off-leash areas)

During Monday night’s Seattle Parks online briefing about various West Seattle projects, there was a major update to the process of planning a second WS off-leash area – Parks said that one of the two sites between which they’re deciding, south of West Seattle Stadium, might no longer be “viable” because of the city’s push toward “electrification.” For our followup on that – published Wednesday – we learned that the city Finance and Administrative Services department is eyeing the site for charging city vehicles, including electric golf carts for the adjacent golf course. But that information came from Parks, so today we asked FAS for more details on the project. FAS spokesperson Melissa Mixon first gave us this overview, “FAS approached Parks about the location and shared it could be an ideal site for a charging site, so long as it’s not needed or used by Parks for purposes of a dog park since that project pre-dates this one. FAS is currently awaiting direction from Parks on how they would like to proceed and whether we should explore the feasibility of the West Seattle Stadium/Golf location or pursue other potential sites for a charging station.”

The backstory: “FAS is building EV charging hubs throughout the City to support the City’s rapid transition to electric vehicles in the City’s fleet. These locations will be regional so City fleet can re-fuel (electricity) when needed. The West Seattle area became the first priority region and the West Seattle Stadium/Golf could serve as an ideal location. FAS and Parks are in early conversation about this site.” Right now, Mixon said, it’s “the only West Seattle location under consideration but that could change based on Parks’ feedback regarding this site. … This site is under consideration due to its location, ease of access for City electric vehicles to enter and exit, and because it would have minimal impact on the public.”

We asked for more specifics regarding the potential facility’s scope. Mixon said it is envisioned for “6-8, Level 3 (150 KwH+) fast chargers that need approximately 10,000 square feet to accommodate ingress/egress and parking. … There are 17 fleet-using departments in the City. All departments would have access to this EV fueling station as they conduct business in the area. Seattle Parks Department would be a heavy user as they have the fourth largest fleet in the City.”

If Parks gave FAS the green light to pursue this site, “FAS would need to conduct a feasibility study and estimate costs. This process can typically take two months and a decision would not be made until both are complete.” Parks, meantime, is supposed to have a recommendation on the dog-park site within weeks; the other site that’s been under consideration for West Seattle’s second off-leash area is in Lincoln Park.

FOLLOWUP: Here’s where the ‘Quiet Zone’ project stands, four months in

Thanks to Don Brubeck for that photo from the low bridge showing progress on part of the Terminal 5 Quiet Zone project. As previously reported, it’s a group of crossing changes meant to reduce the need for horn-blowing by trains serving the newly modernized T-5.

(Here’s an official explanation of “quiet zones.”) Don’s photo led us to check in with SDOT on project progress – here’s our questions and their answers:

What’s been completed so far?

Since beginning construction in July 2023, we have installed electrical and signal conduit, drainage and paving to support the future signalized intersection at W Marginal Way SW and Elder Bernice White Place. We have also paved a section of the access road north of the W Marginal Way SW and Elder Bernice White Place intersection. We closed Chelan Ave SW, the north leg of the former 5-way intersection to vehicular access.

What’s next?

We’re currently working on storm water work, including the installation of a storm water filter vault and moving catch basins to meet new curb alignment, and excavating trenches for signal and fiber conduit near the Chelan Ave SW/W Marginal Way SW intersection. We’re also working on the new signal at W Marginal Way SW and Elder Bernice White Place. We’ll also be working with railroad crews to install the new railroad crossing at Elder Bernice White Place.

What’s the latest projection for completion?

Completion is expected in May 2024 pending railroad crews’ installation of new crossing arms and safety equipment at railroad crossings at both Chelan Ave SW and Elder Bernice White Place.

The “Quiet Zone” work originally was supposed to be complete before the first modernized berth at T-5 was opened; that’s now been almost two years, and the second berth is almost done. Note that this doesn’t affect all train traffic in the area – some trains serve industrial facilities along the Duwamish River, not T-5, and those sections of track are not part of the project.

LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit reps @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition tomorrow

Following up on last month’s West Seattle station-planning event (WSB coverage here), Sound Transit reps will be guests at Thursday night’s meeting of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition. The group usually meets on fourth Thursdays, every other month, but moved this meeting because of the Thanksgiving holiday. Chair Michael Taylor-Judd promises “an in-depth review and discussion with Sound Transit on the latest planning for light rail expansion to our side of the Duwamish.” The WSTC meeting is online, 6:30 pm Thursday (November 30), and you can attend via this link (meeting ID 885 1970 8802, passcode WSTC) – all are welcome.

‘The ferry crisis hurts right now’: Vashon Island residents propose ways to ease the pain

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Until a few years ago, Washington State Ferries service was reliable, dependable, fully filling its role as part of the state highway system.

Now, WSF sails in turbulent waters daily – with shortages of boats and workers, cancelling sailings and/or falling behind schedule. On the other side of a 15-minute rain from West Seattle, ferry-dependent Vashon Island is suffering in a big way, since the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route has been hit especially hard. It’s long been down to two boats when it’s supposed to have three, and sometimes reduced to one by vessel breakdowns or crew unavailability. Delays happen daily. There’s a shorter route – Point Defiance-Tahlequah – between south Vashon and the Tacoma area, but its one-boat baseline service is not immune to trouble.

This is affecting lives and livelihoods, say island residents – with health, business, educational, and other impacts – and a group has convened to do more than complain and despair. They’ve come up with a list of more than 50 actions that they say could help, and group reps sailed over to West Seattle on Monday to announce their recommendations in the form of a “community report.”

This isn’t just a to-do list for the ferry system. The group, Islanders for Ferry Action, says, “We stand ready to partner with any agency that will help implement the solutions we have documented in this report.” (Read it here.) Some of the recommendations are actions that could be taken by community members. Others would have to be taken on by other agencies or organizations. The islanders know it’ll be years before WSF’s fleet and workforce are back to past numbers, so they’ve worked to suggest actions they believe would make an immediate difference.

Read More

First-ever Seattle Youth Transportation Summit seeking delegates

November 21, 2023 5:41 pm
|    Comments Off on First-ever Seattle Youth Transportation Summit seeking delegates
 |   Transportation | West Seattle news

An invitation for teens and young adults:

The City of Seattle is hosting its first-ever Youth Transportation Summit on Saturday, December 9, 2023. Young people aged 14 to 24 years old are invited to participate in this free event to share their personal experiences with transportation, highlight what they’d like to see changed in the future, and discuss opportunities for climate-responsive transportation investments.

This is a free event where young people’s voices will be centered and culminate in a Youth Climate & Transportation Action Plan that will be presented to Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. Lunch will be provided at no cost. The summit is taking place as part of Mayor Harrell’s 2022 One Seattle Transportation and Climate Justice Executive Order. You can learn more on our website or register here by November 29.

Event details:

Date and time: Saturday, December 9, 9:30 AM – 3:30 PM
Location: The Westin Seattle Hotel in downtown Seattle (Floor 2)
Address: 1900 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101
Transit access: Link light rail (Westlake Station) and numerous King County Metro and Sound Transit bus routes

Questions? Please contact Thank you for your interest!

FOLLOWUP: Holden Natural Drainage System project at ‘mid-design,’ plans Saturday pop-up

The plan to build “natural drainage systems” along a block and a half of SW Holden west of 16th SW is at mid-design, according to Seattle Public Utilities, and the project team plans another informational pop-up in the neighborhood this Saturday (November 18th) for Q&A. That means they’re 60 percent of the way to fully designing the project, which is intended to “capture and treat stormwater runoff before it reaches Longfellow Creek and Puget Sound … to improve water quality in the creek, increase landscaping diversity, and provide roadway and pedestrian safety improvements.” Here’s a narrated presentation of the mid-design updates (which you also can see here):

Whether now or after the Saturday pop-up, SPU is interested in your feedback on the design so far – you can provide it here. You can also share your comments with project-team members at 17th/Holden 10 am-noon Saturday. Construction is still a ways off – now not projected to start before early 2025.

LAST CALL: Deadline today for your thoughts on draft Seattle Transportation Plan – plus, a list of 15 possible ‘transformational’ local projects

October 31, 2023 12:42 pm
|    Comments Off on LAST CALL: Deadline today for your thoughts on draft Seattle Transportation Plan – plus, a list of 15 possible ‘transformational’ local projects
 |   Transportation | West Seattle news

As the West Seattle Transportation Coalition reminds us via email today, this is the (extended) deadline for comments on the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, two months after it was made public following months of early feedback. You don’t have to read its hundreds of pages before commenting – you can also browse through its “online engagement hub” and offer your thoughts. Once this phase of feedback closes, SDOT says its next step is to “work with the Mayor’s Office to further refine the plan and share it with City Council for adoption” – that’s expected to happen either late this year or early next year. (Next year also happens to be when the nine-year Levy to Move Seattle expires, with a successor likely to be proposed.)

P.S. The “online engagement hub” also includes a separate request for feedback, through November 20th, on specific proposed projects – expand the “West Seattle and Delridge” subheading to see the list of 15 projects that are suggested for our area.

FERRY-DOCK WORK: Fauntleroy repairs, repaving tonight and Tuesday night

October 30, 2023 11:10 am
|    Comments Off on FERRY-DOCK WORK: Fauntleroy repairs, repaving tonight and Tuesday night
 |   Fauntleroy | Transportation | West Seattle news

Received this morning from Washington State Ferries:

(Photo courtesy WSF)

As part of our ongoing efforts to preserve the Fauntleroy terminal until it can be replaced, there will be night-time construction work at the terminal today, Monday, October 30, and tomorrow, Tuesday, October 31, to replace timber decking in the exit lanes. Last spring, we put a steel plate where timber decking and asphalt had failed and now crews will repair the deck and repave the area. Construction work will occur from 7:00 p.m. – 4:00 a.m. both nights, with loud work only occurring between 7-10 p.m. The location of the work will require that we single lane offload the vessel and reduce the holding lanes a bit. This could cause some service delays on the route due to the construction.

As for the dock-replacement project, that’s not expected to start construction before 2027. Here’s our most-recent report.

FERRY ALERT UPDATE: Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth back to two boats

10:56 AM: Washington State Ferries‘ Triangle Route is running with only one boat right now because M/V Kittitas is out of service with a “radar issue.” Getting a replacement is likely complicated by the fact the Seattle-Bremerton run’s lone boat is also out of service with mechanical trouble. More info on the WSF bulletins page.

1:42 PM: As commenter Erik points out, Kittitas has been repaired and is back in service.

FAUNTLEROY FERRY DOCK: Nine replacement options shown at Community Advisory Group’s first meeting in a year

(The seven size/shape options that represent the nine alternatives)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Nine possible sizes and shapes for Fauntleroy’s new ferry dock were shown by Washington State Ferries when it convened the project’s Community Advisory Group last night for the first time since Septtember 2022.

Since then, WSF has extended the timeline for the project by two years. And ferry-system leaders said they expect to have to ask the State Legislature for more money, no matter which option is chosen.

In addition to reviewing the nine possibilities, group members also picked up on some new factors in the discussion. For example, they noted that WSF managers brought Captain’s Park into it for the first time – that’s the tall-tree-dotted lookout spot atop the embankment immediately across lower Fauntleroy Way from the dock entrance. After a followup question from advisory-group member Judy Pickens of Fauntleroy, WSF’s David Sowers said that if it were determined that Fauntleroy Way needed an extra lane for smoother traffic flow, they’d have to cut into the bluff. “Not something we want to do but something our consultant brought up.” Pickens warned it would surface a multitude of issues, including archaelogical considerations.

But let’s get back to those alternatives. First, here’s what they ruled out in the first two levels of screening possibilities:

And here are the basics for the two concepts they settled on:

Note that slide says “same size.” Reviewing the nine options, advisory-group member Frank Immel of Fauntleroy observed that the first three are described instead as “similar size,” and would be at least 18 feet wider than the current dock. Design-team manager Edd Thomas attributed that to “design standards” including lane width on the dock, plus the addition of bike lanes and a motorcycle staging lane. So, starting with the “similar size” Alternative A and its two ticketing variations, here are the options – note that 124 cars is something of a magic number because that’s the capacity of the Issaquah-class ferries serving the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route:

(See color renderings in the full slide deck.) Here are characteristics that all those options have in common:

This meeting wasn’t to settle on one of them – in fact, the Community Advisory Group members were also asked for feedback on the proposed criteria that WSF staff will udr to screen them. But they did have questions. One that came up multiple times was whether the dock can remain somehow partly in service during construction, or whether all boats will have to be diverted. Sowers said that hadn’t been decided yet. Was overhead passenger loading under consideration? They still need to “study” it. What about a second slip? Sowers said that can’t be “completely ruled out” but it would cost at least $40 million more than they have in the budget – a budget that they expect will ultimately be inadequate anyway, requiring a request to the Legislature for more money just to build the basics.

Another question – why are two “A” options the only ones that might incorporate either Good To Go or “advanced” ticketing, which had been discussed extensively at previous meetings as possible ways to speed up loading and avoid backups on Fauntleroy Way? The reply was that they only considered using them to get more “bang for the buck” if the smallest size was chosen.

And in addition to the question mentioned earlier about Captain’s Park, concerns also surfaced about Cove Park. WSF had previously scrapped the idea of over-land dock widening, particularly because of possible effects on that beloved, community-stewarded beach immediately north of the dock. Yes, there’s likely to be “some effects,” WSF’s environmental lead Marsha Tolon acknowledged. She also spoke to another environmental factor – how the project could affect eelgrass in the cove.

The online meeting (Friday morning update: see the video here) wrapped up after two hours; WSF promised to bring the group together again after a much-shorter time, “early next year.” After that, they’d likely have community meetings. A preferred alternative is to be chosen by 2025, with construction starting by 2027.

FEEDBACK: If you have something to tell the WSF project team, is the email address to use.

ALSO WEDNESDAY: Fauntleroy ferry-dock replacement project’s Community Advisory Group reconvenes

Both of West Seattle’s major transportation projects have their first community meetings in months – and both are happening tomorrow night. Earlier today, we published a reminder of the Sound Transit light-rail meeting; we’ve since been reminded (thank you!) that the Community Advisory Group for Washington State Ferries‘ Fauntleroy dock-replacement project meets Wednesday night too, This meeting is online, 6-8 pm. We first mentioned this meeting two months ago; it’s the first time WSF has convened this group since September of last year. Since then, as we also reported in August, WSF has pushed the construction timeline back two years, to 2027-2029. There’s no agenda posted yet for tomorrow’s meeting, but advance materials sent to group members indicate they’ll get a briefing on possible alternatives for how the dock could be rebuilt at its current location. You can go here to register for the meeting link.

Seen the signs? Here’s who’s proposing a ‘Highland Park Public Transformation Plan’ and why

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you have something to say about the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, you have one more week to say it – October 23 is the deadline.

One West Seattle man is not only commenting – he’s proposing a neighborhood transportation transformation as his feedback, and he’s inviting you to travel along.

Maybe you’ve seen the flyers Jack Conness has posted in Highland Park and South Delridge, pointing you to his Highland Park Public Transformation Plan website:

After a reader saw one of Jack’s flyers and told us about it, we contacted Jack to find out more, and sat down with him for an early-morning chat at Fresh Flours Bakery in South Delridge. Jack is a relatively new arrival – two years ago – to south Highland Park, a former Californian who is originally from “90 miles west of Chicago.”

While he landed here with the thought that it might be a stepping stone to another area of Seattle, he says he’s “fallen in love with this neighborhood” and that’s why he is proposing a plan to make it safer. “I thought I could put something out there that might sway decisionmakers (and) instead of just submitting a comment myself, I could submit a comment with lots of people.” He also admits he’s a “bit weird and wonky” at heart.

His experience of getting around started with arriving here as a UW graduate student – during the West Seattle Bridge closure – and having to get to UW. That put him in the public transportation system, taking the bus to light rail to get to school. (He’s enamored with how Seattle is expanding its light-rail system, even knowing that’s more because the region is trying to catch up, than leaping ahead.)

He works in climate-change policy, so he’s interested in that aspect of transportation too, aware that to get people onto buses and rail they have to be more safe and available.

But right outside our doors, being able to walk and bike safely in neighborhoods is the first step (literally). So he’s outlined some ideas.

He lives near 14th and Roxbury, and crosses the latter “all the time” to get to the “incredible food and nightlife options” in White Center. “It’s a nightmare” and was even more so when the bridge closure made Roxbury another major detour route, leaving drivers “sitting on the crosswalk in their vehicles.” Another street that factors into his plan, SW Henderson, for which he proposes reconfiguration:

“It splits north and south Highland Park and feels like a freeway – built for speed.” No place to truly safely cross between 9th and 16th, he says, but families in south Highland Park have to cross it to get to Highland Park Elementary on SW Trenton. No kids in his family yet, but he and his wife cross with their dog. “It’s dangerous. Our neighbors have kids – not a fun trek to make. So how do we make it safer and friendlier” for everyone to cross? He also has ideas for Thistle, 16th, Roxbury, and 10th, with some raised crosswalks in the mix too.

Getting to Westcrest Park is another challenge. “It’s a great park but there’s no safe way to get there unless you’re driving.” And to those who are skeptical because they’re not seeing many people walking or biking now, Jack offers a line from a movie about professional baseball (in which he worked): “If you build it, they will come.” And that means more chances to interact with your neighbors.

He started getting the word out via posters because he figured people already walking and biking would be those most interested in his ideas. They had been barely up a week by the time we talked on Friday, and he’d already received almost 50 signatures. The first one, he recalled, “was an incredible feeling – somebody else feels the way I do.” He’s also already met with some interested residents who are “trying to find ways to get involved … I didn’t expect this outcome so quickly, I thought I was the only weird person out there.”

Jack has also talked with people who have long been involved and heard about “the battles they’ve had to fight.” He hopes he can add new energy to the fight. He is also encouraged by the new leadership in SDOT – this is the first year for director Greg Spotts – “I’ve been following what they’re up to … (things) can’t change overnight but I’m very much excited and motivated, so that’s part of why I wanted to get involved.” He’s requested one of the neighborhood walking tours Spotts has promised to attend.

But right now, he wants to find out who else is interested in signing on to his plan before he sends it to the city for consideration before the draft Seattle Transportation Plan becomes the official Seattle Transportation Plan. That won’t be the end of his efforts, though, but just the beginning. “The intent is, low-cost, low-barrier moves that can be made. This is step one of many more.”

We ask, if just one part of your plan can become reality for starters, what would it be? SW Henderson, Jack replies, seeing it as a “simple fix” with stop signs and bicycle infrastructure.

His plan also suggests a bike path araund Highland Park Elementary and the park next to it – “imagine if you could safely send your kid out on that bike path … It’s an incredible community that’s continuing to grow (and) invite more people in.”

And the people, he believes, is who should take precedence on the streets – it’s not good enough, in his view, to have “greenways” which are supposed to be shared streets where “you have to trust drivers” so the signage confers “a false sense of security.” Other halfway measures aren’t enough, either: “Crosswalks with a flag are a policy failure.”

You can see Jack’s full proposal here. Here’s where you can sign on, if you support it. (Or if you want to submit your own comment on the draft Seattle Transportation Plan, you can go here.) Wherever his ideas go, he’s optimistic: “The future is bright.”

FOLLOWUP: Here’s when permanent signal – and big bird – will arrive at Highland Park Way/Holden

SDOT sent an update today on the Highland Park Way/Holden project – paving is done, installation of the art piece is weeks away, and the new signal will follow:

(SDOT photo, west side of Highland Park Way SW)

We recently finished pouring concrete and asphalt for the Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St Safety Project. There are now new sidewalks, curb bulbs, and ADA accessible ramps along Highland Park Way SW between SW Holden St and SW Portland St. These improvements will make this intersection safer and more accessible for people living, working, and traveling through the area. …

Last week, we moved most of the equipment and materials out of the area. We also hydroseeded the new topsoil, a process where we spread a mixture of grass seed, fertilizer, mulch, and water. You should see grass sprouting soon. We will return briefly over the next few months to complete the following:

*Remove old roadway markings and paint new ones. This is tentatively scheduled for late October but could shift based on weather.

*Install a new public art piece in early November. (Artist Matthew Mazzotta‘s rendering of “Where’s the party?” is a larger than life Steller’s jay that will perch at the SW corner of Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St.)

*Install permanent metal traffic signals and poles at the Highland Park Way SW and SW Holden St intersection in December or January. You’ll notice there are orange barrels at the four corners of the intersection. These are protecting the exposed anchor bolts for the future poles.

The permanent signals will replace temporary signals that were hastily installed right after the West Seattle Bridge’s sudden shutdown in March 2020, after SW Holden and Highland Park Way SW became a major detour route to get to the 1st Avenue South Bridge. Community members had been lobbying for safety improvements to the intersection for many years before that.

FOLLOWUP: Federal investigators blame ferry Cathlamet’s Fauntleroy crash on ‘fatigue and complacency,’ saying the captain apparently briefly fell asleep

(Photo by Mark Dale, July 28, 2022)

Thanks for the tips. Fourteen and a half months after the state ferry M/V Cathlamet hit an offshore structure at the Fauntleroy terminal, the National Transportation Safety Board has announced the results of its investigation. First, here’s the NTSB summary:

Fatigue and complacency led to a Washington State Ferries passenger and car ferry striking a mooring structure, or dolphin, at a Seattle ferry terminal last year, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday. The contact resulted in $10.3 million in damages to the vessel and $300,000 in damages to the dolphin.

The Cathlamet had crossed Puget Sound with 94 people on board and was approaching the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal on July 28, 2022​, when it struck the ferry terminal dolphin. One minor injury was reported.

The master did not take any action to correct the ferry’s course, slow down or sound the alarm before the contact. He also did not recall what happened and seemed unaware of how the ferry ended up striking the dolphin. Investigators found these events were all consistent with incapacitation from a microsleep, a brief period of sleep lasting a few seconds, due to fatigue.

“Fatigue affects all aspects of human performance, including decision-making, alertness, and reaction time,” NTSB investigators said in the final report. “Mariners should understand the performance effects of sleep loss and recognize the dangers of fatigue, such as microsleeps. When affected by fatigue, mariners should arrange for a qualified watchstander to serve in their place and avoid being on duty when unable to safely carry out their responsibilities.”

The NTSB also found the Cathlamet bridge team exhibited complacency by not complying with Washington State Ferries’ policies when undocking and docking the ferry. The Cathlamet quartermaster did not actively monitor the master as the ferry approached the dock, as required by company policy. Had he done so, he could have quickly taken the helm when the master became incapacitated.

“Complacency occurs when operators repeatedly complete a task without consequence, desensitizing them to its inherent risk,” the report said. “To combat complacency, operators should comply with procedures, such as operating checklists, that are in place to prevent single points of failure, and companies should train operators on the importance of following procedures.”

The full 18-page investigation report is here. It includes this:

Coast Guard Investigators interviewed the master on the day of the casualty. When asked if he felt rested when he arrived at the vessel on the morning of the casualty, the master said, “Well, I don’t know if I’d call it 100% rested … I mean, it was hot out, very hot, you know, trying to sleep.” (At the time of the casualty, there was a heat wave occurring in the Seattle area.) The master informed investigators of a family member’s medical condition and overall health, which had been deteriorating, and that the situation had been bothering him. The master told investigators, “I got engagement, and the next thing I know I hit, I hit the dolphin. That’s all I know.”

The master retired from WSF the day after the casualty, surrendered his Coast Guard credential, and would not provide any additional information to investigators.

Washington State Ferries released its own report back in March (WSB coverage here), as the repaired ferry was finally returning to service. The federal report lists a higher cost ($10.6 million) for the ferry and structure damage than WSF cited ($7.7 million) back in March

FOLLOWUP: One thing the low-bridge cylinder return didn’t change

(SDOT photo, via Twitter/X)

When the cylinder that has just been returned to the West Seattle low bridge was removed last January, SDOT explained that the bridge’s maritime openings would take longer. So we asked today whether those times will return to their previous shorter durations. Spokesperson Chris Miller says no:

The time required for opening the bridge under a one-cylinder operation remains unchanged.

This weekend, in addition to reinstalling the cylinder that was removed earlier this year from the east pier housing, we undertook the task of removing the other cylinder for refurbishment. Both cylinders were originally put into service simultaneously, and the early indicators of failure observed on the first cylinder are also apparent on this one. While we initially had plans to overhaul both cylinders, the failure of the first one has now made the rehabilitation of these cylinders our top priority. Our current plan is to refurbish the second cylinder removed from the east pier housing. Once that cylinder is reinstalled, we will conduct the same process to refurbish the west pier cylinders.

The extended opening times will continue until all the cylinders are refurbished and reinstalled.

That timeline is still being worked out.

LOW-BRIDGE CLOSURE: Cylinder work on Day 1 ‘went very well,’ per SDOT director

October 7, 2023 9:26 pm
|    Comments Off on LOW-BRIDGE CLOSURE: Cylinder work on Day 1 ‘went very well,’ per SDOT director
 |   Transportation | West Seattle news | West Seattle traffic alerts

Reminder that the West Seattle low bridge – aka the Spokane Street Swing Bridge – remains closed for a week of work following the return of the cylinder removed nine months ago for repairs. SDOT director Greg Spotts announced via Twitter/X tonight that today’s work to bring in the rehabilitated cylinder “went very well!” He added, “Tomorrow work continues on reinstallation.” The work is expected to continue until next Saturday afternoon (October 14th). In the meantime, as explained toward the end of this SDOT post, you can use the Transit GO app for a free daily round trip on Metro, either bus or West Seattle Water Taxi. (If you choose the latter, though, note two things: The WS Water Taxi will be on a Sunday schedule for the Indigenous Peoples’ Day holiday Monday, and next Saturday it won’t be running at all because of maintenance work to prepare for winter.)

SEEN OFF WEST SEATTLE: Another state ferry headed for repairs

September 28, 2023 11:44 am
|    Comments Off on SEEN OFF WEST SEATTLE: Another state ferry headed for repairs
 |   Seen at sea | Transportation | West Seattle news

Thanks to Mark for the photo. The state ferry under tow in Elliott Bay is M/V Walla Walla, headed for the Vigor shipyard on Harbor Island. This is the ferry that ran aground on Bainbridge Island in April. That problem was attributed to contaminated fuel. But that’s not why it’s going in for repairs. This is because of recent propeller damage, Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling tells WSB. The most-recent WSF weekly update explains:

Following a significant shudder felt aboard Walla Walla Friday, we sent divers to inspect the ferry’s propellers and they found damage to one of them. The vessel will need to go into dry dock so the prop can be replaced. If no other issues are found, the boat is expected to be out of service for up to four weeks. Until it returns, plan for reduced vehicle capacity on some routes.

Also currently at Vigor is M/V Wenatchee, for conversion to hybrid-electric.

Here’s what Metro’s next new electric buses will look like when they enter service

Just unveiled this morning – the new look for the new electric buses Metro puts into service. According to the announcement:

… The new design is the first major change for the look of Metro’s fleet since 2004 and is intended to be a visual reminder of the transition away from Metro’s hybrid (diesel-electric) buses to the zero-emission fleet. There will be two separate designs: a color mix of blues, yellows, and greens across the top of Metro’s standard fleet, and the color purple joining the familiar red that represents Metro’s RapidRide fleet across the top of those buses. Metro’s original zero-emission fleet, the electric trolleys, will continue sporting purple. … The new liveries will be phased in as the new battery-electric buses start going into service, which is scheduled to begin in 2025. The new design will be painted at the factory for new vehicles as they replace the hybrid fleet.

This is just for new buses – it will NOT be painted on any of the ones already in the fleet, Metro’s Al Sanders confirms.

CLOSURE ALERT: SDOT to close West Seattle low bridge October 7-14

(SDOT photo, January)

SDOT announced today that it’s set the date for a surface-traffic closure starting October 7th and lasting “approximately one week” to reinstall the cylinder removed last January. From the announcement:

… The next step in the maintenance process is to reinstall the turn cylinder that was removed from the low bridge’s east pier housing last winter for refurbishment. When the east pier’s cylinder was removed last December, preparations to overhaul all four of the bridge’s hydraulic turning cylinders were actually already underway as part of our comprehensive repair and maintenance effort. When the unexpected damage to the cylinder occurred, the planning work we had already completed enabled us to quickly jump into developing a response plan and likely allowed us to complete repairs sooner than if we had been starting from scratch.

The turn cylinder overhaul work will replace or repair these parts so that they can continue to function as originally designed, and can be readily replaced if needed, as part of our ongoing preventative maintenance work on this bridge.

From Saturday, October 7 through Saturday, October 14, 2023, crews will reinstall the repaired turn cylinder inside the east pier housing that was removed in early 2023. The remaining three turn cylinders will also be rehabilitated in the future. This operation will require us to close the low bridge for people driving, biking, and walking for approximately one week. Our work will be vital to keep the bridge reliably in operation for today and the future.

The announcement also says that free Transit GO credits will be provided so you can take a daily bus or Water Taxi round trip at no charge. (Metro had previously announced that the Water Taxi will be out of service October 14-15 for winter preparation, so we’re checking to see if the low-bridge closure is expected to end by October 14, or whether some overlap is possible.)