West Seattle, Washington
Part of the West Seattle Bridge update/discussion during City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s Town Hall earlier tonight was a recap of the 6 changes planned/proposed for West Marginal Way. SDOT announced tonight that a key part of those changes – restriping part of the West Marginal/Highland Park Way intersection, as shown below (from our Sept. 18th story) – will start this Sunday (October 4th).
Specifics on work hours and traffic impacts will be out before the weekend.
Two Washington State Ferries notes:
TWO WITH TUGS: Thanks to Maureen for the photo. That’s MV Spokane with tugs this morning, passing Alki. Don sent a similar photo of MV Tacoma going by with two tugs on Saturday. WSF spokesperson Ian Sterling confirms Spokane was headed to drydock at Vigor on Harbor Island today, while Tacoma was headed out after the same, sending this photo taken while work was under way:
Tacoma is back in service on the Bainbridge Island route today.
VASHON ISLAND DOCK WORK: If you use the Fauntleroy-Vashon-Southworth route, note that it will be affected this afternoon/evening by repair work:
(Today) WSF maintenance crews will be doing necessary repair work to components on one of the vehicle loading ramps at the Vashon dock. This work will begin after the 3:30 pm departure from Vashon and will require a closure of approximately 11 hours to complete. During this time, only one functioning loading slip will be available at Vashon, which will likely lead to vessel delays in the afternoon and evening. Updates will be provided as they become available.
If you’re awaiting a ferry, you can check its status via Vessel Watch.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Scooters have arrived.
Will they be a convenient transportation tool, a risk to riders and pedestrians, both, or neither? Hopes and concerns were at the heart of briefings during the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s September meeting, Thursday night online. The WSTC got a quick West Seattle Bridge update too.
Here’s what happened:
BRIDGE UPDATE: SDOT’s project lead Heather Marx presented this, with toplines similar to what the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force heard the day before (WSB coverage here). Stabilization work continues; the contractor is starting the process of attaching brackets that will be necessary for post-tensioning steel work. Marx and a Northwest Seaport Alliance (Seattle and Tacoma ports) delegation toured the top of bridge in pouring rain.
Before we get to the new week, it’s time for an update on the Delridge project paving the way for RapidRide H Line to launch next year. Key points of the week ahead, summarized by SDOT‘s project team, include another try at the twice-postponed work that will close SW Oregon east of Delridge:
We are now planning to start this work the weekend of October 2 – 5, with the closure beginning early Friday morning and lasting up until early Monday morning before morning traffic begins. The work is planned to continue the following weekend of October 9 – 12 with the same work schedule.
Beginning next week, crews will also be working on upgrading some curb ramps at 26th Ave SW and SW Brandon St. There won’t be any closures as a result of this work, but there will be flaggers directing traffic through the intersection. As with a lot of work happening in the corridor right now, this work is weather-dependent and subject to change.
… Beginning next week, we will begin demolishing the roadway between SW Hudson St and Puget Blvd SW on the west side
▪ We will pour concrete in early October once demolition has been completed. This work is weather-dependent and subject to change. …
… Through the end of next week, we will continue paving the sidewalks on the west side of the street between SW Thistle St and SW Trenton St
▪ Select driveways will need to be closed for up to 3 days as a part of this work. Properties will be notified in advance.
▪ This work is weather-dependent and the dates may change
▪ Later this fall, we will move to the east side of the street to complete similar work …
You can sign up for text alerts on the project – usually just one or two a week … by texting DELRIDGE to 33222.
Also from West Seattle/South Park City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s weekly update, new information on options SDOT is considering for the future of what’s currently a “Keep Moving Street” on both sides of Alki Point. Three weeks ago, SDOT announced those sections of Beach Drive and Alki Avenue would keep their no-through-traffic status at least until King County moved to Stage 3 of COVID-19 recovery. Nearby residents have been collecting petition signatures in support of making it permanent, as Herbold notes in her update, saying she “support(s) the continued efforts of constituents advocating for a permanent Stay Healthy Street.” She says she contacted SDOT with questions about the status and in reply, the department told her five options are under consideration:
1. Return to previous street operation
2. Convert to a neighborhood greenway, changes would include:
-Stop signs at intersecting streets will be added where they currently operate as neighborhood yield intersections (64th Ave SW, Point Pl SW, 64th Pl SW, 64th Ave SW)
-Additional traffic calming so that spacing of speed humps and raised crosswalks is approximately every 300 feet
-Approximately 3-4 speed humps or speed cushions would be added.
-Connectivity to the citywide bicycle network would be enhanced through the addition of sharrow pavement markings and wayfinding signs.
3. Upgrade to a permanent Stay Healthy Street, changes would include:
-All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
-Street Closed and Stay Healthy Street signs at every intersection with durable materials
4. Upgrade neighborhood greenway with additional space for walking adjacent to beachside curb.
-All of the neighborhood greenway enhancements listed above
-Removal of parking and delineation (tuff curb and post) of additional space for walking adjacent to the existing sidewalk adjacent to the beach
-Increased space for walking would be adjacent to park beach only, not continuous where buildings are between roadway and beach.
5. Convert street to operate as one-way northbound for vehicles, providing shared walking and biking space adjacent to beachside sidewalk
-Delineation of a continuous shared walking and biking space adjacent to the existing beachside curb (8’ to 15’ wide)
-Continuous shared walking and biking space would connect from the existing Alki Trail to the end of the Alki Point Keep Moving Street.
-Adjustment of the roadway to operate as one way northbound for vehicles, preserving parking primarily adjacent to east/south curbs.
Herbold says SDOT assured her the street’s status wouldn’t change “until the community engagement process concludes and there is a final determination regarding a permanent configuration.” There’s no elaboration on exactly what the “community engagement process” entails, but the Stay Healthy/Keep Moving Streets project webpage has a contact email: StayHealthyStreets@seattle.gov.
The rain’s not done yet, so SDOT has again postponed plans for its contractor to close SW Oregon at Delridge (south of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center). We asked late today if the closure – which had been scheduled to start Friday morning – was on or off, and the project team replied, “Our team has just determined that the forecast this weekend is looking too wet to fully complete this work. We will have one crew working this weekend on some other items, but SW Oregon St will remain open during this time.” We’re publishing weekly project updates, so we should know soon about a new date.
In case you’ve missed the mentions in our daily traffic (etc.) watch, King County Metro wants to be sure you’re aware that they’ll resume collecting fares on Water Taxis and buses one week from today (Thursday, October 1st). The WT reminder is here; Metro’s reminder is here. Both have implemented health/safety measures – the Water Taxi will have shielded fare-collection carts like this:
Both services suspended fares six months ago because of the pandemic.
Thanks to commenter Flo for the tip – Lime‘s e-scooters have arrived in West Seattle. We’ve been watching Alki and The Junction for sightings since last Wednesday, when Lime became the first of three scooter-share companies to deploy theirs as part of Seattle’s “pilot” program. This morning we saw several on Alki, the ones above in front of Outer Space Seattle (WSB sponsor) and a couple more between there and Seacrest. Lime told WSB they plan to deploy “a handful” here for starters, with more in the weeks ahead. Also getting the city’s go-ahead are Wheels (seated scooters) and LINK. Each of the three companies will have permission for up to 500 scooters citywide for starters, eventually up to 2,000 each “if things go well,” according to SDOT‘s announcement, which has more details on how the program is supposed to work.
A bumpy stretch at the east end of the SW Roxbury corridor is about to be repaved, as announced in SDOT‘s weekly West Seattle Bridge-related update:
On the weekends of September 26-27 and October 10-11 (weather-permitting), our crews will be repaving a section of
Olson Pl SW and 1st Ave S at the intersection with Myers Way S.
Olson Pl SW will be repaved at the intersection, and the southbound lane of 1st Ave S will be repaved just north of the intersection.
Expect traffic impacts the weekends of Sept. 26-27 and Oct. 10-11 for this work. Traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction during paving. Work will start in the early morning hours to open the travel lanes back up in the early afternoon both days. A noise variance will be issued to complete the paving.
1st Ave S has become a heavily trafficked corridor as part of the detour route for the West Seattle High-Rise Bridge closure. While there is additional pavement along 1st Ave S in need of repair, our crews are prioritizing this stretch of the roadway that is in particularly bad shape to make sure we’re off the detour route in the early afternoon. We will continue to monitor the pavement along the detour route to determine where repaving and repair is needed.
That’s the full Reconnect West Seattle “implementation plan” from SDOT. Got questions? Wednesday, join HPAC – the all-volunteer community coalition for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – in a conversation about what RWS will bring, and other upcoming projects. Beyond that, HPAC plans to “discuss how we want to work with the City to mitigate traffic impacts going forward” and will get a “preliminary introduction to the Home Zone concept – steps that will be taken to keep our area safe, walkable and connected during the WS Bridge reroute traffic.” The meeting is online at 7 pm Wednesday; teleconference/phone information is on HPAC’s website.
P.S. HPAC’s Executive Committee has openings, including chair, with longtime leader Gunner Scott having just stepped down after five years of service. Be at Wednesday’s meeting to talk about that too.
Today, as mentioned this morning, brought Metro‘s September “service change.” This time next year, the service change will bring the launch of RapidRide H Line, replacing Route 120. In the meantime, the extensive project to prepare for it continues. Here are the highlights of the week ahead:
*SW Oregon closure at Delridge – now scheduled for the next two weekends, Friday morning until Monday morning, September 25-28 and October 2-5, weather permitting. Delridge will remain open to north-south traffic. If you would usually use SW Oregon to get to/from Delridge, SW Andover will be the detour.
*Pipe work near SW Brandon – This has several more weeks to go, but SDOT says night work is complete. Next week will include pipe connections, so if your home/business is near there, watch for notification of water shutoffs.
*Paving will continue on the east side of Delridge in the project’s Zone A (north). Next week, this will focus on the section between SW Genesee and SW Dakota.
*Demolition on the west side of Delridge between SW Edmunds and SW Hudson will start as soon as Wednesday (September 23).
See the project’s full weekly bulletin here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Since the West Seattle Bridge’s sudden closure almost half a year ago, West Marginal Way SW has become one of the most-traveled, and most-griped-about, streets in West Seattle: SDOT‘s latest stats show its volume has tripled, from 9,000+ vehicles a day to 27,000+. It’s the major route to the main alternate bridge, the state-operated 1st Avenue South Bridge, and beset with backups.
While the entirety of West Marginal was not part of the Reconnect West Seattle traffic-mitigation plan, it made an appearance in parts of that newly released plan, and SDOT has been promising a standalone package of West Marginal changes; we’ve been asking about it for weeks.
Today, it’s going public. We got a first look at the 6-point plan in an online meeting with SDOT’s West Seattle Bridge project leader Heather Marx and communications director Michael Harold.
Two notes related to the Delridge Way SW road project paving the way for the RapidRide H Line:
OUTAGE: SDOT confirms a crew working on the project hit a water line this morning. That caused an hour-long water outage, according to the Seattle Public Utilities map, which says more than 30 customers were affected. The photo above was sent by Josh, who says the crew also “hit our internet.” SDOT spokesperson Adonis Ducksworth tells WSB the department is “investigating the situation.:
POSTPONEMENT: In our exchange with Ducksworth, we asked if this weekend’s Delridge/Oregon closure was still on, since we hadn’t seen a mention yet of preparations such as bus rerouting. No, he said, it’s postponed; they’re aiming for next weekend, weather permitting.
(Seattle Channel video of Wednesday morning’s committee meeting)
“Our audit was not an investigation into the specifics of (the West Seattle Bridge closure),” stressed deputy auditor Sean DeBlieck. It was, though, a result of the sudden closure almost 6 months ago – soon afterward, committee chair Alex Pedersen called for it. We reported on the audit when it was made public Monday, in advance of today’s presentation. Here’s the slide deck they used:
Continuing the presentation, assistant auditor Jane Dunkel noted that while the report mentions 77 city-owned bridges, SDOT cites 124, because its count includes pedestrian bridges and co-owned structures.
No West Seattle bridges were in the “poor” category in SDOT’s most recent inspection ratings. But as Councilmember Lisa Herbold pointed out, pre-closure, the West Seattle Bridge was rated “fair,” so some of those bridges may have repair needs long before getting into the “poor” category.
A key point of the audit, as mentioned in Monday coverage – SDOT has averaged $6 million on bridge maintenance annually over the past 14 years, but should be spending $34 million to $100 million a year. (It should be noted that this was not an audit of SDOT’s budget in general, so auditors weren’t necessarily saying the agency needs more money, just that it should be spending more on bridge maintenance.)
The report’s 10 findings included that SDOT could be out of federal compliance, as suggested in an “informal” state/federal review last year (at SDOT’s invitation), which could cost the city dearly if it’s found ineligible to compete for federal grants, such as the ones that might factor into West Seattle Bridge repair or replacement funding.
Other recommendations included that SDOT should spend less time doing “reimbursable work” for others and should spend less time maintaining private bridges. SDOT deputy director Lorelei Williams noted that the department does not agree with the recommendation to cut back on reimbursable work, as, she said, it allows them to afford more staff. “Sustainable, scalable sources of revenue” are overall a big challenge for the department. Yet even if they had all the money more bridge maintenance would cost, she said, scaling up staff would take a while.
Williams also repeated a point SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe made in his written response to the audit, that SDOT does not believe the West Seattle Bridge problems resulted from any deficiencies in its maintenance program. She also mentioned that SDOT set aside Roadway Structures – which includes bridges – as its own division just last year. Its acting director Matt Donahue also participated in the meeting; Herbold asked him for clarification on the new load rating that the city has to do for its bridges because of new classifications of vehicles approved by the feds; the re-rating was ordered in 2015, to be completed by 2022.
Bottom line, the maintenance backlog and funding gap – identified as a nationwide challenge – was summarized as a “complicated and expensive problem.” Auditor Jones told councilmembers that this report isn’t a one-time check-in with SDOT – they’ll check with the department each year to see how the implementation of recommendations is going.
New to bicycling around the peninsula? Cascade Bicycle Club has a new set of maps and videos meant, according to the announcement, ” to help West Seattle residents impacted by the West Seattle Bridge closure more safely and confidently bicycle to downtown and throughout their community.” (Cascade also is advertising on WSB to help get the word out.) The featured routes:
Cascade says those routes “encompass the most common commutes for West Seattle residents.” You can find the maps and more on this resource page that “also includes links to free resources designed to help bicyclists of all levels become confident riding on the streets, learn the rules of the road, and get a bike in road-ready shape.”
During the planning process for the now-underway project paving the way for the RapidRide H Line, the so-called Brandon Node area was a major focus of concern – some for example wanted to see the RR H stop at Brandon rather than Findlay, since the former already has a signal, as well as a library. Nonetheless, the stop is going in at SW Findlay, and the city is now seeking input on ways to get people to/from there, as well as SW Brandon:
Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) invite the Delridge and High Point communities to participate in creating better pedestrian connections in the Delridge neighborhood. Please take a tour of the site by watching this video:
Visit surveymonkey.com/r/C9HBJCF to provide input.
This design project will provide a plan for improving pedestrian paths along SW Brandon and SW Findlay streets and make trail entries to Camp Long and Longfellow Creek more open and welcoming to the public. One of the goals of this project is to improve access for the future new RapidRide H Line stops that will begin service in 2021 at SW Findlay and Delridge.
Find project info by going here.
6:57 PM: Just in from Washington State Ferries:
The #2 Issaquah is out of service until further notice due to #1 main engine issues. This cancels the 6:30 p.m., 7:25 p.m., 8:25 p.m. from Vashon to Fauntleroy, the 7:00 p.m., 7:55 p.m., 8:50 p.m. from Fauntleroy to Vashon, the 9:20 p.m. from Vashon to Southworth and the 9:45 p.m. from Southworth to Vashon.
9:34 PM: Still on one boat, and that one’s running behind schedule, WSF says.
12:10 AM: WSF says the Issaquah is fixed, and will be back in service starting at 4:05 am.
As noted in our morning traffic report, the Admiral Way sinkhole is now filled. SDOT had said that crews were doing exploratory work first to see if they could find the cause. So, did they? We followed up today, and here’s what SDOT’s Kari Tupper responded:
Our crews restored two utility cuts and repaired the void (sinkhole) in the 5300 block of SW Admiral Way this week. Several teams of SDOT staff and Seattle Public Utilities coordinated efforts to make this happen relatively quickly. We have completed the paving.
We were not able to pinpoint the source (cause) of the void during our work. These issues can be difficult to diagnose. Crews ran a CCTV camera through pipes and also did other diagnostic tests of water and sewer lines but did not find any water leaks or structural issues with the pipes at this time. It’s possible that groundwater is the source of the issue at this site. We may continue to perform additional testing and/or work at the site in the future and will keep you posted.
Thinking about ignoring the West Seattle low-bridge rules? Eric has a reason to reconsider:
(Wednesday night) while riding my bike home, I saw the low bridge backed up due to all the cars in line to cross. Then, an ambulance tried to get through. Took nearly 5 minutes. A Seattle incident-response vehicle [photo above] was stuck in traffic because they could not get around everyone safely.
It’s not just saving time. What helps you with a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death to someone else.
Yes, we know, somebody in the photo may be permitted, But here’s a refresher of the low-bridge policy, if you’ve forgotten:
-All traffic allowed 9 pm-5 am
-Rest of the time: Transit (including employer shuttles and “essential worker” vanpools), freight (as in big trucks), emergency vehicles, placard holders (limited amount issued to local business groups, for example)
-Bicycle/pedestrian path open 24/7
Camera enforcement is expected to start this fall, but without monetary penalties until early next year; in the meantime, traffic-enforcement officers are still assigned to the bridge at random times. The policies continue to evolve and, as reported here last night, SDOT is suggesting a subcommittee of the West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force to focus on that.
A week and a half after a sizable sinkhole opened in the middle of Admiral Way, SDOT has set the date for permanent repairs. Just got word from SDOT’s Kari Tupper that “we are going to be working on the road repairs on Admiral Way and also working on two nearby Seattle Public Utilities water cut repairs on Tuesday and Wednesday (9/8-9/9), right after the holiday … the crews are expecting to maintain one lane of traffic in each direction throughout the days of work.” Pending those repairs, the sinkhole’s been covered by a steel plate.
Metro‘s September “service change” is now 2 1/2 weeks away, so today the transit service officially announced what’s changing, as well as new safety features.
CHANGES: Saturday, September 19th, is this fall’s “service change” date; all the changes – including continued suspensions – are listed here. A West Seattle highlight: “Almost all service” will be restored on Routes 55, 56, and 57. You can follow those links for new timetables, or, Metro suggests, ” Riders can use Metro’s online trip planner and enter a date of Sept. 19 or later to see options.”
SAFETY: Also in today’s announcement:
Metro is now installing safety partitions to allow front-door boarding in preparation for restoring fares, targeted for Oct. 1, although a firm date has yet to be announced.
The plexiglass safety partitions will swing into position when a driver opens the front door, minimizing interaction between boarding passengers and the driver. The partition also can be opened manually by the driver to allow them to leave their seat to assist passengers, including those who use mobility devices. …
Each automated partition is estimated to cost $3,200, about half the $6,000 cost for a comparable manual-only door from an outside vendor. Metro is using CARES Act funds to help pay for the equipment.
Metro has more than 1,000 barriers out of 1,444 produced today, and expected to have all partitions installed by October.
The new partitions were “designed, engineered, and fabricated by Metro’s in-house vehicle maintenance staff,” the announcement says, along with this:
Alongside new safety partitions, Metro is installing mask dispensers on 102 buses this month, starting with RapidRide buses on the A and F lines in south King county and 60-foot trolley buses on routes 7, 36, 43, 44, and 49 in Seattle. Metro intends to install more dispensers on other high-ridership routes in the future.
Each dispenser holds about 150 masks, and Metro will monitor demand and refill them as needed. The King County Council designated funds to purchase and make available masks on public transportation.
Metro says it sampled mask compliance on four high-ridership routes recently and it ranged from 72 percent to 85 percent. Ridership, meantime, is less than 40 percent of what it was last year (on weekdays).
Though the city hasn’t gone back to fully enforcing all parking restrictions yet, here’s one sign you do NOT want to ignore: The no-parking sign on Fauntleroy Way alongside Lincoln Park. The photo is from Ian, who emailed to say: “I live across from Lincoln Park and have seen an increase in towing over the last two weeks of cars that parked in the ferry line after 2 pm. As I type this I’m watching a family of 5 trying to arrange pickup after their vehicle was towed. I can see both sides of this, there are plenty of signs stating it’s a tow away zone, but there’s also no ferry traffic to speak of. Paying to recover a towed vehicle isn’t cheap especially in these economic times.” He counted 7 towed vehicles today alone, and suggested a PSA to remind people about the restrictions – no parking 2-7 pm weekdays, 9 am-3 pm weekends.
That’s the top 10 list of community-prioritized traffic-easing projects for Highland Park, Riverview, South Delridge, and Roxhill, emerging from the Reconnect West Seattle survey process. As mentioned at last week’s West Seattle Bridge Community Task Force meeting (WSB coverage here), you have one last chance to speak up if you have a comment or concern about the list, and tomorrow is the deadline for that. SDOT says two of the “priority” projects are already done – #3 and #4, left-turn pockets and signal changes at 16th/Holden – and another is in progress – #9, signal changes at Delridge/Orchard. The others are set to “advance to project development,” except for #2, road repairs, planned for “implementation” by year’s end. (For reference, here’s the original list that went out for prioritization.) If you have feedback on those – or the South Park, Georgetown, SODO, freight, bicycle project lists linked here – WestSeattleBridge@seattle.gov or 206-400-7511, by day’s end tomorrow (Wednesday, August 26th).