July 12, 2020 at 2:00 pm #982998
Using surveys to elicit trustworthy decision-making information from project stakeholders is HARD. Particularly if you are asking project stakeholders to rank a LONG list of traffic mitigation projects. Surveys like this are particularly challenging when survey participants publicly question your survey methodology – and assumptions.
Now that SDOT HAS invited residents of West Seattle (and other Duwamish Communities) to prioritize a list of traffic mitigation projects which require minimal study and cost less than $100,000, what sort of public feedback should SDOT Director Sam Zimbabwe elicit next?
Please use this forum to ask Sam questions about the projects on the Reconnect West Seattle list, the projects which AREN’T on the Reconnect West Seattle List, SDOT’s survey methodology, and the decision-making methodology which SDOT and its transportation partners will use to decide which project ideas to move forward on. In addition, please describe the assumptions which caused you to pick the 10 projects you did.
Also, based on your review of this survey (and your review of articles about planned traffic mitigations), please share YOUR next steps. For example, will you create a carpool – or join one? Will you write articles which describe other projects on SDOT’s radar? Are you planning to sell your home or business – and move? Where will you go?
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ABOUT ME:
I’ll get the conversational ball rolling by volunteering that I found it difficult to select the best 10 projects on the Reconnect West Seattle List – without more context. By “context”, I mean: “What additional traffic throughput can I expect during rush hour if this project is implemented on a stand-alone basis, rather than in combination with other projects on this list?”
I assume that at least 50% of the trips which leave West Seattle are made by private car FOR A REASON. I assume that these trips are too long (more than 7 miles) and too time-consuming to conduct using King County Metro’s hub and spoke transit system – particularly if you are sick, disabled, transporting wriggling, easily bored children, or transporting a lot of “stuff”. I also assume that bikes and buses compete for the same, relatively short, individual, stuff-free trips. That’s probably why the gridlock reduction projects I expected to see on the Reconnect West Seattle list are significantly different than the ones on the Reconnect West Seattle project list.
(See this article by Michael Luis titled “From A to B: Data Show the Pain in Store for Commuters from West Seattle Bridge Failure”, on postalley.org, to understand the data which shaped my assumptions.)
Just so you know, the sorts of people-mover projects I envision are: 1) A reverse lane project on Highland Park Ave SW; 2) A traffic routing system which divides traffic entering or leaving Highland Park Drive evenly between SW Holden and 9th Ave SW/SW Thistle; 3) A system which rations access to the last few blocks of Highland Park Ave SW and SW Roxbury before you exit West Seattle, particularly during rush hour (I think we some way to guarantee that every West Seattle vehicle owner can enter and leave West Seattle 2 times per week during rush hour for free without incurring a charge on their Good to Go transponder); and 4) Repurposing school parking lots and other parking lots owned by City, County, State, and Federal Agencies (and federal contractors, like Boeing) as temporary Park and Rides served by vans and busses.
At this juncture, I have no idea whether SDOT is pursuing projects like this, let alone a van-based Transit Center on leased land in South Park or Georgetown which offers secure bicycle storage and frequent, affordable, and direct trips to destinations which are more than 7 miles away (for example: Redmond, Bellevue, Kirkland, Northgate, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mukilteo, Everett, and Renton). I cannot confirm that Washington State Ferry system gave up on the notion of a new car ferry service (and dock) which connects Alki to Downtown Seattle, Madrona, Edmonds, Mukilteo, and Everett. I cannot confirm that an expanded passenger ferry service to these destinations will be met by a frequent van or bus service.
I have questions about the methodology and assumptions which informed the Reconnect West Seattle Survey, including: “How will surveys like this be promoted – so that SDOT receives statistically significant results?” “Will the projects on the current Reconnect West Seattle List end up competing for funding for projects which do?” “Who suggested each of the projects on the current Reconnect West Seattle list and why wasn’t I consulted?” “Why aren’t projects which help emergency responders reach their intended destination during rush hour on this list?” (Think: “the fire station on SW Holden and 16th Avenue SW”); “Would SDOT please describe other, more complex, people-mover projects which are under consideration?” “How can survey participants change the vote they made on the Reconnect West Seattle Survey – as new information becomes available?” and “What decisions will be made based on a review of our survey responses – by whom, and when?”
I question whether SDOT and other government agencies can effectively compare alternative transportation investments based on the pre-COVID-19, pre-trade war, pre-bridge failure trip data – i.e., the data which fueled Seattle’s Modal Plan Network. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we need real-time trip data. I am wondering where to GET real time trip data and what it will cost.
I REALIZE that sharing the questions, answers, and recommendations we all have (in near real time) is a huge challenge. That is why I am asking SDOT and its transportation partners to create a sortable, filterable FAQ on their respective websites. A sortable, filterable FAQ will make it easier for voters to track how long it takes to get their questions answered, who answered a particular question, whether the answerer corrected an earlier (incorrect) answer, and the percentage of answers which were non-answers. I’m also volunteering to help with this task.
Yes, I DO I realize that it’s easier to supply a vague description of an e-democracy app, than it is to cooperate with other people to create one. Of COURSE I worry that West Seattle’s diverse stakeholder groups will cancel out our respective survey recommendations. I ACKNOWLEDGE that COVID-19-related layoffs, bankruptcies, lost B&O tax revenues from tourism, and the lack of an income tax in Washington State will hinder our ability to fund the transportation projects we need. And I, too, DREAD the controversial public conversations we need to have about the people-moving projects (and policies) we should create and use – until the West Seattle Bridge is repaired or replaced.
I’m hoping for civility but expecting a lot of shaming, blaming, and online harassment. All I can say in conclusion is: “Our democracy is what it is. There’s a LOT of work to be done.”July 13, 2020 at 10:34 am #983039
I need better descriptions of the projects I’m asked to vote for.July 13, 2020 at 10:36 am #983040
If you are unable to create an account on the West Seattle Blog using Chrome for PC, try the new Microsoft Edge Browser.July 13, 2020 at 10:48 am #983042
I would hope the planners could bring forth a little more information regarding the numerous bike ideas. I may only be a part time bike rider, but the sheer number of proposals were daunting. While I chose a few projects, anything which cuts back on driving lanes is an automatic no from me. While promoting riding is healthy and might get a few more folks on their bikes, we are facing a substantial period with very limited options for using a car to clear the peninsula. For some of us, a car is our only option for getting to or from our employment.
While I appreciate the numerous options shown in the survey, I also feel the $100k limit produces a list of low cost, low reward options which will do little to “bridge” the gap until a permanent solution is derived.
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