The project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct is already having a major impact on transportation around West Seattle. The construction detours have made it more challenging to access downtown – on the other hand, the City’s work on the Spokane Street Viaduct, specifically the new 4th Avenue ramp, has helped to mitigate that. When the whole Spokane Street project is finished, in the summer of 2012, access will be improved. However, detours around the Viaduct replacement will continue in various forms for several more years.
But that is only one of the critical transportation issues that West Seattle residents and businesses are concerned with. Last March, the West Seattle Chamber brought together a group of them to identify priorities for transportation in West Seattle.
In 1999, seven neighborhoods in West Seattle developed a coordinated transportation action agenda (Admiral, Delridge, Morgan Junction, West Seattle Junction, Westwood/Highland Park, Alki, and Fauntleroy). That agenda, in turn, was incorporated and referenced in the five neighborhoods that developed neighborhood plans (all of the above but Alki and Fauntleroy). These recommendations guided the City’s work to improve the Spokane Street Viaduct, press Sound Transit and Metro Transit for more bus service and express bus service, support the Water Taxi, improve neighborhood circulation for pedestrians and bicycles, and improve the Fauntleroy, Delridge, and California corridors. Significant progress was made on all of these recommendations, and some of them have been fully implemented. The plan also recommended constructing a monorail to West Seattle, but that fell apart when the Seattle Monorail Project proved to be unable to manage its financial and planning problems and the voters repealed its authority.
The new plan outlines detailed recommendations for twelve specific corridors/intersections, along with four pedestrian improvements at signalized intersections. Reconfiguring 35th Avenue SW to make it safer for pedestrians, bicycles, and motor vehicles is identified as the highest priority. Other high priorities are repaving and upgrading Delridge Way SW, California Way SW, and the RapidRide Line corridor. Second tier priorities include:
- repaving Beach Drive SW
- upgrading pedestrian facilities on SW Genesee Street
- improving and widening SW Oregon Street between Delridge and 16th
- figuring out how to make the Spokane/Chelan/Marginal Way/Lower Spokane/Delridge Way intersection work better for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit, and freight
- Improving the Delridge/Andover, Avalon/Genesee, 16th/Holden, and 47th/Admiral intersections to support freight and pedestrian movement.
This is a great set of transportation priorities for the City to work on implementing. They are thoughtful, doable, and, while there will be some significant costs, do not require extensive new resources. West Seattle is meeting its growth targets, and the City is implementing many improvements to support West Seattle neighborhoods. Generally, the City has implemented almost all of the significant recommendations made in its 37 neighborhood plans, with the exception of a number of the proposed transportation improvements, which have been difficult to fund. West Seattle has done well in securing funding for those recommended in 1999, and the City should take these new recommendations very seriously and work with West Seattle to develop an implementation strategy.