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Sound Transit West Seattle Light Rail Draft EIS; West Seattle Bridge Update; Free Covid Tests and Masks; Pothole Reporting and Tracking; Catalytic Converter Theft Testimony; Applications Due 2/28 for the Indigenous Advisory Council; Reduced Operating Hours at Some Libraries; Explore District 1 Through Public Art; Virtual Office Hours

Sound Transit West Seattle Light Rail Draft EIS

The Sound Transit Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the West Seattle Ballard Link Extension is now available online in advance of the formal publication date of January 28. Sound Transit will hold a 90-day public comment period starting January 28, though April 28.

Here’s the West Seattle and Ballard Draft EIS webpage, where you can access the Executive Summary, as well as the chapters and appendices of the report.

The Executive Summary includes maps showing the alternatives, as well as charts comparing the costs and impacts. The alternatives considered in the DEIS were approved for inclusion by the Sound Transit Board. After the public comment period, the Board will decide which alternatives to include in the Final EIS. For West Seattle, the DEIS analysis is in three segments:

  • Duwamish crossing
  • Delridge (which includes both the Delridge and Avalon Stations)
  • West Seattle Junction

The Fact Sheet notes how to send in public comments, and the geographic focus for each of the five public meetings:

Email comments should be sent to: WSBLEDEIScomments@soundtransit.org. Comments may also be submitted online through https://wsblink.participate.online/ or left as a voicemail at the following number: 1-800-471-0879. Written or emailed comments should include the commentor’s name and return address or email address. All comments may be submitted in languages other than English and will be translated. Comments may also be offered at a public hearing or open house:


West Seattle Bridge Update

Here’s  the first of SDOT’s regular progress update videos. This December video highlights hydro-demolition to create access openings in the bridge deck, installation of rigging cables, and platform assembly for crews to create a workspace on the underside of the bridge.

A second work platform is scheduled to be raised to the underside of the bridge next weekend.

Spokane Street (Lower) Bridge Update:

In addition, for the Spokane Street (low) bridge, current bridge strengthening and enhancement work associated with the Low Bridge are incorporated with the KNA repair contract. At this point in time, KNA is constructing the work platforms at ground level with the plan to raise and secure the suspended work platform under the low bridge in mid-February.

SDOT is coordinating with the maritime community and key stakeholders to schedule pump replacement and hydraulic system maintenance on the east side of the waterway; this work will require approval from US Coast Guard to deviate from a full bridge opening to only a single leaf opening to marine traffic. This work could occur as soon as late January pending feedback from stakeholders and approval from US Coast Guard.

SDOT plans to install a repaired hydraulic cylinder on the east side of the waterway when the components needed to complete the install are ready.

Control systems are also being upgraded. SDOT’s contractor, Taurus Power & Controls, continues to procure the required control system components and develop detailed plans for installing the new control system scheduled for completion after the high bridge opens in mid-2022.

As a part of the Low Bridge Controls Project, SDOT will reroute and update the wires connecting the control tower that allow the low bridge to open and close for maritime traffic off the West Seattle Bridge – where they are today – to a new location under the waterway. The communications project reached 100% Design in early December and will advertise for bids in late January.

Reconnect West Seattle Update

SDOT provided the following updates re: Reconnect West Seattle work to mitigate the closure of the West Seattle Bridge.

To recap 2021, the Reconnect West Seattle (RWS) program installed 115 capital projects: 53 of them community prioritized as listed in the RWS Implementation Plan and the three Home Zone neighborhoods, and 62 to directly mitigate traffic impacts.

Looking ahead to 2022, the team will be working to deliver 10 2022 RWS Implementation Plan projects, the remaining 24 Home Zone projects, continued traffic mitigation, RWS decommissioning (projects that need to be removed as the High Bridge is reopened), and two sets of projects that will begin after the High Bridge re-opens that we purposefully held to avoid impacting traffic on the detour routes.

In addition, The team:

  • installed 8 paint-and-post curb bulbs to mitigate traffic concerns from the Fauntleroy Community (6 at three locations) and W Marginal Way residential area near 17th Ave SW (2 locations).
  • modified SR-99 southbound, with WSDOT approval, to open the third lane for more capacity, specifically focused on better transit reliability to approach the Low Bridge.
  • met with the 16th Ave SW Safety committee near South Seattle College again to discuss concerns and process for improvements. Additional Vision Zero yard signs in different languages will be placed along 16th Ave SW in January, and radar speed sign design is ongoing.
  • Is looking at Utah Ave S, rather than Colorado Ave S, for a bike connection in SODO, to align with the E Marginal Way project, which identifies the east/west bike connection to meet with Utah Ave S.

Home Zones

South Park

  • Crews have started planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter.
  • We have 8 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

Highland Park

  • Crews have starting planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter. Fifty of the trees will be planted along the SW Barton St Neighborhood Greenway and species will alternate between Oak, Elm, Ironwood, and Dogwood.
  • We have 13 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

Georgetown

  • Crews were one day into adding ADA curb ramps at S Eddy St and S Albro Pl when concrete drivers went on strike, so we will finish that project when able. Another project’s construction, 6th Ave S walkway and delineation, was paused by winter weather in late December/early January.
  • Crews started planting 100 trees in the neighborhood this winter.
  • We have 4 projects to complete in the first half of 2022.

 

Free Covid Tests and Masks

Free Home Tests:  Every home in the U.S. can order 4 free, rapid at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests. The tests are completely free, and shipped to your home, courtesy of the federal government. Tests will usually ship in 7-12 days. Order your tests at COVIDtests.gov. For assistance, you can file a service request, or call the help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS.

This morning, Washington State launched its own online portals (in English and Spanish) to order free tests to be delivered to your home.  Tests are expected to arrive within 1-2 weeks.  If you have any problems, contact syct-orders@careevolution.com and include the order number if available.

As of January 15th, all private health insurers are required to reimburse the cost of eight at-home antigen COVID-19 tests per covered individual each month.  Check out this FAQ and contact your insurance company to learn more.

As always, you can get a free PCR test from City- and County-run testing sites.  Check out the County’s list of testing sites, or register for a test from a City site.

Free Masks Coming:  Both the federal and state governments have recently announced the intention to distribute free masks.  Here’s what we know so far:

  • President Biden announced last week that the federal government will be providing high-quality masks for free. This article has more details, including that masks are likely to be distributed through pharmacies and community health centers.
  • On January 5th, Governor Inslee announced that Washington State will “release about 10 million masks… for distribution into local communities, including K-12 schools, in the coming weeks. Local and state emergency management distribution channels will be used, as well as local health departments and our K-12 infrastructure…”

Both efforts are likely to be widely covered in the media, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, Public Health – Seattle & King County provides this advice about high-quality masks.  Looking for a credible place to buy N95 and KN95 masks?  Check out the nonprofit Project N95.


Pothole Reporting and Tracking

With winter weather, snow and heavy rainfall, there has been an increase in potholes on Seattle’s streets. I’ve received a number of constituent contacts about potholes and have assisted in getting potholes reported.

Here is where you can report a pothole online. You can track the progress on SDOT’s Pothole Repair Status page.

SDOT notes their goal is to fill potholes within three business days; they notified media it may take longer as a result of winter storms, and the effect on road conditions citywide.  SDOT did an alert last week noting they received 4 times as many reports (600) during the previous week compared to last winter. That’s why it’s taking longer than usual. In addition, there are more reports of potholes over a number of blocks, rather than individual potholes. During 2021 85% of reported potholes were filled within 72 hours.

Winter weather has brought additional impacts on staff time, from driving snow plows to the importance of responding quickly to the Highland Park Way landslides, with the West Seattle Bridge closed. There’s also been flooding in some areas, including South Park; the storms unfortunately didn’t stop with just the snow.

At the Pothole Repair Status page you can also track where potholes have been filled during the past 90 days; larger circles indicate several potholes were filled. For example, during November, 9 potholes were filled on 35th Avenue SW between SW 106th and 107th, 12 on Harbor Avenue SW between Fairmount and Bronson, and 6 on SW Sylvan Heights Drive.

 

Catalytic Converter Theft Testimony

Earlier this week I spoke in support of a bill at the state legislature to address catalytic converter theft. State law limits the ability of local jurisdictions like Seattle to adopt laws. Here’s the testimony I gave:

Thank you, Chair Goodman, Representative Ryu and members of the committee. 

“My name is Lisa Herbold. I am a member of the Seattle City Council. I represent the neighborhoods of West Seattle and South Park and serve as the chair of our public safety and human services committee.  I am here to testify in support of House bill 1815. 

I’ve heard concerns from neighbors and constituents about the dramatic increase in the theft of catalytic convertors. These crimes inconvenience drivers and working families. Replacing these stolen car parts cost my constituents time and money they don’t have to spare.

This bill would begin to address the problem and explore solutions. The pilot established by this bill would mark catalytic convertors with vehicle identification numbers or other unique identifiers. This would enable local jurisdictions to better identify the ownership of catalytic convertors and would make it more difficult for thieves to resell these parts illegally. The bill also establishes a task force to help develop creative policies to solve difficult problem. 

Thank you very much for your time.”

RCW 19.290.200 states that “the state of Washington hereby fully occupies and preempts the entire field of regulation of scrap metal processors, recyclers, or suppliers.”

I worked with the City’s Office of Intergovernmental Relations (OIR) and SPD to add this language to the City’s State Legislative Agenda: “We support action to address the theft of catalytic converters, including repealing state’s preemption of the regulation of scrap metal processors.”  I continue to be in touch with OIR and SPD about this and look forward to continuing work with the state legislature.

 

Applications Due 2/28 for the Indigenous Advisory Council

Applications are now being accepted for Positions 1-9 of the Indigenous Advisory Council through online or paper applications. Completed applications are due Monday, February 28 at 5pm.

On Indigenous Peoples Day 2021, Councilmember Debora Juarez transmitted City legislation to create an Indigenous Advisory Council. This council is a step forward in strengthening the City of Seattle’s relationships with American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Beginning in 2022, appointed members will advise the Mayor, City Council, and City departments on policies and issues directing affecting Indigenous people.

If you have questions or would like to receive a paper application, please contact Francesca Murnan, Indigenous Advisory Council Liaison, at Francesca.Murnan@seattle.gov or 206-459-6379.

 

Reduced Operating Hours at Some Libraries

In response to staffing challenges caused by omicron, Seattle Public Library is reducing some operating hours.  They note:

These changes are being made in order to offer more consistent and reliable operating hours and schedules for the public and to provide more reliable schedules for Library staff…  We expect these changes will reduce, and possibly eliminate, the unscheduled branch closures we have seen over the last month.

We do not have an anticipated end date for this schedule, but we continue to onboard and train new staff to expand our staffing capacity.

Here are the new operating hours for District 1 branches, with changes highlighted:


 

Explore District 1 Through Public Art

Seattle is home to an incredible collection of permanently sited and temporary artworks.  Established in 1972, it includes more than 400 permanently sited/integrated artworks and over 3,200 portable artworks. They’re made possible through Seattle’s 1% for art ordinance. In 2020, Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture made the collection available online through the Civic Collection Emuseum.

We’ll share some local pieces to inspire your district explorations from time to time.  You can find the South Park Vortex pictured below at Marra-Desimone Park, on South Director Street.


Virtual Office Hours

On Friday January 28, I will be hosting virtual office hours between 2pm and 6pm, with the last meeting of the day beginning at 5:30pm.

Due to the nature of virtual office hours, please contact my scheduler Alex Clardy (alex.clardy@seattle.gov) in order to receive the call-in information and schedule a time.

Additionally, here is a list of my tentatively scheduled office hours which will continue as virtual office hours until indicated otherwise. These are subject to change.

  • Friday, February 25, 2022
  • Friday, March 25, 2022
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Friday, May 27, 2022
  • Friday, June 24, 2022
  • Friday, July 29, 2022
  • Friday, August 19, 2022
  • Friday, September 30, 2022
  • Friday, October 28, 2022
  • Friday, December 16, 2022

 

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