March 4, 2014 meeting notes – SDOT, the Bog, and Micro-Quakes

WWRHAH March 4, 2014 Meeting Notes

Here are the notes from our March 4, 2014 WWRHAH meeting! There were 16 people in attendance. Our monthly meetings are always on the first Tuesday of every month in the upstairs meeting room of the SW Branch of the Seattle Public Library at the intersection of 35th Ave SW and SW Henderson Street.

This is probably our longest report ever, but it’s a fast read. There’s an absolute ton of things in motion right now for the benefit of our three neighborhoods and you need to know about them, how they affect you, and how to get involved with them. We have updates about:

  • How is the public feedback on the Roxbury safety study?
  • Are we going to re-channelize (road diet) Roxbury?
  • Should we have bike lanes on Roxbury?
  • Should we move some bus layovers to Roxbury from Westwood?
  • How are the safety changes going for the Westwood Rapid Ride stop?
  • Are buses causing shaking detectable as earthquakes on Barton, 26th, and Roxbury?
  • When will SDOT start working on 35th Ave SW safety?
  • Will re-hydrating the bog in Roxhill Park help reduce flooding across West Seattle?

Read on…

Community news/upcoming meetings

Upcoming meetings & events:

  • Delridge District Neighborhood Council: the next meeting of the DNDC is Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30pm at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center at 4408 Delridge Way SW. City Council members will start coming out to these meetings to talk about civics in child education. Councilmember Sally Clark is the guest for this March meeting.
  • West Seattle Transportation Coalition: the April meeting is on Tuesday, March 11, at 6:30pm, at High Point Neighborhood House at 6400 Sylvan Way SW (off of 35th Ave SW and Morgan). If you are interested in serving on the WSTC Board, you need to come to this meeting. The Facebook event for the meeting is here.
  • The Neighborhood Parks & Street Fund (NPSF) grant applications will be reviewed in March by the City Neighborhood Council and the Department of Neighborhoods. We’ve got an application in for grants related to Roxhill Park.
  • Vikki Anselmo brought up the city’s upcoming comprehensive plan updating, which will guide much of the city’s future growth for the next generation (20+ years). The City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee will hold a public hearing about this on April 1 at 2pm about this in City Hall. Meeting details here: hearing details on Seattle.gov. We are going to discuss how this could affect us and what WWRHAH’s take on it should be in April. More details can be found here on the plan.

Upcoming WWRHAH guests:

April guests are being lined up for our next WWRHAH meeting:

  • Michelle Mountour from the City of Seattle wants to come out to talk to us in April about Emergency Preparedness.
  • Steve Wilske, new Captain of the Seattle Police Department’s Southwest Precinct would like to meet with us as well in April.

Volunteers needed!

We need volunteers to help work on specific issues! Please click here to see what issues we’ve identified. Can you help with any of them? Please email contact@wwrhah.org if you can, or if you have any more issues that you can think of that we should add to our current project list. We help represent up to 11,784 people to the City of Seattle and King County. We need your help.

State of the WWRHAH Council

Amanda Kay Helmick, WWRHAH’s current chair, prepared a “State of the Council” review to go over our first year of existence. This is what she presented:

The Westwood Roxhill Arbor Heights (and that acronym is pronounced WRRRRAHHHHHAAAHH, by the way) State of the Council. It sounds a bit cheesy saying that, but I wanted to take a few minutes to review and reflect on the past year since the Council was established. It’s typical to have a group like this start because of a major event — usually negative. The hold up in Roxhill Park in January 2013 was our straw, but what I would like to point out is that we, as a Community Council, have done some wonderfully positive things since then.

None of which would be possible without the entire WWRHAH Community, but especially Joe Szilagyi and his unrelenting need for action. Eric Iwamoto with his quiet depth of knowledge and Chris Stripinis’ dedication to taking the initiative. I would also like to thank Mat McBride for mentoring us through this year. The Department of Neighborhoods, the West Seattle Blog, and the Herald for their excellent support and coverage of our fledgling group. A sincere thank you to each of you.

Throughout the year, as we gained momentum and confidence, we invited Metro to a Q&A session regarding the bus cuts and the Westwood Village / Roxhill Park Transit Hub. We stayed on Metro, and as of last weekend, we have had some success with small changes to the Hub — with hopefully more to come. We worked together with two other neighborhood groups, Highland Park and North Unincorporated Highline, to address traffic calming measures on SW Roxbury St. Our team, along with other neighborhood groups rolled the ball with SDOT on 35th Ave concerns as well. Roxhill Park safety improvements and usability was, and will be a large focus of the work we are doing this coming year.

The ideas about making Roxhill a better park came directly from the community, and we are working very hard to make those ideas come to life. We will continue to work with and engage our governmental representatives and agencies to improve our community. Most importantly, how can we all continue to make this multi-neighborhood Community Council stronger and more vibrant?

How can we connect you to the right people to help you solve a problem? Who can we invite to speak about issues that are important to you? How can we represent and include the diversity in these awesome neighborhoods? Ultimately, you don’t need us to do great things, but we do need you. By calling 911 to report crime, creating a block watch, or coming to a meeting like this, you are part of the Community Council. Our very first elections are in May, and if you would like to run for Council, or maybe just be on a committee, we welcome you with open arms!

Thank you. Amanda Kay Helmick, Chair

WWRHAH Board & Officer Elections

Our annual officer elections are going to be held in our May 6 meeting. We have the following positions:

  • Chair: Amanda Kay Helmick
  • Co-Chair: Eric Iwamoto
  • Secretary: Joe Szilagyi
  • Co-Secretary: Open
  • Treasurer: Open
  • Co-Treasurer: Open

Amanda, Eric and Joe will all be standing for their respective positions again. If you would like to help out on the board, please come in April to announce that you would like to fill a position. Our elections will be at the beginning of the May meeting.

Next steps before April’s meeting for WWRHAH elections:

  1. If you want to run, please come to our April meeting.
  2. Elections are in May.

SDOT on Roxbury, 35th and Bus “Micro-Quakes”

What’s happening now with SW Roxbury Street?

SWRoxburySDOT has so far had four very good feedback sessions about Roxbury. They were at Greenbridge, Roxhill Elementary, and twice at the recent White Center Summit. They had lots of translated feedback at the White Center events from many people across several languages, which isn’t typical.

They’ve received good feedback (click here for our own notes on the first feedback session). The news media has also heavily covered the safety study, more than they have other projects like this. SDOT staff have appeared on TV several times; WWRHAH Chair Amanda Kay Helmick has as well a few times. The Roxhill meeting was advertised on-air by KIRO TV News.

The primary concerns that SDOT has heard are: slow down the speeds. Fix the pavements. Fix the sidewalks. They’re all in disrepair. The complaints of these things run all the way from 35th east to the end of the street.

What about re-channeling Roxbury? What about a Road Diet?

This is a popular option with the community so far for the western end of Roxbury especially. SDOT has heard nothing but support for this so far in any session. All the in-person feedback to SDOT has been unanimous so far in favor of a Roxbury road diet. People are even asking for it be re-channeled and road dieted ALL the way to 8th Avenue SW and beyond, further east. SDOT isn’t sure yet the street can even support a road diet that far east. Even when told that, people are still asking for it in discussions, to SDOT’s surprise.

NOTE: WWRHAH was very surprised by this, since we expected it to have some opposition. Aside from a handful of reader comments on a few news sites, we haven’t heard a single objection ourselves to a Roxbury road diet.

Where are the worst Roxbury road conditions for potholes and damage?

The pavement right in front of Holy Family School is atrocious and especially 17th to 18th. The conditions from west of Safeway at 26th east to around 24th are particularly bad as well. All these areas will be getting fixed, and soon.

What is the remaining timeline now?

We are entering second phase of outreach with White Center Community Development organization — they are going to do outreach to every language in the area. SDOT is also going to send staff to physically survey and speak with every single business on the Roxbury corridor for their direct feedback and needs. By July, SDOT will know what can happen, what has support, where the final budget stands, and so on. Then around the late July and August time frame SDOT will present it’s finalized and proposed work and improvement plan to the community in a few more presentations. Work will begin very quickly afterward.

Do the hills on Roxbury contribute to the rampant speeding?

Yes.

What can be done about all the accidents near the big curve on the east end of Roxbury?

SDOT may be testing some “high friction” pavement on the hill leading from Roxbury to Olson. Basically, it’s kind of like those “wake up” grooved pavements you see on the side of highways, but not as inhibiting. If that doesn’t work, next steps are available, that will get more expensive. One suggestion that’s come up several times is to put some sort of roundabout at the intersection of Roxbury, Olson, and 4th.

How many cars a day use Roxbury?

13,000 per day from 35th east toward Roxhill Elementary. As you head further east it quickly grows. By the time you reach White Center and 8th Ave it’s 25,000 a day, and nearly 30,000 a day by the time you reach Olson.

Is this including ferry car traffic?

Yes, almost certainly. Pablo Lambinicio suggested outreach to the ferry people for additional feedback on the proposed Roxbury improvements.

Where is most dangerous on Roxbury?

The intersection of 8th Ave and Roxbury is one of the most collision-dangerous intersections in the city. I was once the most collision-prone intersection in the city, but it’s been improved a little with some changes in recent years. It’s still one of the worst intersections in the city for this. Lots of pedestrians get hit in the White Center stretch.

Where is speeding the worst on Roxbury?

The further east you go, the more collisions increase but speed decreases. The further west you go, collisions drop but speed increases. The worst speeding by far is from 35th to 26th. The average speed there is over 41 miles per hour right in front of Roxhill Elementary.

When are we getting photo enforcement for school zone speeders?

Very soon, for both Roxhill and Holy Family schools.

Does the width of the road play a role in the accidents?

Yes and no. There’s no direct causation with that, but the varying widths play a role in their engineering. For example: if we reduce Roxbury to 3 lanes, what do we do with the kids from Roxhill Elementary unloading their buses on Roxbury? SDOT is still researching this and talking to Seattle Public School as well.

If we re-channel Roxbury, how fast would it happen?

If we re-channel it will happen quick, but that would happen after the pavement repairs.

What about Bike Lanes on Roxbury?

Linden Ave N cycle track

Linden Ave N cycle track

Will there be a bike lane on Roxbury?

Curtin said that SDOT hasn’t heard a lot about this in sessions yet. They would be hesitant to do anything like this right now on Roxbury, because of the generally terrible condition of the pavement. However, if we can’t get bike lanes in this round we will be set up to get them in the future with the coming improvements to the street.

Will bike lanes restrict speeds more on top of a 3-lane re-channeling?

No, it doesn’t based on other areas of the city where this has been done. Speeds will be reduced from the re-channel. Bike lanes don’t play any role in that and there has been no evidence of it on other streets with re-channels and bike facilities.

Roxbury is part of the City’s Bike Master Plan. How does that fit into all this?

The BMP calls for a separation of bike facilities from traffic, with a cycle track or protected bike lane. Cycle tracks cost up to $1,000,000 a mile. It’s out of the budget scope for this round of improvements… so far, but they will see what can be done. He didn’t sound hopeful for budgetary reasons and other concerns at the moment, like the pavement condition.

Why are cycle tracks so expensive?

Because it’s a physical restructuring and re-engineering of the surface, not just painting stripes.

Has there been any consideration of putting bikes off of the main arterials?

There is a West Seattle greenway that may be usable for this. Some discussion then popped up around this. Moving bikes for commuters to side streets, where they may need to stop every single block to check for traffic, is counter productive for people commuting to work — driving a bike straight up 16th or Delridge and only stopping for normal traffic and lights is far faster than going up, say, 34th Ave SW with a possible stop on every block to avoid cars.

Maybe a bike lane east from 35th along Roxbury until White Center, to catch 16th and other major north-south routes like 16th from there?

That’s possible. East of White Center would be very difficult for bike lanes because the road is so narrow. The room was in agreement that riding a bike down Roxbury to Olson was a bit “crazy”.

What’s happening next with 35th Ave SW? 

SDOT will begin a series of studies in the summer time frame on 35th Ave SW. It will be like the one that is nearly completed now for SW Roxbury, but on a much “larger” and “grander” scale, as it’s such a huge and important arterial. Please click here for more details about the SW Roxbury study.

What about those bus vibrations on Barton, 26th, and Roxbury that feel like micro earthquakes?

NOTE: If you are affected by this and see these conditions, please email us at contact@wwrhah.org to give us details and let us know where you live.

WWRHAH has heard a growing number of complaints lately about the massive vibrations and shaking from the Rapid Ride buses and other bus traffic on these three roads. The complaints focus on that the shaking seems to be getting worse over time, the longer the Rapid Ride buses are in operation. Presumably, from the extra wear and tear they cause on the concrete roads.

Jim Curtin from the Seattle Department of Transportation illustrating how the concrete panels in our roads are designed.

Jim Curtin from the Seattle Department of Transportation illustrating how the concrete panels in our roads are designed. Each square panel costs $10,000, and concrete trumps asphalt for urban use.

There are surface material changes that can mitigate this, Curtin said. The 10′ x 10′ foot concrete squares panels in the roads have expansion joints–when large vehicles like buses and trucks drive over these, The concrete on some of these seams have deteriorated over time to form potholes. This causes the panels to mis-align over time like tectonic plates. When they are driven over it causes “subtle” banging. That’s the cause of the shaking. SDOT & Metro are starting to look into this for solutions.

Repairs to the road are the most likely solution, but this is very expensive. Each one of those square concrete panels costs around $10,000.

On 26th Ave SW the vibrations are terrible — the road looks to be visibly deteriorating day by day. What can we do?

If we have to, reconstruct the street. It’s the only viable solution right now.

Did bus vibration complaints decline on Delridge after the recent rebuild?

No data on that yet, unfortunately.

Is concrete really better?

Yes. other cities are actually rebuilding their bus lanes from asphalt to concrete in the region. Concrete to service buses and trucks is better than asphalt.

Can neighbors petition SDOT & Metro over this for assistance to prioritize budget concerns toward these rebuilds?

It’s possible, there is no precedent for that, but anything is possible.

With the potholes at the seams of these panels, is it better to patch the pothole or replace the panels?

Even at $10,000 a panel, replacement is preferred than patching it. It’s less expensive over time for everyone to do it right the first time.

We’ve seen bicyclists and skateboarders wipe out from the buckling panels. Is Metro responsible for this?

No, unfortunately.

When was the concrete laid down on concrete? How long does it last?

It depends on use and conditions. SDOT doesn’t have the info on when it was first laid down in our area, or on Roxbury specifically. Back to the 50s or 60s people were saying — the early 60s, closer to the World’s Fair timeframe, according to Mike Sweeney. Back in 1912 another 50 years earlier it was a dirt logging road. Jim Curtin mentioned that 1912 was significant and that it was interesting that Mike specifically said that year.

What was the significance of 1912?

That’s when rail service began between Burien and White Center, and was called the High Line, which is where the North Highline name comes from.

Jim Curtin explaining the vibrations.

Jim Curtin explaining the vibrations.

Other questions for Jim Curtin and SDOT that popped up:

Can we tie a self-sustaining funding mechanism into the transit hubs? Increased bus presence tied to more funding for repairs?

SDOT has those areas already as a service priority but there is no easy funding mechanism for that today, and Metro doesn’t exactly have extra cash these days.

What’s the ETA for the Roxbury sidewalk missing link, on the south side between 30th and 28th?

A couple of years… if King County decides it’s a priority.

Can we just transfer them the money?

Not really.

NOTE: WWRHAH wasn’t happy with this and neither is SDOT, from other times it has come up. We’re going to pursue this with the Mayor if we have to. If it’s just funding, there should be a way to make it happen. It’s a major safety issue. This entire “sidewalk” is currently nothing more than a 200 foot long painted driveway inches from Roxbury with NO physical separation of the sidewalk from a street with massively dangerous speeding issues.

Will SDOT eventually deny bus travel exemptions on roads to Metro until the roads are in good shape?

It’s a balancing act because of budget concerns, road safety concerns, and needing to allow transit to serve the community.

Are any other major repairs or upgrades locked in to happen in our area soon?

106th will be repaired this year some more.

When will the sidewalk expansion on 30th south of Roxbury be done for Roxhill Elementary?

Roxhill sidewalk work will be done by the end of March; all the rain delayed it.

How can I send Jim Curtin more feedback on Roxbury?

You can reach Jim at jim.curtin@seattle.gov by e-mail.

Next steps before April’s meeting for our traffic/road issues:

  1. Reach out to the Mayor’s office about the sidewalk Missing Link for funding options.
  2. Reach out to UW to see about maybe getting a seismograph (for real) to look at the shaking and vibrations on these streets. We have two volunteers already who would be willing to host them in their houses on 26th and Roxbury.

Westwood Village / Metro Bus Stop updates

The Rapid Ride Transit Hub: the no-parking red stripe from the stop’s curb bulb is in place going back 70 feet. They bumped the bus layovers on 25th back away from all of the entrances. We need cross walk and lighting improvements still. We asked Jim Curtin, who stayed after his talk for a while: Can we do user-controlled lighting upgrades for the Rapid Ride cross walk? He said it’s definitely possible, and there are several options we can deploy there.

The Wall of Buses: Metro is still looking into what to do with this. 29th is one possible but that would require yet another Metro / SDOT bus exemption. Jim Curtin had an interesting suggestion here that we hadn’t heard before: Could we split up the layovers? Leave one route on Westwood and Barton, and move one to Roxhill Elementary? If the west end of Roxbury is going to be re-channeled anyway, it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to leave lots of room for Metro to park, say, the Rapid Ride buses on Roxbury east of Roxhill Elementary.

Lighting around Roxhill and Westwood: We’re chasing that down from multiple avenues still. What we’re planning on is tied into our NPSF grant application that is pending.

Next steps before April’s meeting for our Westwood/Metro work:

  1. Walk around the park with SPD to figure out what we want for lighting improvements.
  2. Start digging into ADA compliance issues re: the offloading of bus riders at layover.
  3. Research if it would be viable to layover the #21 or Rapid Ride on Roxbury.

Major Roxhill Bog Updates

The King County study from fourteen years ago:

Amanda Kay Helmick in late February received a copy of an old report that explains in part where the water is going. The study is titled, “Roxhill Park: Hydrological Investigation and Recommendations”. It was prepared by the Wastewater Treatment Division of the King County Department of Natural Resources for the Seattle Parks Department, in March 2000. This was done before the restoration of Roxhill Park began.

Here is a PDF copy of the report:

It’s pretty complex, but here is the short take-away of where this has led us after our Bog Committee did a few months of research–and this study from 2000 helped plug in a lot of the missing pieces for them. David Perasso summed it up thus:

  • The bog’s water levels are too low.
  • The bog’s water levels fluctuates too much.
  • The most likely cause: The French drain surrounding the park is draining the bog.
  • We can’t be positive without a full hydrological study, but it’s highly likely that this is the cause.

The research paper recommended an additional two-year long hydrological study to follow up on the work that was to be done. Fourteen years later, it appears that never happened as the grant that paid for this study had expired. The 2000 report details exactly what we need for the outstanding two-year study.

This document is the initial research conclusions that our Bog Committee had put together on the subject–it seems as though we were pretty close to the same conclusions (PDF copy of our own research, put together by David Perasso):

The most probably solution to this–if all assumptions are correct–would likely be some sort of coffer dam that would stand between the bog areas and the French drain, beneath the surface of the soil. We need to keep the French drain in place, to keep Roxhill’s fields and neighbors from flooding. The French drains would protect all that, with the coffer damn inside of the perimeter of the French drain, around the bog area itself. This would not be inexpensive.

Aside from fixing Roxhill Park’s bog, what is the benefit of this?

However, there may be an extremely good reason to spend the money, beyond the ecological and environmental benefits of restoring Roxhill’s bog, which is part of the headwaters of Longfellow Creek.

The current condition of the bog and park may be contributing to periodic flooding north along the Delridge corridor, all the way to the North Delridge neighborhood.

What next?

The next steps will be for our Bog Committee to assemble a timeline of all the work and studies done on Roxhill Park and the bog to date, going back to the 1950s. David Perasso volunteered to compile this, and it could take a month to complete. From that, we’ll be finally have a complete picture of everything that’s been done across multiple departments, agencies, groups and administrations over the decades here. Frank, David, Phil, and Rory all seemed to agree when asked, “How close are we to 100% of the picture now?” that we are extremely close, except for some fine details.

With that timeline we will be able to coordinate a proposal for the following four steps:

  1. Develop a new park hydrology model
  2. Design hardware to go into the ground to keep the water in the bog
  3. The building and installation of it all
  4. Follow up study to make sure it’s working

It will need to go through Seattle City Parks, Seattle Public Utilities, the County Department of Natural Resources and their Waste Water group. It was suggested we also engage the King Conservation District, the Audubon Society, Rainwise, and the Nature Conservancy. Given the scope and nature of what we’re working on, a lot of these groups will want to or would be interested in being stakeholders on the project. We’ve been told that Mayor Murray’s office is also interested in this.

Eric Iwamoto brought up one additional thought, that others immediately echoed who have experience in these matters: it may be doubtful if there has ever been surface water control done in this area. We should follow up on this. It’s possible the majority of this funding in the past decade or longer has been spent in 10% of the city only by area, and no one could at least remember any being spent on researching in this in the Roxhill Park area. This is something else our Bog Committee is going to follow up on.

Next steps before April’s meeting for our Roxhill Bog work:

  1. Gather additional information on park and bog work history from City Parks and SPU.
  2. Research if possible if any money has been spent in the past 20~ years in our area studying surface water control.
  3. Try to complete the historical project timeline.

Delridge District Council Updates

Here is the news that we got about from the last DNDC meeting:

  • Pablo reported that the new head of SPD’s SW precinct was there, and said that the main issue brought up was speeding cars along Delridge.
  • Large Projects Grant: the CNC is looking for 3 volunteers to review grants from the Delridge District to review grants. Rory Donovan will go to join this year’s review team as our representative.
  • The CNC is also looking for volunteer for a neighborhood planning subcommittee, for zoning review. This will have help influence city zoning over time. Ben Grace volunteered to take part in this.
  • The Gathering of Neighbors this year is August 9 and will be at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center instead of Sealth High School this year, with some of the programming  across the street at the Community Center.

Southwest District Council Updates

Unfortunately no one was able to make it to the Southwest District Council meeting this month.

Our next meeting is Tuesday, April 1

We always meet on the first Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 6:15pm in the upstairs meeting room of the SW Branch of the Seattle Public Library at the intersection of 35th Ave SW and SW Henderson Street.

You can also join us on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WWRHAH/

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