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Sound Transit Meeting Notes: As dig begins, pedestrian safety a big concern

Sound Transit kicked off the construction phase of its multi-year project to bring light rail to Capitol Hill with a community meeting to discuss status of the project and what the community can expect in the coming months.

On hand to answer questions were Community Outreach Specialist Jeff Munnoch, Community Outreach Coordinator Rhonda Dixon and Program Manager/University Link Deputy Project Director Ron Endlich. We will add the slides from the meeting to this post when they are made available later today.

  • The first thing Sound Transit addressed was the status of the Central Link construction, which has run into some “technical delays.” The I-5 Olive Way offramp won’t reopen until mid-summer. Sound Transit insisted that delays on the 2015 Central Link project will not affect the Capitol Hill and UW Station project.
  • Back on the Hill, the corridor between Denny Way and Nagel Place is closed, and will be until construction is complete.
  • The City of Seattle has received and is currently reviewing Sound Transit’s noise variance, which would allow them to work 24/7 with a maximum noise level of six decibels six decibels above average in the area which they claim is the loudest noise the construction site will make (based on their research). Evening construction will not begin until spring. CHS has asked the city’s Department of Planning when public hearings for the application will be held but has not received an answer yet. UPDATE: Thanks to Ellen below for letting us know the hearing is planned for February 11. We’ll dig through the DPD site to see if we can find the public notice. Or, hey, maybe they’ll return jseattle’s call. Update: Here’s the hearing info:

Sound Transit’s Variance Request

The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) has received an application from Sound Transit for a Major Public Project Construction noise variance from the standards for nighttime construction noise for above-ground construction activities in support of underground tunneling at the Capitol Hill site. Sound Transit proposes to construct twin bored tunnels running from the Capitol Hill Station site located at Broadway and East Denny Way to the Pine Street Station site. This is the central portion of the University Link light rail system which will provide light rail transit service from the University of Washington to downtown Seattle.

Public Meeting and Comments

DPD is holding one public meeting near the Capitol Hill site to receive oral comments about this proposed Major Public Project Construction noise variance application:

When:  February 11, 2010 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Where: Seattle Central Community College, 1701 Broadway Avenue, Room 1110, Seattle WA.

Written comments may also be submitted to DPD. The comment period ends February 11, 2010. Mail comments to:

Department of Planning and Development700 5th Avenue Suite 2000P.O. Box 34019Seattle WA, 98124-4019Attn: David George

Please e-mail comments to: david.george@seattle.gov or jeff.stalter@seattle.gov

Hard copies of the variance application and further information about this permit process may be obtained by calling David George, 206-684-7843 or Jeff Stalter 206-615-1760.

  • Concerns were raised about available (or not) parking along 10th Ave. up into the surrounding neighborhoods. Sound Transit says all contractors must submit a “parking plan” to the board for review and they are not allowed to use residential parking. Some people in attendance said that construction crews were parking in the neighborhoods but Sound Transit said that was against policy and there should be no additional parking issues during construction times.
  • For the next 5 years, a lot of trucks carrying a lot of dirt will be transported across Capitol Hill all day long. (120,000 cubic yards of dirt, to be exact).  There is a plan to ease traffic concerns along those narrow city streets – construction crews will have to travel up E. Denny Way and down E. Olive Way, although how exactly the truck traffic will be monitored or regulated seems fuzzy. Sound Transit said “flaggers” will be present to direct trucks in and out of the construction site, but were vague on details. This upset some people in attendance, who demanded more thought be put into pedestrian safety.
  • The pedestrian improvements along E. Olive Way will begin construction in February. During the presentation, Sound Transit stated that SDOT recommends a curb bulb on E. Denny Way and Boylston Ave., but, as we reported this week, SDOT has abandoned that project. (No one from SDOT was at the meeting or available to comment on that statement).
  • The bus stop on E. Olive Way right off Broadway Ave. will move down to the E. John St. block and the block of sidewalk the bus stop used to be on will be behind construction walls. However, Sound Transit promises an enclosed fence and barrier on the temporary sidewalk so pedestrians can still cross E. Olive Way safely.
  • A local resident brought up concerns about debris and construction recycling, and Sound Transit assured the group they have recycled 75 percent of building materials in the excavation site off Broadway Ave. and Nagel Place. A number of trees had to be cut down in that area, but the ‘root balls’ have been donated to local salmon habitat restoration projects.
  • Three large trees along the Nagel Place side of Cal Anderson Park will be cut down. It was discovered that their roots extend far into the excavation site and would die if left to survive after construction. Sound Transit gave the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department mulch from the tree excavation and salvageable lumber for a future park project. The large Chinese Scholar tree is a preserved part of Cal Anderson Park and will not be cut down and the situation is being closely monitored by an arborist to make sure it is protected.
  • Sound Transit reiterated their plans to build a plywood wall perimeter with heights up to 24 feet with an art installation project along the walls (and some portals into their construction site, so we can spy on their handiwork). Sound Transit is currently looking for a lead artist to head the collaborative project that will change from time to time. Sound Transit is looking for “innovative solutions” to high-cost art displays. (Applications for the position are due Feb. 8, and you can email Barbara Luecke for more information at barbaraluecke@soundtransit.org).
  • More information on business mitigation and Capitol Hill marketing was brought up but they didn’t mention any ‘branding.’ Rather, the focus was on upcoming social media development workshops for restaurants and retail shops on the Hill.

If you’re interested in email updates on construction plans, improvements, road conditions and projects, sign up for Sound Transit’s electronic updates at soundtransit.org/subscribe .

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12 thoughts on “Sound Transit Meeting Notes: As dig begins, pedestrian safety a big concern

  1. It’s ridiculous that Sound Transit hasn’t finalized pedestrian safety plans yet – Olive and Denny are iffy for pedestrians as it is, and the situation will just get worse with large trucks using those streets as routes to and from the freeway. I’ve been in correspondence with the pedestrian safety folks over at SDOT for over a year about getting crosswalks or something for those two streets between Broadway and Summit. I can’t believe that things are still “up in the air”.

  2. They, Sound T., seem to be blowing off concerns about pedestrian safety – big time. At each of these meetings they seem a bit upset at questions about walking issues and their giant long term project.

    Makes one wonder.

    In answer to a question at this hearing – and the same question from the same guy last time – they seem to have no plan for the blind.

    The fellow who asks is concerned about walk way width, changes in fence conture, sounds of vehicle, all issues of the blind as they move around in a given neighborhood. All the stable true and tried stuff the non sighted depend on is going away for years.

    So what is the plan for the blind/non sighted? They had no answer at all, and seemed annoyed at a VERY legitimate concern. WARNING to Sound Transit – this city has worked hard to give all differently-abled people support/good stuff. Do not toy with our values. GET a plan … now … a six or seven year construction project is underway. NOW, get a plan.

    (Underway indeed – tree cutting is scheduled for next week – yes – and that issue is cool it seems, saved wood logs to be used for Cal Anderson Park in the future, tables, benches, maybe art, etc.)

  3. In my notes from last night, I have written down that there will be a meeting with the City to discuss the noise issues on February 11.

  4. Unfortunately I was not at the meeting but I have been at every other one. And where the _bleep_ is SDOT? As one of the densest neighborhoods in four states with a high percentage of pedestrian traffic and a major, disruptive construction project to begin I find it unconscionable and morally reprehensible that SDOT not be at these meetings and more proactive about pedestrian safety. We should get on to the Mayor’s office and get this resolved. Get them to our meetings and get them to do their public safety modifications. Something else can give. We’ve got six years of heavy construction traffic to deal with.

  5. there’s a typo in the first sentence. Should be “off” not “of”. It’s a bit confusing to figure out as written. Thanks for attending the meeting and the report.

  6. Editor’s fault. Fixed. Thanks.

    From technology side, someday it would be cool to wiki this kind of thing so people could suggest typo and grammar fixes. Easy to do now in code. But how to do community copy editing without community content and meaning editing? World’s not ready for wiki-news yet is it?

  7. I am on the Pedestrian Advisory Board and will try to schedule a meeting with ST and SDOT about near-term and long-term pedestrian safety at the station. I’ll keep everyone posted.

    Our job is to review SDOT projects and provide feedback. Our meetings are always open to the public: City Hall from 6-8pm on the second Wednesday of the month.

  8. What is you name?

    If this post is credible, and you are going to work on the concerns, a real name would be nice.

    It is my biggest issue now, I hate to see a blind person run over by a giant dirt carrier; I think we are all concerned about hazard.

    As usual, Seattle folk are polite. Polite is not working well on this one. The major Sound transit presenter just blew off the blind guy, who was very calm and well spoken. Amazing.

  9. Something that I haven’t seen addressed is the intersection at Broadway and John/Olive. Now that access to E Denny Way from Broadway is closed – most people will have to use John as an alternative. Because there are no turn arrows at this intersection, it can take several lights to make a left hand turn in any direction. Add this to the fact that this is a “red-light” intersection, and many more people will get tickets just trying to make a left (which is almost impossible to do unless you do run the red.)

    John is going to become quite the mess unless the left turn situation is addressed (it also backs up people who are trying to go straight). I hope this is an issue that SDOT looks at. It seems really unfair to force people to use a heavily trafficked red-light intersection with no turn arrows.

  10. 24 feet high sound wall along 10th street because of residents (single Family). 8 feet to 12 feet high walls along E. John street because of ?? I guess those staying in Capitol Building and apartments across Broadway are not that important to Sound Transit. Government body should be equal opportunity, and take all into consideration when making decisions.