SDOT rolling out revised plan in ‘coming weeks’ to speed up Broadway for First Hill Streetcar

Last week, CHS reported on Seattle’s $286 million plan for a 1st Ave streetcar route (and lots of budget for infrastructure work along the way) linking the First Hill Streetcar to the South Lake Union Trolley via downtown.

We asked city officials about a much smaller $50,000 to $75,000 investment in the existing streetcar resources that has been held up at City Hall for more than a year and finally heard back — changes to speed up the streetcar on Broadway are coming… but we won’t know the details of the proposal for a few weeks. Continue reading

Capitol Hill commutes hopefully not too jostled by Seattle Viadoom traffic

Brandi Whigham in Capitol Hill Station Monday (Image: Margo Vansynghel for CHS)

The Viadoom is here. You might know it as the Seattle Squeeze, the Period of Maximum Constraint or Carmageddon. Longer, yet: The longest closure of a major highway — Highway 99 — ever seen in the Puget Sound region, which is predicted to create a three-week traffic jam rippling across the city and region until the new tunnel opens in February.

In the weeks leading up to the closure, many have predicted that congestion, slated to start with Monday’s first commute, would be a “traffic nightmare.” The Seattle Times forecasted that adding more people to the light rail, which was already running at its “ideal capacity of 150 per railcar on average” would mean having “to jostle to board the two- or three-car trains.”

On the first morning of the Squeeze at Capitol Hill Station Monday, no jostling.

Things were pretty much business as usual for Brandi Whigham, on her way to work at Amazon from Seattle’s south end. “I always take the light rail, so I don’t have to fight with traffic, though sometimes it’s hard to find a seat. It’s usually crowded and first come, first served,” Whigham said. Continue reading

Sawant: Make transit free during coming ‘Seattle Squeeze’

(Image: City of Seattle)

Officials have been warning of the coming “Seattle Squeeze” starting with the January 11th closure of SR-99 offering up “Rapid Response Teams” and discounts on Uber but only one has stepped up to make the boldest, likely most effective, and — unfortunately — probably most implausible call yet — make public transit in Seattle free.

“Immediately, public transit from Metro to the Light Rail should be made free for all during the three weeks of the Seattle Squeeze,” District 3 council member Kshama Sawant writes in a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine. Continue reading

Durkan’s Seattle Department of Transportation pick is ‘project delivery expert’

(Image: City of Seattle)

In a city with a sometimes tangled traffic and transit mess, Mayor Jenny Durkan has taken her sweet time finding a leader for the Seattle Department of Transportation. One year into her term, Durkan introduced her nominee Tuesday.

Sam Zimbabwe has an excellent name and Washington D.C. transit planner geek bonafides. The mayor called hims a “transit and transportation project delivery expert” Tuesday.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to help keep Seattle moving, build a transit and transportation system for the next generation, and deliver on projects for the people of Seattle,” Zimbabwe said in a statement released by the mayor’s office. “Seattle is entering a new era of transit and transportation that will require effective delivery of capital projects along with a focus on giving more people access to safe options for walking, biking, and using transit.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill wins a Lyftie, a dubious distinction for a ‘walkable neighborhood’

(Image: CHS)

Capitol Hill, perhaps Seattle’s most walkable neighborhood(TM), is the recipient of a dubious 2018 distinction.

Take it away, global transportation network company Lyft:

Lyft is celebrating the fourth iteration of the annual Lyftie Awards, a program that recognizes the most popular destinations in cities across the country. This year, Lyft has expanded the Lyfties to celebrate bars, concerts, gyms, neighborhoods, and more in 45 markets, including Seattle.

The company announced Tuesday that Capitol Hill took Seattle’s top position as the “Most Visited Late Night Neighborhood” in the city. Continue reading

23rd Ave work includes electrifying bus route but no timeline for RapidRide

(Image: SDOT)

The City of Seattle says the second phase of the $43 million 23rd/24th Ave corridor improvement project is going well with the biggest risk being sorting out how to reduce the number of utility pole required to electrify the route for Metro coaches.

The update in SDOT’s latest report on major capital projects keeps the timeline for the work on the stretch south of Jackson on pace for completion before next summer. Continue reading

Federal funding ‘major risk’ for Madison Bus Rapid Transit

$60 million in federal funding is the biggest risk for the $120 million project planned to bring Bus Rapid Transit to Madison between 1st Ave and MLK via downtown, First Hill, Capitol Hill, and Madison Valley.

The project was one of a handful examined recently as part of City Hall’s new quarterly report on Seattle’s largest capital projects. The Seattle Department of Transportation says the much needed Federal Transit Authority grant “is a major risk.” Continue reading

Sound Transit’s solution for Capitol Hill Station escalator problems: stairs

(Image: Sound Transit)

Sound Transit announced Thursday a plan to convert an existing emergency staircase inside Capitol Hill Station to provide a permanent alternative to the facility’s frequently out of service escalators and elevators.

The announcement comes as part of a much more significant by the agency to add new staircases at UW Station where the escalators problems have been even an more frequent — and expensive — problem.

“Our escalator plan is proactive: Escalators haven’t been a problem at our Capitol Hill station, but we’ll now make stairs available at all times there too,” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said about the plan. “We’ve also changed future U District station design to include stairs on opening day in 2021.” Continue reading

MASS transit: Move All Seattle Sustainably coalition forms to push for faster, smarter street investments

A bike rider resorts to the sidewalk to navigate busy Boren (Images: CHS)

The community has taken the lead in shaping protected bike lanes on Pike and Pine — and a coalition of community groups is taking the lead in calling on Mayor Jenny Durkan to “transform” Seattle’s transportation system. Meet MASS — Move All Seattle Sustainably:

Seattle needs to dramatically transform its transportation system for multiple reasons— many of which are already reflected in Seattle’s adopted goals. Our Climate Action Plan calls for carbon neutrality by 2050, and transportation is 60% of our current emissions; the recent IPCC report reminds us of the catastrophe awaiting us if we do not act immediately to reduce carbon emissions. Vision Zero calls for zero traffic deaths or serious injuries by 2030. In addition, our streets in the urban core are already failing to move people and goods adequately, equity and access to jobs require lower-cost options for people to get around, and our city’s overall economic health depends on a safe, green, and equitable transportation system.

Continue reading

Video shows ‘use of force’ arrest for fare enforcement issue aboard train in Capitol Hill Station — UPDATE

Video showing a violent tussle as four security officers attempt to subdue a man aboard a Sound Transit train Tuesday night inside Capitol Hill Station has many calling for the transit agency and King County Sheriff to explain the use of force and the policies around fare enforcement on the area’s light rail and bus systems.

A representative for King County Sheriff which provides police service along with Sound Transit police on the light rail system said a statement on the arrest is forthcoming and that he expects video showing the full incident to be released. Continue reading