Tag Archives: sound transit

More Bits: Luminaria, sing-a-longs, matching money, and more

Luminarias photo by AZAdam. At the Beacon Hill Library on Saturday, learn basic paper-cutting techniques using scissors and a hole puncher to make your own decorative Day of the Dead luminaria.
Luminarias photo by AZAdam. At the Beacon Hill Library on Saturday, learn basic paper-cutting techniques using scissors and a hole puncher to make your own decorative Day of the Dead luminaria.

This Saturday, the 14th, from 2 to 4pm, an introduction to traditional Day of the Dead crafts with artist Amaranta Ibarra Sandys will be at the Beacon Hill Library. This event is free, requires no registration, and is open to everyone ages 5 and older.

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Craig Thompson has resumed regularly updating the Beacon Lights column at the P-I, most recently considering Sound Transit, the mayoral race, and Dow Constantine.

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Next Thursday, November 19th, from 6 to 7:30pm at the Beacon Hill Library, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is hosting free technical assistance workshops to educate neighborhood groups and community organizations on funding opportunities under the Neighborhood Matching Fund. The program provides cash awards to community organizations for neighborhood-based projects. Proposals are due as early as January 11th for “Small and Simple” projects.

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Metro has introduced a new reroute notification system where you can sign up for email or SMS alerts if your bus has been rerouted due to snow or other emergency condition. — Seattle Transit Blog

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200 student poet-athletes will be participating in their fall season-ending America SCORES Seattle Poetry Slam tomorrow, November 13th, from 5 to 6:45pm. Join them at the Cleveland High School Auditorium. Call 206-988-1000 for more information.

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Rise up Singing — a family-friendly, evening sing-along with Albert Kaufman (the human jukebox). Former Beacon Hill neighbor Albert Kaufman will be back in town on Saturday the 14th at OmCulture near Gasworks Park from 7 to 9:30pm. Albert will be leading a sing-a-long with special guests and children of all ages are welcome. Thanks for the notice, Mira!

City Light’s Carrasco pitches alternative for unsightly power lines

“We feel terrible that the community was made to feel like we didn’t take enough time to bring you into the assessment of this project.”

Addressing a fairly large crowd of 30-40 people including many new faces at the October NBHC meeting last week, Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco came to discuss the impact that new higher power poles and thicker cables have had on neighbors near 12th Avenue South and South Stevens, where new lines have been installed to supply additional power for Sound Transit and anticipated load growth in Rainier Valley, on Beacon Hill, and Capitol Hill.

Mr. Carrasco first learned of the problems via email shortly after the new lines went up. He admitted that, while there was good engineering work done on the project, a community outreach component was not included, and that work is being performed internally at City Light to determine why a project of this size was done without input or feedback from the community. He has asked their engineering department to require that affected communities be contacted and a communication strategy be implemented before final designs are implemented for any future projects. This process, however, is not yet finalized.

With large towers and cables going up the western bluff and along Stevens Street from 12th to 15th Avenue, design issues included soil stability issues, and whether or not lines could go underground. Among possible overhead wiring implementations, multiple cost alternatives were looked at. This one was chosen because other options included a mid-slope pole partway up the hillside. A mid-slope pole would have meant maintenance access issues for City Light, so they engineered around it, pulling the lines up higher and using stouter poles at the top and bottom of the slope.

When asked why the Sound Transit tunnel was not used for the power lines, Mr. Carrasco mentioned concerns from Sound Transit as well as within City Light about having these general purpose power lines running alongside transit power lines. If there were a fire in the tunnel, it would not only damage train power but also likely cut power to a big chunk of Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill. Additionally, access for maintenance and repair would require working around the transit schedule.

A buried cable option was not pursued not only due to its expense in construction and maintenance, but also because, as a utility, City Light is actually restricted from spending money for non-utility use. If undergrounding is pursued for aesthetics, the city has to chip in.

“We’re not punting on this project.”

Along the line path, there are currently sets of double-poles. Many of these are there because another utility is still using the old pole. Mr. Carrasco said that by the end of this* week, the cable television wires should be removed, bringing seven poles down. The remaining poles include four Qwest poles which City Light doesn’t have authority to address, but they are in contact with Qwest to get them removed as well. (* From my notes, I’m fairly confident Mr. Carrasco said this week, but Mike Eagan from City Light commented that they won’t be gone until the end of next week. Thanks for the clarification, Mike! –Jason)

As for remediation to the view blockage for neighbors nearby, a mid-slope pole alternative will be reconsidered. With a mid-slope pole, the pole at the top of the hill could be about 20 feet lower, however the cables would be the same thickness and run in the same number. Mr. Carrasco estimated that this change could be done fairly quickly, being completed within a month and a half to two months after work begins. This is only an option they’re prepared to look at, and City Light is interested in discussing it further, setting up another meeting, bringing some concept photos, etc. The ballpark expected cost of this alternative is about $200,000 and would be using the same cable, adding a mid-slope pole, and swapping out a shorter pole at the top of the hill. Not addressed (and seemingly not well understood by City Light when brought up during the Q&A by neighbors) is what would happen with the new, higher poles now on the plateau between 12th and 15th.

Streetlight replacement also came up during the nearly hour-long conversation with Mr. Carrasco. A process of “group re-lamping” is underway in quadrants city-wide, and currently on Beacon Hill. Group re-lamping involves changing out all of the streetlights in an area at once, instead of addressing lights one at a time as they fail. This process allows for replacement in bulk every 4-5 years. The process is expected to be complete here by November 1.

Judith Edwards, NBHC Chair, is working to schedule a follow-up meeting with Mr. Carrasco and City Light. We’ll keep you posted when the meeting has been scheduled.

If you attended the meeting or have insights or opinions to share, we’d love to have you join the discussion at the linked Forum topic, or leave them here as comments on this article.

Neighbors protest power lines; City Light responds

These are the new power lines on the west side of Beacon Hill. Photo by Wendi.
These are the new power lines on the west side of Beacon Hill. Photo by Wendi.
The Seattle Times revisited the power line controversy on northwest Beacon Hill today, including a photo of neighbors Heather DeRosier, Carole Swanson, and Joan Habu standing underneath one of the new poles with a “Take Them Down!” protest sign. The new, thicker power lines, with taller poles, were installed a few weeks ago near South Stevens Street and 12th Avenue South.

Neighbor Frederica Merrell recently sent a letter of complaint about the power lines to Seattle City Light Superintendent Jorge Carrasco, asking, among other things, “why didn’t they bring the power in from below and run the lines through the tunnel, putting them under the freeway instead of draping them in the open where they will face wind and weather?” and received the following response:

Thank you for your note about the electrical service upgrade in Beacon Hill.

Seattle City Light installed an additional set of power lines to provide service for Sound Transit’s light rail trains, electrified buses and growing energy needs in the Rainier valley. The utility spent about three years reviewing possible routes and designs to deliver this needed service upgrade. While we try to limit the impact of such projects on the surrounding neighborhoods, safety for residents and our workers, reliability of the electric supply, and cost are important considerations as well.
Continue reading Neighbors protest power lines; City Light responds

Power lines obscuring some sight lines for neighbors on the hill

From the right angle, these power lines prevent a clear view of the towering office buildings downtown. Photo by Wendi
From the right angle, these power lines prevent a clear view of the towering office buildings downtown. Photo by Wendi
Several local media outlets have picked up a story of some neighbors on the far-west edge of the hill whose views have become scarred due to taller power poles with thicker power lines, purportedly installed by Seattle City Light at the behest of Sound Transit to accommodate the power requirements of the light rail station.

Beacon Hill neighbor Roger Pence, who works with Sound Transit, said on the mailing list:

…these power lines have nothing to do with Sound Transit. We didn’t know they were going up either! This is a “betterment” project entirely the doing of Seattle City Light.

Later reports indicate that City Light upgraded the service to power trolley buses and in expectation of increased demand in Rainier Valley.

(Tangentially, I noticed the trucks on Stevens between 12th and 13th yesterday morning, and when I called City Light to inquire about them , I was told it they were performing sewer work. “TV sewer inspection.” Odd. Updating with links as they appear.)

The last bits of the blue wall coming down

The final portion of the blue sound wall surrounding the light rail station construction has come down. BeHi Bonsai was there and recorded some video of the process.

The opening is getting closer!

Thanks, B.B.!

(Edited to add: Jason was slightly misled. There is a tiny bit of the blue wall remaining. Most of the site, however, has been freed of its blue prison. Now the chain-link just needs to go away. — Wendi)

Sound Transit can’t avoid the voids

The Seattle Post Globe fills us in on the filling of an eighth “void” along the tunnel excavation route at 18th and Lander. Another potential void is also being examined at 17th as well. Crews are expected to complete investigation and repairs by May 22nd.

After the initial report of the sinkhole that rose all the way to the surface, subsequent voids were identified by reviewing records of excavation spoils for abnormally high readings originally attributed to mismeasurement, accuracy, or instrument calibration issues.

BHB reader Heidi wrote this morning about having seen crews working at these repair sites (and being a bit hesitant about answering questions) and pointed out the crumbling retaining wall nearby. Interestingly, in the Post Globe report Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray states no structural damage has been reported from these voids and that only a quarter-inch of settling has been measured, and none of that near the void sites.

Thanks Heidi!

Underground voids found, filled by Sound Transit

In addition to the one that came all the way to the surface, the Seattle Post Globe reports Sound Transit has found an additional six underground voids above the bored tunnel on the East side of the hill. Six of the seven total found voids have now been filled with concrete at a cost so far of about $1 million. Keep an eye out for more shifting soil!

Update: KOMO reporter (and Beacon Hill resident) Travis Mayfield has a video report on this story.

Beacon Bits: Car wash, Lunch Bus, and an Earth Day Work Party

A north Beacon stairway to be improved at this weekend's Earth Day Work Party. Photo by Vicki Grayland.
A north Beacon stairway to be improved at this weekend's Earth Day Work Party. Photo by Vicki Grayland.
  • Dominic Holden discusses the 15th and Beacon car wash, and suggests that whoever filed a complaint about the car wash violating zoning is misguided: “The building, as far as I can see, has no windows facing the sidewalk. No window shopping, candy shopping, or book shopping will be happening in that garage. The pedestrian potential there—at least for now, with that building in this economy—is probably as good as it’s going to get.” Most of the commenters, however, disagree — Slog
  • Sound Transit is hosting another Lunch Bus trip at 11:30 am on Friday, April 17. The Lunch Bus is a guided tour of the Link light rail initial segment construction, followed by lunch at a local eating establishment. You are responsible for buying your own lunch. Tours depart and return at the southwest corner of 5th Ave S & S King Street in the International District. You must RSVP today — see the website for info.
  • Beacon Ridge Improvement Community is hosting an Earth Day Work Party this Saturday, April 18, from 9:00 am until noon. Neighbors will help clean up and beautify the public stairways at South Walker, Hill and Holgate Streets between 16th and 17th Avenues South. Refreshments will be provided. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and bring tools if you have them, marked with your name (weeders, shears, shovels, trowels, rakes and brooms). Questions? Contact David at bricchair@comcast.net. Interested in becoming more involved? BRIC needs committee leaders and board members. See David if you are interested.

(Edited 4/16 to correct photo credit.)

Sinkhole develops over light rail tunnel

The P-I reports on a sinkhole that appeared at 18th and Lander above the northbound light rail tunnel. Numerous trucks delivered fill material today to solidify the 18-inch hole that widened as it descended. Sound Transit is monitoring the area for any further problems.

(Edited: An earlier version of this post said that the sinkhole developed “due to Sound Transit construction.” The cause of the sinkhole has not been determined.)