Tag Archives: traffic

Open letter: Coal train impacts need to be studied

Today at 5 p.m. is the end of the “scoping period” to submit written concerns about the proposal to run new coal trains through South Seattle near Beacon Hill from the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Comments submitted in this scoping period will help in defining the impacts to be included in the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Neighbor Mira Latoszek wrote this commentary letter:

Dear Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Ecology and Whatcom County Council:

I am a resident of the North Beacon Hill neighborhood of south Seattle. I live directly to the east of the train tracks that would carry an increased number of trains to and from the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point. Beacon Hill is a large Seattle neighborhood of approximately 40,000 people. I am asking that you study impacts associated with the increase of trains at crossings in south Seattle, specifically at Spokane St., Lander St. and Holgate St. These are major intersections connecting Beacon Hill to the Industrial District, the Port of Seattle, the waterfront, and downtown.

I, along with many of my neighbors on Beacon Hill, are dependent on goods and services from the SODO area which would be directly affected by the increase of trains at these crossings. In addition, many of us work in an around the SODO area and the southern end of downtown Seattle, including several owners of small businesses. I travel by car and bike through these intersections on a daily basis to get to my job on Second Avenue in Pioneer Square. Being able to get across the train tracks quickly and safely is an important part of my life.

According to the applicant’s Project Information Document (Feb. 2011), full build out of the coal export facility would result in nine full northbound trains along this line a day, which equates to 18 train trips a day; however, nothing in the project materials specifies a maximum. The 18 trains per day round trip could be increased if export capacity of the proposed port were expanded in the future. The current port proposal occupies 350 acres of a 1,000-acre site. Each train may be over 1.5 miles long, which at 50 miles per hour would mean approximately 3-4 minutes between train approach warning/gate closure and ultimate gate opening. At 35 miles per hour it could take approximately 6-7 minutes to clear a crossing as the siding near
this area is rated for 35 mph. The 18 trains per day would equate to approximately one additional coal train every 1.3 hours, all day long, in addition to existing train traffic. That would translate to an addition of approximately two hours per day that vehicles and people would not be able to cross these major intersections in south Seattle.

Continue reading Open letter: Coal train impacts need to be studied

Traffic safety meeting presents calming options

Photo by Peter Blanchard via Creative Commons.
If drivers speed recklessly on your residential street and you’d like to do something about it, you or someone from your street should attend the Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program meeting on Wednesday, May 25, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Beacon Hill Library.

Neighborhood Traffic Operations (NTO), a workgroup within the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), is hosting the event to meet with neighbors who are concerned about speeding on their residential street. NTO representatives will present a brief overview of traffic calming options (such as chicanes, traffic circles, radar speed signs, etc.), what steps a neighborhood must take to be considered for traffic calming, the criteria staff use to prioritize projects, and possible funding sources. They will also teach the proper use of radar speed guns.

If you wish to enroll your street in the traffic calming program, a representative from your street must attend this meeting or one of the other meetings (the next one is in Queen Anne in July).

You can find more information about the traffic calming program on the SDOT website.

The Beacon Hill Library is located at 2821 Beacon Ave. S.

I-5 getting smarter next week

Image courtesy of WSDOT.
You may have noticed some of the new signs that have gone up recently on I-5 through South Seattle and on places such as the Columbian Way approach to the I-5 on-ramps. These are part of the new Smarter Highways active traffic management system that is going live on Tuesday, August 10. The electronic signs will help improve highway safety by alerting drivers when they need to change lanes because of blockages ahead, or when they need to reduce their speed before reaching a traffic backup.

The Smarter Highways website has an animation to show how the system will work. Here’s a longer video about the system. According to the video, systems such as this have been used in Europe with success, reducing traffic-related collisions by 30%.

Sound Transit still working to fill voids

Starting Monday, July 19, Sound Transit will return to Beacon Hill to continue underground exploration and backfilling work near Beacon Hill Station related to the voids discovered last year. Expect restricted parking, flaggers directing traffic, heavy equipment, and some noise. Construction is anticipated to take at least two months.

Among other impacts, the remediation work will reduce 17th Avenue South from South McClellan to South Waite to one travel lane, and drivers will be assisted by flaggers to safely get around the drilling equipment. Further information on the project activities can be found on this PDF.

These activities will be the first phase in the current work plan of exploratory operations to find and fill the remaining voids. The subsequent phases of the work plan focus solely on private property. If you have not been previously contacted by Sound Transit, no work will be on your property.

If you have any questions about the project or the Beacon Hill Station in general, please contact Jennifer Lemus, Sound Transit Community Outreach, at 206-398-5314.

This map shows the section of 17th Avenue South that will be affected by the lane closure, sidewalk closure, and parking restrictions:

View Sound Transit Void Remediation Work, Summer 2010 in a larger map

Walking with Tica: Andy Rooney edition

Photo by Dru Bloomfield (CC).
(For all you youngsters out there, Andy Rooney is a commentator on 60 Minutes.)

Hey Beacon Hill drivers: what’s the rush? I’ve been walking these streets for six years, enjoying the peaceful community, friendly neighbors, and quiet streets. Something changed lately… the streets are not as quiet.  Maybe the construction traffic for Sound Transit slowed traffic on McClellan, and now people are back to their Speed Racer habits.  It’s not just arterials, though.  Folks are flying down side streets, too.  My older dog and increasing belly are slow—is there some reason we should hurry?

Is your kid late enough to school that you need to rush a pregnant woman crossing 23rd? Did you forget to Tivo your soap opera, making it necessary to drive 40mph down 20th, narrowly avoiding parked cars and cats dashing across the street?  Is there any reason you absolutely must turn right on red as that senior citizen loaded with groceries is making his way across Beacon?

Unless you have flashing lights to go on top of your car or are driving someone to the hospital—SLOW DOWN!  Per SDOT: In Seattle, the speed limit on residential streets is 25 mph and 30 mph on arterial streets unless otherwise posted. Drivers are expected to know and obey the speed limit.

Pedestrians (and our pooches, strollers, toddlers) have right of way. Stop, look, and wait for pedestrians at intersections. Perhaps you could use that 20 seconds to meditate… or maybe you could hang up your cell phone, put down your sandwich, and remember that you’re in a metal cage capable of killing someone.

Other Andy Rooney editions that probably won’t be posted in the blog:

Why do teenagers text while crossing the road?

Is it too much to ask for people to pick up after their dogs?

You darn kids get off my lawn!

Volunteer opportunities a-go-go

A volunteer at work on the Hanford Steps last year. Photo by Jason.
A volunteer at work on the Hanford Steps last year. Photo by Jason.
The Hanford Stairs Weed Busters need you! Susan Fairo is seeking teams of two people (volunteering together or matched up individuals) who can put in 2-3 hours four times a year to help keep weeds from taking over the new native plants at the public staircase near 25th and Cheasty. Rookie Weed Buster team volunteers will receive instruction on what to remove and what to ignore, and use of tools, watering, plant disposal, etc. If you’re interested or have questions, contact Susan at susan.fairo@gmail.com or call 206-349-7285.

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Noticed an increase in airplane noise? Patty Fong is organizing neighbors in Beacon Hill and the Central District to address the issue with the FAA. See this comment on a previous Beacon Bits for more details, including contact information.

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Teens can earn service learning credit at the library. In addition to free SAT prep and online tutoring, the Seattle Public Library is also running a teen advisory board this school year. If you know teens wishing to earn service learning credit by writing book reviews, helping at teen programs, or writing for the SPL blog, contact Jennifer Bisson at Jennifer.Bisson@spl.org or call 206-615-1410.

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Catholic Community Services is looking for tutors. Their Youth Tutoring Program is an after-school educational enrichment program for at-risk students in first through twelfth grade. Volunteers offer academic support and also serve as positive role models to students, helping strengthen their sense of self-esteem and self-respect. Tutors help students with reading, homework (all subjects), math and language arts skills. Resources are available for those subjects you might not remember quite so well, and no specific background is necessary aside from a high school diploma. Tutoring Centers located nearby in NewHolly and Rainier Vista are open Monday-Thursday from 4:20-7:40pm, and tutoring would be for 1-3 hours per week on the same night every week. You can apply online at http://www.ccsww.org/ytp.

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Flash Volunteer offers many more volunteer opportunities. A non-profit startup run by Brad Wilke, a former Development Director at Denise Louie, aims to link people and neighborhood-focused volunteer opportunities. Check it out at www.flashvolunteer.org.

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A South Beacon Hill neighborhood watch is coming together. Mike Cheney, working with SPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Mark Solomon’s encouragement, is trying to bring together South Beacon Hill neighbors to form a neighborhood watch group. Perhaps you read the recent Wall Street Journal article “Civilian Patrols Grow As Recession Puts Citizens on Guard” and it piqued your interest, or maybe you’d just like to make your block a safer place to live. If you’re interested, email Mike at redboneshadow@yahoo.com.

SDOT plans 15th Avenue South improvements

At the July North Beacon Hill Council meeting, Judith Edwards invited Brian Dougherty of the Seattle Department of Transportation to present SDOT’s possible improvements to the 15th Avenue South corridor from Beacon Avenue south to Spokane Street and on to Columbian Way. Neighbors along this corridor were specially invited to attend and share their views and opinions about what’s wrong and what’s right about traffic there, and to weigh-in on the potential improvements.

Q: What’s the difference between a bike lane and a sharrow?
A: Sharrows for wider areas of roadway that are not wide enough for a dedicated lane, or for downhill stretches where bikes are expected to maintain vehicle speed.

The changes are largely driven by the bicycle master plan which prioritzed routes along 15th Avenue South & 12th Avenue South from Jose Rizal Park to Columbian Way. The changes for bike facilities are planned for this year. Markings and traffic changes can be installed with relative ease with current configuration from Jose Rizal Park to Beacon Avenue. At Beacon, peak parking restrictions (7-9am, 4-6pm) cause problems for bike facilities. Neither bike lanes or sharrows work in current configuration.


Almost unanimously, the neighbors along 15th felt that traffic runs too fast for the street, and when combined with the parking situation and lack of well-marked and signalled crossings makes it very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

The slides of the presentation are below. If you’d like to share your thoughts with SDOT on possible traffic flow or parking improvements, you can email Brian at brian.dougherty@seattle.gov.


Click for the rest of the slideshow.
Continue reading SDOT plans 15th Avenue South improvements

Beacon Bits: Golf carts, food carts, planning starts

Be sure to check out the Events calendar for more upcoming activities nearby!

Jose Rizal bridge partial closure tomorrow

SDOT is closing the Jose Rizal bridge for a little while tomorrow:

12th Ave S Bridge (Jose Rizal)
Thursday, April 16

SDOT will close the northbound, right-hand lane on the 12th Ave S (Jose Rizal) Bridge from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday April 16th. Trolley busses will be able to get through.

The closure is required for maintenance work on the bridge.

Via Steve Louie from Marybeth Turner at SDOT

A couple of weekend traffic notes

Peg Neilsen at SDOT shares a couple of traffic items that could affect getting around Beacon Hill on Saturday:

March Against Violence – 12 noon
600 participants expected

March starts at Rainier Beach High School, Rainier Avenue S and S Henderson Street and heads north on Rainier to S Graham Street, west on Graham to the Aki Kurose Middle School at 42nd Avenue S.


Seattle Sounders versus Kansas City Wizards – 7:30 p.m.
34,000 + spectators

Match is at Qwest Field. Occidental Avenue S will be closed north and south bound from S King Street to S Royal Brougham Way. Due to construction in the area, motorists need to allow extra time and check for the latest update on the SR 519 project at www.wsdot.wa.gov/projects/sr519

For traffic on major city streets, check SDOT’s real-time traffic Traveler Information Map at www.web5.seattle.gov

Thanks, Peg!