Westwood area transit buses and pavement damage

Does your Roxbury, Barton or 26th. Ave. home shake from passing Metro buses?  Is it getting worse?  If so, you are experiencing the effects of pavement deterioration which has accelerated since the Westwood Village transit hub was created in 2012.

I have lived on Roxbury Street since 2002.  The street has always been noisy, but in the past few years, my neighbors and I have begun to notice our homes shaking as Metro lines C and 21 travel by.  This was not an issue in the past.

Some of us have brought this to the attention of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and King County Metro.  Citing SDOT pavement ratings, the visible deterioration of the roadway, and home shaking, it has been shown that the pavement on bus travel lanes is deteriorating more quickly than on other lanes.  Consider the following:

  • Severe visible road damage – On Barton, 26th Ave. and Roxbury, concrete panels in bus lanes are misaligned, cracked and subsiding under the weight of the buses.
  • Shaking of homes – Residents of Roxbury, 26th Ave. and Barton have reported significant, earthquake-level shaking in their homes as buses pass by.  A seismic sensor designed for monitoring earthquake activity has recorded earthquake-level shaking in one Roxbury Street home.
  • Pavement Condition Index (PCI) numbers – On Barton and 26th Ave., PCI numbers supplied by SDOT show markedly lower ratings for lanes used for bus travel.
  • Bus weight waiver – Transit buses are overweight for local roads but operate under federal and state waivers to allow them on surface streets not engineered to handle these loads.

I created this site in order to offer both a clearinghouse of information about this problem as well as ways to get involved.  For more detailed information, please see the tabs on the report submitted to SDOT in March 2015 and How to Get Involved.

Thanks,

Chris Stripinis

9 thoughts on “Westwood area transit buses and pavement damage

  1. Its not just your area and streets that this problem is occurring. I live in Hawthorne Hills- NE 65th Street corridor which as of March of this year has 240 transit passes per week day. My pavement looks identical to the one posted in the West Seattle Blog in March of this year. You also can feel the buses vibrate my house- particularly when they are passing each other. I would suspect that there are many other areas in Seattle who are now having similar problems. I read the West Seattle Blog and noted that the situation was being turned over to the City’s attorney’s office- a sure sign of passing the buck between the various government agencies. My question to you is; has there been any progress in rectifying the pavement issues, let mitigation for the the home damage since that March meeting?

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  2. Hello r kendall –

    Thanks for your comment. I’m sorry to hear about your similar problem. Unfortunately, there are over 30 locations in the city with bus slow orders, many of which I would assume are due to shaking issues like this. Here is a map I created showing all of them: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=1j0gTHJFfYK1_ZuQpFhaKiFIsV8w

    The West Seattle Blog story you cited largely focused on the issues on 26th Ave. SW. (I live on Roxbury Street around the corner.) On 26th, the City’s attorney was involved because of a dispute between Puget Sound Energy and SDOT about who was responsible for repairing street panels after some PSE work in the past. The City ended up giving PSE an ultimatum and SDOT repaired dozens of panels on 26th in the last 6 weeks or so. It probably helped that KING5 news picked it up and did a story on it, including video of the sheetrock cracks in homes. (http://www.king5.com/news/local/seattle/neighbors-blame-public-buses-for-cracked-ceilings-and-foundations/87738419)

    On Roxbury, we haven’t gotten as much attention. Other than a 15 MPH slow order for buses (which is largely ignored), there haven’t been any repairs or mitigation. Roxbury Street is slated to be repaved in 2021 but I have been working with Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s office to expedite that. I wrote a letter which CM Herbold passed on to SDOT requesting that Roxbury Street be repaved sooner as it is a busy transit corridor and because of the shaking in adjacent homes.

    Let me know if you have any other questions.
    -Chris Stripinis

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    1. Chris- Don’t you think that the city should review their 20 is plenty campaign, which recently was approved, and apply similar math to that of a bus that weighs 4-6x a normal vehicle? The whole premise of the slower limit is to allow vehicles the opportunity to stop quicker to avoid injury to pedestrians. I’m not a physics major, but common sense would tell me that a heavier object would need to be going slower to stop at the same rate a faster & lighter object is going. I am experiencing similar bus damage issues in Magnolia – W. Viewmont Way W.. Please let me know if I can help in anyway.

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  3. Hello Mike –

    Thanks for your comment. It’s funny that you mention the lowered speed limits, as Metro has called for bus slow orders on a couple of streets around us (15 MPH on Roxbury Street and 20 MPH on 26th Ave. SW). Unfortunately, the bus drivers largely ignore these slow orders. And, despite, repeated requests over the past few years from multiple neighbors, Metro seems to be reluctant to enforce the slow orders. So, it sounds good but enforcement is also required.

    Speaking of slow orders, I obtained a list of slow orders currently called for by Metro and compiled a Google map showing their locations around the city. You can view it at https://www.google.com/maps/@47.6164983,-122.4583926,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!6m1!1s1j0gTHJFfYK1_ZuQpFhaKiFIsV8w. Keep in mind that not all of these slow orders are due to the home shaking we are both experiencing but I suspect that most are. As you can see, W Viewmount Way between Bertona and Barrett is on the map.

    Let me know if you have any other questions or if you want to trade notes on contacts we’ve made at SDOT/Metro, strategies for improvements, etc.

    Thanks,
    Chris

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    1. Chris- Thank you. I would like to meet you and compare notes. Please shoot me your email address/ contact info & I will follow up! Thank you!

      Mike

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  4. Hi Chris – I wanted to reach out to you as I live on a section of road in Magnolia (30th Ave w that turns into 31st Ave W) and I am having similar issues with the street and road noise that shakes my house and sounds like an earthquake is going on. I have reached out to Metro over a dozen times and SDOT multiple times with Metro responding that they will report the speeding violations to the supervisors, which has done little. I saw the article in the Seattle TImes and would love to see what contacts you might have with the city and Metro.

    I really appreciate your help.

    Chase

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    1. Chase- I have a similar problem on w viewmont way w and have met with Chris in the past to discuss. I’ve submitted countless complaints to Metro as well. They have been no help. I’d be happy to meet with you to brainstorm on what we can do about the situation in Magnolia. Thanks!

      Mike

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  5. Hello Mike and Chase –

    I’m glad to see homeowners (on different streets, even) collaborating on this issue. Based on the response we have all gotten from Metro and SDOT so far, I would guess that any one of us complaining on our own won’t make much of a difference.

    I think this needs to move on to the City Council. I would suggest contacting both your own district’s Councilperson as well as Councilperson Lisa Herbold, whose office is already aware of these issues in my neighborhood. I don’t think that SDOT or Metro are high enough on the chain of command to move this along. At CM Herbold’s suggestion, I have been trying to get some proper vibration testing done in affected homes to see if the shaking reaches nuisance or even structural damage thresholds. Perhaps a request of this type from multiple parties on multiple streets would carry more weight?

    -Chris

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