Police close 8th Ave NW due to ‘suspicious package’

Seattle Police closed 8th Avenue NW between NW 80th and NW 83rd streets Sunday morning after finding a “suspicious package” in the middle of the road. The bomb squad has picked up the device and the street has been reopened.

Seattle Police blocked off 8th Avenue NW at 83rd Street with a police cruiser and crime scene tape. The bomb squad van is in the background.

Karla Parker, who lives on 83rd and 8th, said a police officer knocked on her door this morning and told her to stay inside and away from the windows.

She said police initially blocked off 8th between 82nd and 83rd, but later expanded that down to 80th.

Members of the Chinese Evangelical Church at the corner of 80th & 8th were blocked off inside the crime scene tape, and congregated on the sidewalk.

Parker said she later saw the bomb squad robot coming down the street, then police took down the tape blocking the road. She said she and other neighbors were happy the police took it so seriously.

“I so appreciate (the police) looking out for us,” Parker said.

Thanks to Annie for the tip!

Road crews to work on NW 85th Street this weekend

Road crews will work this weekend on NW 85th Street between 12th and 13th Avenues NW, as part of the massive, nearly year-long repaving project of N/NW 85th Street from Ballard to I-5.

SDOT began work on Wednesday with eastbound NW 85th Street being closed between 8th and 15th Avenues NW, and traffic was detoured to NW 80th Street.

The latest from SDOT about this weekend’s work:

Residents, businesses and commuters should expect:

Construction activities:

  • Breaking apart the existing pavement on NW 85th St between 13th Ave NW and 12th Ave NW (this work will be noisy)

Traffic routing:

  • Eastbound lanes will continue to be closed and traffic detoured to NW 80th St
  • Westbound traffic will be maintained

Weekend work hours:

  • 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information:

  • Call the 24-hour project line: (206) 496-9993
  • Email: pave_85th@seattle.gov
  • Visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_85th.htm

85th Street paving project detours in place, traffic smooth so far on first day

The major NW 85th Street repaving project began today and so far there are no major traffic disruptions. Eastbound traffic, including Metro buses, is being detoured between 15th Avenue NW and 8th Avenue NW to NW 80th Street. The detour route was put in place after this morning’s commute.

SDOT workers cover up the left turn signal from southbound 15th Avenue NW onto eastbound NW 85th Street.

One of the employees of MidMountain Contractors Inc., who was stationed at the intersection of NW 85th Street and Mary Avenue NW, told me at 9:20 a.m. that traffic was flowing smoothly so far.

The intersection of NW 85th Street and Mary Avenue NW.

A Seattle Police Officer stationed at NW 80th Street and 15th Avenue NW told me at 9:30 a.m. that traffic was flowing normally.

The intersection of 15th Avenue NW and NW 80th Street.

The real test comes this afternoon during rush hour. The project to pave N/NW 85th Street from 15th Avenue NW all the way to I-5 will last until October. The work will be done in phases. Stay tuned to My Ballard for updates.

Here’s the official word from Metro for riders of the eastbound 48 and 81:

Eastbound bus routes (#48 and #81) detoured to NW 80th St

  • Catch eastbound route #48 at 15th Ave NW just south of NW 85th St, or at 8th Ave NW and NW 85th St
  • Catch southbound route #81 at 15th Ave NW just south of NW 85th St, or at 8th Ave NW and NW 80th St
  • No temporary bus stops will be added to NW 80th St in an effort to keep traffic moving along the detour route
  • Metro will post rider alerts to notify transit riders of detours and/or temporary bus stop closures

85th Street repaving begins Wednesday, plan your detour route

A reminder that the repaving of N/NW 85th Street from Ballard to I-5 begins Wednesday morning. Eastbound lanes on NW 85th Street will be closed from 15th Avenue NW to 8th Avenue NW, and traffic will be detoured to NW 80th Street.

The intersection of NW 85th Street and 15th Avenue NW. Construction begins on the east side of the intersection Wednesday morning.

The detour route will be put in place after Wednesday morning’s commute (this is a change from our earlier post, when the contractor had originally planned to put the detour in place early in the morning). However, eastbound Metro buses WILL be on the detour route from the first bus out of the base around 4 or 5 a.m., because Metro doesn’t change routes mid-shift. Rider alerts are posted at bus stops, and you can sign up for alerts online.

Westbound NW 85th Street will remain open for now, but may be narrowed to one lane at times.

SDOT Project Manager Jessica Murphy has told us that NW 80th Street is their best option for a detour route, but it won’t be able to handle all of the cars that would normally travel on NW 85th Street. So she encourages people to plan ahead and leave extra time, or switch to transit or walking.

For more information on the project, or if you have questions or concerns, check out the project’s website; email pave_85th@seattle.gov; or call the 24-hour project line (answered by a live person) at 206-496-9993.

Gumshoe looking to expand to Ballard

“Do the Gumshoe” is a popular refrain in Phinney Ridge and Greenwood every August, as hundreds of gumshoers take to the streets to follow a list of clues and a chance to win prizes from neighborhood businesses during the annual Gumshoe 5K Walk.

Mike Veitenhans, otherwise known as “The Gumshoe Guy,” created the Gumshoe six years ago as a fundraiser for neighborhood nonprofits. The 2011 Gumshoe raised $4,800 for the Greenwood Senior Center, Greenwood Food Bank and Greenwood Elementary School PTA.

Now, Veitenhans would like to partner with a few nonprofits for a Ballard Gumshoe.

“I’m giving it away!” Veitenhans said of the Gumshoe name and know-how.

But, he’d like the Ballard Gumshoe to happen at a different time of year from the Phinney-Greenwood event, and he encourages people to do both Gumshoes.

Here’s how it works: People buy a Gumshoe entry form for $20. Then they follow the list of 30 clues throughout the neighborhood, finding interesting artwork in people’s yards, identifying neighborhood landmarks, and making new friends as they try to help people who are stumped. Then turn in the completed entry form and be entered to win prizes from local merchants.

Gumshoers hit the streets of Greenwood-Phinney last year.

Ideally, Veitenhans would like to work with three Ballard non-profits. If interested, email him at mike.v@comcast.net.

Holiday recycling reminders

With Christmas and Hanukkah come mounds of wrapping paper, leftover food and dried out Christmas trees, Seattle Public Utilities wants to remind everyone just what can and can’t be recycled or composted.

Since recycling is free, you can put extra cans, bottles, paper and whatnot into a bin or box and set it next to your recycling cart on your regular collection day. Flatten empty cardboard boxes.

All recycling, garbage and compost needs to be put out by 7 a.m. on collection day.

Tips from SPU:

Common holiday items that go in recycling:

Clean pie tins, plastic deli/veggie trays and lids (wider than 3 inches), empty eggnog cartons, paper, plastic and metal cups, bottles, cans, jars, and tubs; catalogs, greeting cards, envelopes, cardboard, clean aluminum foil, gift wrap, plastic grocery bags (bundle and tie together) and glossy/shiny shopping bags.

All food scraps and yard clippings can go in your food and yard waste cart, including:

Figgy pudding, fruitcake, mistletoe, wreaths, bones, meat, cheese, seafood, fruit and vegetables. Paper bags and napkins can also be composted, as well as greasy cardboard pizza boxes.

There are several local Drop-off Recycling Locations for hard-to-recycle items, including:

  • TVs, cell phones and other electronics, as well as Styrofoam, batteries and other items.
  • To find a location near you, call (206) 684-3000 or go to www.seattle.gov/util and click on “How do I dispose of this?”

Holiday items that go in the garbage include:

  • Ribbons and bows, burned out holiday lights, alkaline batteries and Styrofoam packaging.
  • Fats, oil and grease should be placed in a lidded container and placed in the garbage.

Major paving project on 85th Street starts soon

The illuminated signs are now in place warning drivers of the upcoming paving project on NW 85th Street. Seattle Department of Transportation crews have been doing some preliminary work over the last few months, but the year-long project will start in a little more than two weeks.

Drivers should be prepared for detours and delays as SDOT begins the massive project to repave North/NW 85th Street from I-5 all the way to 15th Ave NW.

From SDOT:

Beginning as early as January 4, NW 85th St will be closed to eastbound traffic between 15th Ave NW and 8th Ave NW (Phase 1). All eastbound traffic, including Metro buses, will be detoured via NW 80th St. Construction activities in this area will limit westbound travel lanes and prohibit parking along NW 85th St.

Roadwork between 8th Ave NW and Greenwood Ave N (Phase 2) will also start in January. Phase 2 work will intermittently reduce travel lanes for eastbound and westbound traffic to allow space for construction. Rebuilding the intersection at N 85th St and Greenwood Ave N will require multiple weekend intersection closures. Intersection work is planned to start in late-January.

What to expect during construction

• Eastbound detours via NW 80th St
• Reduced lanes for westbound traffic
• Reduced traffic lanes in Phase 2
• Multiple weekend closures at Greenwood Ave N
• No parking on NW 85th St from 15th Ave NW to 8th Ave NW
• Temporary sidewalk and driveway closures
• Noise, dust and light impacts
• Occasional nighttime work activities
• Restricted access to side streets adjacent to NW 85th St for extended periods
• Pedestrian access to businesses and residences will be maintained at all times

During eastbound detours, do your part and help keep neighborhoods safe

The first few weeks of eastbound detours on NW 85th St are likely to be difficult for commuters, residents and businesses. Please bear with us while we make adjustments and work to keep people safe and traffic moving.

SDOT is asking commuters to:

• Use signed detour routes and avoiding cutting through neighborhood streets
• Follow posted speed limits
• Allow additional time for your trips
• Use alternate routes to I-5 and Highway 99
• Consider using transit, biking or walking instead of driving during peak commuting times

Safety improvement project coming to 15th Ave NW and NW 83rd St

The intersection of 15th Ave NW and NW 83rd St has been at the top of SDOT’s collision list for several years. To improve driver and pedestrian safety at this intersection before eastbound detours begin in January, a new concrete island and a median curb will be installed. These changes are scheduled to be implemented this month, and will prevent left turns onto NW 83th St from southbound 15th Ave NW, and left turns onto southbound 15th Ave NW from NW 83rd St.

For questions or comments regarding this safety project, please email Mike MorrisLent, SDOT Traffic Operations Engineer, at mike.morrislent@seattle.gov.

For more information:

• Call the 24-hour project line: (206) 496-9993
• Email: pave_85th@seattle.gov
• Visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/pave_85th.htm

Two homes burn in large fire near Fremont

Update: Investigators say the fire began when a generator sparked a pile of combustibles inside the home. “As the temperatures drop, citizens are reminded that gas powered generators are never to be used indoors,” says Seattle Fire Department’s blog. Investigators say the homes suffered $300,000 in damage.

Earlier: Fifty firefighters responded to a house fire at 4331 5th Ave. NW on the edge of Ballard and Fremont on Friday night. Moments later, the flames spread to the home next door. Anelise sent us this photo from the scene:

“(We saw) flames and sparks shooting up in the sky,” said Kathy, who lives five blocks away. “The flames were sixty, seventy feet high.”

“There was so much fire coming from that original house, that they couldn’t go inside and attack the fire from the inside,” said Seattle Fire spokesperson Helen Fitzpatrick. “Everything was pretty well involved by the time they arrived.” Firefighters were dispatched at 9:30 p.m. and were still dousing the homes two hours later. Nobody was injured.

(Fire photo tweeted to us by @gobigelow)

“I initially saw a flash,” says Olivia, who lives a block away. “A few seconds later I saw another one, and then a boom sort of noise.” She said she ran out and saw a house fully engulfed in flames. “It was already on the other roof right next to it.”

Smoke could be seen for miles. Firefighters initially entered the home, but quickly retreated. Here’s video from Evonne:

Firefighters will stay at the scene for the remainder of the night, extinguishing hot spots and ensuring the fire doesn’t flare up again. Both homes sustained significant damage. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

(Thanks to many of you for emailing us, and a special thanks to Capitol Hill Seattle’s @jseattle for the first tip on the story.)

Emerald City Orchids opening cafe next month

Emerald City Orchids, at 716 NW 65th St., is adding a café that will offer espresso and lunch. The café will open in mid-December, but there’s an open house from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.

Emerald City Orchids opened in 2008, and moved into its current location in January 2010, which was the former location of Il Giardino Italian Restaurant. The company distributes more than 500 varieties of orchids.

“I want to provide a home for orchid lovers to dwell while creating an atmosphere for everyone else to see what orchids are about,” Owner Joe Grienauer said in a press release. “There is a culture in the flower and garden community. And believe it or not, there is a culture within the orchid community and we’re certain that if you’re going to find it, it’s right here.”

Emerald City Orchids Café will offer a lunch menu of sandwiches and salads from Molly’s Salads, pastries and desserts from Hiroki, and coffee and espresso from Fremont Coffee Company.

Be prepared for high winds and heavy rain

A big storm is headed our way with winds picking up tonight, followed by heavy rain expected before sunrise tomorrow. According to King5, moderate to intense rain will fall from about 4 to 6 a.m. King5 says to expect one to three inches of rain to fall.

The heavy rain this time of year means Seattle is primed for urban flooding. Seattle Public Utilities is urging people adopt a drain and clean out leaves and debris from the storm drains in front of their house.

The number for reporting flooding issues is 206-386-1800.

Seattle City Light crews are prepared for the high winds. “With many leaves still on area trees to catch the wind and rain that will weigh trees down, this storm could blow trees and branches into power lines, causing outages,” Superintendent Jorge Carrasco said. “Our crews are ready to respond and restore service as quickly and as safely as possible, but it is always important for each of us to be prepared.”

City Light has this map to track power outages. If your power goes out or if you spot a downed power line, assume it’s live and call (206) 684-3000.

Both City Light and SPU urge residents to put together a survival kit with enough food and supplies to last your family for at least three days. Click here for a check list and other tips.