Light rail for West Seattle? Take the survey before it ends

November 22, 2013 at 2:51 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news | 26 Comments

The online survey for Sound Transit‘s Long-Range Plan Update includes a section where you can indicate support for extending light rail to serve West Seattle. We linked to the survey in our traffic coverage (where else?) multiple times last month and are mentioning it again now because Monday is the deadline to take the survey – so if you haven’t participated, take a few minutes and do it now. The signboard above shows Sound Transit’s current “corridor” studies, including our area, as displayed at an ST public hearing yesterday, photographed by Joe Szilagyi of the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (see the gallery on Facebook, here). But a study doesn’t guarantee a plan, so far, without support and, later, funding. First step: You can take the survey here.

26 Comments

  1. There is a problem with the survey in that you can not voice support for any of the options if you are not a transit user. I ride my bike and drive but fully support transit even if I don’t use it. I think that there are people like me that bike and not use Metro but do support it.

    Comment by Jack Carson — 3:11 pm November 22, 2013 #

  2. Our BiModal Glideway group is looking for feedback on what others see as the top concern facing Public Transportation today. Does the US public transportation system have a health and safety issue? Is there an issue of funding? Do zoning rules and regulations hinder our ability to solve mass transit issues? Sound off on http://www.bimodalglideway.com/transportation-feedback/

    Comment by Tony Alvarado — 3:24 pm November 22, 2013 #

  3. Thank you! I took it last month and there was room to write comments at the end. I talked about Metro cuts, viaduct conduction, and increased density.

    Comment by Chris W — 3:32 pm November 22, 2013 #

  4. The amazing thing about this is that they said all the feedback from West Seattle residents so far was 94%+ in support of Light Rail coming to West Seattle. When we did a Facebook poll for members of the Westwood/Roxhill/Arbor Heights Community Council (separate from the WSTC) the support there was 95%+ in support of Light Rail. It’s pretty amazing–there is a hunger for this in West Seattle.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 4:40 pm November 22, 2013 #

  5. Survey completed! Thanks for pointing it out to me.

    Comment by Maggie — 6:14 pm November 22, 2013 #

  6. I can’t believe that there is no plan for light rail in west seattle, as the density increases (just look at all the cranes) the bridge commute get unbearable. We need light rail NOW!

    Comment by WestseattlerailNOW — 6:27 pm November 22, 2013 #

  7. Thank you, WSB, for publishing this as a separate post. I had not seen the survey before because I do not routinely check your daily traffic coverage. I completed and submitted it.

    Comment by m — 9:23 pm November 22, 2013 #

  8. I’m curious: if not for the West Seattle blog, how else would residents have known about Sound Transit’s on-line survey? Do they (Sound Transit) really need to ask whether we need it or not, on a survey? Are we at the mercy of a survey? You’d think it would be obvious to them. We have three exits and entrances to West Seattle, and a rapidly expanding population.

    Comment by DM — 11:06 pm November 22, 2013 #

  9. Thank you for posting a link to the survey. I would not have known about it otherwise!

    Comment by evergreen — 11:08 pm November 22, 2013 #

  10. Think in terms of rubber tire transit instead of light rail for WS. Light rail could come at a significant cost as it might take a lane in both directions from existing bridges if they find it feasible to do do. The I-90 floating bridge is slated to loose the center roadway to light rail. Where else would they put it? The bridge is designed for it.

    Comment by dsa — 11:27 pm November 22, 2013 #

  11. Didn’t West Seattle have some type of light rail years ago that was taken out because of so many complaints? I seem to recall something about it going down the middle of California Ave?. Yes, it will require more taxes & road space being lost, etc. West Seattle is growing very quickly and changing. I am noticing the heavier traffic & missing the West Seattle I grew up in. Light rail will bring more changes to West Seattle some good & some not. I agree with dsa – at what cost?

    Comment by Bee — 4:16 am November 23, 2013 #

  12. How do you make a judgment of any substance with such a generic ‘map’? The map shows a complete wrap around – implying light rail around the perimeter to Fauntleroy ferry and then up Barton or along Marine View Drive from the ferry to 106th and then across to Ambaum or all the way to 1st and then out to Burien. Is that the plan? What about California Ave, 35th SW and Delridge corridors? Has any real planning occurred? How many routes are actually being considered and in what phases will they be constructed?

    Comment by Bill — 6:16 am November 23, 2013 #

  13. West Seattle had streetcars (a cable car too), as did other areas of the city, in the late 19th/early 20th century. A short version of the system’s history is here: http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=2707

    Comment by WSB — 7:11 am November 23, 2013 #

  14. @Bill, there is no fixed plan. Sound Transit is researching the area to see what possible routes exist I’ve heard (as they do elsewhere) for basic viability. Rail has length, grade, zoning, and other requirements. I’ve heard anecdotally from various people (not at ST) that the most plausible routes broadly are probably either on the existing WSB or on a new bridge (depends on grade/routing requirements coming from the east side of the Duwamish. Then you’ve got three plausible routes into West Seattle only: Delridge, the freeway as it drops off at Fauntleroy, and freeway to 35th. At that point is where it gets fuzzy. If Light Rail took over the Rapid Ride’s routing, it would/could disrupt the Junction but allow Rapid Ride to shift to Delridge or 35th. Rail to Delridge would probably require upzoning. Rail to 35th may require upzoning. It’s up in the air if the Light Rail served the ferry terminal if it could even climb Fauntleroy back up toward Westwood, and they’d probably want to use Light Rail here as a bridge to White Center, Ambaum, Burien and Federal way in a later, 2020s-2030s+ project.
    .
    Short version: if I had to guess, it would go either up/down 35th to Westwood/Roxbury and on south to White Center/points south OR Delridge to the same destination, but they will also probably reallly badly want to route into both the Junction and Morgan, for population reasons. That’s all at least 1-3 years out before the routing wrestling begins I would wager. This is, again, all just stuff I’ve heard in various conversations over the months. Not a single thing is concrete–all “what ifs” and “could bes”.

    Comment by Joe Szilagyi — 7:20 am November 23, 2013 #

  15. Everyone in West Seattle regardless of whether you currently use transit needs to fill this out and make our voices heard. I would happily use light rail if it were an option as would my husband (who commutes to Redmond every day). We need something other than buses with all this increased density.

    Comment by kayo — 7:57 am November 23, 2013 #

  16. They need to get there act together. Light rail should have been done by now in West Seattle and now we are talking about it again for the future. Now West Seattle needs it even more then before and in the future with all these new buildings going up with no parking. We need some common since people to be in leadership rolls that have a clue.

    Comment by S — 8:18 am November 23, 2013 #

  17. WSB, thanks so much for posting on this survey. I would not have known otherwise.

    Comment by LivesinWS — 9:06 am November 23, 2013 #

  18. Thanks WSB for the link to the history of street cars/cable cars in West Seattle.

    Comment by Bee — 9:50 am November 23, 2013 #

  19. seattlesubway.org

    Comment by Azimuth — 9:54 am November 23, 2013 #

  20. I live off Delridge, work in Bellevue, and took the survey. I’m not trying to incite the usual comments mudslinging, but wanted to share a different viewpoint from many of the comments posted so far.

    Fixed, specific infrastructure solutions like light rail are better suited to connecting downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue and the like than they are to connecting neighborhoods in Seattle. Once built, a light-rail/monorail/whatever line and it’s stops are fixed for decades and can’t easily be adjusted to meet changing population and demographics.

    Bus lines and coaches that run on them are more readily adaptable over decades, both to changing demographics, populations, and clean transportation improvements. If light rail is in place for 30 or 50 years (which it should be to be worth the high initial investment), it’s locked into the state-of-the-art as it was the day it opened. 20 years into the lifespan of the project, a modern bus coach is likely to be more efficient than the 20 year-old train coach running alongside it.

    I would rather see the investment go toward improving bus service on the peninsula, and adding more electric-enabled routes to reduce coach-emissions in the Delridge valley and other areas of our corner of Seattle.

    I agree that the region needs more light-rail connecting commerce centers. I respectfully disagree that it’s also a high-value solution to connect West Seattle to life east of the Duwamish.

    My two cents, anyway. Sling away.

    Comment by Delridge Denizen — 10:32 am November 23, 2013 #

  21. Thanks yet again, WSB, for your diligence in getting us the information and KEEPING on us about it! I did the survey today because you posted about it again.

    Comment by Junction Mom — 10:58 am November 23, 2013 #

  22. What would be the timeline to actually use this imaginary WS section of light rail?

    Well over a decade – maybe two?

    If long-range planning is what these local/Regional Transit Advocates evidently are seeking, research impediments to our state ferry expansion.

    To be truly proactive for our environment and our people and industries, I think Puget Sound needs north/south ferry routes. Such ferries would also move thousands of commuters like trains would do and I wonder whether it would cost less than rail? Might be worth bringing into this very boxed-in equation people in West Seattle are struggling with.

    Can Sound Transit evolve to include a REGIONAL ferry system (perhaps in partnership with semi-privatized enterprises with regulations for fees, size , locations, routes, etc.?) Can King County Ferry District also evolve to partner with private enterprise for expanded water taxi’s.

    These kind of public/private partnerships are not being discussed with regards to our transit needs. I think they should be to open up the log jam – permanently. We simply have to. We are bound by water from one end of our state to the other. We are surrounded by river, lakes and sea. We are neglecting our greatest resources. For allegedly being one of the smartest cities in the country, we seem to miss the obvious. We need to float this into a vote for the people.

    Comment by westseattledood — 12:09 pm November 23, 2013 #

  23. Thanks WSB for the posting this survey again…I missed it before and I’m glad I saw it today so I could partake.
    .
    With the light rail in SODO only being 4 miles away it seems like a no-brainer to me that a link/connection to West Seattle would be the perfect solution to the constant increase of commuters that we are now experiencing. And with all the current residential buildings being constructed, seemingly every day, it really can’t happen soon enough in my opinion.

    Comment by sun*e — 1:38 pm November 23, 2013 #

  24. I agree, this should have happened years ago. The bus system is horribly inefficient, thus most people don’t benefit from using them. I’ll take light rail any day over buses.

    Comment by evergreen — 2:40 pm November 23, 2013 #

  25. WSB thanks for posting the survey. I agree with the others who believe light rail should have been implemented years/decades ago. Again poor planning by your elected officials have created the upcoming mess that will be West Seattle.

    Comment by buckwheat — 5:36 pm November 23, 2013 #

  26. for those of you who are complaining about our elected officials failure to supply light rail to WS, which needs it way less than other areas, you’re carping about the wrong people — you need to complain about the citizens who, in their infinite wisdom, voted down the mass transit component of the Forward Thrust initiatives in the late 60′s. Not once but twice. The only component of the first FT package to be voted down, thanks to opposition by car-addicted groups like AAA. If you ever visit Atlanta GA, ride MARTA — it’s the mass transit system the feds funded when FT failed.
    .
    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=2168
    .
    http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=3961
    .
    If light rail is ever extended to WS in 15-20 years (or more), you’ll be carping about construction disruption for 3-4 years (or more), lost lane capacity on WSBridge and arterials (no WS streets are wide enough to accommodate rail without loss of parking, left turn lanes, etc.) unless a tunnel alternative is chosen and the influx of new development around the stations. You’ll find light rail is less convenient than bus service for many trips as you’ll need to get to the rail station (there will be no parking garages) and then get from the station to your destination.
    Light rail is not the panacea some people think it is. It will cost billions and will mostly take riders from Rapid Ride. WS doesn’t have the concentrated density nor the types of destination(s) (i.e. large employer, stadium, airport, university, etc.) needed to make light rail cost-effective. I guess that means it will be approved …

    Comment by metrognome — 3:48 am November 24, 2013 #

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