Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Constantine, McDermott announce they’ll seek to get WS into ST’s updated plan

Will light rail for West Seattle be written into Sound Transit‘s forthcoming long-range-plan update? Two West Seattle-residing elected officials said at a ST board meeting today that they will support amending the plan to call for “high-capacity transit service” for WS in that update: County Executive Dow Constantine (who chairs the board) and County Councilmember Joe McDermott (who’s a board member). Here’s the news release:

King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine and King County Council and Sound Transit Board member Joe McDermott today moved to add future high-capacity transit service to West Seattle and Burien to the Long-Range Plan now being prepared for Sound Transit.

“The corridor between downtown Seattle, West Seattle and Burien is one of the greatest opportunities for extending mass transit service,” said Constantine. “This amendment is the first step towards funding the extension through a future public vote.”

“Survey results back up what I am hearing from my constituents and my community – strong support exists for light rail expansion to West Seattle,” said Councilmember Joe McDermott, who represents West Seattle. “A Downtown to West Seattle to Burien route will be well-used and leverage limited transit dollars in economic hubs.”

Sound Transit Board members today discussed the Long-Range Plan (LRP) at a workshop in preparation to update the plan in December. Proposed amendments will be discussed at the Board’s November and December meetings.

Following the collapse of the Seattle Monorail Project in 2005, the Sound Transit Board included funding to study a future connection between downtown Seattle, West Seattle and Burien in the Sound Transit 2 ballot measure that voters adopted in 2008. The study, completed earlier this year, shows very strong ridership potential in the corridor.

The LRP, last updated in 2005, serves as the vision for where high-capacity transit investments including light rail and bus rapid transit should go as the region’s population grows an estimated 30 percent by 2040. The plan identifies the projects that are eligible to be included in future ballot measures for construction after the completion of current voter-approved projects, including more than 30 miles of light rail extensions that Sound Transit is on target to open by 2023.

Next month Sound Transit is scheduled to position the Board to update the LRP by publishing a Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, shaped by analysis of transit expansion options and more than 12,000 public comments that Sound Transit received in June and July. More information on the LRP is available at

In updating the LRP the Board is set to confirm its plans to begin work in January to shape a ballot measure for consideration in November 2016 or thereafter. Next month the Board is scheduled to discuss the additional authority for local revenue sources that need to be approved by the Washington State Legislature.

Before publishing this, we followed up for some clarification. Constantine’s transportation adviser Chris Arkills explains that today’s announcement is a precursor to formal action in December: “(Constantine) kicked off the board meeting discussion on potential amendments to the long range plan by announcing that he and CM McDermott will be offering an amendment to add WS to the (plan). Only corridors in the LRP are eligible for possible inclusion in any ST3 (ballot measure) package. So this is an important step.”

40 Replies to "Sound Transit light rail for West Seattle? Constantine, McDermott announce they'll seek to get WS into ST's updated plan"

  • debra October 30, 2014 (3:59 pm)

    I for one want no part of this…higher taxes, more congestion. Experience tells us with the proposed monorail that it is a financial black whole that does not come to pass
    Lets keep taxing the homeowners to death so I can’t affort to stay in my home…
    Shame on our leaders and us for allowing West Seattle to turn into capital hill with all of the density and the hell that comes with it

  • clark5080 October 30, 2014 (4:00 pm)

    Most of us will be dead before they get that built

  • Laura October 30, 2014 (4:23 pm)

    Sound Transit has more than proven it is anything but a financial black hole, and the total opposite of the failed Monorail project. Link ridership continues to sky rocket and as this city–our city, the fastest growing one in the country, people–continues to boom, we need smarter ways to transport people from the peninsula to their jobs downtown and beyond. NIMBYs should take a look at the congestion on the West Seattle Bridge and I-5 sometime and explain to me how to handle 30% more cars without expanded transit options. If you don’t want to live in a city with some actual density to it, move out to the suburbs please, we’ve got plenty of people waiting to buy your place.

  • Joe Szilagyi October 30, 2014 (4:37 pm)

    When Sound Transit did a survey of residents — nearly 1000 respondents from West Seattle, we heard — the desire and approval for Light Rail from West Seattle to downtown was well over 92% in favor. That’s absurdly unprecedented uniformity and desire in favor of it happening.
    @Debra there is no part of the city not growing denser, and by law all communities have to absorb their share. There’s also literally no viable political tactic to stop jobs growing here and no legally viable way to keep people moving here.
    Also, this not the monorail, and it’s not a financial black hole. It’s the only option we have in the long term for our kids and grandkids, and we’re decades behind from our predecessors stupidly allowing Atlanta to take Federal money away from us to get their subway before us by failing to pass Forward Thrust.
    We need to do this or we’re completely done. The only opposition I have ever really heard to Sound Transit and Metro are based in general opposition to public transit or general opposition to rail, or the completely incorrect belief that if we do nothing it will somehow “freeze” our city in time and place, or just West Seattle. Every viewpoint is out of alignment with every political reality on the ground or in Seattle in general. Transit is coming, transit will grow, and transit must grow.
    This is not just to service today’s population, and the wishes to a degree of today’s population MUST be secondary to the needs of our children and tomorrow’s population. It’s how it has to be and it’s what poll after poll and vote after vote has said.

  • MICHAEL October 30, 2014 (4:47 pm)

    Cool story Debra…

  • Pendragon October 30, 2014 (4:49 pm)

    You’ve just got two coconuts and are banging them together!

  • Oakley34 October 30, 2014 (4:50 pm)

    Well said, Laura.

  • Peter October 30, 2014 (4:50 pm)

    Thank you Joe and Dow! Just make sure it’s light rail and no more “bus rapid transit” nonsense.

    • WSB October 30, 2014 (4:58 pm)

      Re: Joe’s comment, I crashed this story out fairly quickly post-power outage but am going to add some background links, including the WSTC’s consideration, as all this was a fairly hot longrunning topic around here for a few months earlier this year, and now finally the endgame is nearing. – TR

  • Joe Szilagyi October 30, 2014 (5:05 pm)

    We’ve put an official post up about the news, if it’s helpful:

  • cj October 30, 2014 (5:52 pm)

    I have been voting pro monorail sense I first moved here in 01 and all I see with every fail is more traffic congestion, more people cut off by failed bus funding, oh and a hole in the ground project that is putting the city in serious debt and not working out. In a city this size there should be no lack of transit anywhere in town and on the edge of the ring of fire no deep tunnels.

  • Bread Herman October 30, 2014 (6:15 pm)

    Just because the feds are giving away money does not mean that it’s money that should be taken. Come time the word will get out and there will be another vote/poll on whether or not we want this here. I have lived in West Seattle over thirty years, eighteen of them in my house in arbor heights and I for one do NOT want this here. I will be engaged and active in resisting this. One thousand people is not the sum of all the residents in West Seattle and ALL the residents will get a chance to be heard in this at some point.

  • Darryll October 30, 2014 (6:58 pm)

    Nice summary of the reality of our situation, Joe! I’m 100%in favor of light rail and more high density transit, and willing to pay to have it here in West Seattle.

  • Patrickjay68 October 30, 2014 (7:17 pm)

    This is great news and a huge step forward. For those that say they don’t want it here, it needs to be here. Would you rather pay taxes on something you can actually use should you choose to or pay the same taxes and have the light rail go to Ballard and other points not West Seattle? You don’t get to opt out of taxes if they don’t build here, you just have the same ‘headache’ that’s been here for years and pay the same taxes that will relieve others’ headaches with your dollars. When the Viaduct goes away congestion will only be exponentially worse and we need to fund light rail to West Seattle now.

  • Debra October 30, 2014 (7:59 pm)

    So Lara I have lived here all my life, born and raised, tell me how long have you been here to see the miserable changes, I don’t need to move to the burbs. We need to not have development shoved down our throats. Pray tell how long have you been here, what is happening is not ok and clearly you don’t have history of this community to understand that
    You move back, I was here first

  • WSobserver October 30, 2014 (8:23 pm)

    Debra it is the smug unfriendly Seattlites like you who keep me motivated to get out of here. Not only do I detest the climate, the people are worse.

    One more year. And I won’t let the door hit me in the azz when I leave.

  • KBear October 30, 2014 (9:20 pm)

    Hey, how about a compromise? Let’s build no mass transit (like Debra wants), but TAX PEOPLE ANYWAY! (A la the Monorail.) That way we can waste plenty of money and have nothing to show for it like we always do in Seattle! (Just kidding, Debra. Sound Transit has no idea where West Seattle is, even though their slow buses occasionally show up here. We are in no danger of getting light rail in your lifetime.)

  • WSB October 30, 2014 (9:24 pm)

    No more “native vs. non-native,” “owner vs. renter” comments; they will not be approved. (I just declined one.) They’re divisive and useless and generally perpetuating faulty stereotypes/assumptions. Every single soul who’s here has as much (or as little) right to be here as everyone else: Native or “transplant,” renter or owner, rich or poor, driver or biker, old or young, etc., five days here or five years here or five decades here. If you’re an old-timer upset about growth, I hope that you were involved in the 1999 process whose results are being experienced now – that you at least tried to stop something you were and are opposed to – AND I hope you are involved now in the Seattle 2035 process which will update the plans for the people following us, who in turn then can look ahead to Seattle 2050, etc. Thanks – TR (who, if you haven’t seen me confess to this before, IS A TRANSPLANTED CALIFORNIA NATIVE, YIKES, SORRY, THEY FORGOT TO CLOSE THE WASH/ORE. BORDER BEFORE WE CROSSED IT 23 YEARS AGO! )

  • m October 30, 2014 (11:10 pm)

    Kudos to you, TR!

  • Glenn October 31, 2014 (6:35 am)

    WSB, Can you delete Debra and WSobserver’s comments? I agree that they are very divisive and too off topic to contibute to the discourse. I for one was distracted. Thanks!

  • In case you were wondering October 31, 2014 (6:56 am)

    Debra, I am a native like you. But unlike you I have been informed and aware of growth plans for the entire city for over 20 years. I paid attention. You do not give the impression that you knew about the GMA (I am betting you’ll have to google that).

    Your ignorance of the community and its history you have lived in all your life is fairly offensive to those of us who pay attention.

    And TR. 20 years gives you native status.

  • Hmm... October 31, 2014 (7:49 am)

    Would be much more interested to learn the commuter vs non-commuter status as I read these opinions. Because I can’t fathom ANYONE who drives over that bridge every morning fighting this. It’s a slow, dangerous madhouse! And before my transportation credibility gets dinged, let me add that I travel with a full Vanpool.

  • debra October 31, 2014 (8:11 am)

    During the late 90s we were actively involved in the neighborhood plans, urban design for of the clear messages is the desire for controlled growth and growth and density that fit with the neighborhood, additionally the public did not want the monrail which was then decided upon, land was purchased then decided nope not a great idea
    The frustration is after years of being involved it comes down to the developers and their deep pockets…does anyone thing the density fits with the neighborhoods…the junction was to remain a anchor with developement not over 2 stories..does not appear that has occured…microhousing was never part of the plan..density is may need to occur but how you implement is the key ….clearly the plans developed over 10 years ago have not been adhered to …hardly provides confidence that going forward that will change
    I am so sorry you find my comments offensive but I challenge your ignorance that my history is incorrect…Your comment is misguided

  • WS Since 66 October 31, 2014 (8:47 am)

    West Seattle needs better transportation which should be part of a more regional tri-county plan. The people who live in the King-Snohomish-Pierce Counties should be fairly taxed for the transportation system. Why the people in the “outlying areas”? They add to the traffic congestion here inside the City limits. Just look at the freeways backed up in the mornings with people who live in the burbs coming into the City to work and for all the amenities that a metropolitan city offers. Then driving home to the burbs adding to the congestion.

    In conclusion, I always wonder, as I sit in traffic on the WS viaduct, just how many of those people voted against the monorail to kill it. Since it was scheduled to be completed in Nov of 2009, even with a year’s delay, we would have been enjoying our commute on the monorail instead of sitting in traffic. The voters, who voted to kill it, had great vision for the future of our transportation….NOT!

  • AmandaKH October 31, 2014 (10:13 am)

    Debra is right. There are comprehensive plans from 1999 (Community driven) and if you look at them, you can see just how much has been completed – or not completed as the case may be. There are sporadic, underfunded updates every few years – and there are plans, then plans on top of plans, on top of plans! And now we have ANOTHER plan in Seattle 2035! We need to refocus and fund the updates – and stop creating new plans. The developers rule this City everyone, thanks to your sitting City Council (average tenure – 7.3 years).

  • Ex-Westwood Resident October 31, 2014 (10:26 am)

    Light Rail is a decent way to move people to areas and reducing traffic,
    The way ST is doing it isn’t the most efficient or best way.
    First – there is NO parking at stations. Tukwila is the ONLY stop that has parking. More people would take it if there was parking provided at more than just one stop. The extension to 200th south of the Airport, as far as I know, has NO Parking lot/structure planned.
    Second – If they are planning on running it/through WS then it HAS to be COMPLETELY elevated and NOT reduce traffic lanes on the route. People will still be one the roads that go TO and FROM the station
    Third – $2.75, one way, is a ridiculously low fare to go from Tukwila to Westlake, considering the actual cost is close to $27.00 per trip, per rider. An increase to $5.00 each way (I would still use it to go downtown or to games) should be instituted to reduce subsidies.

  • in case you were wondering October 31, 2014 (10:38 am)

    Debra is right. However, reacting to an online comment like she did was rather counterproductive to win converts.

    Likewise me.

    See ya’

  • AmandaKH October 31, 2014 (11:12 am)

    ICYWW – Here last comment has truth to it – but her previous comments were counterproductive – that is correct.

  • WS Since 66 November 1, 2014 (7:21 am)

    About 25 yrs ago the City of Seattle’s Comprehensive plan called for the establishment of Urban Villages. Many people, mostly the old locals, fought the change as is their knee-jerk natural reaction. Fast forward to today. Homes within a few blocks from an Urban Village, a place one can walk to for a cup of coffee, a meal, the theater, and more services increase in value faster than those that are farther away from an Urban Village.

    Those complaining about the increased density need to look at a map of the West Seattle to see the small percentage of our peninsula is actually being developed. I live a half dozen blocks from the Alaska Jct and my neighborhood isn’t affected by the building. We look forward to new developments within the Alaska Jct area.

    In conclusion, those who are against the developments, what is your solution to the influx of people moving into West Seattle? Seriously what would you do??

  • joel November 1, 2014 (7:24 am)

    any mention of the $100 per year tax increase per $100k of assessed value….so likely about $400 increase per homeowner?

    The Times article said sound transit already has one of the highest costs in the country. any information on this? or better yet information on how Sound Transit is going to improve current cost controls to get in line with industry average before asking for more money?

  • WS Since 66 November 1, 2014 (8:01 am)

    I have posted several times to various articles mostly about the increase in people moving to West Seattle.The majority of the people’s comments complain about it.

    I usually end asking for some positive input but I NEVER get a response. So I’ll as it again and see if anyone has some positive input:

    “In conclusion, those who are against the developments, what is your solution to the influx of people moving into West Seattle? Seriously what would you do??”

  • whatasec November 1, 2014 (11:13 am)

    developer’s have nowhere to develop if property owners don’t sell.

    chew on that one.

  • joel November 1, 2014 (7:44 pm)

    property owners don’t sell? last time we spent millions on car tabs for the monorail that was never built….they took people’s property from them. then when the project went bust they kept all the tax money and auctioned everyone’s land/homes off and made a profit.

  • joel November 1, 2014 (7:46 pm)

    since 1966…I get on the first ave south bridge, then get on 1st avenue and take downtown. I am downtown in 20-30 minutes. I have zero complaints about my commute. If I need to go south to airport, south center, burien etc… can do so without getting on i5 and with little to no traffic….again no complaints.

  • Jennifer November 1, 2014 (10:58 pm)

    Ex Westwood: South 200th Station includes a parking garage.—Parking-garage
    However, many of the stations are positioned so that you can walk/bike to them. Every time I get on the train, there are lots of riders and people using the bike racks, so lack of parking doesn’t seem to be affecting their ridership all that much.

  • Debra November 2, 2014 (12:31 am)

    Could the density be spread out, ws since 66 lives 12 blocks away, those of us close to the density, with single family homes deal with the noise, traffic and parking issues
    I can understand why it has limited impact on your street/home
    Density is going to happen , why did mico housing happen, does anyone think that adds to stable housing, it’s transit housing that add zero value and a lot of folks who are not vested in the neighborhood
    Does every development have to be bulky and not designed to integrate into the community.
    It’s cheap to do ugly boxes, and the developers for the cast majority have no interest in our community, most do not even live in our area, but in their tree lined streets somewhere else where they would not accept their own buildings in their own back yard

  • WS Since 66 November 2, 2014 (7:00 am)

    joel: I appreciate you being the first one to tackle the question. However that is a solution to a different situation but not one dealing with the influx of people moving into WS. The question is more, how does the area accommodate the housing (density) for all those moving here in the next decade?

    Debra: Also thank you for your response to the question. I live 6 blocks from the Alaska Jct not 12. You are correct that it has limited impact on my street as it does on about 85% of the streets (just a guesstimate looking at the map of the WS peninsula). It does impact my home which I consider West Seattle my home.

    “Density is going to happen , why did mico housing happen, does anyone think that adds to stable housing, it’s transit housing that add zero value and a lot of folks who are not vested in the neighborhood.” Numerous examples can be given and here is one of them. Back in the early to mid-1980s the same was said about “skinny” houses. Those are homes that are built on 25’ wide lots and are 3 stories. At about the same time the first townhomes were built near the Alaska Jct at the corner of Alaska and 45th. Longfellow Run, across from Sealth International High School and built in 1978 were the probably the first ones built in WS. “Who wants to live in a 15’ wide home?” was the question/dilemma of that time. Now townhomes are an accepted single family home and ALL of them that are built bought by people now calling them Home.

    Lastly, “but in their tree lined streets somewhere else where they would not accept their own buildings in their own back yard”. It is called Zoning which dictates what kind of building is allowed on a property. It is what keeps the bigger more dense areas removed from the vast majority of residential areas. Without zoning laws, if the land next to anyone’s home in WS was desirable to build a sports stadium, a hospital, or a steel mill, then they would be free to build it.

    I sincerely appreciate the responses and debate. However, you “answered” my question with a question instead of an answer.

    The question for all of us is “what would your solution be to handle all of the people moving into West Seattle in the next decade?” Anyone have any ideas?

  • Debra November 2, 2014 (9:41 am)

    Mico housing is different than skinny houses, I have been in one in the Bay Area, and will assume the y are similar to those here in west seattle, they are created much like a dorm , tiny rooms withs a common kitchen, these will never be housing that attracts families or long term occupants , and I argue bring instability to neighborhoods
    Solution is to influence zoning, allow density across west seattle, create housing in all the single family areas, spread it out, ensure that there is an expectation of blending into the neighborhoods, along with green spaces, I think if north admiral were to have this kind of housing perhaps more attention would be paid to the design and execution
    I am assuming those who are in favor and currently live away from the high density would support a bulky poorly designed project, the parking and noise issue on your street or next door?

  • WS Since 66 November 2, 2014 (10:17 am)

    Thank you Debra for a thought out answer. If I hear you correctly does “allow density across west seattle, create housing in all the single family areas” mean building condos and apartments on any lot anywhere?

    I agree that micro housing and skinny houses are not the same. What I am saying is that skinny homes were greeted with the same disdain as micros. Now, 20-30 years later they are a viable solution for many people. Not for me but for some. Thanks again for your input Debra.

    Now with current zoning, not the long term changing of the zoning laws, what could be done in WS to allow more people to live on the limited land that is available?

  • luvwestseattle November 2, 2014 (7:55 pm)

    Not in favor of monorail or lightrail on Ca lifornia Avenue

Sorry, comment time is over.