Light rail for West Seattle someday? First step just taken: WS added to Sound Transit’s map as potential light-rail corridor

3:48 PM: It’s by no means a guarantee that light rail is headed this way – but it’s a necessary first step: The Sound Transit board has just approved ST’s Long-Range Plan Update, and part of it included an amendment to the ST map so that it will now show Downtown Seattle to West Seattle to Burien as a (potential) light-rail corridor.

4:41 PM: Some background – the talk about this possibility really started to intensify a year ago, when ST offered an online survey about its Long-Range Plan Update. In May, we reported on a presentation to the ST Executive Committee about the study of potential south-end corridors, including routes featuring West Seattle. Then in June, another survey was taken in connection with the draft environmental-impact statement for the Long-Range Plan Update. In July, ST reps spoke to the West Seattle Transportation Coalition and to the West Seattle Chamber of Commerce; and in October, the two West Seattleites on the Sound Transit board, County Executive Dow Constantine and County Councilmember Joe McDermott, announced they would work to get WS into the Long-Range Plan Update.

So what happens now? ST has to figure out what it wants to propose for its next ballot measure, dubbed ST3, which might not go to voters until November 2016. Today’s vote is no guarantee that the newly added West Seattle light-rail corridor will be included, but if the board hadn’t voted to add WS to the map today, there would have been zero chance of it making the next ballot measure.

32 Replies to "Light rail for West Seattle someday? First step just taken: WS added to Sound Transit's map as potential light-rail corridor"

  • West Seattle Hipster December 18, 2014 (4:26 pm)

    Definitely needed, existing infrastructure is horribly outdated.

  • Leesa J. December 18, 2014 (4:44 pm)

    Super yay! I hope the LR comes here to the peninsula very soon. With a small park n’ ride!

  • NW December 18, 2014 (5:01 pm)

    To lessen traffic coming into the Seattle metro area as a whole seems smarter planning by providing more light rail to low wage earners who have to commute from areas where rent is cheaper which is not the case of West Seattle.

  • some dude December 18, 2014 (5:05 pm)


  • DRW December 18, 2014 (5:08 pm)

    Please don’t refer to West Seattle as the peninsula.

  • miceperson December 18, 2014 (6:02 pm)

    Dream on people. It wont happen in our lifetime, sez a 30+ year old. Voters will NEVER approve funding…. next plan?

  • Heather December 18, 2014 (6:18 pm)

    Yes please!!!!

  • Debra December 18, 2014 (6:34 pm)

    He** will freeze over before they ever get this passed or built

  • Sillygoose December 18, 2014 (6:41 pm)

    Well WEll Well let me guess, they want to run it down Fauntleroy and eliminate on the street parking!!!! I would love to see light rail come to West Seattle but please make realistic design’s.

  • Cascadianone December 18, 2014 (6:41 pm)

    This is long past due to happen. If they want to keep densifying our peninsula, they need to provide grade-separated transit.

    If we want our property values to rise and our commute times to drop we must VOTE YES on ST3 when it comes around.

  • old timer December 18, 2014 (6:48 pm)

    Manage those expectations. At the very, very best, Light Rail in West Seattle would be well over 10 years away.
    It’s going to be a long slog.
    I would be extremely happy if I am proved wrong.

  • Azimuth December 18, 2014 (7:06 pm)

    My 2036 commute is going to be AWESOME.

  • Ws brian December 18, 2014 (7:16 pm)

    Scores terribly on ridership vs costs. And if you dislike development now, just wait until a train is approved.

    If you want to live by light rail, Othello has you covered. Please leave West Seattle alone.

  • Wsea December 18, 2014 (7:59 pm)

    @old timer
    I was thinking the same thing. I told my wife that I would love to use light rail but it won’t be for work commuting as i will be retired by then. I’m still all for it. Hopefully they will move rapid ride north of the junction when its complete.

  • yo December 18, 2014 (8:27 pm)

    I think it would involve a tunnel; 15 Yrs from now at the earliest.

  • Kim December 18, 2014 (10:11 pm)

    This is good news. I hope we can move quickly to build light rail to West Seattle. The only solution to all this traffic is getting transit all the way off the roadway. C’mon Seattle! Fight and win!

  • cj December 18, 2014 (10:30 pm)

    I have hopes that it will come sooner than later. Being trapped with out transit to where you need to go never leads to good things. I don’t think a tunnel is part of it.

  • HMC Rich December 18, 2014 (10:50 pm)

    As a Republican that usually votes no on many measures brought up by the council or local politicians, I will be supporting this. I can’t stand the West Seattle Bridge traffic or the morning commute into Seattle. Yes, I know it will take some time and I will be retired by then but when I can’t drive I will be happy to have an alternative to driving. Bus or Train. I like trains better.

  • bolo December 18, 2014 (11:31 pm)

    Ha! I knew there had to be a reason for all those traffic counter hoses at the top of the West Seattle Bridge!

  • jwright December 18, 2014 (11:49 pm)

    Yes, it is going to be a long time before it happens but rather than grouse and wring our hands we can exhibit a little bit of vision. Glad we made the initial cut for ST3 and will eagerly support it.

  • Anonymous Coward December 19, 2014 (5:42 am)

    Trains in West Seattle? Has anyone involved looked at a contour map and looked at maximum grade requirements for rail? Grade separated buses would be far cheaper.

  • John December 19, 2014 (7:55 am)

    Anonymous Coward ,
    Probably the same people involved who looked at the contour maps of Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill where they currently have light rail.

  • JeffK December 19, 2014 (9:14 am)

    Anonymous Coward,

    Look at the ‘Streetcar Maps from 1896 to 1933’ here:

    Lots of hilly areas have been served before.

  • BlairJ December 19, 2014 (9:38 am)

    If rail transit is run on the surface, look for it to eliminate much more than on street parking. Include most front yards and some structures also. Grade separated transit costs a lot more, but in my opinion it will be the only way to make transit actually improve riders’ commute times as Seattle’s population continues to increase.

  • wetone December 19, 2014 (11:24 am)

    If a rail type system is used it would require a new bridge built. High bridge is not capable of extra load especially if rail was to be elevated unless you take multiple car lanes away, then you have the age factor also kicking in at build date. I doubt Seattle will build a rail system to W/S till the current bridge needs replacing, simple economics due to their terrible planning and current spending habits lately.
    JeffK, the old streetcars were Cable Car’s like San Francisco’s. Info Seattle’s Cable Car start.
    Interesting write up from page.
    “In 1955 there was a proposal to construct a new cable line in Seattle’s Lincoln Park. This new line would have run through Lincoln Park from the end of the #18 Fauntleroy-Lincoln Park trolley coach line to the swimming pool, approximately three-quarters-of-a-mile. Four surplus California Street cars would provide the service. Winding machinery would be obtained from the now closed former Cal Cable carbarn at California and Hyde Streets. Little is known why this proposal was not implemented”

  • dsa December 19, 2014 (1:35 pm)

    This is not about someday getting light rail to West Seattle. It is about getting West Seattle to vote *yes*.

  • Kgdlg December 19, 2014 (1:47 pm)

    As has been stated here many times before,
    Once you add on the bridge engineering and redesign,
    Any tunneling needed and construction cost the sum
    For this will be astronomical, and it will still take at least 30 min or more to get downtown. While a true BRT bus rapid transit with dedicated bus lines would probably have the same travel times or better for a fraction of the cost. I love light rail like the rest of you, but I just don’t see how this will
    Ever pass the voter sniff test.

  • Karen December 19, 2014 (2:22 pm)

    How many of you know that there used to be a train running through West Seattle Many Many Many years ago? Oh yes, this can happen and it will.

  • Les December 19, 2014 (3:58 pm)

    Much cheaper way to help traffic problems would be to limit development of high rise mini apartments. Light rail will NEVER pay for itself so if you want higher taxes, vote for it.

  • WSborn&bred December 19, 2014 (5:36 pm)

    Yes please! But I know better than to hold my breath.

  • AlkiBeach December 19, 2014 (5:47 pm)

    Here is a copy of my previous letter to the ST Board on this issue:

    Dear ST Board members,

    West Seattle must be added to the next long-range package (ST3)! Most West Seattleites are sick of West Seattle (WS) being thrown a bone to shut us up! Metro transit did it with the “C” Line and has been trying to save face ever since there ridership numbers were so grossly under estimated. Now you, ST, did the same with the “fair” transit expansion studies… The fact that you studied WS was hardly a fare comparison when you look at the resources you have put forth for the Ballard transit expansion study. One only needs to look at your own website to see that you have tossed us another bone.

    I and many others are sick of this treating WS as second class citizens and will be pressing hard to have ST3 include a West Seattle light-rail line. While you may have been testing the water with your media stunt last month of saying that could be on the wish list. In short, throwing another bone West Seattle’s way to get them in-line. Well, I must say, we’re more educated than that. No meat on the bone time, means no ST3 for you!

    West Seattle’s rapidly growing, transit oriented population, already the size of a small city is largely ‘cattle driven’ over the WS Bridge, to feed the only two major north/south corridors (I-5 & SR-99) we have through the city. If you think that sounds like a nightmare, why not throw adding the terminus of I-90 into the mix along with reducing the SR-99 down from three lanes to two. Are you kidding? How could any elected official not see the making of a perfect storm! If our region’s population is to grow 30% by 2035, how could you not include a WS light-rail line? If you’re thinking otherwise, you better include a helicopter shuttle fleet for WS on the ST3 plan. I certainly don’t want to have a heart attack and having to be transported by an ambulance only to here the medic say take the bridge!

    Please stop treating West Seattle like an unwanted step-child. Man/Women-up!



  • Kathy December 20, 2014 (1:34 pm)

    Old Timer, I hope you are not too old, because you are looking at more like a minimum of 23 years. Meanwhile, SDOT needs to get serious about removing private vehicles from some of our public right of way (I’m looking at you, California Ave and Alaska Street at the Junction, the West Seattle Bridge, 1st and 4th Avenues in SODO – not the AW Viaduct, it is defunct). At least, during peak commute times. Then we could have real Bus Rapid Transit. Those of us who claim we would stop driving off the “peninsula” if we had light rail would get our wish a lot sooner. But just look to the halfhearted plan by SDOT to speed up the “Rapid Ride” by a few minutes and the violent backlash it caused on this blog and elsewhere to discover how serious the City and West Seattle are about fixing congestion. Bus signal priority at the Junction is not going to work unless we eliminate private vehicles milling around the intersection impatient for their turn and making illegal right turns on red (just stand there and count them). We should let the private vehicles do the detours, not the “BRT”. I for one never drive through that intersection, since the 4 way stop and signal on 44th and 42nd get me through the area much faster.

    That light rail dream I am afraid just encourages people to keep putting off taking any effective steps to address the problem we are experiencing now.

    P.S., for BRT to work in West Seattle, SDOT must also start restricting private vehicles in Downtown Seattle, since many transit trips, not just from WS, end up being not-so-rapid with all the cars unnecessarily clogging the streets there. Hardship cases and residents? Get a permit for your car to enter restricted zones.

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