WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s first open house, report #1

6:45 PM: By our rough count, more than 150 people are already at the Sound Transit open house that’s on until 8:30 pm at the Masonic Hall in The Junction (4736 40th SW). What’s billed as a short presentation is about to begin, and then the commenting and one-on-one chats with ST staffers will continue.

ST staff stresses that written comments are what they’re looking for tonight (and in the rest of the “early scoping” period that continues through March 5th) so your comments can be part of the official record. You have several options for doing that here, including sticky notes on maps (photo above).

7:08 PM: The presentation is over, and it’s back to open-house mode. Other commenting options here include simply writing them on paper (photo above). Or, just gather all the info and ask all the questions you need to, and then get your comments in via e-mail or the “online open house” whenever you have time – the deadline in this round is March 5th. And if you didn’t get to this open house – the information (Ballard extension as well as West Seattle extension, since they are being planned concurrently) will also be presented, and comments accepted, at the next two open houses:

Thursday, Feb. 15, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th Street

Downtown Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 20, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Union Station, 401 S. Jackson Street

Online ‘open house’: wsblink.participate.online

You can also comment by e-mail – wsblink@soundtransit.org – phone (206-903-7229) – and postal mail, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle 98104

7:50 PM: Still here, just to observe how it’s flowed, and there are at least 40 people still here talking, commenting, etc. Among those we’ve seen here are local neighborhood and transportation advocates, including Deb Barker, who is on the Stakeholder Advisory Group for the project, and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, who is on the Elected Leadership Group – comments like the ones made here tonight will be filtering up through those groups. We also talked briefly with “Avalon Tom,” whose unofficial renderings of the potential elevated track through West Seattle generated a lot of discussion on WSB last month (and beyond, including at the recent Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting, and we’ve seen some printouts being viewed here too). You still have time to get here, ask questions, take a look at maps and boards, and make comments – until 8:30. We’ll have a separate report recapping what happened here and what’s next.

43 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit's first open house, report #1"

  • Todd Bronk February 13, 2018 (7:55 pm)

    Great article, thank you for covering the Open House.  West Seattle, now is the time to comment and have your voice heard.  Your comments have the most weight now in this early stage of design.  Tell Sound Transit what you do and do not want to see from light rail before March.   

  • Jort February 13, 2018 (8:14 pm)

    It looked like “Avalon Tom” had a table set up to present his renderings! Awesome!

    I was unaware that Sound Transit was opening up this taxpayer-funded event to allow presentation materials from individuals promoting their particular viewpoints. For the next open houses, I look forward to having an equal amount of space provided for pro-light rail interest groups, as well. The Jort Sandwich Elevated Light Rail Support Society would also like to hand out some pretty drawings and advocate for an expedited 2019 opening.

    • Question Authority February 13, 2018 (8:51 pm)

      I’m all for getting equal representation so I can share my viewpoint as well.  My table will have no maps or renderings because my proposal is to not provide any light rail to WS so that many of us don’t have to listen to the perpetual whining about noise, views or routes for the next 20 years.

      • Question Authority February 13, 2018 (9:49 pm)

        My other proposal is to sever all bridges to WS so we don’t have to continuously listen to how horrible the traffic is brought about by unchecked growth ruining utopian WS.

    • chemist February 13, 2018 (9:04 pm)

      At a format designed for less of an organized presentation and more about smalller group chats/collecting individual feedback, I think you’d have a hard time kicking out someone because they produced interpretations of public data that people have been asking for to help people give feedback.

      If ST has some other renderings for massing of the representative alignment, I’d love to see those.

      If you’re going to change something, jort, maybe you can propose that a pedestrian/bike path be integrated into the new light rail bridge?

      • AvalonTom February 13, 2018 (9:15 pm)

        Hmm. I was there but someone else had the table with the renderings. Was not me.

      • WSB February 13, 2018 (9:19 pm)

        No, they don’t have that level of renderings yet. As for AT’s “table,” he wasn’t sitting there holding court that I know of – a few people were milling about a tiny table in a corner looking at relatively small printouts, and I didn’t even notice that until I had talked to him some distance away in the midst of the crowd – I had to wander up and squint closely to notice, hey, those look familiar. Tweeted a photo:

        • CAM February 13, 2018 (9:46 pm)

          I can’t say for sure that it was Avalon Tom, but I can say that someone was bringing those drawings to the tables with STs maps and laying them on top while saying, “Do you want the junction to look like this?” It was somewhat frustrating if you were attempting to look at what ST was offering for information. For example, the renderings by ST showed the Junction station being proposed for the area between 41st and California on the south side of Alaska which is different than what the drawings by Avalon Tom were representing. 

          • WSB February 13, 2018 (10:01 pm)

            That, I didn’t see. In every flyover, ST has described the Junction station and end of the tracks as being around Easy Street – we recorded the flyover presentation at yesterday’s media briefing and included it in our story yesterday:

            But that’s what’s so important about the current phase. Say where you think it should be. As the ST reps say, what they have is just a “starting point.”

          • CAM February 14, 2018 (9:21 am)

            The tracks did appear to continue past the station. Interestingly, I spoke with the staff there who all essentially said that the future plan for the line with future funding is to have it go south after the Junction. They pointed out that this was achievable no matter what but that having the tracks aligned in a particular direction when they are built now will make a difference in how difficult (costly) it is to achieve that goal in the future. So the whole “dead end” at the Junction argument would seem to be moot. 

          • WS Guy February 13, 2018 (11:03 pm)

            What was frustrating was the ST didn’t put together any renderings like AvalonTom did.  

            Asking people just to look at a map to envision a rail line doesn’t really get people what they need to know in order to come up with alternatives.  They could at least have shown pictures of Angle Lake station and elevated tracks elsewhere to give people a sense of what they were commenting on.

            Considering they want to get feedback quickly, I think the onus is on them to do a good job of providing information quickly.

      • Out for a walk February 13, 2018 (10:00 pm)

        Great idea!

    • CMT February 13, 2018 (11:01 pm)

      I wasn’t able to make it but am glad to hear that someone (Avalon Tom or otherwise) was able to supplement the presentation with a depiction of what an elevated line would actually look like.  What is the point of keeping people uninformed other than try to push something through without meaningful input?  Oh, I guess I answered my own question.  

      People need to be aware as they consider what they truly want for our area and what they are or not willing to sacrifice.

      • Captin February 14, 2018 (6:46 am)

        I agree to a point. I think a transparent and inclusive process is great as long as the process doesn’t get bogged down in unrealistic expectations, decades of appeals, etc.

        This requires the city to listen and the citizens to understand that everyone can’t always get their way in a city working its way toward 1,000,000 residents. A tough proposition for sure.

    • TreeHouse February 14, 2018 (7:18 am)

      Good idea, Jort. I as well would like to call Sound Transit today and see if I can have my own unofficial table at their next meeting so I can hand out my unofficial “Lightrail will solve our traffic problem” table. I will show depictions of the amounts of road space the same group of people take if they all drove, took the bus, or took a lightrail train. My table will feature pro-lightrail bias but claim it’s just to inform people.

    • AvalonTom February 14, 2018 (4:25 pm)

      Hey Jort, I did attend the meeting and was surprised to see that someone had the images there. They are available publicly after all: 

      As i saw it they took an small unused table in the corner were nothing was going on.  Please get your facts straight. It was an open house, lots of people were interested in all the information available.  I have already been accused of being a propagandist and inflammatory.   I enjoy the insults from the detractors, it means im doing the right thing. Expect more 3D renderings from me as soon as ST comes out with the first alternatives that are available to the public.
  • TJ February 13, 2018 (8:56 pm)

    I get to pay for a project that I will never use that will get here in 12 years at best with a astronomical $54 billion budget, that won’t cover a elevated line let alone a tunnel that people will still be crying for until the end, and get to listen to twisted lying city politicians claim the population will continue to grow at the same rate while giving away the farm to developers to entice them to build in the city and attract as much growth HERE to justify building a fixed rail choo-choo, all the while seeing people claim we need to develop terminal 5, turn the golf course into a park, and demonize ground level parking lots as wasted space, all of which is proof we are dense enough here. Weird times here

    • Mr. J February 14, 2018 (7:54 am)

      The entitlement is so strong in this matter. ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. Its about planning for the future and making this city easier to navigate, something the last two generations failed to do because they spent to much time with their heads in the sand. I likely won’t be here to use it, but I still support it for the good of the community and future generations. 

      I also “get to pay” for roads, schools etc etc that i never use and you don’t see me bitching. Its not your money its taxes that we all pay into, if you want to live the Libertarian dream there are states and cities out there for you.

    • mowyllie February 14, 2018 (9:37 am)

      I also pay for schools that I don’t use.  Enough said…

    • Jort February 14, 2018 (10:52 am)

      Hi TJ. While you may insist that you don’t use transit, it looks like you’re in an ever-decreasing minority. 

      Currently only 25 percent of people commuting to downtown Seattle drive alone. That’s down from 35 percent in 2010. 

      In fact, if you read this article, you’ll see that transit is so popular that buses are often filled to overflowing during the morning commute.

      The era of the automobile is ending and dying in Seattle. The city is not planning on parking lots and additional lanes, because that’s not the future of transportation. The era of the car is ending. Sorry!

      There’s a long way to go, but thankfully this  city is making positive steps in the right direction for sustainable transportation. I look forward to seeing you on the train in 12 years!    

    • poncho February 15, 2018 (8:19 pm)

      “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” -Greek Proverb

  • James February 13, 2018 (9:14 pm)

    Was any insight given to preliminary plans, subject to gathering public input?  Was there any indication of ST’s initial thoughts to location, path, groundbreaking date, etc…?

  • BAS February 14, 2018 (9:03 am)

    A Junction station is a must. 

    I saw and heard several comments about the imposition of a Junction station on the historic downtown, with some going so far as to say it should be eliminated. That would be a poor decision since the Junction station is what makes this project worth $1.5 billion.

    It also felt like there was a generational divide in the room. Young people like myself were excited for the light rail. The renderings provided by Avalon Tom are beautiful. It was exciting to see the visualization of light rail to the Junction. However, it seemed like older folks found light rail an “eyesore” or “blight” invading their community. What they find ugly, I find beautiful. Please, have an open mind and understand what’s important to young people in this community.

    I get it… I know we all want a tunnel from Avalon to the Junction, but the cost isn’t feasible. Let’s make the most out of elevated light rail. With the Trump Administration’s plan to eliminate the mass transit grants used by Sound Transit, we need to understand there is a worse alternative should there be budget cuts: at-grade from Avalon to the Junction.

    • HW February 14, 2018 (10:26 am)

      I am a young person, with a young family, and am a homeowner in the junction area. I too want light rail. That said, I also want an elevated train-free main street to continue serving as the heart of our community. Our main street and its many community events are part of what makes West Seattle so different than other neighborhoods. Unlike other Seattle hoods, we celebrate being West Seattleites and neighbors several times a year with community events in the Junction.  I do not believe a giant station on 44th & Alaska and tracks running through California is conducive to preserving this location as our community’s center. Perhaps the transportation center, but not the community center.  I’m supportive of a Junction stop on 41st & Alaska as someone up thread stated but I certainly do not want tracks cruising over Easy Street. I also share the cynical view of someone in the other thread that they gave us a line to get our votes, but we aren’t getting the same integration (tunnels) other neighborhoods are getting. Not all people opposed to tracks in the junction are old and crochety. Some of us just want it both ways and don’t think a few block compromise is the end of the world. ;) 

  • Pedro February 14, 2018 (9:43 am)

    Maybe we could convert the West Seattle golf course into a transit hub, with a light rail station, bus service and a park and ride. It avoids many of the ills that concern some with respect to the elevated plan going to the Junction, leverages existing city property, and does away with an asset that a relative few use and which loses money.  

    I play golf, and love the course, but this seems like a sensible potential solution (especially since Jefferson is only a 10 minute drive away). Maybe it’s not possible; but I would think it should at least be explored. 

  • Cindi Barker February 14, 2018 (10:23 am)

     I wasn’t able to attend, so I do not know how clearly it was shown, but every “end of the line” station must have a extra length at the end for emergencies.  It is for runaway slow down, or allows an inoperative train to be pushed down-track so that the station can be active.  We learned this during the monorail station planning when Morgan Junction was the end of the line station.  It wasn’t until station area planning actually started that we understood the requirement, as it was not well described by monorail reps during the early part of the process.  Sounds like it’s the same problem, so do look at their renderings closely to understand what is required these days. 

  • NR February 14, 2018 (1:14 pm)

    The neighborhood of North Delridge will be negatively affected by the current design. Houses on Genesee will NOT have walking access to either Delridge or Junction stations but some of them will be demolished and others will have this “nice” view in from of their window. Following Andover after the Delridge station or crossing the golf course through Alaska are better options. 

    • Misty Avalon February 14, 2018 (3:12 pm)

      I wasn’t able to attend the meeting on Tuesday, and I’d really like to know what was shared regarding an Avalon station. The block of Genesee between Avalon and 35th would have a lot of negative consequences during the building and eventual use phase. Would anyone be able to provide an update of how they are seeing the route for the Avalon station? Avalon Tom’s rendering had it going up Genesee from Delridge and the station actually being right there near Avalon and Genesee. I recently moved to the area, am happy about being in W. Seattle, and  am a big supporter of mass transit and light rail. But I am bummed about the idea of the noise, pylon outside my window, and massive disruptions to my life during construction — I know, you don’t wanna hear about it. (Like some of you, I also lived right next to the El in Chicago, but my noise tolerance is reduced in my older life).

      • WSB February 14, 2018 (3:22 pm)

        I am trying to get from ST what was on the tabletop maps that showed DRAFT cross-streets and heights – these are the same ones we have published in other formats but I didn’t notice until looking at one of my post-it-note photos that it was a different, clearer format. I can’t stress enough, if you couldn’t go to this one – GO TO BALLARD TOMORROW, OR DOWNTOWN NEXT WEEK for your best chance to talking to someone in person and seeing these details in an earlier stage – they were not in the short presentation, they are in the tabletop maps. Still writing the followup to last night and will include any additional docs I do get, look for it this evening.

        • Misty Avalon February 14, 2018 (8:04 pm)

          Thanks for the reply, and I look forward to your ongoing coverage of how things develop. I am trying to do my best to attend a different open house. I’m a civic participator with a crappy work schedule right now, working very long nights and weekends. I have already written to ST through their website solicitation of early scoping comments prior to the open houses; trying to think carefully about my needs vs. the greater good and what my options would be if light rail plans don’t end up working for my life. Supposing the elevated plan carries forward and there is a light rail station smack dab in the middle of my block, some homes will have to be removed and residents displaced. Those who are displaced would get relocation assistance but those who are immediately adjacent would get no assistance but bear the brunt of the disruption, I assume. I am still getting to know the area so am not sure what good alternatives are to an Avalon/Genesee station but I plan to stay informed and involved.

  • drahcir61 February 14, 2018 (1:41 pm)

    Do you love sitting in traffic?  You do???  Fabulous because it’s going to get worse which means more stressful commutes, fender benders & your auto insurance rates will likely rise too (don’t forget your blood pressure pills, dear!!!).

    Check out Ten of the Best City Train Networks in the World … modern, innovative, clean, affordable.  Tokyo even has “women-only carriages at peak times” … in light of the #MeToo wake up call, who can’t support that?


  • MJ February 14, 2018 (2:06 pm)

    WS topography is conducive to a tunnel.  I realize this is not the current plan, but it behooves ST to at least explore the feasibility and costing as a part of the process.  

  • Special1 February 14, 2018 (3:32 pm)

    Hey Jort. If you get your way and ban all cars where’s ST going to get their money from. They won’t have their phony car values to use. My suggestion: have the riders pay the actual cost. Now, who could be against that??. 

    • Jort February 14, 2018 (4:03 pm)

      Sounds good, as long as cars also have to pay the actual cost of their infrastructure, as well! Just an FYI, a pretty gigantic chunk of our non-vehicle taxes pays for your roads and bridges. 

      No successful urban transit system is self-sustaining from fare collection. Funny thing, though, because every successful city in the world has an urban transit system! Seattle will too, and it will be fine. We’ll all live.

      • Canton February 14, 2018 (8:28 pm)

        Oh Jort, Jort, Jort, an odd sort, to which I shall retort. Cars aren’t going away, get used to that theory. Everyday citizens require ” multi- mode ” transportation. Busses, trains, bikes, cars, whatever have to exist in harmony. Not everyone, such as yourself, has an easy 1 bus trip to work and back. All your statements “assume” everyone works downtown. Try really, really, hard to think of others that don’t. So, cars will always be around, because every person’s life has unique, different complications(imagine that!?!?).

        • Jort February 15, 2018 (8:45 am)

          Correct, Canton. Cars will (likely) be with us, always.

          But no major city in the world has built a successful transportation system solely around cars. Seattle won’t be the first.

          New York, London, Paris and so on have some of the most expansive, well-planned subway networks on the planet. Every single one of them also has miserable, intolerable traffic. It’s up to the individual to choose which system they want to use, and for most, that system is transit. 

          The same thing will happen to Seattle, too.

          • Canton February 15, 2018 (10:15 pm)

            Also jort,  no major city in the world has built a successful “reliable” transportation system, to get enough cars off the road. Seattle won’t be the first. How bout we stop pitting sides, and resolve the reality, that we need to create this system for the whole. Whatever mode one needs, let’s make it work for all desired modes.

  • TB February 14, 2018 (4:10 pm)

    North Delridge will be negatively affected by the current
    design. This looks like the original monorail routing from 15+ years ago. At
    that time many meetings were attended and petitions were created and signed
    that resulted in a reroute down the center of Avalon Way then to the Delridge
    Station. This amended route saved whole swaths of North Delridge homes from
    being demolished or devalued, and saved countless dollars by not acquiring these
    properties though eminent domain. Sound Transit- please review routing comments
    and revised routes from the Seattle Monorail Project. People put considerable
    effort and thought into those documents which resulted in a better design and garnered
    neighborhood support.

  • Larry Wymer February 17, 2018 (7:03 pm)

    Thanks Avalon Tom for your great renderings which – based on the comments above – were successful in allowing WS residents attending the meeting to see what the proposed elevated line will look like – and form better educated opinions – and more substantive comments – about the proposed line.

Sorry, comment time is over.