WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: See the open house maps/charts with draft height, cross-streets

If you went to the Sound Transit light rail open house in West Seattle this past Tuesday – or the one last night in Ballard – you probably saw the maps/charts that were laid out on tables for sticky-note comments. They were a different way of presenting information about the “representative alignment” – the “starting point” routes and elevation – and so we asked ST if we could get digital copies to share. Today, they’re online, and with one more open house – downtown next Tuesday (February 20th), 5:30-7:30 pm – you might want to take a look. The West Seattle one is embedded above (and visible in PDF here); the SODO one is here; downtown, here; Ballard, here.

Also shown at the open houses, the Google Earth flyover of the draft plan – animated, but without narration – and it’s now available as a video clip:

The project is currently in what’s officially called the “early scoping” phase and Sound Transit wants to hear all your comments – about the draft plan, anything you would rather see instead, and any potential effects you envision – noise, traffic, whatever. You can also make those comments via the “online open house,” which will remain open until March 5th – go to wsblink.participate.online.

22 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: See the open house maps/charts with draft height, cross-streets"

  • AvalonTom February 16, 2018 (3:36 pm)

    And for anyone who is interested what the representative alignment would look like if built with no changes, the 3D renderings are here.

    I would highly encourage folks to visit the online open house and comment and provide feedback.  I have been studying this project and the implications for a while now. Things to consider in my mind:

    1. What will happen to Faulteroy during the 5-10 years of construction? People still need to get to work so how is that going to work with only 1 lane in each direction as the representative alignment currently has the track running up the middle of that road? How will the cost of this inefficiency be calculated, more idling cars, longer, more traffic, more people late to work, etc, etc. All that is worth cash money.  The deputy project director admits that West Seattle acces is a challenging situation. 

    2. What will happen to all the businesses on Faulteroy, Alaska and the historic part of California? All the business loss over 5-10 years has real economic impact on the tax base, on the local business base, etc. 

    3. Does this project scale actually fit within the west seattle community and its historic background?

    4. I estimate approximately 84 housing units will be needed demolished to accommodate this path. What happens to all these people, if they rent, it might be easy enough to move somewhere nearby. If they own, were will they relocate or re purchase? There is nothing on the market for sale. How many of them bought long time ago and would currently not qualify for a new mortgage on much more expensive property.  Does this even matter to anyone? Or do we just get the wrecking balls and steam rollers in here ASAP?

    5. An elevated track is loud. The train  will travel every 6 minutes 20 hrs a day. How does that impact the countless households located within a few blocks of this? Does this matter to anyone at all?

    6.  How does the train pass around pigeon point? I had a discussion with the Deputy Project Director at the WS open house. They currently dont know how to do this effectively without some giant earthworks retaining wall or someting.  Chances are that they might have to actually consider putting the elevated bridge on the Seattle side of the west seattle bridge. How does that change the Delridge station location or impact the Port? 

     7. What happens to the  new apartment units that are renting for north of 2000$ a month in the brand new buildings along this corridor. Do the management companies need to lower rent due to the additional noise that the train will generate by passing by all the windows? Will ST even compensate anyone for the lower property values caused by the added noise pollution? Or will this be offset by the fact that the properties will be more valuable because of access easier access to transit? Is there a plant to study this at all?

    8. How will the walkability of Faultrnoy / Alaska / Califorina be impacted? The city had a great plan to increase the safety corridor for bicycle and pedestrian use on Faultrnoy. This has apparently been canceled do to the fact that ST will be tearing this up soon.

    9. As proposed by the representative alignment the track ends facing west overlooking a very steep hill. For future expansion, the track needs to make a approximately a 200 radius arc to face south.  By the time it gets there there is close to 100 ft below it inside of a residential neighborhood. How realistic is this? 

    There are many more questions that should be asked. A tunnel is not a perfect solution but it would successfully address many of the above concerns. It will cost more, maybe who knows, we are all assuming this but building elevated concrete structures also cost money, buying close to a 100 very valuable properties, shutting down car traffic and businesses might cost more in the end. Just a few things to think about as you consider this project. We have a very small window of opportunity to make our voices heard and help steer ST into a sensible solution that works.  For the record i support this project but it needs to built in a way that it compliments the very special community we call West Seattle.

    • East Coast Cynic February 16, 2018 (8:29 pm)

      I’m sorry about the potential loss of home AvalonTom and hopefully you are well compensated, but to answer Question #3 regarding rail’s fit within the WS community and its historical background, it appears to do just fine when looking at the 3D pictures.

      Regarding question #6, we’ll make due with a little extra noise just as they do in so-called world class cities around the country.

      But looking at the width of the overhead track, can two sets of light rail trains pass on each side of one another?

      A tunnel would be nice, but there isn’t enough money in ST’s budget to build one.  Ballard will go without one as well.  Heck, with the cuts in the MVET and possible transit funding cuts at the federal level, we’ll be scrambling to keep the present ST3 projects intact, much less have money for the luxury items that would make the project more palatable for some in our communities.

      • chemist February 16, 2018 (9:46 pm)

        Let’s not pretend the budget is that tight just yet.  ST3 evaluated tunnels in the Ballard end and came up with some estimates involving tunnels.  AFAIK, they didn’t evaluate any West Seattle tunnels on the peninsula.  We don’t have any idea how much more it would cost or if dropping a station out here would save enough to make it all equal out.  Ballard still has folks heavily advocating for a tunnel on their end.

        The voters authorized certain funding streams but didn’t cap the dollar amounts collected from them.  If the sales tax revenue, which has been projected to be 2.5x as much as the MVET collections, grows fast then Sound Transit could have even more funding available earlier.

        ST3 was put together with 4 levels of contingency padding.

        1 Design allowance – It moves from around
        30% in the early stages to zero by the time the project is put out to bid.

        2 Allocated contingency – In the earliest stages of project development, the allocated
        contingency is 10% to 20%, depending on the project’s complexity and risks. In most cases,
        allocated contingency for ST3 candidate projects will be 15%

        3 Unallocated contingency – During the initial stage of project development, unallocated contingencies are typically set
        between 10% and 15%.

        4 Project reserve – Project reserves for ST3 projects have been set at 7%.

  • Misty Avalon February 16, 2018 (4:00 pm)

    Recognizing it’s a draft plan, I have to admit it’s not the most exciting feeling to see the draft rail line literally running *through* my building. I wonder what is ST’s responsibility in notifying potentially displaced residents or what sorts of personal outreach they intend to do to the residents who live in buildings that are in the pathway of the draft line , i.e. what is the timeline for notifying people who live in buildings intending to be demolished. 

    • AvalonTom February 16, 2018 (5:38 pm)

      Spoke to one of the ST reps at the meeting and this morning spoke with an attorney who has dealt with ST issues in the past. if they need your property they will offer you “market value” They will also offer up some funds to help you get an appraisal and such. I find this a joke really because:

      International Valuation Standards defines market value as “the estimated amount for which a property should exchange on the date of valuation between a willing buyer and a willing seller in an arm’s-length transaction after proper marketing wherein the parties had each acted knowledgeably, prudently, and without compulsion”

      1.  I’m not a willing seller.

      2. The market value of my property that now lies in the path of a major transportation project makes my land much much more valuable then its current use.

      But the attorney told me that by Law ST is only allowed to offer you market value as determined by an appraisal.  Anything above that would be a considered a gift and they cant do that.  So basically this is a form of imminent domain. It does not matter what we think our property is worth to them. It’s what they say it’s worth to them. You dont like it, they sue you.

      • Misty Avalon February 16, 2018 (6:45 pm)

        We agree on most points related to on this project, and what you raise re: the market and willingness to sell/ability to buy are crucial points.  I had already researched how ST deals with displacement/relocation, and it’s  insufficient and in fact less than what other metric transit orgs pay out to the displaced. I hope those of us who will be maximally impacted AND support light rail can collectively have our voices heard.

      • S February 16, 2018 (7:22 pm)

        AvalonTom—Ok, now I see why you are so negative on light rail…you are trying to save your house.

  • VN February 16, 2018 (4:53 pm)

    Thank you Avalontom for your work on this important project for West Seattle.  You have raised some very important questions and I look forward to ST3’s response to these concerns.  

  • H February 16, 2018 (6:20 pm)

    I am completely looking forward to the light rail and wish it was already here. That being said, that’s really a behemoth isn’t it? 

    There are some interesting designs for air trains coming out of China that appear to be less intrusive and more adept in a tight landscape.



  • MJ February 17, 2018 (7:57 am)

    Once again I here that tunneling is too expensive, but I am not aware of any formal cost estimate conducted for this option.  An informed decision requires knowing the costing of alternatives.

  • WS Guy February 17, 2018 (11:24 am)

    There’s no need to tear down homes in the Junction.  We don’t need Avalon Station.  We can serve the Junction with one centrally located station.  We can take the money we save by removing Avalon and apply it to a tunnel. 
    You won’t find two stations this close together anywhere outside core downtown.

    • alkigranny February 17, 2018 (6:44 pm)

      WS Guy. ST is going to build this the way they want to. It will be built on their time schedule. And when not if more money is needed, they will just raise taxes.

    • East Coast Cynic February 17, 2018 (10:04 pm)

      The absence of an Avalon Station will be a huge handicap for the large number of commuters who commute northbound from Arbor Heights, Roxbury Heights, Gatewood, and Highpoint that would potentially connect to light rail at the Avalon station by walking a few blocks to the station.  How are they going to efficiently connect to rail unless a connector bus is run down to the Delridge Station or they’re forced to backtrack up to Alaska from a bus at Avalon ???

      • Morgan February 18, 2018 (8:20 am)

        I’m in gatewood and fine with notion of taking rapid ride to a ought rail in junction. The transit planners aren’t gods, the idea an Avalon station is redundant is good local knowledge that community planning exercises in theory are meant to learn from and respect. Sound Transit public outreach is planned very poorly if we can’t tell if they’re just informing us or consulting us on the route.

        • Alonzo February 22, 2018 (9:33 am)

          You should pitch it to the ST planners in a comment. 

    • Alonzo February 22, 2018 (9:34 am)

      This isn’t a bad plan. You should pitch it in a comment. I could support this. 

  • chemist February 17, 2018 (12:20 pm)

    It’s interesting to note that these latest drawings are slightly shifted from the representative alignment released earlier, which you’ve posted as a scribd document

    The prior version had the track extending West of California and the
    station was along the entire facade of the QFC instead of just the East
    half of it/centered on 41st.

  • Scott February 18, 2018 (8:34 am)

    This elevated thing is a monstrosity. I can’t believe it’s even being considered. The tunnels that have been built in other hilly neighborhoods are very elegant and appropriate solutions. We need to push for the same thing here.

    50 – 100 years from now our children aren’t going to be thinking about how much it cost. They’re going to look up and wonder what the hell we were thinking.

  • Joe Grande February 18, 2018 (8:51 am)

    Any transportation system that puts another form of moving people on the same piece of real-estate as the cars and buses, makes no sense.   The bridge over the Duwamish must be at least 135 feet high because that is the current clearance of the West Seattle High Rise.  The bridge over the Lake Washington Ship Canal must also be at least 135 feet clearance as that is the current clearance of the George Washington, (Aurora) bridge.  Unless these bridges will be movable, which I truly doubt.

    So, with the minimum heights of these two bridges, how far back will the approaches start? 

    I’m almost 70 and I will never see this thing built.  However, you can only have one piece of matter in one space at a time.  Go underground or don’t go at all! 



  • John February 20, 2018 (8:49 pm)

    Avalontom is spot on with his criticisms of an above ground light rail.  I will add one more:  where are the car parking garages for commuters?  Without adequate parking we will see cars flood  and clutter our residential neighborhoods.

    And yes, ST won’t hesitate to pursue higher taxes when this project goes into the red.  We should have a tunnel solution for the massive amount of money we are paying.

  • LarryB February 21, 2018 (12:54 pm)

    The whole alignment in West Seattle needs to be underground, except perhaps at Delridge where the grade from a Duamish bridge might require too steep a grade. 

    The current line in the North End is underground. Last I checked, Roosevelt was about as dense as the Junction.

    An elevated structure can work in less dense areas, such as south of the MLK alignment on the existing line. The MLK alignment is also stupid. Sound Transit seems to like to cry budget shortages when they’re building near any street with an “S” or “SW” in its designation.

    The Ballard extension is stupid for different reasons. If you’ve ridden the D line, you’ll notice that not a lot of people get on or off between Nickerson and Queen Anne Ave, even during rush hours. That should be a tunnel alignment with a deep station at Queen Anne and Boston, and then some sort of solution for a central Fremont station. Then Ballard. Central Ballard, not 15th and Market. More like 22nd and Market.

    Such bad planning, and the region will be stuck with it for a long, long time.

    That said, I’d take this over nothing.

  • Louis February 21, 2018 (4:36 pm)

    Tracks should be placed underground in tunnel as the line reached Avalon up until Alaska Junction.  These proposed massive concrete piers and elevated tracks will be an eye sore and barrier.  It will ruin businesses and residential complexes all along the path.  West Seattle is dense enough and a significant community to deserve the light rail go underground.  It would be extremely short sighted to not do this.

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