WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Why NOW is the time to speak up, whatever you want to say – and how to do it

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If you have something to say about West Seattle light rail – ANYTHING to say – say it now.

Or should we say, NOW. In capital letters. Shouted.

With the “online open house” that you can use for feedback starting today, and the in-person open house in West Seattle tomorrow, these next three-plus weeks are when your comments, suggestions and concerns matter most in the year-plus process of getting to a “preferred alignment” for the West Seattle line (and Ballard too).

Sound Transit reps have made that point at various meetings (we’ve covered them all) and made it again this morning with a media briefing at their HQ downtown.

So, we asked ST executive Cathal Ridge – who’s been leading all the briefings lately – this is the time to throw out anything and everything you want them to consider?

Yes, he affirmed. “We’re really trying to encourage people to throw out the ideas now and we will evaluate it now … rather than wait a year to bring them up in the environmental process because then we will have wasted a year .. that’s really why we’re making a superhuman push to get out there (and hear from) the public. People often don’t engage in a process until it’s much closer … (but) the only way to meet the timeline is to start the process now. … We want to have people weigh in on the ‘representative alignment’ and also on the purpose of the project – let us know what concerns them about the project, what excites them about the project.”

The “representative alignment,” if you’re just tuning in, is the draft plan that envisions extending light rail this way from a new second station in SODO, across the Duwamish River on a new elevated bridge, continuing, elevated, to The Junction with three West Seattle stations along the way. Here’s ST’s Chris Rule showing it with a Google Earth map at this morning’s briefing, as he’s done at other recent meetings:

When you provide feedback on that and anything else you want to comment on, Sound Transit stresses that this isn’t just about big-picture ideas/concerns. Even the sort of thing that otherwise might not come up until the environmental studies, such as construction or noise impacts – the more they hear now, the better the chances of speeding this thing up (and 2030 is already sped up from the original timeline).

We also asked about the format for the open houses – tomorrow’s is 6:30-8:30 pm at the Masonic Hall in The Junction (4736 40th SW). If you can, get there toward the start, because there will be a presentation at about 6:45 pm. That’ll last about 15 minutes. They don’t expect to have a group Q&A after that – instead, Ridge said, lots of ST staffers will be there for you to ask questions one on one and to take your feedback.

Wondering what happens then? Good question. Feedback from the in-person and online open houses, plus a round of “neighborhood forums” in March, will be collected for an “early scoping report” that then goes to the Stakeholder Advisory Group – whose first meeting we covered last week. They will be involved in “screening,” and in turn providing their feedback to the Elected Leadership Group (whose first meeting we also covered). Then there’ll be second and third rounds of screening before the “preferred alternative” is settled on in spring 2019. Here’s the slate of how that all goes:

The final decision is in the hands of the Sound Transit board, but that’s after all those multiple rounds of feedback. Again – we have to say it again – NOW is the time to get everything out there on the table that you want to say, ask, etc., in the interest of acceleration. Ridge said that “a lot of the delay we’ve had in the past (on other light-rail projects) is when technical issues and stakeholder issues weren’t identified early on” so they have to retrace and redo some steps – “you think you know what you’re doing, and then you run into some kind of roadblock.”

So as distant as 2030 sounds, there’s a lot of deciding to be done right now, but this is the time to speak up.

HOW TO COMMENT: In-person open houses (you can go to the Ballard and downtown ones too – they’re all for the West Seattle to Ballard extensions, which are being planned in tandem though Ballard opens five years after WS):

West Seattle
Tuesday, Feb. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center, 4736 40th Ave. SW Street

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

BACKGROUND INFO: Here’s how the project was outlined before the Sound Transit 3 vote in 2016, including some cost information; we’re asking for more and will add it when we get it.

48 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Why NOW is the time to speak up, whatever you want to say - and how to do it"

  • ACG February 12, 2018 (2:23 pm)

    I’m just curious….  but does the city say West Seattle has a better response rate to things than other neighborhoods?  I participate in a lot of things because I hear of them through WSB. Not sure if I’d manage to hear about things/pay attention/etc without WSB. So, just wondering if WS participates more than other neighborhoods without a 24/7 news source like WSB. 

  • HW February 12, 2018 (2:26 pm)

    Neighbors – Please participate! Many of us want transit (elevated, tunnel, who cares!) and many of us are simultaneously interested in preserving the historical and community feel of our downtown. I voted for ST3, but think we should not be so literal that Alaska Junction must equal Alaska & California when a station on Fauntleroy & Alaska allows access to the junction while preserving the option of a southbound extension (either down 35th or Fauntleroy). A station in the junction would  eat up the only parking we have behind local businesses, would reduce sunlight, would remove an open area for our community’s farmers markets and many festivals. Can you imagine your kids playing in a summer festival jump house under a huge cement pillar? Tasting local chili recipes on Halloween while a train rolls in every 6 minutes? Me neither.  Move the station a few blocks east. There is land. and parking.

    • CAM February 12, 2018 (4:45 pm)

      Yes, I can imagine all of those things and I strongly prefer them to the alternative. The city is finally ready to step into the present by building truly accessible rapid transit and anyone who is suggesting that the plan should be walked back or reduced in scope is only working towards making this city live in the past even longer. 

      • HW February 12, 2018 (6:29 pm)

        CAM – I do not understand why a recommendation to move the location east by three blocks (three blocks with readily accessible transit should someone not be able to walk from the Junction, I might add) is equal to living in the past. Why can’t we find a solution that preserves the community feeling we love while making it equally accessible? Fauntleroy/Alaska is a major intersection that can support a large transit hub. California & Alaska is an original, small intersection with historic buildings and limited space. Plus, there is a huge lot (SE corner) where you could build a parking structure to support people who drive to the light rail (because YES people will drive  there, just like they drive to the C line today). 

        • CAM February 12, 2018 (7:12 pm)

          A. There will be no park and ride option. This isn’t the suburbs. 

          B. More stops is always better than less stops. 

          C. There is no difference between having to tear down businesses or houses on Fauntleroy and California. 

          D. The triangle stop is currently projected to be set for the area of 35th and Fauntleroy, a far greater distance from California than you are talking about. 

          E. None of the things you mention will even approach the level of doom and gloom you are predicting and everything will be just fine with a station in the Junction. I’m guessing you’ve never lived near an elevated train line and are basing your projections on fear rather than experience. 

          F. Density and urbanization is coming and it should have come long ago. The crises that everyone discusses on a regular basis are almost all due to the fact that this community has resisted progress at every turn. West Seattle will be a far more livable and enjoyable community with access to rapid transit. That there will only be 3 stations is already a disappointment. I will not accept a system with less. As an almost solely transit reliant traveler I will tell you that this neighborhood is gagging for rapid transit. Imagine how things will be only 4 or 5 years from now? So you advocating for reducing what is already a very minimal plan has the potential to negatively impact many of your neighbors that you claim to care so much about. That is what is wrong with what you are doing. Again, this isn’t the suburbs. People who want quaint and quiet main streets can find those anywhere. Don’t try to argue that the city shouldn’t move forward and reflect it’s new reality in order to preserve what hasn’t worked for many years. 

          • S February 12, 2018 (8:46 pm)

            I agree with Cam. No point in spending all this money and waiting so long if we are to stop the light rail short of the main shopping, dining, and bus transportation hub. 

          • HW February 12, 2018 (8:50 pm)

            CAM – I think you misinterpreted my recommendation. I am not suggesting they cut a stop. I am suggesting they end the line on Alaska and Fauntleroy, not three blocks up the hill on California. Three block difference. A huge quality of life difference for our markets, community events, parades, and local shops. You can walk. If you can’t walk, there are buses up and down three blocks every 8 minutes.

            And since you asked, I spent several years living near elevated trains in downtown Chicago. My apartment was a quick 5 minute walk to 2 elevated and 1 tunneled lines. It was convenient, loud, and a few block walk to the closest non fast food restaurant. 

            Where you get it wrong is the elevated trains do not drop you off smack in the middle of the Main Street. They run behind the main roads by a block or two, or they drop you at the very end of the commercial strip, on a major (multi light) intersection, or they go underground, or they connect to a mall or similar. Further, they don’t END in the middle of Main Street. They end at the airport, or a few blocks from another major transit hub.

            I’m failing to understand why this is so upsetting to you. Three blocks. Everyone gets what they want – multiple transit options, ability to extend further in future, a usable junction Main Street for our community to produce the events that make this such a wonderful place to live. 

          • CAM February 13, 2018 (6:17 pm)

            I’m not sure I agree HW. The El runs through many large intersections and drops people off right next to where they are going. In fact, I lived with an El line (which is substantially louder than light rail) running behind my bedroom window for months and it didn’t disturb me. The reality is my day was more disrupted by loud motorcycles than an El train. And I’m not upset. I’m frustrated with people advocating against something that the overwhelming majority of people voted for or trying to minimize it because they would prefer to live in an environment more reminiscent of the suburbs than a city. The whole point of bringing the light rail to West Seattle is to serve the majority of the people. Those people are in the Junction. People need to stop trying to push the train away from where the people are. And yes, 3 blocks does make a difference. 

          • Canton February 13, 2018 (6:14 am)

            @CAM, we could build this multi billion dollar system just for you, or maybe we can think of all West Seattle. If the folks of Highland park, Westwood, and Arbor heights can bus it to station, sure you can handle a measly 3 blocks.

          • AvalonTom February 13, 2018 (7:28 am)

            Here is what the scale looks like.  As someone who lives short walking distance to the Junction and visit it daily (sometimes few times a day) I dont accept this as a solution.

  • CanDo February 12, 2018 (2:52 pm)

    Done….  I completely agree with you, HW.

    • CC February 12, 2018 (9:16 pm)

      Ditto. I hope they provide a scaled view of what they are proposing. People need to understand the scale of this concrete blah.  I recommend a field trip to see the elevated structure south of SeaTac. I’m not saying it’s the same scale. I don’t know but even half the scale gives me pause on this thing going all the way through the Junction to 44th.  I’m with HW. 

  • LAH February 12, 2018 (3:11 pm)

    Thank you HW!  Those are really great points about not taking the Junction as a literal and only location.

  • quiz February 12, 2018 (3:20 pm)

    If I’m reading things right, the WS line will only got to the southern end of SODO in 2030. 

    Then it will extend ALL the way to the stadiums in 2035.

    Then it will extend ALL the way downtown in 2036.

    Aside from Starbucks corporate employees, I’m not sure how many people will be using these trains 2030-2035. 

    Or am I wrong? I hope I’m wrong.

    • Peter February 12, 2018 (4:28 pm)

      The plan is in 2035 West Seattle will be the southern terminus of the north link line that will go to Everett using the current downtown tunnel. Ballard will be the northern terminus of the sough link line that will go to Tacoma using a new downtown tunnel. Both lines will serve SODO and Stadium (can’t remember offhand if they’ll both serve International District or only the West Seattle/Everett). But yes, initially it will open serving SODO.

    • CAM February 12, 2018 (4:48 pm)

      You will be able to transfer to the current light rail coming from the airport which will take you to all of those locations. Transferring while using public transit is commonplace in cities around the world and I’ve never heard the number of complaints about transferring as I have since moving to Seattle. 

      • Dakota Andover February 13, 2018 (10:38 am)

        Transfers are fine and absolutely common on mass transit systems; however, in most cases it’s only some percentage of riders transferring and not 100% percent of riders at the SODO stop that will be required because that will essentially be the end of the line during the 5-year interim construction period as the new tunnel comes on line and the full system is integrated.

        The other complicating issue with the transfer is that the new WS line stop at SODO is elevated at 50-feet above grade while the existing SODO stop is at grade.  That means every rider is not just crossing a platform to a new train, that may already be potentially full coming up from the south, but will have to be herded up and down the stairs/escalators/elevators with every other rider every time they go through the SODO station.

        I’ll mention it at the open house, but I’d like to see them elevate the current SODO at-grade stop to the same elevated height of the new WS line to make that transfer  much easier and efficient.  Then the transfer is not a big deal.  That solution would also eliminate the current at-grade train crossing at Lander.  The current line coming out of Beacon Hill is already elevated  to the south and only drops down to grade right before it crosses Lander anyway.

        • CAM February 13, 2018 (2:42 pm)

          The maps released by ST show that SODO stop from WS is at grade in line with the current line running through SODO. 

          • Dakota Andover February 13, 2018 (4:09 pm)

            That’s not how I read the ST released documents.  Nancy Folsom has the ST3 documents linked below in a post near the end of the current thread.  The section diagram shows the new West Seattle line SODO Station at the 50-foot elevation line while the existing G/L (grade line) where the current stop is at Lander Street at 0.  The published overall system plan view maps also show the WS line at SODO as dotted (elevated) and the existing as a solid line (at-grade).

            If the station platforms end up at the same height, I’d agree, the transfer may not be a big issue for the interim period, but if not, I see it as a big deterrent to the systems use and success during the interim phase.

            Would your opinion change on the efficiency of the transfer if the new SODO station for WS is at 50-feet and the existing station remains at grade?

          • CAM February 13, 2018 (6:10 pm)

            You’re right. I’m pretty sure I saw something before that showed that station at grade but I just reviewed the documents from the last 2 weeks and it’s showing it elevated. I still don’t think that will make a huge deal. I’m used to going down a set of stairs, walking through a tunnel, and going back up another set of stairs to transfer from one rail line to another. You’d be surprised at how efficiently people can do it. 

    • mtnfreak February 16, 2018 (9:47 am)

      According to the proposed maps: LINK, the West Seattle line will share SODO and Stadium Station locations, so West Seattle riders would (presumably) change trains to continue to downtown.

  • Cpas February 12, 2018 (4:09 pm)

    Yes, please give input, and document what you submit, as I hope Sound Transit does better than the City did on West Seattle’s input on HALA/MHA which they “failed to safeguard” (aka threw it in the trash). If you have seen prototype and to scale virtual models of an elevated ST3 you may notice how out of scale it is for the WS Junction. We should recommend it be underground after it crosses the Delridge valley. Reducing the stations from three to two could help offset the extra cost. 

    • fiz February 13, 2018 (8:03 am)


  • dsa February 12, 2018 (5:22 pm)

    I’d like to see South Delridge get service.  Those that have the least are getting the short end of the stick.  That Delridge planned station should be moved south at considerable expense, but West Seattle’s future  is worth it.

    • J242 February 12, 2018 (6:08 pm)

      Agreed. I would love to see Barton & Delridge to Barton & 35th, up to 35th & Fauntleroy then into downtown  but I know the lite rail isn’t really built for 90 degree turns. Frankly, the AK junction is the primary junction of our peninsula so it makes sense to have that be the primary end point. In a perfect world, there would be the main station at 35th & Fauntleroy, then hang a left to head south on 35th and work it’s way somehow onto Delridge then the head all the way to Burien to connect at Sea-Tac but hey… Any new transit is better than no new transit? I also don’t think that plan would be viable due to the impact of so many streets lacking viable alternate routes. 

      • HW February 12, 2018 (6:46 pm)

        That is true, but the AK Junction is already well served by buses with a quick, consistent ride into downtown using the bus lanes. So many people drive to the junction to commute as it is.  Moving the line to the east makes it easier to access for the south end of the peninsula via 35th and is only a few more blocks for the folks west of the junction. And DSA – yes, with all the fuss about lightrail being a requirement for affordable housing, you’d expect more pushback on the junction as the final destination. The truly affordable housing in our area is further south on the peninsula and this does nothing to help that community. You can’t extend a line that ends in the Junction. Sticking to Delridge/35th would do more for unlocking transit friendly affordable housing than giving all the new apartment dwellers above Chipotle another way to get to work.

        • CAM February 12, 2018 (7:18 pm)

          HW – The buses do NOT provide either a “quick” or “consistent” ride into downtown. That’s the reason the light rail will be grade separated and will be able to avoid all vehicle traffic. The light rail will take 15 minutes to go from the Junction to downtown. There is no bus that can do that unless you’re talking about riding one at 2 am. Besides the fact that buses are late or early, leave without people, and during rush hour are full to bursting. During the summer it takes waiting for multiple buses to be able to get on one anywhere near to 5 pm. The bus is not the answer and the problems with the bus are the reason for increasing and building out light rail. 

          • HW February 12, 2018 (8:59 pm)

            Right. But if you live in Westwood Village or Delridge, rush hour, 30 min bus ride sounds down right luxurious. Those communities have fewer options. We have no plan to help them. If we end on California there will be no future plan to help them. We have plans to get people with ok options, better options. I voted for ST3 because I believe we need it, but let’s not bury our heads in the sand and pretend there aren’t alternative ways to achieve the same results promised when we voted.

          • Also John February 13, 2018 (7:40 am)

            CAM….  15 minutes by light rail???  Why even build it.  Every morning I ride into downtown from the junction and it takes me 25 minutes..  Even on a brisk morning like today.   Seems like a waste of money when I bike is cheaper………

        • S February 12, 2018 (8:52 pm)

          HW—the whole point of this endeavor is because buses don’t cut it, and will definitely won’t cut it in 2030. Buses are good for local travel within West Seattle though, and will bring people from distant parts of West Seattle to the light rail station at the Alaska Junction. That is why we need the light rail station close to the main bus hub…to facilitate easy transfers. Imagine taking the bus from your home to the Alaska Junction, then having to walk three blocks to make your connection to light rail….especially if you are disabled or if it is pouring rain.

          • CC February 12, 2018 (9:31 pm)

            It depends on what the main bus hub is. We are talking north south connections, right (Delridge, 35, California). Why not shift the Californria hub.

            When they first proposed the Cline it was stopping at the ferry terminal. The public got it to Westwood village. Now that’s a transit hub. Let’s think about where those hubs can be for accessing the peninsula north south. Does it need to be the Junction? This c bus will be a different or nonexistent beast when the light rail comes. 

      • Heather February 12, 2018 (8:10 pm)

        I’d really like to see it go to Westwood Village. That area is slated for, I believe, the largest urban village development in WS so there will be a huge population not being serviced under this plan.

  • MJ February 12, 2018 (5:58 pm)

    I hope that ST listens and refines plans to reflect community feedback better than SDoT does.

  • AHLifer48 February 12, 2018 (7:19 pm)

    Ummm… just wondering if anyone has heard about the new infrastructure deal and how it is going to affect the lines north to Everett and south to Federal Way?  According to komo 4 news the $2 Billion slated to go to those extensions from the Feds is not included in the new deal. So taxes go up again, higher rates for passengers and a longer wait to be finished. N we will have ST here in 2035, AT THE CURRENT COST AND TAX RATE??? LOLOLOL. SAD!!! It may finally get done Someday, hopefully!! As all things DOT related, over budget, and not on time. 

    • WSB February 12, 2018 (7:51 pm)

      Kind of hard for TV to get into the details, which are different (here’s the Times’ story) – other ST funding (it’s too early for these extensions to be in a federal budget) could be affected IF the president’s proposal actually became law, but that is considered unlikely, for the second consecutive year.

      • AHLifer48 February 12, 2018 (9:38 pm)

        Ok. Thanks for clarification. Stranger things have happened though.

  • dsa February 12, 2018 (7:42 pm)

    What ticks me off is that they added WS to the line to get our vote.  And now they are proposing a cheap crummy alignment while other parts of the city have luxuries such as the cost of tunnels.  But it’s not just a tunnel so much as the location of the stops.  The North Delridge station is next to useless.  It’s there because the cheap route crosses Delridge and that is as close to “affordable” housing as the line  ever gets.  I think they can spend some money in return for our votes and give us a quality product that serves us better than what is being proposed.

    My voice is not enough.  It would take a strong movement from the underserved community and I hope it happens for West Seattle’s sake.

    • Jon Wright February 13, 2018 (9:27 am)

      A “cheap crummy alignment” would be at grade, sharing the street. Before Sound Transit decided to go big, there was probably a reasonable chance West Seattle would not have been included at all. Sound Transit realized it was important to include service to West Seattle, they increased the scope of ST3, and we are getting a grade-separated line. So I don’t think your cynicism is warranted.

      The proposed alignment includes three stops in centrally-located/densely developed spots. 120/RapidRide H and 125 riders can transfer at Delridge stop. Lots of housing coming online in the Triangle area and 21 riders can transfer at Triangle stop. Lots of housing and commercial activity at the Alaska Junction and current RapidRide C riders as well as bus riders from Admiral and elsewhere on the peninsula can transfer here.

      That is where the people are; that is where it make the most sense to put light rail.

      • dsa February 13, 2018 (1:38 pm)

        JW, you made my point.  ST realized they had to include WS.  But in so doing we are getting a   noisy, unsightly above ground alignment at our most densely populated area.  Those are called environmental impacts.

        This alignment has two stations which may serve the public nicely.  The third station at Delridge is *not* in a “centrally-located/densely developed spot”.

        Warning: ignore the rest of West Seattle and the rest of us will suffer in the long run.  Think about getting first class service for all of us. 

        • Jon Wright February 13, 2018 (5:37 pm)

          Not sure how long you’ve been following this project and what your notion is of how light rail to West Seattle should look, but what is currently proposed vis-a-via what was being mooted a few years ago is “first class.” We’re getting grade-separated service to the parts of West Seattle where light rail currently makes sense and that is a good start.

  • WS Guy February 12, 2018 (11:25 pm)


    A giant elevated line has no place in the Junction.

  • LK February 13, 2018 (8:07 am)

    Completely agree with HW.  I’ve also lived near elevated BART tracks in Berkeley, and even from a few blocks away they can be heard, quite loudly every 10-15 minutes, 20 hours a day.  Think about that for a moment.  It’s an eyesore to boot with massive concrete pillars every 100 feet, towering over residential neighborhoods.  

    The triangle location absolutely makes sense for all reasons mentioned. It’s location is the center point between California+Alaska and 35th+Avalon, the other 2 major hubs in the neighborhood.

  • KBear February 13, 2018 (9:47 am)

    A tunnel station in the Junction would be great, but not if it means a longer wait. We need this NOW. Well, yesterday, actually. For those who are arguing about Junction vs. Fauntleroy, it’s going to be a longer walk for someone no matter where it’s located. With all the new development in the Triangle area, I think it makes just as much sense to put the station near Fauntleroy. On the other hand, I disagree with those who say an elevated line will “ruin” the Junction. It will change the Junction, but that’s what happens in urban areas. I’d argue that tearing up the streetcar tracks is what “ruined” the Junction.

  • Nancy Folsom February 13, 2018 (10:46 am)

    I’m sure this must have been covered somewhere, but it looks to me like  at least six properties will have to be taken to make room for pylons. I’m looking at the second drawing here: https://www.scribd.com/document/352039517/ST3-WS-Representational-Alignment#

    Am I correct? I’m sorry to ask when I’m sure it’s been discussed.

    • WSB February 13, 2018 (10:55 am)

      This is a draft – not the final route – so there are no specifics yet. Certainly concerns you would want to bring up at this stage of the process, as they are asking for feedback on the draft (“representative alignment”) as well as on anything different you would want to suggest.

  • Nancy February 13, 2018 (11:54 am)

    Thanks. I found a story on the issue for Lynnwood, so I’m surprised it hadn’t come up for WS.

  • Chuck Pliske February 21, 2018 (10:13 pm)
    For many years I have watched Sound Transit (ST) spend vast sums of money on projects which do not respect the changing technology of our world.  They have started up 30 year projects costing 10s of billions of dollars to build rails which, given current technology, can be replicated for a 10th the cost and much more quickly.  A current example is  the new Chinese train which runs on battery and follows painted lines on the road, soon to be driverless.  Think of the entire ST  projects implemented in a very short time for little more than the cost of some paint and a few transit cars.  ST persists in spending billions and decades to do a job which is going to be so out of date by the time it’s done the only thing they will have accomplished is breaking the citizens’ financial backs.

    Please help us stop this incredible waste of funds.  With trains following painted lines, and soon to be driverless cars, the transportation picture is changing much faster than ST can accomodate!
  • ANN Schumann February 28, 2018 (3:33 pm)

    What is the email of the City of Seattle on this project to give my input.   Thanks,

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