West Seattle light-rail planning: Stakeholder Advisory Group rolls on to Level 2

(Slide deck from meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“Progress is being made.”

So declared facilitator Diane Adams as the Stakeholder Advisory Group for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle/Ballard light-rail extensions kicked off meeting #5.

The Wednesday evening meeting at ST’s downtown board room didn’t result in any major pronouncements or advances. It did mark the start of the second of three levels of screening that are planned to result in a “preferred alternative,” ready for full environmental study, early next year.

ST’s Cathal Ridge and Andrea Burnett reviewed what had happened since meeting #4 five weeks earlier. She said 300 people participated in the six neighborhood forums held in April and May (that would mean the May 5th West Seattle forum accounted for almost half the turnout); she said the next round is being planned for September. Before that, you’ll see ST at a variety of summer events, including three in West Seattle:

The recaps started with ST’s Stephen Mak going over feedback and status of West Seattle alternatives, including what he characterized as “strong support” for the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel alternative and for tunneling in The Junction as well as for north/south orientation for end of the line there. He showed the slide that recapped the nuance we missed at the second Elected Leadership Group meeting – adding back another of the original five “alternatives” to the list of what to carry forward, the Golf Course alternative, mostly to “explore a refined version that avoids 4F impacts,” referring to the potential taking of parkland and the frowning on that if federal funding is involved. So there are three still alive, aside from the original ST draft, now labeled the “representative project.”

The alternatives for other segments were reviewed too, and Ridge went back through the process that is now on to the second level of three (see the full meeting slide deck atop the story for the maps of all alternatives, as well as the process). The meeting calendar has shifted and the stakeholders will likely meet twice in September. Ridge acknowledged feedback that the group’s recommendations should not be made after all the neighborhood forums are done – unlike the first round, in which, for example, the West Seattle forum happened after the stakeholders already had made their Level 1 decision.

After that, it was on to a review of the evaluation criteria for Level 2. Ridge said “a few tweaks” had been made – specifically, to the “regional centers served” criteria and the ones regarding “historically undeserved populations.” There’s also a tweak regarding transferring, two added to “environmental effects.”

An extended small-group-conversation section ensued. These are all but impossible to monitor for reporting purposes, but we do have feedback from one of West Seattle’s community appointees to the SAG, Deb Barker. She has provided ST with comments she said she was unable to provide at the meeting because the process was not conducive to “robust” discussion, among other problems. Her comments include pointing out that “ST3 decisions should not be considered or based on legislation that has not been enacted,” such as the city’s possible HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability upzone. She also suggests, “Residential displacement must be rated higher than business displacement. Displaced residents cannot return to their communities because of housing costs in many city neighborhoods where the light rail is proposed.”

When attendees were reconvened as one group, before the meeting concluded half an hour short of the scheduled three hours, Ridge ran through something a little different – the “regional context” that so often falls out of view as they work on these two extensions. He acknowledged that “this is stuff you maybe already understand” – for example, the West Seattle line will go into the existing tunnel and then all the way up to Everett. So will the Everett to Redmond line, which in effect means three-minute “headways” along the area where they run side by side.

Maintenance bases are very important, too, he noted. There has to be one in Tacoma before the WS line can open in 2030. And he pointed out that the Everett-to-Tacoma “spine” of the line will be split – that enables balancing the loads in the downtown tunnel, Ridge observed, which was the outgrowth of a “Eureka!” realization ST had at one point. It’s why the second downtown tunnel, regionally funded, is so important, he said.

With that, the meeting was over. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for 5 pm June 20th. Before that, you have two chances to hear from ST in West Seattle:

Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council, 7 pm Monday, June 11th, Pathfinder School (1901 SW Genesee)
-Morgan Junction Community Festival, 10 am-4 pm Saturday, June 16th, Morgan Junction Park (California/Fauntleroy)

9 Replies to "West Seattle light-rail planning: Stakeholder Advisory Group rolls on to Level 2"

  • mistyavalon May 31, 2018 (11:30 pm)

    Can someone confirm for me which of these actually preserve the homes on Genenesee between Avalon to 35th? I have had a hard time seeing some of these alternative routes. And, has ST provided further information for the potentially displaced at any additional meetings?

    • Mickymse June 1, 2018 (11:29 am)

      I don’t believe they are at that level of detail yet… The route “line” is drawn on Genesee, but actual columns and guideway could be on either side of the street (or through a piece of the golf course or through the middle of the existing homes on the north side, for that matter). That level of detail will come later.

      • mistyavalon June 1, 2018 (3:06 pm)

        Thank you. I have heard varying and slightly conflicting reports from neighbors who have spoken to ST reps about this. 

  • Smo June 1, 2018 (8:53 am)

    None specifically focus on those homes, but the option of moving the station so that it straddles Fauntleroy at the entrance to the West Seattle Freeway is mentioned & it could be applied to any route option as it simply moves the station NE a bit. Besides preserving the homes, I personally love this idea as it improves access to the community on the other side of Fauntleroy. Just like European stations are often built directly under big intersections, this allows people to enter or exit without having to cross a relatively dangerous intersection for pedestrians.

  • Rick June 1, 2018 (11:20 am)

    Yeah. Just like Europe. Except we aren’t Europe and never will be. But we’ll spend millions and billions trying.

    • West Seattle since 1979 June 1, 2018 (1:54 pm)

      You know, if they built more roads and another West Seattle Bridge instead of this, that’d cost a lot of money too, and probably just as many homes or businesses would be disrupted or have to be moved or torn down.  

  • wakeflood June 1, 2018 (11:47 am)

    Big thanks to our local reps and organizations (WSB, WSTC, Jnctn Assoc., etc.) for doing the hard and important work of keeping us informed, letting us know how/when we can provide feedback and keeping reality and integrity in this complex process.  This system is going to be a primary connection to our region for 100 yrs. , let’s make sure it moves people effectively from day one…

    • manufacturingHomelessness June 1, 2018 (5:13 pm)

      and let us displace as many people as possible all in the name of those not paying taxes – from day one.  By all means those of us who have paid taxes for 25 years and are what have made west seattle desirable – should certainly be the ones displaced.Obviously the train is not planned to go through your front door – tear down multiplex housing, so as many people as possible can leave west seattle, due to total loss of affordable housing.

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed June 2, 2018 (12:08 pm)

    I am still waiting to hear how any of these proposed lines are affordable transportation.  Seeing the Lynnwood line go up in cost from $2.4B to $3.2B, without ST even having laid a rail for the route yet, makes me wonder how our “Stakeholder” and elected officials groups can make choices for West Seattle without any consideration of the resulting cost.

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