(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)