By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The road to choosing a “preferred alternative” for West Seattle/Ballard light rail has now taken the Stakeholder Advisory Group into the second of three levels of review.
When the SAG met last Wednesday at the Sound Transit board room downtown, it was presented with five West Seattle possibilities – including two new/modified versions of pre-existing options. You can see all five in the slide deck from the meeting.
ST’s Stephen Mak showed all five:
First, the “representative project” (ST’s original draft route), which is entirely elevated:
Then there’s the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel, which includes two tunnels, an elevated Delridge station, shifting the “Avalon station” to straddle Fauntleroy, then into a tunnel and an underground station at 42nd SW:
The Oregon Street/Alaska Junction elevated option would cross the Duwamish on its south side, curve onto Genesee, westward on Fauntleroy and Oregon, and end with an elevated station at 44th SW:
A version of the Oregon Street alternative with a tunnel is a newly added option, first with elevated Delridge and Avalon (over Fauntleroy) stations, then entering a tunnel portal and tunneling through The Junction to a north/south-oriented 44th station:
And there’s the Golf Course/Alaska Junction/Tunnel “modified” option – the alignment would go through the north end of the West Seattle Golf Course, into a tunnel, with an Avalon underground station and a Junction underground station:
Mak stressed that there are still “options for mix and match” as they learn about weaknesses and strengths of each option and elements. His presentation was not followed by group discussion – it was strictly an FYI.
Highlights of other segments included a possible at-grade SODO station. (You can check the slide deck for a full look at what’s now under consideration.)
Next, ST’s Sandra Fann updated “Level 2 criteria, measures, and methods.” She said they had revised some of the evaluation criteria based on feedback. Questions they said had emerged included “how do we address rising construction costs?” and “how is access for historically underserved populations assessed?”
Changes also included adding “station area land use plan consistency.”
CHINATOWN-INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT AND SODO UPDATES: They’ve been seeking “additional alternatives” for this stretch of the line and held “agency workshops” June 6 and 14, with another one planned for early July. SODO community concerns included transferring at the SODO station, using the E-3 busway, serving SODO destinations, and maintaining freight mobility. The SODO station is where West Seattle to/from riders will have to transfer for five years, so it’s of interest. It’ll also be the “most convenient and permanent transfer” location if you want to take light rail from WS to the airport. (Once the second downtown tunnel is completed, the line that starts in West Seattle will go all the way to Everett.)
They’re trying to weigh community concerns vs. operational needs. So they came up with two options – one on Occidental Avenue that would require some logistics, and one on 6th.
The stakeholders spent 20-some minutes each in small groups discussing the Chinatown-International District options in small groups. Community concerns for the C-ID segment included “improving intermodal connections,” “activating Union Station,” and avoiding construction impacts. ST’s Ron Endlich explained how construction would work in a “cut-and-cover station” project (Pioneer Square, University Street) – half the street at a time – and how “open-cut” station construction would work, as well as examples of “mined station” construction (Beacon Hill, about a decade ago).
In the ID they want to avoid affecting an affordable-housing project, avoid major impacts on traffic on 4th, and avoid major effects on the fire station and emergency ops center on 4th.
STATION PLANNING 101: Sloan Dawson of ST, who spoke briefly at the West Seattle “neighborhood forum” last month, gave this presentation to the stakeholders. He talked about taking factors into account – the differences between planning for a neighborhood or for a business area – and keeping transportation circulating around the station. Designing the station footprint is big too – “where do we see a plaza opportunity?” or, where will there be places for people to be dropped off? Stations increase development activity, so how do they support existing and future development?
Later this year, they’ll dive into a technical analysis that will include how they align resources with other agencies, for example.
NEXT STEPS: Next SAG meeting July 16 will include more on the Chinatown-ID and SODO alternatives, Then the Elected Leadership Group meets July 19th, then two SAG meetings in September – the group is due to make its Level 2 recommendations on September 26th.
OUTREACH ABOUT OUTREACH: How is Sound Transit doing at letting you know what’s going on? They hope you will use this survey to tell them. It closes Tuesday night.