LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s Stakeholder Advisory Group to review 5 West Seattle alternatives in Level 2

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.

26 Replies to "LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit's Stakeholder Advisory Group to review 5 West Seattle alternatives in Level 2"

  • CAM June 25, 2018 (1:42 am)

    I’m really excited about the majority of these plans. This is the first time I’ve seen options presented that I thought might make more sense for the future of West Seattle than the original representative alignment. If I’m reading these right at least 2 would drop a station right in my lap which would be the most fortunate coincidence possible. I’m still concerned about the cost of any tunneling vs the need to have this system completed pronto and it’s frustrating that ST won’t give even a guesstimate for how much that will increase the cost vs what was originally budgeted for. 

  • Paul June 25, 2018 (6:47 am)

    Note that the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel alternative has a tunnel station for Avalon. That isn’t clear from the written description, but it is clear on the drawing.

  • AvalonTom June 25, 2018 (7:14 am)

    That Pigeon Ridge / West Seattle tunnel option looks great! Minimum impact to housing and it stays underground as much as possible. That one has my vote!

    • Debora Robinett June 28, 2018 (8:16 pm)

      As your new neighbor in February and potentially now eminent domain, I am also in favor of a tunnel from the east side of Avalon to underground stations in Avalon and Alaska Junction. Would have the least negative impact on residences, businesses and preserve the beauty of historical West Seattle.

  • HappyCamper June 25, 2018 (7:37 am)

    I’m curious how much the increased tunneling cost is offset by not having to acquire as much very expensive real estate for a path as well as less utility relocates, etc. 

    • Paul June 25, 2018 (8:34 am)

      These tunnel proposals probably would have plenty of utility relocations.

  • chemist June 25, 2018 (9:04 am)

    I think there’s a bold or emphasis tag in this story that wasn’t closed.  Maybe somewhere around “this presentation to the stakeholders” 

    • WSB June 25, 2018 (9:18 am)

      Thanks; fixed.

  • Alex June 25, 2018 (10:28 am)

    I hope the Oregon St. option is not chosen. Placing the station west of California would be a shame. The critical factor in station placement is nearby housing density (both current and future), i.e. proximity to large buildings. The area west of the junction will remain single-family homes, so placing the station east of California, closer to the development of Fauntleroy/ the Triangle makes more sense. 

    • KM June 25, 2018 (12:11 pm)

      I think part of the consideration will also need to be future plans to extend south, as well as location to connection with ground transit.

      • WS Guy June 25, 2018 (7:30 pm)

        Which is further cause for the station to be centrally located on Alaska St.

        • KM June 25, 2018 (8:21 pm)

          And not in The Triangle/Fauntleroy area.

        • S June 25, 2018 (8:37 pm)

          Just west of California makes sense since the major bus hub is there. Then you can get off the bus (from your neighborhood) and hop right on the light rail. Unless you expect everyone to be driving to the light rail. And I’ll be elderly by the time it gets built, so I’ll appreciate not having to walk half a mile to transfer from the bus to the light rail.

  • Mike in Delridge June 25, 2018 (11:52 am)

    Polite West Seattle needs to seize this opportunity — we deserve the best option on the table! In my opinion, that is Pigeon Ridge/W. Seattle Tunnel.

  • Aaron June 25, 2018 (8:40 pm)

    What happens with a tunnel boring machine in a dead end tunnel? 

    • Paul June 25, 2018 (9:25 pm)

      Either a large hole is dug to remove it or it is dismantled into small pieces and removed through the tunnel. Not all tunnels require a boring machine. For instance, the tunnel Sound Transit is building in Bellevue is using the sequential excavation method for construction.

  • Ttt June 26, 2018 (6:57 am)

    The station should not be west of the junction, it should be closer to the triangle. That is where there is more dense housing and the bus stop near fauntleroy seems to always be busy.

    • KM June 26, 2018 (11:58 am)

      There will be a lightrail station at Avalon and 35th as well, at the east edge of the triangle already. The current distance between Avalon and Alaska Junctions makes more sense than crowding them to have the Alaska Junction moved to Fauntleroy and Alaska, leaving the junction not served by lightrail (and not sure how feasible a future southern tunnel would be?)

  • BJG June 26, 2018 (4:00 pm)

    I can’t imagine, without removing a huge part of the neighborhood west and south of the Junction, how a turn toward Morgan could be made above ground at 44th. The train doesn’t make right angles.   Are you paying attention West Seattle to the reality of this blight? Even the block long tail at the end of the line would destroy a classic family neighborhood. This is just not an option.

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed June 26, 2018 (8:55 pm)

    Not understanding how Sound Transit can move any proposals forward without considering the cost of each.  Pigeon Point and other tunnel options are probably unaffordable.  All of the options reduce the Pigeon Point neighborhood to just one street in and out during construction, hampering access by emergency vehicles.  Disappointed in ST for trademark poor planning.

    • WSB June 26, 2018 (9:06 pm)

      The costs will be part of the Level 2 review, they have said, with that level just beginning, as we’ve been reporting.

  • SeattleStoleMyHouse June 27, 2018 (6:19 pm)

    ST3 already stated it cost less to take homes then to route tunnels or through the golf course at the pigeon point neighborhood meeting. Statements such as those imply options are not being considered.But WS Blog – holier than thou commenters – have no concern for tearing down other people’s homes in favor of light rail. So please do continue to remark how wonderful it is to displace 100s of your neighbors.

  • Debora Robinett June 28, 2018 (1:48 pm)

    I am curious if the tunnel options preserve the residences located between SW Avalon and South 35th or are all eminent domain?

  • chemist June 28, 2018 (2:07 pm)

    It looks like the survey was extended – “This survey should take approximately 10 minutes and will be open until 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 3, 2018.”

    • WSB June 28, 2018 (2:22 pm)

      Yes, ST noted that in an e-mail blast today, haven’t gotten a chance to write about it yet. Thanks.

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed June 28, 2018 (8:46 pm)

    Waiting to understand costs of the options being chosen until “level 2” is probably how the Lynnwood line costs had to be increased from $2.4b to $3.2b.  ST is doing it’s usual poor planning with voter money.  Worst, this arrogant and dishonest government agency will hold out tunnel options to West Seattle and then pull those back to fully elevated above ground options when they are finally forced to confess that they are out of funding.

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