LIGHT RAIL: New developments as planning process gets halfway to ‘preferred alternative’ for West Seattle/Ballard

July 22, 2018 10:28 pm
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 |   Transportation | West Seattle news

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

No midsummer slowdown for the West Seattle (and Ballard) light-rail planning process.

We have several things to report. First – the date is set for the next West Seattle “neighborhood forum” – Saturday, September 8th, 9-11:30 am, Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee). That’s open to everyone.

ST has been conducting some by-invitation events in the meantime, all-day design charrettes for the future station areas, including one last Friday in Delridge and another coming up this Tuesday in The Junction.

And soil sampling continues in Pigeon Point.

We reported last week on that site at 19th/Genesee; ST tells WSB that the crew will continue work there through Tuesday, and then move to a site described by ST as “20th Ave SW and the end of the cul-de-sac north of SW Charlestown Street” for work on Wednesday and Thursday.

Also this past week, both working groups for the project met. We covered the Elected Leadership Group meeting at the ST board room downtown on Thursday. Here’s how that went:

“This week marks the halfway point of the alternative development phase .. a lot of work went into getting us to this point, and we have a lot more work to do.” So declared County Councilmember and ST board member Joe McDermott in opening the ELG meeting prior to the one where the group will make its Level 2 recommendations.

His co-chair City Councilmember Mike O’Brien acknowledged that “can we get it sooner?” remains the top question. They’re trying as hard as they can, he said.

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff noted that while it’s good news to get to the halfway mark, the second half is the “harder” half. Next steps include developing a “lot of data” regarding both cost information for the options, plus “visual depictions” for many of the options.

QUICK REVIEW OF ALTERNATIVES: Before spending the bulk of the meeting on new SODO and Chinatown ID alternatives, ST exec Cathal Ridge reviewed the West Seattle routing alternatives that remain in play – see pages 15-22 in the meeting slide deck below (which is also on the ST website here):

*Representative (ST’s original draft, all elevated)
*Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel (with two tunnels)
*Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Elevated – it goes up Oregon and 44th instead of Fauntleroy/Alaska
*Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel – this would tunnel between the Avalon and Junction stations
*Golf Course/Alaska Junction/Tunnel (modified) – would go along north end of golf course and then into tunnel

Ridge again stressed that “mix-and-match” is possible – elements of one could be combined with another to create an alternative.

SODO/CHINATOWN ALTERNATIVES ADOPTED: You can review these in the slide deck as well. The ELG went with the recommendations the stakeholder group had made earlier in the week.

EQUITY: A West Seattle discovery was included in this presentation (which starts on page 113 in the meeting slide deck above).Overall, many stations are in “areas of high opportunity.” They are trying to make sure it’s an equitable process, and the Delridge station area has been chosen for focus. Last Friday’s charrette was intended to help with that. It was also noted that “Densely populated communities of color lie within the bike and transit sheds of the Delridge and Avalon stations, but are outside of those stations’ immediate walksheds.”

McDermott raised concerns about languages, hoping that outreach is being done in more than English, and that communities’ diverse communication styles were being addressed as well. He was assured that they are.

NEXT STEPS: Along with the events mentioned atop this story, your next chance to talk with ST in West Seattle will be at the Delridge Day festival on August 11th, 11 am-3 pm at Delridge Community Center Park. After that, but before the WS neighborhood forum, the stakeholders’ group will meet September 5th to get “evaluation results.”

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