That group walking through the West Seattle Junction/Triangle today was tasked with looking 12 years into the future.
The task: Help evaluate potential Junction and Avalon station locations for the future Sound Transit West Seattle light-rail line. The section of the tour for which we went along was looking at five possible Junction sites, three of which would be “cut and cover” underground, two elevated. This is from one of the brochures provided to the participants:
As reported here last night, the year-plus process of deciding on a “preferred alternative” for the West Seattle (2030) and Ballard (2035) extensions – so it can go through environmental study – is at the midpoint. The working groups that will decide this fall what goes to the next level were promised “evaluation” information about the options on the table in the current second level of the three-level review, and while much of that will come from Sound Transit, some will come from community members such as those who gathered for today’s walking tour, a prelude to a design charrette tomorrow. (There was one last Friday for the Delridge station area; we were unable to cover that.)
Along with Sound Transit staffers and consultants, the walking tour included representatives of neighborhood and transportation/mobility advocacy groups – the Junction Neighborhood Organization, West Seattle Bike Connections, Feet First, and the West Seattle Junction Association – plus Metro reps and a legislative assistant from City Councilmember Lisa Herbold‘s staff. The mission was to walk to each potential station location for The Junction and Avalon, and consider both challenges and opportunities. We went along for the first hour of the tour.
It began at Junction Plaza Park, near the possible elevated SW Alaska station site. If an elevated station were located there, ST reps said, the track would be about 50 feet above the street – other station features would be higher up – and would have to straddle SW Alaska, which would mean supports on both sides of the street. How would that affect the sidewalk, the park, buildings? These are all questions factoring into the evaluations.
Or – that area could have an underground station beneath the 42nd/Alaska intersection. If so, where would the entrances be?
Sloan Dawson, whose planning work with ST focuses on station areas, noted also that the same section of 42nd is planned as part of the West Seattle Neighborhood Greenway – so how would that factor in?
The tour went north on 42nd to Oregon, a street that factors into two routing alternatives that are being considered – elevated and tunnel. If elevated, the tour leaders said, at that point the track would be about 45 feet above the roadway, and instead of a “straddling” support, it might be on columns down the middle of the road
After walking west on Oregon, the group turned down 44th and proceeded to the Junction parking lot behind KeyBank to consider the options there – possible elevated and tunnel options “east of 44th.” Among the points brought up there – less density on that side of the heart of The Junction, and the community’s concern about the parking provided in that lot.
We had to move on after that. The goal of the tour was to prime the pump for tomorrow’s charrette, rather than to reach conclusions, but it also shone some light into how ST is conducting evaluation. We’re told the information from the charrettes will be included in what’s presented not only to the next Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting September 5th, but also at the West Seattle neighborhood forum three days later (9 am September 8th, Seattle Lutheran High School gym, 4100 SW Genesee, open to all). All the resulting feedback will be available for the SAG and Elected Leadership Group to mull in recommending in late September/early October what moves to the last level of review before that “preferred alternative” is finalized for study.