LIGHT RAIL: Taking a walk to consider possible West Seattle Junction station sites

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.

14 Replies to "LIGHT RAIL: Taking a walk to consider possible West Seattle Junction station sites"

  • heartless July 24, 2018 (11:39 am)

    I really hope they don’t decide on the Fauntleroy location for the Alaska Junction stop.  The Alaska Junction feels like such a central location it should really get a very close by stop.

  • BJG July 24, 2018 (1:42 pm)

    The apartment density is currently and in future projects concentrated at Fauntleroy SW, then running east and west from there . It makes sense to keep the station midway and available to both dense groupings of new units. These are the ones going carless now. 

    • Karen July 26, 2018 (5:04 pm)

      Good point.

    • heartless July 26, 2018 (5:25 pm)


      Just as a follow-up, when you say things like “apartment density is currently and in future projects concentrated at Fauntleroy SW, then running east and west from there” do you have any data for that?  Are you just surmising this based on what you see in the neighborhoods? 

      I’m not doubting your claim, exactly, but I’ve been looking for data regarding density in West Seattle and am really have a hard time finding solid information.  Thanks. 

      • BJG July 28, 2018 (9:41 am)

        HEARTLESS: Surmising, because small homes and rentals in Fauntleroy “gulch” without views and high price tags are so easily being bought up. Multistory apartments zoned. Also Triangle has developed as a hub, with transit service available. 

  • Urban Villager July 24, 2018 (3:48 pm)

    There has been a lot of talk about the need for a north-south station alignment, in order to accommodate “future growth” to the south, (thus leading to the north-south aligned Oregon/44th idea). But, growth to where, exactly? The Oregon/44th proposal brings the track the furthest west of any of them, and away from the future density growth (i.e. it is literally at the far west edge of the Junction Urban Village).  Due south from there leads nowhere that is going to get a train (absent, perhaps, blasting through miles of residential areas to get to Burien, for example). Not likely.Instead, it will have to swing back east in order to get back to Fauntleroy, Delridge, or even California (and from the end of California, further back east to one of those) to go further south. Such a station placement is shortsighted and impractical.  The station should be sighted where the local growth will be massed (i.e. to the east part of the Village), passing along established north south arterials to communities that would most benefit from fast, reliable transit to the rest of the city.

  • heartless July 24, 2018 (5:07 pm)

    Good points about the density east of the junction–it still feels weird to me to have a station not smack dab in the center of the Alaska Junction, but I could get over that.

    On a related note, does anyone know of any Seattle (West Seattle in particular, obviously) population density heat maps available online?  (I found one from a website but it was both awkward to use and from 2015, and I’m really hoping for a nicer one.) 


  • Morgan July 24, 2018 (7:25 pm)

    I have a sinking feeling this community involved site selection process will be for naught as construction costs, timelines, and cost overruns introduce reality, and we end up with a compromised elevated station deadening the streetscape of a live Alaska junctiom. Hope not tho…voted for it and support a tunnel.

    • CAM July 24, 2018 (10:49 pm)

      To allay some of your concerns, ST just completed a light rail tunnel to Bellevue 5 months ahead of schedule. And you didn’t really vote for a tunnel. The model and cost projections at the time of the vote were all for an elevated line. People insisted on a tunnel being considered as an option after the vote but if it isn’t financially feasible we are going to get an elevated line. The important part of this is getting light rail to West Seattle. The rest is a bonus if they can make it happen. 

      • WS Guy July 24, 2018 (11:26 pm)

        Well, all we really voted for was a tax and some tentative plans.  Everything in ST3 other than the tax was marked “representative and subject to change”.  We should let the design process and community vision guide WS Link, not some hastily scribbled lines on a map.  This is a 100-year project.

  • prayforrain July 24, 2018 (7:52 pm)

    45′ and 50′ elevated rails?  In 20 years they’re going to be rebuilding that to put it underground.  Just do it properly now.  

  • Greystreet July 25, 2018 (7:08 am)

    This isn’t going to happen for another 15 years anyway…I’m not sure what all the planning is about now, not to be a Debbie Downer, but seriously look at the delays in all other aspects of what this city is trying to accomplish.  I’ll be 50 before there is a light rail that touches West Seattle, ugh.

    • WSB July 25, 2018 (7:29 am)

      As explained earlier in the process, but if you’re just tuning in:

      -Construction is to start in 2025, for a 2030 opening (for West Seattle; the Ballard stretch, 2035)
      -To facilitate that, a “preferred alternative” is supposed to be chosen by next spring and then sent through the environmental-study process

  • Chris July 26, 2018 (1:31 pm)

    “Among the points brought up there – …the community’s concern about the parking provided in that lot.”It needs to be pointed out that a light rail station is a *much* better use of the space than a parking lot.

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