WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: JuNO briefing Thursday, and other updates

Tomorrow night’s Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting includes a briefing by Sound Transit on where the light-rail-planning process stands. All are welcome at the Thursday meeting, 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon). Looking ahead to that, we have other updates:

MORE PIGEON POINT SOIL SAMPLING: As announced by ST, the soil-sampling drill crew on Pigeon Point moved to another spot for today and tomorrow, this one on the ridge’s north side, near 20th/Charlestown. In the early going of Tuesday’s station-design charrette (followup to the Junction walking tour we covered), ST reps were asked if the test results could significantly change the project plan. Too soon to tell, was the response.

SPEAKING OF THE CHARRETTE: We sat in on the presentation that preceded participants moving to small-group tables for the rest of the day.

They gathered in the Commons at Madison Middle School. When they went around the room for introductions, ST staffers and consultants and reps from other transportation-related agencies (including SDOT and Metro) outnumbered the community participants almost 4 to 1 (23 to 6).

ST again recapped the five West Seattle alternatives that are under consideration in the second of third levels of review that are designed to result in a “preferred alternative” – for route and station locations – being identified by next spring, to send into environmental studies. But ST planner Sloan Dawson also stressed that there remains the option to “mix and match” different possibilities – it’s not necessarily moving toward all-or-nothing for one of the five alternatives.

The community participants indicated – as have members of the Stakeholder Advisory Group (one of whom, Deb Barker, was also a community participant in this charrette) – eagerness for cost information, important particularly because three of the five alternatives that are currently under review would include tunneling.

ST’s Stephen Mak said ST is “developing comparative cost estimates” that will be shared with the SAG – which has been promised evaluation information for its September 5th meeting – and the next “neighborhood forum” on September 8th.

If the West Seattle segment would cost more than envisioned, how would that affect the rest of the route, since this round of planning is also tackling the Ballard extension? Too soon to say.

Background information that followed included some high-level looks at West Seattle such as: The heart of the planning area has added 400 new residential units on average each year for the past 5 years. Its median (half above, half below) household income is higher than the citywide median – $79,000 compared to $74,000. Rents average $50 above the city as a whole.

And the previous day’s walking tour was recapped, including notes of interest from the segment we didn’t follow along for, to the Avalon station zone: They noted “single-family homes we would need to acquire for the guideway” if the line came up the alley between Avalon and Genesee. They also noted that the Golden Tee apartments, currently proposed for replacement with a much-larger apartment building, are just above a potential tunnel portal.

During the recap of the Junction tour, background on the West Seattle Junction Association‘s “free parking” lots was requested by one community participant, so another, WSJA executive director Lora Swift, gave their history. “Our community members have woven these lots into the history of The Junction,” she observed.

Another community participant, Rich Koehler from JuNO, wondered how light rail would change the dynamic of people coming to The Junction from other West Seattle neighborhoods.

ST held a Delridge charrette the preceding Friday, third of six in potential station neighborhoods, with two planned next week (Chinatown/ID and Denny/South Lake Union). The results are to be part of what’s presented to the neighborhood forums, ST tells us, and neighborhood-forum input in turn will go to the Stakeholder Advisory Group as it decides in late September what to recommend for the third and final level of review.

11 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: JuNO briefing Thursday, and other updates"

  • BJG July 25, 2018 (11:47 pm)

    Really, what more can we as a community learn from these get-togethers? We’ve been to them all, looked at every chart, and filled out every on-line questionnaire.  If there is any new news, I’d be surprised. The consensus around our neighborhood is that ST does not listen at these events and they’ll do what they want in the end, regardless of the input from West Seattleites. This has been going on for at least a year and a half.

    • WSB July 25, 2018 (11:59 pm)

      I guess I’m doing a lousy job if you’re not learning anything from our accounts. I have sat in on every single one of these meetings – OK, I couldn’t get to the stakeholders’ last meeting – and there’s been new information every single time, new context on the decisionmaking process. In this story, the drilling is new info, too – wouldn’t have known if not for a community member that sent the first advisory after it landed on his doorstep. I don’t know how this is going to turn out but I’ve seen COUNTLESS other processes result in actual change because community members spoke up. In the transportation realm, for example, RapidRide C Line routing. And SDOT finally putting Fauntleroy Boulevard on hold after community members refused to stop asking the question, why do this now when Sound Transit might just tear up the same street in five years? (Speaking of which, we’ll be reporting in the morning on this evening’s roundtable regarding next steps in that.) – TR

  • BJG July 26, 2018 (8:28 am)

    No, you are doing a great job! We all rely on you to bring back the news. Thanks!  Sorry if my post seemed dismissive.  When we hear time and again that all decisions come down to time and money, our attendance and preferences seem hardly worth the effort. (There I go again!)

  • Kathy July 26, 2018 (9:17 am)

    As a  community member who participated in the all-day station design charrettes last Friday and Tuesday for Delridge, Avalon and Junction stations, I can tell you that Sound Transit does engage seriously with community members in the planning process. We come up with ideas, but there are of course engineering  constraints that determine to what level our ideas can be incorporated. It is a huge investment of volunteer time to keep involved in the planning process. I am lucky that I am retired and can attend some of these meetings so it is not as big a sacrifice for me to stay engaged as it is for people who are working and raising families. I give a shout out to those stakeholder representatives (and the Blog!) for their engagement in this process. It is not easy, but we will get there. Be positive, Sound Transit and all the other stakeholders want to work toward the best solution, and then hopefully, we can afford it.Regarding the delay to the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project due to the ST3 process, I understand the community concern, but that is absolutely no excuse for any delay at all to safety improvements along Fauntleroy Way between 35th and Alaska.  At a bare minimum all the ADA sidewalk violations  should have been corrected yesterday. I was unable to attend the meeting last night because I had used up all my energy on the ST3 meetings. I hope we got some firm commitments from SDOT . By the way, some of the design ideas we came up with for the Avalon light rail station depended heavily on the surface safety improvements included in the Fauntleroy Boulevard Project, since long underground tunnels for pedestrians to cross Fauntleroy did not seem like a safe solution.

  • KBear July 26, 2018 (9:57 am)

    I think sometimes people mistake not getting their way for not being listened to.

    • KM July 26, 2018 (10:37 am)

      I agree, KBear. 100%.And thanks Kathy for sharing your experience! I haven’t been heavily involved in this process, but appreciate those who are.

  • BJG July 26, 2018 (11:59 am)

    When one “preferred” design has a station parked on top of our neighborhood, yes, you could say we would “not be getting (our) way.”  You are not in our shoes.

    • KBear July 26, 2018 (2:45 pm)

      You certainly wouldn’t want public transit users traipsing through “your” neighborhood, would you, BJG? As a matter of fact, one of the proposed stations is barely a block away from my house. I would imagine the construction could be quite disruptive, and it’s sure to change neighborhood traffic patterns (both car and pedestrian) after it’s done. I’m OK with that. We need light rail, even if its construction inconveniences a few people along the way. Hopefully ST will do their best to mitigate these circumstances. It’s for the greater good.

    • CAM July 26, 2018 (3:47 pm)

      The thing is BJG that no matter where the station is placed there are going to be people who get displaced. If a station does displace you, yes that is unfortunate and I empathize but you can’t argue that just because you are the one getting screwed means that the project is terrible. This is not about the needs of an individual or even a small group of people in one sub neighborhood. This is about determining what makes the most sense and serves the greater good for the community of West Seattle as a whole. So I am not bothered that Sound Transit is not reorganizing their plans to meet your individual needs because I don’t think they should. Again, I’m sorry that anyone is going to have to be displaced but that is the nature of the beast and is part of the risk we all take on when we choose to live in organized groups. 

  • BJG July 26, 2018 (8:23 pm)

    KBEAR: It’s not over till it’s over, of course.  Three generations have been brought up in our home. Yes, it is our neighborhood. That’s what these special places are called. “Traipsing” here is okay with us. I hope it survives.  As for yours, I’m glad you don’t care. It will make your life easier. Bet you don’t have 75 years of family history invested in your place. We do and it makes this very hard for us.

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed July 26, 2018 (11:10 pm)

    Amazing how some in West Seattle are so enthusiastic with ST about a light rail line that will not be completed for more than a decade from now, destroys a large number of homes, and has no cost consideration for any of the alternatives being considered.  ST does not listen to the community, which is why the last “Neighborhood forum” in May occurred after a “Stakeholder” meeting which had already settled on the alternatives to take forward to “Level 2.”  ST’s extremely poor project planning –  see the $500M overrun on the Federal Way line and $800M overrun on the Lynnwood line – is abundantly evident in how they are approaching West Seattle.

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