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.