UPDATE: Sound Transit goes public with its evaluation of potential light-rail routes and station sites for West Seattle & beyond

(ADDED 6:52 PM: Full presentation with evaluation information on all 4 segments, West Seattle at end)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

5:30 PM: Just past the halfway point in the process of coming up with a “preferred alternative” for the West Seattle and Ballard light-rail extension, Sound Transit has just gone public with an avalanche of evaluation information about the options on the table.

The information is being presented to the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Group at the ST board room downtown. We were invited to an advance media briefing this afternoon, with the details embargoed until the SAG briefing began for this meeting.

Three of the five potential routes that are in the second of three phases of review involve tunnels – and the newly released evaluation information makes it clear that tunneling will cost extra money and time.

The document’s not online yet but we have a paper copy and are starting with a few highlights:

The documents are densely packed, evaluating the alternatives on hundreds of points. Cost-wise, ST says the Pigeon Ridge/West Seattle Tunnel alternative would be $1.2 billion more than the originally drafted “representative” project; the Golf Course/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative would be $700 million more; the Oregon Street/Alaska Junction Tunnel alternative would be $500 million more. Those all would require “third-party funding” to cover the tab, ST says. And while specific time wasn’t cited, the agency says adding tunneling would “affect the schedule” – meaning it would take longer than the 2030 opening goal.

Also from the document, while we wait for a digital version in its entirety (we’ll add it when it’s available added above at 6:52 pm), here are the ST-provided overviews of what differentiates the alternatives:

The above “Duwamish Crossing” differentiating factors refer to the alternatives for getting the light-rail route across the Duwamish River on a new bridge. Also of note above – when you see “low guideway,” that means no higher than 60′ tall; “high guideway” could be up to 160′ tall.

Next, the overview on differentiating factors between possible locations for the three West Seattle stations:

Again, the Stakeholder Advisory Group is being briefed on all this – plus the fine points – for the West Seattle segment, SODO segment, Downtown segment, and Ballard segment of the light-rail extension project. Its members are not being asked to make their resulting recommendations today on what will advance to the next level, but will be asked to do that at their next meeting on September 26th. In the meantime, the next public touchstone in the process is Saturday (September 8th) at the West Seattle neighborhood forum, 9-11:30 am at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee).

The briefing here at the meeting has started with the Ballard segment and is working its way south; we’ll add to this story when the discussion gets to the West Seattle segment.

6:52 PM: They’re not at West Seattle yet – but it’s coming up after 7:15. Meantime, we’ve received the full PDF with all the evaluation points on all four segments, 113 pages, and you can see it above, or here (10 MB PDF). It’s not yet on the ST website.

7:15 PM: And now, the West Seattle briefing. ST’s Stephen Mak is leading it. It begins on page 87 of the full presentation (now added atop this story, with a PDF link in the paragraph above this one). Note that when it gets to the grids, red means an alternative performs “low” on that datapoint; beige, “medium”; green, “high” performing.

Among the many datapoints are environmental effects; ST singles out the Pigeon RidgeWest Seattle Tunnel option as having a major effect on the (West) Duwamish Greenbelt forest, essentially bisecting it at one spot, they say. The Junction alternatives’ datapoints include concerns about potential for future extension of the light-rail line – where exactly it ends will make a difference in that. (The Golf Course/Alaska Junction/Tunnel alternative is described as best accommodating future light-rail extension beyond West Seattle.) Mak’s briefing is moving quickly now that the meeting is approaching its final half-hour, so by reading the pages above, you’re in essence getting the same thing. The summary page is 106, mentioning all of the key points – cost differences, schedule, differentiators.

7:31 PM: Sloan Dawson, who works on station-related planning, is discussing the results of the charrettes that discussed station possibilities. The Delridge group, he said, preferred the “Genesee Elevated” option. The “West Side Delridge” option might have overwhelming height and bulk, he noted; the 25th SW Elevated option would put the station in the middle of a current single-family-house neighborhood. One group member asked if the cost estimates included more than just building the route and station – did it include other potential features? The answer to that: No.

The Avalon options, which were coupled in a daylong charrette with Junction options, didn’t have a clear favorite. And on to Junction station options: Putting one at Fauntleroy was seen as too distant from the business district; the one with the most potential, at 42nd/41st, especially as a connection in a network that could run between California and Fauntleroy.

We’re listening in on one group which among other things is wondering about effects on the port if the crossing of the Duwamish is routed north of the West Seattle Bridge. It would affect T-5 and T-18, says a port rep, who also noted that they’re hoping to announce a new T-5 tenant by the end of the year. The group also wondered about mixing and matching parts of existing alternatives – ST has said previously that

“This next three weeks is going to be critical for reviewing” all the new information, the Stakeholder Advisory Group was told in summation. And apparently there’s even more information beyond what’s in the presentation we posted above, so we’ll be checking into that too – they include new ST-produced visualizations and those will be available online, ST just said (though they weren’t shown at this meeting). Again, September 26 is the next meeting for this group, at which they’ll recommend what they want to see move forward; that recommendation then goes to the Elected Leadership Group on October 5th.

But before then – if you care about where this is going (and if you read this far, you probably do), don’t miss Saturday morning’s West Seattle “forum.”

79 Replies to "UPDATE: Sound Transit goes public with its evaluation of potential light-rail routes and station sites for West Seattle & beyond"

  • CAM September 5, 2018 (6:24 pm)

    Can you identify what “TOD potential” is? Based on context I’m guessing it might be Transit Oriented Development but I just want to make sure. 

  • Question Authority September 5, 2018 (6:28 pm)

    “Third party” funding should come from those who want the tunnel, and the delays.

  • Jort September 5, 2018 (6:54 pm)

    Whoa! Looks like the tunnel options range between $1.2 billion and $500 million! That’s a lot of additional money!        Just as a point of reference, the entire city of Seattle pays less than $475 million per year on the entire SDOT budget!     FUN FACTS: there are 1,372 property parcels in West Seattle. (Source) If you divide the additional cost of tunneling across the 1,372 properties in West Seattle, you’d average an increase of between $874,000 to $364,000 per property in order to pay for this tunnel. (Maybe we can divide that by 30 years and only pay between $1,000 to $2,427 more per month in higher property taxes?!)       So, are the tunnel-or-nothing diehards willing to accept an average increase of $350k+ (up to $875k!) just to pay for the tunnel?          Or, you know, maybe it might be time for community leaders to actually engage in a discussion about how West Seattle will look with elevated rail? Maybe, instead of saying your group  “pretty much refused to even look at anything elevated in The Junction,” actually start considering alternatives? Unless, of course, somebody has a brilliant plan for how we’re going to raise hundreds of millions of dollars simply to alleviate concerns about the aesthetics of a concrete tower.       It’s going to take a really, really big “GoFundMe” in order to pay for this tunnel.

    • WSB September 5, 2018 (7:13 pm)

      Side note, I see where you got it, but it seems hard to believe that a peninsula with 100,000 people has only 1,372 parcels. Reading the report, on page 22, the number is suddenly 2,354, though that still seems way too low. Then when you get to page 15, it mentions three “recent” land sales that are dated 2015. I’ll ask the Assessor about the #’s. Doesn’t change your point, though.

      • RickB September 5, 2018 (8:18 pm)

        It’s a little confusing but I think the report linked by Jort is for commercial parcels. If you go to the Assesor website 2018 Area Reports page, you can see they have two categories, residential and commercial.Unfortunately, from my brief click-around, it looks like there isn’t a rolled-up “West Seattle” residential report like there is for commercial. I think you’d have to go through the different reports and add them up to get the number of residential parcels on the entire peninsula.I could be wrong, but that’s my guess based on a short investigation.

        • Jort September 5, 2018 (11:22 pm)

          I stand absolutely and humbly corrected. I do believe I linked to a commercial properties report. To my defense — the assessor’s web page is kind of garbage.       I followed your advice and added together the figures available from the residential area reports for areas 16, 17, 18, 48 and 77. Note that these areas sometimes extend beyond “West Seattle” into Georgetown and other areas. I found references to 28,148 parcels, and 27,289 “one to three unit residences” in these areas, combined.       My adjusted math is much different, but still significant. It would require something between $18,000 and $42,000 per household. I don’t imagine there are a lot of people lining up to pay that much more in taxes, these days. That is a pretty hefty chunk of change to ameliorate concerns about the aesthetics of concrete.         And keep in mind that Ballard, Chinatown, and every other constituency in the Sound Transit construction zone has their own wish list of magical unicorn pony dream projects, all of which will require significant additional (third-party)l funding. Though, it should be noted, nothing comes even close in terms of cost to West Seattle’s $1.2 billion Pigeon Point tunnel. 

          • Mickymse September 6, 2018 (1:40 pm)

            Yes, but the folks most concerned in favor of the $1.2 billion tunnel are Port entities — who have some good chunks of money that could be contributed towards that alternative, Jort. That alternative also has the least effect on Port/freight operations, dramatically lowers the elevated guideway through Delridge (which could otherwise be as high as 160 feet in the air), serves the highest ridership potential in Delridge, and is one of the best for serving actual cultural, educational and recreational destinations that riders might want to visit in that area.Whether or not that is the best alternative, let’s not pretend it’s got support just because a bunch of rich, White people want tunnels everywhere and no rails up in The Junction.

    • Andrea September 5, 2018 (9:13 pm)

      Is just WS paying for this? How do you make your numbers? 500.000.000$ /725.000 inhabitants = 690$ in 30 years –>23$ per year per person. Plus, Seattle is one of the fastest growing cities in the USA, more people, more taxpayers. If you travel a bit you will see very few elevated urban trains, there must be a reason or maybe all developed countries with decent public transportation are ruled by chimpazees. Could be.Longterm people will regret the cheap way. 

      • Jort September 5, 2018 (10:39 pm)

        The rest of the city of Seattle doesn’t really care whether there’s a tunnel or not. This tunnel fixation seems to be a priority for West Seattle residents — so I imagine that that our highly-localized wish-list item is probably not going to be a super high priority for Magnolia or Columbia City residents to pay for.      Look, I wish there was a tunnel, too! It’d be awesome! But … we also have to be realistic about the funding we have and balancing our “needs” versus our “wants.”         This citizens of this region already voted to tax ourselves to pay for Sound Transit 3, so we are paying those taxes — all of us — for at least 30 years — tunnel or not, elevated rail or not. Those taxes are happening now, and they will happen in the future. Do you want something in return for those taxes? Or do you want to throw it all away because you think the concrete pillars are ugly?         If we’re going to somehow unbelievably say, “We’ll pay all these taxes that were specifically earmarked for transit to West Seattle but refuse to accept an elevated rail system to West Seattle because we think it looks ugly,” well, I’m sure you can imagine that would be absolutely, maddeningly moronic.        Again — I think a tunnel would be SUPER COOL! But here’s an analogy. When Marky was a little kid, Marky wanted a magical unicorn pony. Marky’s parents got him a bike instead. Because a bike is realistic! And a magical unicorn pony is a magical unicorn pony. I’m sure if Marky’s parents could have come up with, oh, I dunno, $1.2 billion, maybe Marky could have had the pony. But Marky got the bike, and Marky dealt with it. Marky didn’t throw the bike away and say, “PONY OR NOTHING!!!!!” Because that’s ridiculous. And even if he did throw it away, he’s still not getting the stupid pony.       Sound Transit’s budget estimates for our customized wish-list item should be a sobering reminder that Light Rail is not a magical unicorn pony project. It’s now time to start working on picking out the nicest “bike” we can — and not stamp our feet forever about unrealistic, time-wasting pony wishes.

        • WSB September 5, 2018 (11:30 pm)

          Your first line is not true. I haven’t been writing about the other three segments of the extension because, well, I cover *West Seattle.’ But underground options are proposed in all those other areas, as shown (again) in tonight’s slide deck.

          • Jort September 6, 2018 (12:11 am)

            I should have been more clear. I meant that the rest of Seattle doesn’t care about West Seattle’s tunnel. Kind of like how people from West Seattle don’t care so much about the Ballard neighborhood groups’ request for a tunnel in Ballard, either.       The public feedback gathered so far has indicated that people within each neighborhood currently have their own concerns about their own neighborhoods. Hence why the rest of Seattle doesn’t care as much about West Seattle’s tunnel wish. 

          • Question Mark September 7, 2018 (7:37 pm)

            It’s a bit narrow to focus on the three new segments of ST3 when there are stations that were deferred in ST1 (Graham St and Boeing Access Road) and may be deferred in ST2 as well. So financial trade-offs certainly have the potential to affect plans in existing Light Rail service areas.

        • Joe Szilagyi September 6, 2018 (10:06 am)

          The tunnel option is a fixation for a relatively small but vastly over-represented by their ability to be loud group. And, it ought to be a noted, a group of effectively self-selected people. There’s simply no consensus, or legitimate polling for instance, that says West Seattle ‘wants’ a tunnel. Just build grade separated overhead and call it a day. This isn’t for us in any event. It’s for our kids.

          • CMT September 6, 2018 (1:04 pm)

            I’m not sure how you come to the conclusion that it is a minority that wants a tunnel Joe.  At every ST3 event I have participated in, the majority of those in attendance expressed that a tunnel is the preferred option.  I have heard Sound Transit representatives state that the overwhelming feedback from West Seattle is that a tunnel is desired.  From residents to business owners with whom I have discussed the issue, I have never heard one person say that they think an elevated line is a a good idea.  Quite the opposite.

          • CAM September 6, 2018 (6:43 pm)

            CMT – Those comments were publicly available and I went through them on the map both at the information session and at home afterwords. Sure the vast majority of them referenced a tunnel. You failed to note though that a large number of those tunnel comments were cut and paste multiple times at multiple different pin locations on the map. Something can’t be claimed to be representative of the majority’s wishes just because one group of people floods the comment box. 

          • KM September 6, 2018 (1:23 pm)

            The “majority of those in attendance” is not representative of our community. Not saying Joe is correct (and I personally prefer a tunnel if feasible, which I’m not sure it is), but often we assume those with the ability to attend these meetings speak for the rest of us. They do not.At at minimum, we have to base our decisions off of what was voted on. Anything beyond that is confirmation bias or speculation. 

          • s September 6, 2018 (2:03 pm)

            I think the elevated line is a good idea. I actually think it would be cool to commute to work up in the sky like that, with the views, rather than in a dark claustrophobic tunnel. Kind of like I like the viaduct rather than the tunnel that are about to open. That’s probably a good analogy…viaduct versus tunnel…there was not a clear consensus on that either. A lot of people preferred replacing the old viaduct with a new (elevated) viaduct rather than the tunnel.

          • CMT September 6, 2018 (4:32 pm)

            KM – I wasn’t referring to just the meetings in terms of the overall WS feedback – and neither was Sound Transit in their comments about how overwhelming the WS response has been (against the elevated line).  Not sure if you checked out the online feedback?  That was a tool available for those that could not attend the meetings.

      • CAM September 5, 2018 (10:42 pm)

        The rest of the ST constituents voted for a plan that included funding as projected for an elevated line throughout West Seattle. Why should those voters have to pay for it because some West Seattle residents insist on having a tunnel that is going to increase the cost by millions of dollars. You didn’t mention the fact that the tunnel options are all projected to increase the timeline for completion. You may be willing to pay more money and delay the arrival of rapid transit but I would predict that most current transit users would object to at least one of those issues. Also, every major city I have lived in or visited has elevated rail lines. Chicago is making plans to continue expanding their elevated train lines. 

        • Anonymous Coward September 6, 2018 (9:31 am)

          Technically the ST constituents voted for a tax levy to give money to Sound Transit.  There was nothing else in ST3 that was legally binding.  All those maps, projections, pretty route plans, etc, was just pretty pictures used to encourage voters to approve the levy.  The voters were left hoping that Sound Transit would use the money to build out the light rail system along the lines depicted in the marketing materials…  Personally, I think all this arguing over the West Seattle alignment is just a lot of sound and fury as Sound Transit will run out of ST3 money long before they get started building a route to West Seattle.  (Ok, they might actually get started by tearing up a bunch of the city and THEN run out of money.  I did see another public works project where they ripped out 9  miles of highway and THEN went back to the voters because they needed more money to put it back in…)

      • Jort September 5, 2018 (11:26 pm)

        By the way, Andrea. Most developed countries have nicer public transit because most countries  actually make it extremely, remarkably difficult for people to choose to live their lives attached to their automobiles. One of the trade offs of “most developed countries” is that people pay more for public transportation because they’re paying less for their cars. In other words, other countries have an actual war on cars. I’m obviously more than willing to make that trade-off here in Seattle, too, but in the meantime I guess we’ll just have to settle on cars and automobiles consuming nearly 95% of our transportation expenditures.

        • A September 6, 2018 (12:13 pm)

          You fail to mention that most countries you are speaking of don’t have the hills or the rain that we have. I’ll gladly sit in my car in traffic over riding a bike uphill on a 40 degree raining sideways day. There’s a reason 95 percent of us drive our cars here and I’ll continue to drive my car even if this light rail thingy gets built

        • natinstl September 8, 2018 (7:43 am)

          Some of lead active lifestyles and use our cars to go hiking, skiiing, camping etc…this isn’t NYC where people live and play in one place. Too much to do in our surrounding areas to not have a car.

  • TJ September 5, 2018 (7:37 pm)

    The price tag for a tunnel is way to high to be an option. I’m not sure what “third party funding” exactly is, but with ST3 already at a obnoxious $54 billion, they need to stay with a elevated line. Keep in mind the track record for Sound Transit says just keeping a elevated line design and meeting the 2030 time frame and budget is a long shot. If they can save face on ST3 and rebuild their image they may even try to come with a “ST4” in 2035.

  • dsa September 5, 2018 (8:36 pm)

    What will the population of West Seattle be in 2035?   Ever hear of build it and they will come?Tunnel it or forget it.

  • KM September 5, 2018 (9:21 pm)

    Seeing the term “neighborhood character” used as a consideration point makes me uneasy. That phrase is often used to keep multifamily and low income housing out of certain neighborhoods—hopefully not to prevent more transit as well.

    • WSB September 5, 2018 (9:27 pm)

      In this particular case the context was and has been more the historic heart of The Junction, where there already is lots of multifamily housing and more on the way … as well as two landmarked buildings over which one scenario has elevated rail passing. No one was arguing against transit. The people involved in the Stakeholder Group have given a boatload of volunteer time already in hopes of helping shape it, not stop it. – TR

      • KM September 6, 2018 (9:35 am)

        Totally understood. I guess it seems like a throw away term in this instance. Of course the “neighborhood character” (whatever that really means) is going to change, we are adding light rail, elevated or not. Why even mention it then?

    • Joe Szilagyi September 6, 2018 (10:07 am)

      Neighborhood character is code for “keep my neighborhood single-family”. 

      • KM September 6, 2018 (11:09 am)

        I went with the implied, and Joe said it outright :-)

      • sam-c September 6, 2018 (12:17 pm)

        Multi-family, neighborhood character or what. Just to make sure you see all the facts, a lot of the ‘TOD potential’ they show in a couple of Delridge station options wipes out lots of new development. so many SF housing has been redeveloped in that area recently, don’t know what current zoning is LR2 ? LR 3?, but there are lots of new townhome developments.  some more still are in the process of being permitted.    

      • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (4:34 pm)

        A better phrasing would be, “environmental impacts to the neighborhood.”  Tearing down houses and apartments and subjecting others to train noise as it runs by your window isn’t an issue of “character”.

  • TJ September 5, 2018 (9:28 pm)

    “Build it and they will come”? I believe they have already come. And while they will continue to, the population of Seattle will not keep growing at this pace. And who would want it to? Far better for the region to absorb more growth. Nobody said ST3’s price tag came with a blank check for completing the line here on top of the $54 billion.

  • Joe September 6, 2018 (12:04 am)

    I want what I voted for, an elevated line by 2030. It clearly makes way more sense to bulldoze a few more houses than to spend a billion more on the same line that will go the same speed. Especially in West Seattle where there is underutilized land all over the place. 

    • Bronson September 6, 2018 (2:07 pm)

      Easy for you to say when it’s not your home. Will ST pay market value for these homes at the time prior to announcing the plan to tear them down, or will they pay the depressed price post-announcement? These are valid concerns for homeowners, whether they will be directly impacted or indirectly (i.e. it passed over or right in front of their property). Will ST compensate those whose homes won’t be torn down, but will have this eyesore right in front or above their homes. 

      • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (7:53 pm)

        “Will ST compensate…”LOL no.  Impact externalities will be borne by the affected individuals.  It’s unfair to concentrate those externalities on a handful of people and expect them to bear that burden on behalf of the region.  So many comments here are like, “I saved 2 minutes on my commute!  Sucks for you if you lose your home.  Pay for the tunnel yourself if you don’t like it.  Sorry not sorry, NIMBY.”  Totally tone-deaf  Rather, the broader population base is supposed to chip in and pool funds to avoid localized impacts as much as possible.  The impacts do not have a hard dollar-cost, making it super hard to do a dollar comparison.

  • chemist September 6, 2018 (12:30 am)

    I’m still hopeful that the mix-and-match of the purple tunnel West of the golfcourse and the light blue route with the southern delridge station.  It should probably come around that +$700 million estimate.  Fortunately, the earlier estimates had a lot of contingency funds built in so I don’t think you have to go around with a collection basket just yet, although it’d be a stretch to think they can absorb both a tunnel on the West Seattle end as well as a $500-700M tunnel on the Ballard end.

  • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (1:23 am)

    Tunnel it or forget it is right.  I’d take: 1) build a dedicated bus-only bridge and use BRT, or;2) build the $700M option and drop Avalon station from scope to cut the price tag to $350M or whatever.

    • CAM September 6, 2018 (7:03 am)

      Bus rapid transit is a fallacy. Any form of transportation that is in any way dependent upon using the same roadways as cars is going to be impacted by the delays those cars and other vehicles create. And they’ve already said that having three stations is essential to the functionality of the system for the long term so the idea of eliminating easy access to light rail for those people you don’t care about isn’t going to fly either. We voted for light rail. We voted for 3 stations. And we voted for that light rail to be delivered in a timely manner. I’m not going to let any of those ideals be compromised because some individuals are scared of trains. 

      • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (9:30 am)

        Nah.  The chokepoint for our road/bus transit network in WS is the WS Bridge.  The other arterials are less of an issue, and would still need buses to shuttle people to the 2-3 stations even in a rail plan.We can build a new, dedicated bridge for buses instead of the rail-only bridge that is budgeted in ST3.  That expedites their trip and also maintains the flexibility for point-to-point bus service across the peninsula.  No track, no more concrete viaducts, no houses demolished, more flexibility, save lots of $$.

        • s September 6, 2018 (2:06 pm)

          That may be the chokepoint in 2018, but in 2030 and beyond? Population and traffic will keep increasing, and the chokepoint will spread.

          • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (4:28 pm)

            To answer your question, if any chokepoints appear, they’d only make a difference along the ~3 mile distance from the Junction to the new bus bridge.  If there are chokepoints getting from, say, Westwood to the Junction, the rail would not improve that.  So just focus ST$ on maintaining bus flow in that limited area and it will be fine.  There are already bus-only lanes for the majority of that route.

        • CAM September 6, 2018 (9:28 pm)

          I ride the bus to work downtown everyday and I can tell you that during high traffic periods that bus will be stationary on 1st and 4th Ave and unable to move at the speed limit because of cars in front of it that are stopped. There is a traffic congestion problem currently that impacts bus travel. Imagine how bad that will be if we continue to ignore reality. 

          • WS Guy September 6, 2018 (11:00 pm)

            The buses would connect at SODO station so you would transfer to the new rail line into the city.  All we’d be doing is moving the bus-to-rail transfer to a point east of the new bridge.  Please keep trying.  I know you have an open mind and are just trying to make this idea work.

          • CAM September 7, 2018 (1:19 am)

            Do you actually ride the bus? It is currently possible to do what you are describing. The least time consuming portion of my bus ride every day is the time spent on the bridge. Solving the bus problem solely by building a new bridge would do nothing. I’m not anti bus. I love taking the bus and planned based my decision about where to live based on ease of access to frequent bus service. The light rail is far superior to the bus in every single category. 

    • LK September 6, 2018 (8:19 am)

      Right there with you WS Guy.  People need to have the foresight to appreciate how this will impact future growth and generations.  The noise and visual pollution generated by elevated tracks would be an absolute nuance.  Those moaning about cost: you get what you pay for. European countries consider this very seriously when they develop transit as studies have shown noise pollution has a very real impact on cardiac health.  Noise pollution is also one of the key issues causing the Orcas pods to dwindle.  Expect to see me at future meetings in an Orca costume, championing this cause.  Yes, I will be that person.  This is important not only to me but how we are all going to be judged by future generations. 

      • nonsense September 6, 2018 (10:08 am)

        LK, I am still marveling at your comment.  I sincerely cannot tell if you are being completely and wonderfully facetious or if you’ve gone off the rails in a strange and random direction or if you’re just a bit dim.  I mean, on the face of it you seem to be arguing against mass transit because of noise pollution and whales?  And then you make the absolutely false claim that you’re going to show up to transit meetings in a whale costume?  Wow!  Well done!

        • LK September 7, 2018 (8:25 am)

          Nonsense:  I’m all for the train, it just needs to be tunneled and noise minimized for the reasons I stated.  Yeah, I’m from Berkeley, I can out-crazy you any day, but I’m drop dead serious.   Thanks for your concern, but in the future kindly keep the insults to yourself regarding my critical thinking capacity.  I can assure you this comes from a place of educated awareness, environmental concern and a deep love and respect for our people and nature.

          • nonsense September 7, 2018 (9:37 am)

            LK: Ok, so you’re serious.  But do you understand that the choice might be between no trains and elevated trains?  If it comes to that, would you actually nix elevated transit over your issues of noise and “visual” pollution?  Also–whales?  Can you give me one shred of evidence that noise pollution from subways or elevated tracks bothers whales (Oh dear–is that what drove all the whales out of Chicago?  The El?!)?  Because if not then I will continue to quite freely question your capacity for critical thinking.  (ps I grew up in Haight-Ashbury, lived on Dwight Way for a number of years, & went to school at UC Santa Cruz — not so sure you could out-crazy me…  But wear that Orca suit to future transit meetings and I might grudgingly concede and buy you a beverage of your choice.)   

  • Still September 6, 2018 (7:22 am)

    There are no facts that make your commuting convenience a priority over my need for primary shelter.It gets real personal when your light rail convenience takes my home.

    • nonsense September 6, 2018 (8:25 am)

      Oh, nonsense.  People and governments run these calculations all the time.  Transit for hundreds of thousands of people absolutely trumps housing for dozens.  Besides, unless I am very much mistaken it’s not like they’re going to boot people out with no compensation…  Your comment about “need for primary shelter” is a bit over the top.  

      • Bronson September 6, 2018 (2:10 pm)

        But will it be fair market value pre-announcement?

    • fiz September 6, 2018 (8:40 am)


  • Ron Swanson September 6, 2018 (9:25 am)

    The Surface E-3 option through SODO saves $400m over the initial design and performs as well or better.  So, the cheapest $500m extra tunnel option for West Seattle only requires the city to dig $100m out of the couch overall.  Bellevue managed to come up with $100m for their light rail tunnel, no reason Seattle can’t do the same.  

  • Dustin September 6, 2018 (10:01 am)

    The argument that tunnels shouldn’t be employed in West Seattle because the rest of Seattle doesn’t care about West Seattle is problematic and, in my opinion, purely political. Remember, the Northeast Seattle light rail extension will run in an underground tunnel from downtown through Roosevelt. We raised the money to build this tunnel even though it especially benefits people in NE Seattle. Why didn’t the rest of the area stop that tunnel with arguments that only NE Seattle should care about it? First, the NE Seattle light rail tunnel does benefit people who don’t live in the area, but need to go there – if people only traveled within their own neighborhoods, public transportation wouldn’t be necessary. Second, tunnels are investments that provide specific benefits that elevated and at-grade systems don’t provide. For example, a tunnel can be run underneath private property, allowing lines to travel directly from point to point while obviating the need to buy out property owners in the way. Where land is more expensive, tunneling becomes a more practical investment. The problem I suspect for West Seattle is that the area generally has a lower population density than North Seattle, making land less expensive to acquire and reducing the potential for return from ridership around stations. This will probably make elevated rail the more practical solution for most of the length of the West Seattle line. That said, if there’s money in West Seattle for a tunnel, there’s no reason one should be prevented due to regional concerns – it is an asset to the area that would also benefit the region.

  • Nolan September 6, 2018 (10:30 am)

    I’m cool with a tunnel, as long as we automatically revert to the elevated option if WS doesn’t produce the funds necessary to cover the difference. That’s a clear alignment of incentives, I think.

  • Peter September 6, 2018 (10:36 am)

    Please keep in mind that any option requiring 3rd party funding either won’t be built, or if it is the timeline will be much longer and require much higher borrowing costs. There is no federal money coming for transit projects in the foreseeable future, and the legislature is much more likely to cut already approved funding than to approving additional funding. City funding also is highly unlikely; initiatives like Move Seattle so specifically direct funding to particular types of projects that it’s not clear something like that could be used for light rail, not to mention Mayor Durkan has shown a distinct hostility towards transit in general and rail transit particularly, and she would certainly kill any proposed rail transit funding. We pretty much have to dismiss the options that require much more funding than initially projected, there is no plausible scenario in which those will ever be funded to completion.

    • Dustin September 6, 2018 (11:47 am)

      City funding also is highly unlikely; initiatives like Move Seattle so specifically direct funding to particular types of projects that it’s not clear something like that could be used for light rail, not to mention Mayor Durkan has shown a distinct hostility towards transit in general and rail transit particularly, and she would certainly kill any proposed rail transit funding.Ultimately I think funding will have to come from the city (or Metro) to achieve the best possible transit network in Seattle. Sound Transit’s services cover a huge area of Western Washington, and people in other parts of the region don’t really care about a Seattle subway system – they are more concerned about regional commuting.I’m inclined to disagree that Mayor Durkan is set against any kind of proposed rail transit funding, and I’m curious why you think this. Is it because she put a hold on the CCC streetcar project? As a transit advocate, I have to say I’m skeptical of the streetcar service. I’d much prefer the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on the new streetcars go towards buses or separate grade rail transit (perhaps a tunnel for Ballard?), and I wonder who it is that is really pushing for these streetcars. It seems like a pet project of a cash-saturated tech sector to me, rather than a service which is really intended to have a cost effective benefit to transit riders, and I respect Durkan for questioning Seattle’s justification for contributing to it. Regardless whether we end up embracing streetcars, I’m hopeful the city of Seattle will step up and commit to continuing to improve our public transportation system over the long term, and giving up on Durkan’s administration or our ability to fund transportation improvements is certainly not the way to move forward.

      • Dustin September 6, 2018 (12:42 pm)

        To be clear, the first sentence of my prior comment was a quote from Peter I was specifically responding to. I intended it to render in italics as a separate, indented paragraph. I’m not sure why it didn’t and am unable to edit the comment to fix the error.

    • Wakeflood September 6, 2018 (12:09 pm)

      So, you’re saying let’s cave before we exhaust all options and opprtunities to end up with a system that is over-capacity from day 1 of a 75-100yr. Lifetime?That sounds illogical, defeatist, and shortsighted.  Capital Hill and the U-District got the right decision. We should fight for it too.

      • Jort September 6, 2018 (2:12 pm)

        Can you help me understand how a 4-car light rail train in a tunnel has more capacity than a 4-car light rail train on a platform? Can you fit more people on the train when it’s in a tunnel?      Maybe you can take a trip on the “high up” and “snaking around” light rail line between Rainier Beach and Tukwila station. The trains run about 60 mph, just as fast as they do between the Capitol Hill/UW stations.         I know that a lot of tunnel advocates have adopted the language and styling of “engineering” concerns regarding the supposed benefits of tunneling. But those concerns aren’t reflected in what actual engineers are reporting.            It’s OK to have the opinion that the elevated lines would look ugly!  But don’t cloak your aesthetic complains about elevated lines with the pseudo-science language of false engineering.        If a tunneled structure is this important to you, you better get out there and start finding a way to raise that money. NOW.

        • chemist September 8, 2018 (8:05 am)

          I’m not sure what wakeflood was getting at, but I believe there can be a difference with passenger loading/unloading where an elevated station as shown only has door access from one side vs a tunnel could be designed to have unloading on one side and entry from the other.  All that is possible, but fitting two tracks and a platform in between existing buildings limits designs.

  • Wakeflood September 6, 2018 (10:38 am)

    What is the point of this entire effort? Isn’t it to make the most efficient people moving system we can? It’s going to be around for 75+yrs, regardless of configuration, right?  Ok, so why aren’t these discussions at least PARTLY about effective throughput of people? Notice what ST isn’t talking about? Do you know how high and curvy these elevated lines will be? Do you know how slow the trains will have to go and how few of them they’ll be running to the smallest footprint station platforms they can squeeze into our built out town?  The answer is you’re building  a system that’s undersized and with reduced people moving from DAY 1.  You want to be bitching about what you spent to get a system that pisses you  off from day 1??  Short-sighted foolishness. You want an analog, my fellow WSites? Here’s one. The WS high bridge weave. How many MILLIONS of hours are wasted because of that poor design of a single offramp?  Multply that by 5x for an undersized, elevated train.There’s a reason they put these underground. And yes, they cost more…BUT THEY WORK LOTS BETTER than an undersized, shoehorned, carnival ride 160 feet in the air.  Go look at any other elevated section of track. The highest you’ll find is around 40 feet. Now quadruple that. You want to know how close and big the pylons are that hold that track up?? Every 30ft and 1O+ft in diameter. Where does that fit in WS?  Short-sighted nonsense. 

    • Ron Swanson September 6, 2018 (12:01 pm)

      “What ST isn’t talking about”Travel time and passenger capacity are literally the first two rows of the comparison table.All the options are sized for the same passenger capacity (4 car trains) and have the same travel times, and none of them have grade crossings, so there’s no difference between any of them in passenger throughput.

      • Wakeflood September 6, 2018 (12:30 pm)

        I’ve been around trains and planning for a long time, and I’m telling you that’s not honest data.

        • Jort September 6, 2018 (1:45 pm)

          * Citation needed.

      • Wakeflood September 6, 2018 (12:39 pm)

        They have to run trains slower and less often to account for the slower speed. You don’t run those things at full speed 160ft up and then snaking around the town. They’re showing us what they want us to believe. Reality will be different. Headways will be longer and they may not have the space to build the full platform and track tails. 

        • Ron Swanson September 6, 2018 (1:18 pm)

          You keep using the “160 feet up!” line as if that’s a meaningful factor in speed.  The trains are going to be coming off a bridge with at least 140′ of clearance over the water, so it’s not much of a grade change.  Then you cross a valley, and you’ve got either the “representative” elevated assignment, one of least “snaky” of the routes, or the Oregon elevated, which does have a 90 degree curve, but it’s right before a station when the train is slowing down anyway.  There’s no reason for the elevated routes to be any slower – certainly not enough to impact the 3-6 minute headways planned.

  • Wakeflood September 6, 2018 (11:58 am)

    Here’s a little thought experiment for you, fellow taxpayer. How many times have you cursed the design of the high bridge weave?? Now, imagine you’ve spent a few billion $ and waited 15yrs. to stand outside in the wind and rain on a packed platform for the next train that runs less less often and at far slower speeds and than anywhere else in the city.  That makes BOTH the exit options off our rock poorly designed and under-performing. Sounds nice, right?? Billions well-spent…NOT.This thing is going to take years and cost alot REGARDLESS.  How’s about we end up with something that makes us smile and be proud instead of wet and pissed off??  This isn’t rocket science.

  • Mj September 6, 2018 (11:59 am)

    Costing clearly makes the Pigion Point option not realistic!Tunneling costing is significantly more, but grade and the denser land use to the west of Avalon might make short tunnel from 30th to the Junction an item for further discussion.

  • sam-c September 6, 2018 (12:09 pm)

    Why the heck do they have north down in the station option plans? what kind of planners are these people? Took me the longest time to figure out what was going on with the station locations….    

  • Highland Park neighbor September 6, 2018 (12:18 pm)

    Some of the comments on here really make me shake my head. Third party funding is most likely “federal government grants for infrastructure”, not from private sources of funding. Also, we (West Seattle) have helped pay for tunnels downtown, in Roosevelt, and to Capitol Hill and the U-district, so the tax burden for a tunnel into WS is simply NOT going to be the burden of WS alone, these are city-wide initiatives. In other respects, I agree with CHEMIST on the mix-and-match of the Golf Course and Southern Delridge station. I also prefer a tunnel option, and I speak as someone who grew up on the edge of Chicago and used the L trains for years. Chicago’s L is falling apart and the costs to maintain are hugely expensive. Elevated tracks are not long-term solutions, and Seattle needs to get with the long-term perspective for once: growth and more growth, no place for new highways, and buses are never going to work as an efficient alternative to trains.

    • CAM September 6, 2018 (6:41 pm)

      Ummm…the El has been in use since the 19th century. I’m not sure what you think “long-term” means but I’m pretty sure that 100 years of use qualifies for that designation. 

  • Nativewestseattlite September 6, 2018 (7:54 pm)

    Honestly I don’t care, just don’t ask for one more penny, I like so many are being taxed beyond our ability, not one more penny. Reality the powers to be will do what they want and if you think we as a community have any influence you are fooling yourself. 20 years ago we put in hundreds of hours around the concept of a urban village and that has been “adjusted” over the community request ending up with this dense, ugly, over developed west seattleyou are all following yourselves 

    • CAM September 6, 2018 (9:34 pm)

      It’s generally considered to be a good thing to review and revise plans based on experience and changes over time. A plan developed 20 years ago likely doesn’t have much relevance to the community as it is formed today. Whether people who were here 20 years ago want to accept it or not, those of us who have made West Seattle our home in more recent history also have valid opinions that deserve the same amount of consideration. 

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed September 6, 2018 (8:02 pm)

    Money is of no concern to Sound Transit; they cheerfully overspend project costs on Lynnwood ($800m over $2.4B plan), Federal Way ($500m overspend above $2.0B), and Bellevue ($500m over cost) with no apologies to taxpayers.  Also notice that there is no mention of how many homes are destroyed in each alternative; people’s lives are considered immaterial and only the local businesses ( “stakeholders group” ) have a voice in this process.   And once again ST offers no analysis of capacity against demand to insure widespread usage of this very expensive and dated transportation mode.

    • WSB September 6, 2018 (8:15 pm)

      The potential demolition #s apparently exist – I asked about that at yesterday’s pre-meeting briefing. There is more data, as I mentioned, beyond what was posted online yesterday; it’s supposed to be posted too, has not been yet, and I will be pursuing it again tomorrow.

  • Brewdon September 11, 2018 (11:08 pm)

    The Highway 99 tunnel was preferred by the folks with money (developers, city council, governor, politicians) because they said the elevated viaduct cut off downtown from the waterfront. What do they think an elevated track is going to do, especially in the narrower streets of WS?It seems that those actually wanting the elevated tracks don’t actually have to live near the tracks.

Sorry, comment time is over.