First look at potential ‘end-to-end’ options for Sound Transit light rail from West Seattle to Ballard

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

“You have all officially made it through two levels of screening.”

That was the welcome last night for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle-Ballard light rail Stakeholder Advisory Group members at their last scheduled meeting of the year.

The big headline from this meeting: The first look at three “end-to-end” route possibilities drafted by ST staff. Until now, potential routing/station locations have been discussed segment by segment. The three were crafted from feedback in the first two levels of screening, which are recapped in the meeting’s full slide deck (PDF). ST’s Cathal Ridge went through that recap last night, noting major concerns voiced during that phase – including, for West Seattle, an interest in ensuring the Delridge station is a good transfer point between bus and light rail, that a location south of Andover be considered for it, and also that the Junction station be oriented north-south, possibly on 42nd or 44th. Here’s the list of what the three are being called for now, followed by maps and highlights of each:

The goal of the months ahead, Ridge told the group, is to “continue to refine” what’s under consideration in the drive toward identifying a “preferred alternative” by spring, before full environmental study. 17 criteria will be the focus, including cost estimates, for evaluating the end-to-end alternatives. Those estimates aren’t available yet.)

As released last night, the three E-to-E alternatives (with some variables within each one) are “starting points,” ST spokesperson Kimberly Reason told WSB post-meeting. They contain some variables and are expected to be tweaked as the Level 3 review proceeds. From the meeting slide deck, the maps and – where applicable – internal options (note that C-ID is short for the Chinatown/International District section of the project):


That is the route as roughly outlined in the ST3 vote that paved the way for light rail to West Seattle in 2030 and to Ballard in 2035.


It was reiterated here in response to a question that while 44th SW as a possible station location was thrown out by the SAG in September, the Elected Leadership Group subsequently decided it should be returned to the mix under consideration.

Here is a closer look at the potential for the light-rail bridge crossing the Duwamish River north of the current bridge rather than south:


Here is the Junction station orientation considered in this alternative:

And for Delridge, a further-south-than-previously-proposed possibility:

Intensive small-group discussion followed the introduction of the three “starting point” options, with ST staff circulating to the tables to answer questions. There was no big-group “reporting back” afterward, but ST says the discussion points will be taken into consideration.

WHAT’S NEXT: Two months without meetings because of the holidays. January 9th is the next scheduled meeting of the stakeholder group. Another round of community “forums” is expected in mid-February – no dates set yet – all moving toward the “preferred alternative” being finalized by the ST Board on April 25th.

21 Replies to "First look at potential 'end-to-end' options for Sound Transit light rail from West Seattle to Ballard"

  • sam-c November 6, 2018 (2:10 pm)

    Now that they are much closer to identifying the exact route and station locations, at what point do they start talking to potentially impacted property owners ?

    • CAM November 6, 2018 (3:28 pm)

      I believe they’ve previously said that that occurs sometime after the environmental study is completed because the route has to be finalized to determine impacted properties and that does not happen until after the EIS. 

      • Brian November 6, 2018 (5:27 pm)

        ST3 is already open to talk with anyone that may be impacted by right of way land acquisition, though. Just email ST3 and they will get you connected with the right people. 

  • heartless November 6, 2018 (2:12 pm)

    Still uneasy about the junction station being as far east as 41st.  So many more people live west of California, it’d be nice to have a station closer to them.  Otherwise just happy it’s moving forward.

    • UrbanVillager November 6, 2018 (3:07 pm)

      Not true.  Not today, and not in 12 years when it is planned to open. Look at the zoning for the Junction Urban Village. 44th is literally the western edge of it, surrounded by single family zoning.  All the density is directed to the east of California. That’s where the transit should go, like it does everywhere else on earth. 

      • heartless November 6, 2018 (4:22 pm)

        You say it’s not true, but provide no facts or figures, or anything, really, to back that up…  If the junction station is east of California then there will be THREE stations east of California, and ZERO west of it.  Do you honestly think the population is that skewed?  Of course it isn’t.  Western West Seattle is huge, will only get more dense with time, and should absolutely get a station as close as it can.  And speaking of zoning and density in general…   Both of those change with time, and in fact change ever more quickly when transit hubs are introduced–so despite your firm belief it will forever remain single family homes, I’m simply not convinced (but maybe I’m just being optimistic).Frankly I stand by wanting a station east (even if it’s just 1 block east!) of California.psI haven’t been able to actually find population numbers based on neighborhoods, or even good density heat maps.  The USPS has some information based on zip, but since they are cut up in odd ways (for these purposes many go too far south) it’s not much help.  If anyone reading this has decent information I’d love to know–thanks!

        • Jon Wright November 6, 2018 (9:58 pm)

          The area beyond California is predominantly single-family homes. There are some apartments and condos, as far west as what? 44th?I don’t know what to make of your claims that the west part of West Seattle is going to get more dense with time. The only way that occurs is if new multi-family developments get built in existing single-family neighborhoods. If you think that is going to happen in a relatively affluent part of town, you have no concept of land use politics in Seattle.

          • HW November 7, 2018 (8:31 am)

            Yes, absent major zoning changes in single family areas the new density is going to be east of California. A station on 44th makes no sense for several reasons – 1, further away from multi-family zoned areas, 2 – harder to extend south (an initial reason for it being tossed the first time) and 3 – pushes the light rail over california which many in the community which to avoid). 42nd seems a reasonable compromise. 1 block to California, near condos/apartments and buses, and not too close to the next stop.

          • heartless November 7, 2018 (11:44 am)

            Jon, others, still nobody is offering any numbers.  Here is a question: how many people live west of California and north of Hudson?  How many people live east of California and north of Hudson?  Look at a map of West Seattle.  Look at the residences to the west, and look at all of the gaps in the east where there are no people living: golf course, camp long, puget park, the industrial sections.  Most of your arguments for having all three stations east of California make any sense (an exception might be HW’s point that it’d be harder to move the rail to points south if it’s on 44th–which might be true, I simply don’t know and don’t have time to research at the moment).    

        • Jon Wright November 7, 2018 (6:22 pm)

          You keep belaboring a lack of numbers. It doesn’t matter how many people live west of California and north of Hudson (like me) in a vast tract of low-density, single-family houses.  What is the benefit of pushing a station farther west? That the station is a block or two closer to someone who lives at 55th and Charlestown and already isn’t going walk? Unless somebody is being deliberately obtuse, they really should be able to figure out where the density is in the corridor ST3 plans to serve. Locating transit stations is about maximizing walkshed or transit connections and neither of those are west of California.

          • heartless November 7, 2018 (6:57 pm)

            I walk down 44th quite often–it is BUSY.  I also walk on 42nd and 41st.  They are less busy.  Talking about foot traffic here.  The benefit of pushing a station further west (and by further west we really are squabbling over details, talking a block or two–making fun of myself as much as anyone) is that it is easier and more convenient for a huge number of people.  There are guaranteed (fingers crossed) stations east of California–I truly think it’s important to have this small concession made to the numbers of people west.  You mention transit connections, etc., what about the absolutely huge hub that is on Alaska, you guessed it, just west of California?  Both walkers and transit connections exist west of California, you know this as well as I do.  For the current residents–yes, even those in single family homes–and to drive future density (which will happen, at least unless Seattle collapses which, actually, might happen but that’s for another day) I think the station should go as far out into the ‘burbs as it can.  

          • HW November 8, 2018 (11:21 am)

            Yes, 100% what Jon said. moving west of Alaska does not do much for all the people who live on that side of the community because there is not walkable density. They will drive anyway so what difference does another 2 blocks make? If you put a station on 42nd/41st it could eventually curve down Edmunds and connect more rapidly to Fauntleroy or 35th and go south. That 2-3 block savings (between 44th and 42/41st) is not nothing.

          • heartless November 8, 2018 (12:39 pm)

            I have a viscerally negative reaction to the argument that people will drive anyway so we shouldn’t make transit easier for them.  I again request that we actually look at the numbers–so if we assume that people will walk, what, six blocks to get to transit (I am being purposefully conservative here) figure out how many people that would reach.  Draw the diagrams, circle centered on each station (including likely Avalon stations) and see if 44th doesn’t make sense.  I still contend that it does.  I still contend that the density close to 44th is underestimated, and that having a station on 41st is going to be ridiculously close to an Avalon station–which would be fine if we had 6+ stations in West Seattle (which would thrill me beyond belief) but since there are only three it would be a big mistake to not try to reach further west and get more people closer to not driving.

          • s November 8, 2018 (9:11 pm)

            Heartless makes some good points, 1) numbers are needed, 2) the major bus transit hub is right there on 44th, so it makes sense to put the light rail station there too. 

    • Elton November 6, 2018 (4:28 pm)

      Seems like this could be alleviated with some park & ride parking option to improve the attractiveness of transit for anyone not within walking distance of the stop. I’m not a transit expert though, just my $0.02.

      • CAM November 6, 2018 (11:42 pm)

        Why waste money building a parking garage that will sit empty the majority of the time? Increasing bus service to the west of California and other underserved areas in the neighborhood would go a lot farther and probably end up costing the same amount for the first several years. Let’s not spend more money creating storage for people’s personal vehicles to sit and do nothing for 9 hours a day. 

  • Spoonbender November 6, 2018 (4:36 pm)

    Why does the Alki/Admiral area continually get screwed on the whole public transit thing? We lose routes; we lose available parking, and by the time we’ve actually made it to a bus that goes downtown or other areas, it’s standing room only (if you can get on the bus at all.) If you want folks to mostly use public transit, you need to make it available to, you know, the public.

    • Tailwagger November 6, 2018 (6:57 pm)

      Because you guys complain if more than 10 cars / busses go down your street in an hour. 

    • HS November 6, 2018 (7:52 pm)

      We’re all experiencing the same thing… north, south.

  • Will S. November 6, 2018 (11:07 pm)

    The path of that elevated gold line to the Junction is not something we have seen in prior proposals. And it is downright audacious: from 36th Ave west to 41st Ave, elevated track and station would carve up at least five blocks of existing single-family homes. It’s hard to discern the intention of the gold line, but two possibilities come to my mind: (1) Sound Transit might be prodding the City to re-zone all those carved-up blocks, encouraging intensive redevelopment with greater density throughout, or (2) Sound Transit is trying to persuade us of the merit of the original Representative Alignment, which avoids the need to plow through homes by staying within the right-of-way of Fauntleroy and Alaska (while probably also preventing any future extension of light rail south toward White Center/Burien).

  • Jort November 7, 2018 (12:20 pm)

    I’m excited to see light rail to West Seattle geting closer and closer to reality!    

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