West Seattle light rail: East Junction neighbors organize to urge careful consideration of ‘generational decision’

(Two potential sites for elevated Junction station shown in newest ST visualizations)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Two-plus years after the Sound Transit 3 vote planted light rail firmly in West Seattle’s future, a major decision nears:

Which “preferred alternative(s)” will go into formal environmental study?

With the Sound Transit board set to make that decision in May, the last major public-comment period – aka “scoping” – is under way now. And it’s bringing together groups of neighbors focused on what the decision could mean not only to their neighborhoods, but to the rest of West Seattle – and beyond.

We sat down the other day with five people who are part of the newly organized East Alaska Junction Neighborhood Coalition. They support tunneling light rail into The Junction.

Some of their homes would be in the path of an elevated line and station. That’s far from their only concern.

They started talking, explained neighbor Brooke, while out with their kids playing in the February snow. The light-rail-planning process has been on their radar – they’ve seen flyers, for exampe – but nothing had previously called to their attention that the station could wind up in their neighborhood.

They’re not interested in stopping it, added neighbor Aimee. They are excited about better transit serving their neighborhood.

Neighbor Charlie explained that he had been “following it since the Level 1 (review stage)” and then discovered a “drastic shift” in the routes under consideration. He met other concerned residents at the recent open house, and they’ve since launched a website and online discussion to “share and clarify information with community members.”

Neighbor Paul wondered why Sound Transit’s scoping materials don’t seem “to give much credence to the tunnel option,” not even showing a rendering of what the undergrounded possibility would look like (here’s the “visualizations” PDF, showing only the elevated possibilities). Charlie noted that an architect reviewing the ST materials said it felt as if “the tunnel seems off the table.”

The group is also wondering why the West Seattle proposal has two stations relatively close to each other, the Avalon and Junction stations. Paul said those two would be a shorter distance apart than any other two stations in the Link light-rail system, while it would seem more sensible to have a station around the Fauntleroy/Alaska vicinity – “near Trader Joe’s” – and focus more on the first/last-mile systems to get people there (buses, shuttles, etc.) from all directions.

Another major issue is one this group thinks should be of interest to many far beyond their area: Choosing a location with a particular north/south alignment seems to set the stage for a particular path if/when light rail is extended southward later, they note. “If you put up an elevated station on 41st, you’re setting up that you would have to extend south on 41st,” Charlie says. “They should make that clear to the community. … The tunnel makes the most sense.”

Another argument in favor of a tunnel: Less loss of redevelopable land. Their neighborhood could hold more homes in the future, they point out, but elevated light rail will take a swath of land out of the picture. “This is valuable real estate for the community,” Charlie observes. “I hope Sound Transit looks at the long-term effects,” adds Brooke. “(In addition to) displacing 90 to 120 families, all this dense-housing-potential land will be off the table forever.”

Aimee underscores that. “We moved here because we knew it would change. A lot of us, we’re OK with evolution, with living next door to (taller, denser housing).”

Paul – who got involved even though his home wouldn’t be directly affected – believes that undergrounding light rail, coupled with the on-hold-awaiting-a-routing-decision Fauntleroy Boulevard improvements, could “make this a fantastic multimodal, pedestrian-friendly, safe corridor that sets the tone for what West Seattle is.”

Yes, they’re well aware that Sound Transit says tunneling would add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost. Paul wonders whether one less station would save enough money to pay for it. The group wonders if “walkshed” criteria for the three stations were applied properly, including how the stations would interact/intersect with other transit.

“It seems like the design has not been thought through,” Aimee observes.

Charlie adds that he understands why this process has been compressed, with the stated goal of delivering the light-rail service sooner, “but they went down to so few options so quickly … so many (were) taken off the table before full community outreach.” He too wonders if the extra-cost numbers are “really realistic,” particularly “if you look at how much tax revenue (would be) lost” with land taken out of the potential development mix.

“It’s a generational decision,” Aimee declares. And a regional one, possibly setting a precedent of interest even outside King County, since Sound Transit also serves Pierce and Snohomish Counties.

And it’s a decision that ties into other things, adds Charlie, mentioning the recent City Council-initiated amendments to HALA Mandatory Housing Affordability, tying some Junction planning to the light-rail-planning process. A community conversation about that needs to be held, and city planners need to address the big picture, he adds.

Since none is currently happening, these neighbors are hoping to ignite one. They want others to look at the big picture, and they’re also hoping to organize a walking tour with some of the decisionmakers. (ST had one last July in advance of a design charrette, but it was not announced to the community at large.)

What else they’re doing: Trying to “tailor comments (for) the scoping period,” to clearly articulate their concerns. They’re sharing documents via their website, and having a meeting next Thursday (6 pm March 14th at the Senior Center/Sisson Building, 4217 SW Oregon). Now that the scoping period has been extended two weeks – as reported here last week – that gives them more time to refine their advocacy for the tunnel, and “well-planned light-rail transit that supports and improves the neighborhood with an eye toward the future.”

Before our conversation concludes, they reiterate the same thing we’ve heard from other groups and individuals, as well as from Sound Transit: “Get involved,” urges Aimee. “… Even if you’re not directly on the route.”

“We need to do something that we’re proud to pass on,” adds Paul.

P.S. In addition to the East Junction group’s meeting, two other meetings in West Seattle this week address the light-rail plan, though both are for neighborhoods close to the Delridge station – the information’s here. Regardless of whether you’re going to a meeting, you can comment through April 2nd by using the “online open house” here.

69 Replies to "West Seattle light rail: East Junction neighbors organize to urge careful consideration of 'generational decision'"

  • Su March 11, 2019 (1:50 am)

    That transit diagram… is concerning. I didn’t know they’re going to raise the rail instead of making it underground, and it looks hideous. Raised rails cutting through the junction, that’s going to block off the little bit of sky we have left, and I’m seriously worried about how it might impact local family stores. Parking had been rough on the shops already.

  • JeffK March 11, 2019 (6:35 am)

    They bring up some good points.   Especially the future north-south alignment expansion would just take out a long swath of prime real estate parallel to California, likely down 41st.I’m still interested in tunnel options even if it takes longer/costs more.

  • Matthew March 11, 2019 (7:09 am)

    $700 million is a tough cost to justify for tunneling. It’s an unfortunate reality. 

    • Will S. March 11, 2019 (10:05 am)

      Why? $700 million is less than 1.3% of the $54 billion ST3 package. If a West Seattle tunnel makes ST3 even 2% better, then it’s not hard to justify–and certainly no harder to justify than (to pick one example offhand) the very costly and unnecessary underground mezzanines that Sound Transit has built in underground stations in other locations.

      • Matthew March 11, 2019 (12:39 pm)

        $700 million is not a lot compared to many things, but Sound Transit has a fixed amount of money and project deliverables they need to execute. They also have to divide the money by subareas to roughly ensure equity for the whole Sound Transit area (Piece, King, Snohomish Counties). It’s really a budgeting exercise for Sound Transit to make sure all the projects are executed and meet some line of equity for the system. They have determined an elevated line meets those objectives. If we deem $700 million is worth the tunnel, we should work together to find a funding source soon to supplement the cost. Property tax levy? 

    • ZB March 11, 2019 (1:42 pm)

      The $700 million figure is not the cost of the potential tunnel!!! It is a red herring number thrown in disingenuously to make the elevated option more palatable. The $700 mil figure is the difference between the elevated option and the option that contains the tunnel among other expensive alternatives on the entire route as well.If the 0.5 mile tunnel cost $700 million, that would make it more expensive than the viaduct replacement tunnel, on a mile-for-mile basis. This is impossible.No one from ST was able to answer my question about the cost of the 0.5 mile tunnel alone, without any other alternatives.

      • Ron Swanson March 11, 2019 (3:13 pm)

        ZB:This is not correct.  The $700 million cost increase is *just* for the West Seattle tunnel.  When you add in the Ballard tunnel and deep station options in Chinatown you get to a possible $1.9 to 2.1 *billion* in cost increase for the whole line.And yes, this is more expensive per mile than the SR99 tunnel, in large part because it would have a station that has to be mined out underground, it’s not just a bored tube.  Underground stations are very expensive to build.

        • ZB March 11, 2019 (6:36 pm)

          Yes, the $1.9 billion covers the most expensive options on the entire route, but that doesn’t mean $700b is strictly for the 0.5 mile WS tunnel. The math doesn’t check out, especially considering that the elevated structures are not free and require eminent domain buyouts that may well exceed $100 billion. A station underground can be done by cut-and-cover and can be incorporated into a highrise building above it, unlike the elevated.Having said that, I left 3 meetings with the Advisory Group with a sense that they had already made up their minds for this elevated option that suddenly popped out of nowhere and are now marketing their rationalizations for it. This whole thing is starting to smell like the monorail when they took people’s properties, canceled the monorail and resold the properties at a profit.

  • AvalonTom March 11, 2019 (7:37 am)

    I have been following this going back almost a year now. Have attended meetings and have seen the different options come and go. This new yellow option is scary and i’m wondering where did it come from? 100% of folks I meet and talk to want the tunnel. The folks I talked to on the SAG want the tunnel. I understand that the elected officials want the tunnel. (I think?) I have met some engineers and employees of ST who work on this project and live in WS and they want the tunnel.  This is a 100+ year project people.  Stretch that $700mil over that time, that 7 mil a year so we dont have to take out close to 100 homes that would house 1000’s of people over those 100 years. We dont put up ugly concrete structures that do not fit into this neighborhood!  If you consider this project over the the 100 years the only option that makes sense is the tunnel. Where is the leadership from our politicians to push for the long term vision for this community?  There is more to a neighborhood then people commuting to work. There are plenty of folks in WS that will never use this system or will only use it occasionally.  Displaceling 100’s of people and destroying the neighbrohood to shove in a train station and elevated train tracks in the middle of what is still a relatively quiet part of Seattle is shortsighted. Who will want to live and shop near the Junction after this monstrosity is shoved in amongst the homes and shops? The underground option is elegant and inviting for future neighborhood growth that is sure to come. I support this project, put it underground like in all the other neighborhoods!  BTW after the last meeting I no longer trust anything the ST does or say at this point. It seems like they are NOT listening to us at all, and are basically ignoring the tunnel option while pushing some new option that even SAG did not see before the meeting. Bait and switch!

    • JK March 11, 2019 (12:14 pm)

      Yes, do it right for 100 years instead of doing a wrong 50 year elevated transit option which will be replaced by a tunnel.

  • vincent March 11, 2019 (7:49 am)

    In addition to the huge cost increases of a tunnel that just don’t exist, the elephant in the room for all these passive aggressive demands is the ridership numbers for link to west Seattle are terrible due to relatively low density across the peninsula.The reason they aren’t spending much time on tunnel alternatives is they won’t pass any sniff test for ROI, much less comparison to other neighborhoods.The stakeholders have pushed these proposals so far out its hard to see a way back. The focus on the avalon station is to accommodate a park and ride mindset that focuses high ridership at the entry to the neighborhood despite conflicts with nucor and the port ( who were given preferred alignment without even showing up. )The junction *underground* proposals seem to be the result of the wsea chamber, and a magic fantasy of a Manhattan style subway entrance on California, without the realities of underground station construction ( go visit cal anderson, or even UW to see how small a underground station looks above ground), or the issues of a overhead line with so many ramshackle buildings that have been forced into historic status.Now years into the process people are just getting that a junction station means a huge swath of SFH will need to be cut through to make it anywhere south.

  • S March 11, 2019 (8:04 am)

    This is for the greater good. Build the light rail, with both stations, and move into the future. An entire community should not have hobbled transit because a handful of people don’t want to be impacted. 

    • CMT March 11, 2019 (9:43 am)

      From the feedback solicited and published by Sound Transit, it appears that the vast majority of people (not a handful) want a tunnel.

      • Nolan March 11, 2019 (2:51 pm)

        There’s a reason Sound Transit (and, for that matter, every firm that needs to employ skilled workers to do skilled work) isn’t run by popular vote.

        • CMT March 11, 2019 (3:25 pm)

          That doesn’t make a tunnel an unachievable, unrealistic or inappropriate option.  It’s not like Sound Transit is asking unskilled community members to build the track or do the engineering for the chosen option.  The idea that a community should have no voice in how it is dramatically reshaped seems wrong.  

          • Nolan March 11, 2019 (7:31 pm)

            Which “that” are you referring to, exactly? The thing that makes a tunnel unachievable, unrealistic, and/or inappropriate is cost-to-benefit ratio, and if you’ve learned anything on WSB, you have hopefully learned that the average commenter is profoundly unqualified to comment on cost-to-benefit of any public works project. No one’s denying the community a voice; it’s basic economics, and analysis from people who handle budgeting, that a $600m shortfall can’t be covered by literally nothing. Either pitch a detailed, actionable, achievable plan to raise the funds or make peace with an elevated track.

          • CMT March 12, 2019 (7:48 am)

            The fact that community members are given a voice, notwithstanding that they are not skilled in the engineering of light rail, is the “that” I am referring to. Look, I get it.  You don’t think the voice of the community to be impacted should influence the design.  I disagree.

          • Nolan March 12, 2019 (8:46 am)

            You are refusing to acknowledge that the community cannot make hundreds of millions of dollars appear out of thin air — or worse, take it from other neighborhoods — to fulfill a request that isn’t structurally necessary. That’s not an opinion, that’s a denial of fact. Don’t pretend it’s anything more.

          • WSB March 12, 2019 (8:57 am)

            What Sound Transit has said is that “third-party funding” would be required. That wouldn’t be “appear(ing) out of thin air” if it is requested and found, and the full array of possible sources has not yet been discussed publicly. Example: Last night at the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council discussion with Sound Transit, a Port of Seattle rep jumped into the discussion of whether the line might cross the Duwamish River north of the bridge instead of south of the bridge, and said that the port MIGHT be willing to contribute funding. That discussion was *not* related to possible Junction tunneling but it was a bit of a window into side discussions that are proceeding outside the comment process (at another meeting on which we’ve reported, funding discussions “with the city” were mentioned). Also at last night’s meeting (story later today), pressed by a community member, a Sound Transit rep acknowledged that the numbers they’ve been throwing out are guesstimates at best. And they reiterated that this IS the time for community members to be clear about what they want. So whatever that is, this IS the time to speak up and speak out. (Reminder that ST also has reiterated that even if you’ve commented before, they need to hear from you now for your comment to be part of the official “scoping” process – https://wsblink.participate.online is the “online open house,” through April 2nd.) – TR

          • CMT March 12, 2019 (9:29 am)

            I hereby acknowledge that the community cannot make hundreds of millions of dollars appear out of thin air.However, having solicited and obtained the community’s input, elected officials and governmental agencies have the ability to explore alternatives and funding sources that would help achieve a goal consistent with the community’s vision.And I believe they should have the community’s input in order to enable that exploration.  

          • Nolan March 12, 2019 (9:47 am)

            If we don’t have a source that is already “requested and found”, then the difference between that source and “appearing out of thin air” is merely academic.No one should be surprised that ST needs to make decisions based on funds that are accounted for: the severe funding gap can’t just be handwaved away on faith that something might pan out. By all means, demand a tunnel; just don’t be surprised if the money isn’t there, and definitely don’t make bombastic and misleading claims about not “getting a voice” if ST can’t move mountains on your behalf.

          • Mickymse March 12, 2019 (9:52 am)

            If we want to talk about what is “unachievable” or “unrealistic” and who is “qualified” you might want to consider a few additional points of information:

            1) Many people in West Seattle always advocated for a tunnel if light rail was going to come here or that an elevated line would run in existing rights of way — as previous rapid transit system proposals had supported — and were never supportive of ripping through some parts of the neighborhood.

            2) Don’t underestimate popular opinion. Folks who want to see this extended further south should consider what the likelihood of that is if we build elevated now and the only option for future extension is to continue southward through lots of million dollar plus single family homes.

            3) It’s easy to say that a tunnel costs X amount “extra” than what was proposed in the ballot measure… BUT the public wasn’t consulted on what to put in the ballot measure. In fact, they made changes with just weeks to go to the route in West Seattle, without ever showing it to the public. And they merely drew a line on the map with only 1% or LESS engineering done to the line. So this “representative alignment” that we are supposed to use as the baseline for the budget isn’t some magically wonderful route option. In fact, it’s clear to many people actually on the ground that parts of it may, in fact, be nearly impossible to build or may turn out to cost considerably MORE than other options that have been proposed. 

        • CMT March 12, 2019 (10:39 am)

          Nolan – Time will tell.  A community consists of voters and if there is enough community support/demand for a tunnel, the funding will be located, whether or not is currently earmarked.    

  • Old friend March 11, 2019 (8:38 am)

    Alki Lumber site is looking more and more attractive every day.

  • Joe Z March 11, 2019 (9:53 am)

    The problem with the ‘scoping’ process is that all sorts of unrealistic ideas are getting tossed around in the name of ‘public/stakeholder feedback’ while the realities of the budget and time deadlines get ignored. That is bound to lead to disappointment, especially the unfunded tunnel option which was never a part of the ST3 and is not a priority for Sound Transit by design. Sound Transit is required by law to build what the voters approved. As someone who lives 2 blocks off the line, I fear the huge tax increase that would come through a local improvement district to fund a tunnel–which as the other commenter noted would still have major construction impacts and displacement. I’m all for a tunnel if the $700 million magically appears from another funding source that isn’t me. I already live next to a highway (the ramp to the high bridge), it’s not like an elevated light rail line is going to be some sort of dramatic change to an area that is already bustling and full of noisy cars/buses. It also is a huge economic development opportunity for Junction businesses and getting that station as close as possible to California is the key to the future of the Junction.My guess is that the yellow lines are going to get dropped and it’s going to be the blue and red lines advancing to the EIS process. The red representative line makes the most sense in my opinion, it uses the right-of-way along Fauntleroy which isn’t exactly the most attractive part of West Seattle, the 3 stations are all in great position for bus transfers.As for future extension southward, the tunnel option doesn’t help with that either since the cost of tunneling farther south into a low density area is never going to pencil out. A more realistic option would be to split the elevated line at Delridge, but that is something that has never been officially considered by anyone. 

    • KM March 11, 2019 (10:37 am)

      Well said!

  • WS Lifer March 11, 2019 (10:15 am)

    the aggressive anti-tunnel commentators must not live near the Junction. The Junction especially and the entire peninsula is rapidly becoming much denser. More people in total live in West Seattle than in any other Seattle neighborhood. Why do we get treated like the country cousin? Integrate WS with the city properly and treat us not as a forgotten suburb but as part of the core. Why don’t we get the same densification encouragement as other light-rail projects? Would you rather live in an apartment with an underground station on the corner or in a house with a rail overhead? Reduce the number of stations and tunnel it. 

  • zephyr March 11, 2019 (10:23 am)

    There are some great comments in defense of our community–especially that written by Avalon Tom.  So I am repeating this part here:.  “There are plenty of folks in WS that will never use this system or will
    only use it occasionally.  Displaceing 100’s of people and destroying
    the neighborhood to shove in a train station and elevated train tracks
    in the middle of what is still a relatively quiet part of Seattle is
    shortsighted. Who will want to live and shop near the Junction after
    this monstrosity is shoved in amongst the homes and shops? The
    underground option is elegant and inviting for future neighborhood
    growth that is sure to come.
    ” .This huge project is like a monstrosity coming to destroy the heart of our wonderful part of town.  Yes, more time should be taken to look at the effect on our community.  A future rail line driving down through the heart of the peninsula wiping out homes and severing neighborhoods is just plain crazy.  We would be urbanizing and blighting our historic and lovely peaceful small town for the sake of the new Gold Rush.  .

    • Jort March 11, 2019 (3:44 pm)

      A train is going to literally “destroy” the “heart” of our town? Are we really that fragile? I don’t think Fauntleroy Blvd. and 35th are particularly aesthetically pleasing, but I also don’t think they’ve “DESTROYED” West Seattle.

  • KM March 11, 2019 (10:34 am)

    Something being overlooked here is the *current* alignments Sound Transit is circulating for this line would result in more shifted alignment in other neighborhoods. It’s not just about the “East Alaska Junction Neighborhood”– each of the 3 current options makes changes elsewhere in the neighborhood and city outside of those 8 or so blocks, and could play in to the reliability and speed of service, especially with more at-surface alignment elsewhere in the two alternative designs. It would be nice for everyone to have a tunnel (or whatever people want ideally), though it would be way more than $700 million to make it happen for all, and getting that $700 million is a stretch anyhow, especially as ST3 funding could still be compromised by our state legislature.

  • Railroaded March 11, 2019 (10:53 am)

    There is not going to be a tunnel. It will either be some elevated sections, or what you have right now.

  • zark00 March 11, 2019 (11:11 am)

    Cancel the light rail project entirely – it’s a stupid idea.

  • TunnelOption March 11, 2019 (11:30 am)

    It is becoming painfully obvious that Sound Transit is trying to keep quiet the long term the implications of a north-south alignment for West Seattle. If you are troubled by the number of WS homes that will be lost bringing elevated options into the Junction, imagine the consequences of flattening all of the homes along 41st Ave SW for a Burien extension. There are 24 homes per block. That’s more than 180 homes obliterated between Edmunds and Morgan alone. Removing hundreds of homes from the heart of West Seattle will be an absolute disaster for housing affordability in Seattle. We need to be adding more to the supply of housing in this city, not subtracting. Separately, Joe Z referred to the “the unfunded tunnel option which was never a part of the ST3.” When did Sound Transit ever tell voters that a tunnel wasn’t on the table? When I voted in favor of ST3, I did so in hopes that a rational review process would give serious consideration to a tunnel option. I don’t remember them ever saying a tunnel was a long shot.   

    • Ron Swanson March 11, 2019 (3:23 pm)

      If you looked at the ST3 plan prior to the election it was quite clear:”This project would provide a light rail connection from Downtown Seattle to the vicinity of West Seattle’s Alaska Junction neighborhood including an alignment primarily on elevated lightr rail a new rail-only fixed span crossing of the Duwamish River, and five stations.”Of course, there’s a disclaimer that this is a representative alignment and subject to change, but elevated was the default plan.  Now that its been studied and shown that a tunnel is unaffordable, it’s time to move forward with the original plan.

      • Matthee March 11, 2019 (6:31 pm)

        Ron Swanson – Thanks for looking this up. That is how I recalled the original  proposal reading and it’s nice to get verification. 

      • Chemist March 11, 2019 (6:36 pm)

        So, it depends on what your interpretation of “primarily” is.  51% elevated meets my definition.

        • Ron Swanson March 12, 2019 (10:18 am)

          Chemist:Should’ve cut and pasted more, I guess:”One at-grade station: StadiumFour elevated stations: SODO, Delridge, Avalon,  Junction”Again, it was very clear the whole West Seattle portion was planned to be elevated.

  • West Seattle Hipster March 11, 2019 (11:38 am)

    Let’s not screw this up.  We can’t afford to be as shortsighted as the people who voted agains light rail in 1960’s.  Light rail is desperately need in our region and we need to plan not for current density but for the future growth that is bound to happen.

  • Alex March 11, 2019 (11:49 am)

    I don’t disagree with the sentiment that a tunnel would be nice, but I’m astounded that anyone can say they feel this process is rushed. We are waiting decades for this to come, with literal years going by for pre-planning alone. If we went any slower, I dare say that by the time it was complete we would be taking flying cars to work rather than trains. 

  • Brian Hughes March 11, 2019 (12:35 pm)

    If you look at the elevated lines already built, you can get a good impression of the impact of such a line going to the Junction. Then extend that elevated line south down 41st, 42nd or 44th… is that really the kind of project we want for our neighborhood?  Where else has an entire neighborhood been taken out for light rail in Seattle?  We have spoken with dozens of our neighbors about this…not one was aware of the north-south implications. Every single person we spoke with supports a tunnel versus destruction of so many homes. The tunnel is expensive, but only for the short-sighted. We have one chance to get this right…and getting it right means getting a tunnel. 

    • KM March 11, 2019 (1:19 pm)

      Why would they extend down 41st, 42nd or 44th? That area is not dense, and the termination of the light rail in the Junction might not allow for it. Has ST make any hint at future extensions from either Delridge or the Junction? Delridge could serve more and be faster, shorter service to White Center and Burien, and you don’t need a Junction tunnel for 700m extra to do that. 

      • Brian Hughes March 11, 2019 (4:26 pm)

        See the attached picture.  Note the dashed yellow line.  I couldn’t get the whole thing on the screen capture but this is marked as “Future Investment Study.”  A north-south oriented station on 41st makes this potential future expansion feasible.  If the station is elevated and oriented north/south, any future expansion south would also likely be elevated.  Here is a link to the entire map:  http://soundtransit3.org/map#map

        • KM March 11, 2019 (8:07 pm)

          Thanks! This is coming back to me now. I guess we should be getting ideas from ST about what they would even consider, maybe with the new alternatives and feedback from scoping, they would rethink this (at elevated). On the other hand, now that some of that area is not going to LR zoning, it might be cheaper to acquire. Still seems like Delridge would be ideal for an elevated line because of the width of the street and what I imagine would be cheaper to build.

          • Brian Hughes March 12, 2019 (2:28 am)

            You bring up a good point about the zoning.  I want to think that Lisa Herbold would be sympathetic to the hundreds of homes that would be impacted by a southbound extension, but this actually may have been her preferred plan all along… keep the zoning single family so that the land is cheaper to acquire in the future.  Let’s face it – we’re talking about a long time and still a lot of uncertainty.  However, it does have an immediate impact on  those homes staring down the barrel of a possible southbound right-of-way.  

      • Also John March 11, 2019 (7:00 pm)

        @KM…..  Yes, ST stated at the last meeting they wish to continue the light rail south in the ST4 phase.  At my table I spoke with an ST property appraiser about the possibility of extending an elevated light rail down 41st Ave SW.  He stated that ST would need to buy out all homes on each side of 41st Ave SW.  Try and visualize what that’ll look like.  What a mess for West Seattle….and the noise.  Research has shown homes within 300 feet of the rail will go down in value…..noise.  That means homes on the west side of 40th Ave SW and east side of 42nd Ave SW will be financially devastated.  ST will not pay for their lost value.

    • K to the F March 12, 2019 (3:56 pm)

      Went around the existing light rail and snapped pics to put
      into scale what an elevated option would look like in our neighborhood:  :(
      Tunnel is the only sane option given all the issues mentioned by the
      group in this article PLUS the scale of the elevated track doesn’t work
      within our neighborhood at all. Everywhere else that’s elevated is in
      wide open spaces.

  • DakotaDude March 11, 2019 (1:47 pm)

    The found the money for 8 miles of tunnel north of the university station, we are asking for less than one. 

    • Ron Swanson March 11, 2019 (3:29 pm)

      The tunnel from the UW to Northgate is only 3.4 miles long.  And there’s a reason it’s used there: there’s no right of way for an elevated line to get from Husky Stadium to Northgate.  There is available right of way to get from Nucor to the Junction elevated.  

      • BJG March 11, 2019 (3:52 pm)

        Seems like Pacific to 15th or Roosevelt would have been obvious right of way elevated routes if they’d wanted. They didn’t. Plenty of ST money was used to make the N End neighborhoods happy.

        • Ron Swanson March 11, 2019 (4:45 pm)

          The tracks are a hundred feet deep at Husky Stadium – to transition to an elevated track they’d have had to dig a long trench north (through a capped landfill!) to the surface on Montlake, then do a hairpin elevated turn back to the south to get back to Pacific.  That certainly would’ve been quite a conversation piece, like the Altoona horseshoe curves!  It wouldn’t have saved any money, though.   

          • BJG March 11, 2019 (8:32 pm)

            Ron S: Yes…100 ft deep station because the train arrives from Capital Hill through its 3+ mile long light rail TUNNEL. Could as well have been an elevated line, but then again, they had money and political representation. Would have ruined the classic leafy, mansion-filled neighborhoods.

          • Ron Swanson March 12, 2019 (10:09 am)

            BJG: It’s in a tunnel under Capitol Hill because it’s in a tunnel under downtown, a decision made by Metro in the 1980s.  There is no way to go from a tunnel alignment under downtown, get under the I-5 express lanes, and rise up to an elevated alignment that can climb a steep hill.  Let alone trying to thread a track through a narrow pre-war street grid up there.There are good reasons for the existing line to be in a tunnel where it is.  There is no good reason to be in one in West Seattle.

      • ZB March 11, 2019 (6:45 pm)

        If the tunnel from the UW to Northgate is only 3.4 miles long, by “Ron Swanson’s” calculations it should have cost over $4 billion? Did it? Why can’t we see any real time cost figures for the similar light rail parts already built for an easier comparison instead of taking their number as gospel?

      • Mickymse March 12, 2019 (10:01 am)

        There is available right of way to get from Nucor to the Junction elevated.” What are you talking about @Ron? The current elevated route proposal is to run down Delridge and turn at Genesee, taking out some number of houses along the way and running up Genesee at 140+ feet in the air — in other words, imagine extending the West Seattle Bridge through and across the North Delridge neighborhood. There are some folks who would like to look at other elevated alternatives or a tunnel to the Junction because it would do far more than just reduce impacts to the Junction itself.   

        • Ron Swanson March 12, 2019 (10:12 am)

          Mickey,Yep, the representative alignment: Delridge to Genesee to Fauntleroy to Alaska.  Perfectly good route.

  • Jort March 11, 2019 (3:29 pm)

    There are many options on the table right now for light rail in West Seattle, but it’s very, very important to note that none of those options are “no light rail at all if I don’t get what I want.”              The reality is that we are going to be taxed for light rail to West Seattle for the next 30 years, and those taxes will be used to build light rail to the Junction — even if people think it’s ugly.        By all means, advocate for the tunnel option. I also love the tunnel option! It’s great! But, if the tunnel doesn’t work out, then we’re doing elevated and we will adapt and move on, because we did not vote to pay taxes on something that we later decided was too “icky” for our delicate eyes. 

    • Canton March 11, 2019 (10:04 pm)

      There is a multitude of great ideas, and personal opinions here. Your banter, is meant to silence, any opinion, differing than yours. This discussion in meant to be open, to different opinions and concepts, so that those opinions, can be swayed or stayed. You don’t speak for anyone, but yourself.

      • Jort March 12, 2019 (12:51 am)

        The fact that light rail is coming to the Junction, one way or another, is not an opinion. It’s a stone cold fact. That’s really important for people to grasp in this discussion. Under no circumstances whatsoever is ST3 authorized to cancel the line when we voted and are paying taxes on it.  People should feel free to shoot for the moon with their tunnel wishes. Howevee, people are not free to demand cancellation of the project if they don’t get their way with the tunnel.  That’s not how the law works. I strongly encourage adaptation and coping. 

        • User March 12, 2019 (1:27 pm)

          How quickly people have forgotten the monorail fiasco…In 2000, city voters approved a $6 million monorail planning effort. Two years later they narrowly passed a car-tab tax of $140 per $10,000 vehicle value, to build the 14-mile Green Line. It turned out that Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) grossly underestimated the revenues, and by mid-2005 leaders issued a controversial 50-year funding plan, and later put a shorter line on the ballot.Voters said no, the station properties were auctioned off, and taxpayers wound up losing $124 million.https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/monorail-proposition-on-fall-ballot/

  • Peter March 11, 2019 (3:40 pm)

    Tunneling would require a large amount of land to be excavated for tunneling access and station construction (3 to 4 standard city blocks based on Cap Hill and U District stations), so if they think a tunnel won’t cause as much displacement, they’re ignoring empirical facts. Eliminating one station will not save anywhere near the several hundred million needed for tunneling (that would be one magnificent station!), and I’m curious what their basis is for challenging ST’s cost estimates. They are correct that tunneling would leave more buildable land, which would be the major positive of a tunnel.Final point: there is literally no amount of community outreach, no matter how extensive, how detailed, or for how long a time period, that won’t result in whining that there wasn’t enough community outreach. Anyone who’s lived here any length of time knows this.

    • TEU March 11, 2019 (11:15 pm)

      Peter, I prefer not to comment publicly but you are stating as facts things that are not factual. Capital Hill station is slightly more that one short block, the U District station is about half of one long block and half of the ROW, Roosevelt station is about 1.25 short blocks (about half for construction lay-down). I was told tonight by a Sound Transit representative that cost of an underground station is a significant percentage of the additional cost.Furthermore, ST is currently working from rough order-of-magnitude (ROM) estimates and <5% design. The expected variability is off-the-charts and at best is probably +/- 35% (and could be anywhere between half and double). Giving up advocating for a tunnel at this stage strikes me as foolish. I don’t know if it will happen but I believe it is the best way to bring Link to The Junction. I hope there isn’t an elevated line cutting through the neighborhood but if there is I will live with it and ride on it.

  • Westy_Train_Lover March 11, 2019 (8:56 pm)

    Drop the Avalon Station & Dig the Tunnel!That jumble at 35th, Avalon, and Fontleroy is already a tangled mess. Save $$$ by building 1 fewer station!Delridge is a better, flatter site for a station. Route Busses to the Junction or Delridge.Keep it simple. Do the right thing!

  • Kirk March 11, 2019 (9:11 pm)

    If everyone hates elevated in the junction (me included) could we move the elevated line to go down Delridge instead?  That’s where it should have gone in the first place since the RT120 is one of the city’s top 10 busiest routes and serves thousands of low income residents instead of rich people in Admiral who have never even taken a bus. 

    • Jort March 12, 2019 (12:30 am)

      No, we can’t, because the Junction is the densest part of West Seattle and we’re not going to skip building light rail to the densest part of West Seattle just because people think the project isn’t pretty enough. 

      • Jesse Andreini March 12, 2019 (1:06 pm)

        You have a short memory if you cannot imagine voters of Seattle approving a transit plan, reconsidering, cancelling it, then maybe regretting that reconsideration and approving something similar again. I’m still holding out for monorail version 5.0. I mean, we get it: you want rail and will brook no opposition. But that’s not how Seattle works, process-wise. Even if there’s no opposition to a plan, we commission a study and empanel a committee to investigate the lack of opposition before proceeding. Personally I love the light rail and use it every day. But I do so knowing that the construction and operation of the system is incredibly inefficient, disproportionately impacts vulnerable segments of the community, and is fiscally irresponsible. You say the tax will be 30 years; the truth is the amount of tax, the period of collection, and the services provided by the tax are all left to the discretion of Sound Transit. It’s literally a blank check.

  • MellyMel March 12, 2019 (12:23 pm)

    Sorry if this has been stated elsewhere, I am seeking info to inform my comments in the survey.Is there any room to suggest some alterations to the plans or are they dialed in to not allow for that? i.e. considering an surface station at Fauntleroy and a underground station at the Junction (blue line shows the both as underground)or, more ambitiously, treating the Alaska junction segment  as a “spur” and future
    north-south options planned to stem from a north-south oriented
    station at Delridge?

    • sam-c March 13, 2019 (2:29 pm)

      this really makes the most sense.  As others pointed out, going north-south from the junction is a going to destroy lots of housing, and is topographically really complicated.  Going north-south from Delridge station to White Center/ Burien, etc. makes sense.

  • SilverShadow March 12, 2019 (11:39 pm)

    Trying to build transit on the cheap is what ultimately killed the monorail project 15+ years ago. A cheap unacceptable solution rammed down the community’s throats will fail spectacularly and rightly so. Build it right for the future. Spend the money now, put rail in a tunnel, do not build an eyesore 3 stories in the air through the middle of our neighborhood just as we are celebrating the removal of an earlier mistake on the Seattle waterfront.

Sorry, comment time is over.