Where should Delridge’s light-rail station be? Sound Transit ‘community workshop’ tackles the topic

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

First stop, Delridge.

When Sound Transit light rail arrives in West Seattle – projected start date, 2030 – after the trains cross the Duwamish River on a new bridge, that’s where the easternmost of three planned stations will be. And that was the topic of this past Tuesday’s “community workshop” at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, which might end up adjacent to the station if the southernmost proposed site is chosen.

As is standard for Sound Transit’s meetings, this one began with a lengthy slide-deck-accompanied presentation that plowed through the highlights of the yearlong planning process that is almost to a key destination – the decision about which route(s) and station locations will get full environmental study.

The ST board has the final say; one of its members, County Councilmember Joe McDermott of West Seattle, spoke briefly at the event’s start and underscored that “historic decisions” are ahead. He reminded the 100 or so attendees – including a sizable number of ST employees/consultants assigned as table-minders – that he and City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, also there, had sent ST CEO Peter Rogoff a letter calling for a closer look at Delridge station concerns. Here’s the letter, dated late January; hosting this workshop was one response to it. McDermott says they want to be certain that light rail and its transit connections will “serve everybody in the Delridge Valley.”

Voicing concerns now – whatever part of the extension you’re addressing – carries extra weight because the federally mandated “scoping period” is under way, recently extended to April 2nd.

Tuesday night’s opening presentation (see the full slide deck here) got off to a rocky start due to a sound-system problem that persisted throughout ST executive Cathal Ridge‘s overview. He was followed by Stephen Mak, who has explained the West Seattle segment at most meetings we’ve covered, and he abandoned the sound system entirely, shouting his points loud enough to be heard throughout Youngstown’s Thelma Dewitty Theater.

The current focus on three “end-to-end alternatives” for the third and final level of review were “put together for our technical studies,” he summarized, rolling through a quick mention of the review criteria and telling attendees they would find the full lists on their tables “if you want to use it for discussion.”

ST’s station-planning specialist Sloan Dawson then took the stage – by that point the microphone was working again, without feedback. He talked about the issues involved in evaluating station locations through a “qualitative lens,” such as “how do we integrate trasit services, how do we integrate … walking and biking?” for “accessing … the system” and “organizing circulation and arrival (to) think about buses” as well as “designing the station footprint” so the light rail station “becomes a community hub.”

He eventually moved on to the “Delridge corridor context,” including the southernmost potential location’s proximity to community gathering places such as Youngstown and the Delridge Community Center. And the upcoming conversion of Metro Route 120 to RapidRide H Line, carrying riders from as far south as Burien, is a key consideration as well. His presentation made glancing acknowledgment of the North Delridge Action Plan, for which discussion long predated the Sound Transit 3 decision to extend light rail to West Seattle.

Dawson also touched on the station area’s “walksheds” and current zoning, while recapping the three alternatives for Delridge station locations – north of Andover in the “representative alignment,” south of Andover on the elevated alternative, north of Genesee in the tunneled alternative. (Note that the green routes shown on the map mark existing neighborhood greenways.)

He ran through characteristics of the three potential locations:

*A “cluster of commercial uses” at Delridge/Andover but a “challenging” pedestrian/bicycle environment because of the proximity of the West Seattle Bridge ramps and a limited redevelopment opportunity because of Nucor’s proximity

*Better pedestrian/bicycle connections with the site between Andover and Dakota, with a possible “hill climb” from the 26th SW greenway at Dakota, and more redevelopment opportunities near the station, which would be “in the center of the right of way”

*The station location centered over 25th between Dakota and Genesee would be a “pretty substantial change” to current conditions in this residential area, Dawson acknowledged, in an understatement (this is one of the areas where dozens of residents have organized in realization that their homes might face demolition). But, he said, this area also holds the largest opportunity for redevelopment that could bring long-sought “amenities”; he mentioned a grocery store and affordable housing

Then it was table-talk time. Those who remained were urged to assess the station-location alternatives through lenses such as how they “support your neighborhood vision and values,” and to engage in “meaningful conversation with your neighbors.”

We stayed on to listen in at the table where we’d found a chair as the evening began. Those seated there turned out to be from Pigeon Point, site of a light-rail focused meeting one night earlier (WSB coverage here). Though they were geographically clustered, they spanned a wide age range. In response to the table facilitator’s question of whether the attendees envisioned themselves using the future light-rail station, one man said he was 27 years old and couldn’t easily envision what might be happening in his life in 11 years, while an older man, indicating he’d be a senior citizen by the time the station opened, might need to use it instead of driving, if he had “a way to get down the hill.”

They discussed neighborhood attributes they appreciate now, including proximity to the bridge and easy access to the rest of West Seattle. And they asked questions including the projected height of the guideway as it approached Pigeon Point, and what ST would do about stabilizing PP if they had to carve into it. Wide-ranging discussion continued, with others circulating around the room and stopping at the table, including Councilmembers McDermott and Herbold, and ST’s Mak. They moved on to discussing the possible station sites; the northernmost one had no fans. The talk also veered to discussion of tunneling into the West Seattle Junction; a younger participant said The Junction’s character is “the whole reason I moved to West Seattle,” voicing concern that an elevated Junction station would destroy that character.

While some were concerned about history, others worried about the future: “This is what’s going to be here 60 or 70 years from now; our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to live with it, and they’re (going to wonder why we didn’t put it underground).”

WHAT’S NEXT? Whether you’re in the Delridge station area or not, what matters most right now is getting your feedback in before the “scoping period” runs out – April 2nd is the deadline. You can do that here. Meantime, from Tuesday night’s slide deck, here’s the rest of the near-term timeline:

The meeting next Thursday is open to the public, 5-8 pm at the ST board room, 401 S. Jackson on the south end of downtow.

20 Replies to "Where should Delridge's light-rail station be? Sound Transit 'community workshop' tackles the topic"

  • Brizone March 18, 2019 (12:44 am)

    Why are the images of maps for all this Sound Transit stuff always of such poor resolution that they can’t be evaluated online?  Super disappointing…

    • WSB March 18, 2019 (7:02 am)

      What we use as illustration are JPGs converted from the same PDF slide deck that is linked relatively early in the story (I always ask for the deck post-meeting – they’re not always subsequently posted on the ST website). That’s likely somewhat higher resolution than the framegrabs. But if that’s what you’re referring to, that’s the best I have, sorry. -TR

  • Also John March 18, 2019 (7:42 am)

    The 3rd option shown “North of Genesee” takes away to many homes.  ST stated at a previous meeting they’d assist homeowners in finding an equal home in size and value.  They also stated they’d pay extra to make sure the homeowner gets that equal home.  This option looks like ST will be buying a lot of homes.  And if all these homeowners want to remain in West Seattle, how long will it take to find these homes?

    • Anonymous Coward March 18, 2019 (8:12 am)

      Did Sound Transit say anything about location or just size and value?  

  • Watcher March 18, 2019 (10:31 am)

    Something to keep in mind. When the monorail was being planned my brother in law was a supervisor at Metro. They were in “secret” talks to END ALL BUS SERVICE OUT OF WEST SEATTLE. Metro would have only been a shuttle service to the monorail. And, by the way you would have had to buy your buds ticket and pay again to ride the monorail. Make sure ST doesn’t have this in mind for light rail!!! They want in our pockets badly

    • KM March 18, 2019 (11:23 am)

      We already have lightrail in other parts of the city and bus service continues to exist in these neighborhoods. If you use an Orca card, you can already transfer between Sound Transit lightrail and KCMetro busses within a 2hr window (cash can be a little different). Also, the monorail will soon be accepting Orca cards as well. I doubt the entire system will blow up because light rail is being extended to Ballard and West Seattle.

    • Credible? March 18, 2019 (12:12 pm)

      Watcher is making a wild third party anecdotal claim that lacks any credence. Who wants in our pockets and how?

      • Jethro Marx March 18, 2019 (2:18 pm)

        Well, I think their watching skills are limited, but they seem to be saying Sound Transit wants in our pockets via reduced transit options that will force residents of West Seattle to use light rail.  I’m betting the secret talks referred to were between drivers on a smoke break or something, because Sound Transit is well-deep in our pockets via a series of taxing structures that dwarf fare revenue by orders of magnitude.  The only reason fares are charged for any transit is to keep the riffraff out.  It’s pretty easy to find these numbers since we’re dealing with public agencies.  See how much Sound Transit takes in in cash fares vs. how much they spend enforcing fare compliance.  

    • Michael Taylor-Judd March 18, 2019 (2:01 pm)

      There are no “secret” talks happening anywhere… Metro’s current long range plan (currently available on their website) is to probably have only the two Rapid Ride buses (C & future H/120) continuing to run out of West Seattle on the Bridge. And that has nothing to do with getting into anyone’s pockets. You will be able to transfer between buses and trains just like you currently can do elsewhere in the City. Much of the bus service we currently pay for gets “wasted” on buses and drivers sitting in traffic at rush hour. With the trains above or below grade and out of the traffic you would have a time certain trip into Downtown or points beyond. The only things to “cautious” about in the future will be to ensure that the bus hours that are saved by NOT running through all of that traffic get reallocated here in the southwest area to either increase the frequency of existing bus routes to bring people to the station areas or to add brand new routes connecting other parts of our neighborhoods to each other.

    • Ron Swanson March 18, 2019 (2:11 pm)

      I’m sorry but this is nonsense conspiracy thinking.  ST isn’t in charge of the bus planning, KC Metro is.  You can see what Metro’s long range plan is all the way out to 2040 here:Metro Long Range PlanOf course most of the routes don’t go downtown anymore, that’s the whole point of building a rail line!  Lets you have rapidride to Admiral and Alki paid for in part with the service hours you save by not crossing the bridge and crawling through downtown.

  • Watcher March 18, 2019 (12:38 pm)

    The monorail was before the orca card existed. Do you trust st enough to think they haven’t thought of doing this?

    • Lagartija Nick March 18, 2019 (2:55 pm)

      I trust ST more than your wild conspiracy theories.

  • James March 18, 2019 (12:51 pm)

    I was at the meeting and had a question on the estimates Sound Transit has on how many homes will need to be taken.  I was told that they only counted the houses directly under the line for the estimate.  Then when I asked if we could see a list of what the addresses of these properties were I was told that they don’t have that in a report.  In a previous meeting I was told by an engineer that the software they had drew a buffer on either side of the rail and then houses within that area were counted.  But again When I asked which specific houses, or could we see what they used to make their estimates I was told that none of that existed.  Confusing.  I would think that property owners should be notified if they are currently counted/identified in the estimated group.  I feel like this is information that Sound Transit is not interested in revealing.

    • Gene March 18, 2019 (2:06 pm)

      Ya think???

    • Lagartija Nick March 18, 2019 (2:50 pm)

      Or it could be that they don’t have that information yet BECAUSE THEY HAVEN’T FINALIZED THE PREFERRED ROUTE. But yeah, let’s just go with the conspiracy theory instead.

    • CAM March 18, 2019 (7:47 pm)

      Or ST has previously offered to sit down one on one with homeowners concerned they are in the current path and they can’t answer those questions on a global scale in a public meeting. Call them up and ask them if your property is one of the ones counted. They’ve said they’ll talk to you. 

    • Alkigranny March 19, 2019 (8:34 pm)

      Recently, I had a conversation with a homeowner in the “Youngstown” neighborhood. He and his wife just closed on their house (new construction). Sad that he was never informed by his real estate agent that his house was in the direct path of the new light rail and that he would be under imminent domain seizure in about 5 years. Not too sure how real estate agents like that sleep at night. He said that he would never had bought that house had he known.

  • Don Brubeck March 18, 2019 (7:47 pm)

    “Dawson … recapping the three alternatives for Delridge station
    locations – north of Andover in the “representative alignment,” south of
    Andover on the elevated alternative, north of Genesee in the tunneled
    alternative.”  There doesn’t seem to be a choice in the Delridge station location.  The only real choice is for the overall alignment: elevated north, elevated
    south, or tunnel. That choice determines where the Delridge station
    will be.  Am I missing something? 

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