LAST CALL! ‘Scoping comment’ deadline day for West Seattle light rail. See what two groups are saying

If you haven’t gotten your “scoping” comment in regarding West Seattle light rail – today is the (extended) deadline set by Sound Transitso go here fast! Many local organizations and groups are weighing in. We’ve heard from two more whose detailed views might interest you. First, the Junction Neighborhood Organization:

(Here’s the PDF, if you can’t read it above.)

Next, from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition:

(Here’s the PDF.) The “scoping” comments are to be summarized by ST with “themes” made available to the Stakeholder Advisory Group a few days in advance of its meeting April 19th, at which SAG members will make a recommendation of routing/station options that they think should go into environmental study. One last time, here’s how to submit yours – by end of day today.

12 Replies to "LAST CALL! 'Scoping comment' deadline day for West Seattle light rail. See what two groups are saying"

  • Melanie April 2, 2019 (1:27 pm)

    Putting myself out there – here was my comment. If you all think I’m an idiot, I’m sure you’ll let me know.

    I offer my input on a plan revision I hope Sound Transit will consider for the West Seattle stations. It applies to all 3 plans.There is vocal community concern about the cost/desire to underground the Alaska Junction segment. Moreover, the orientation of the elevated and tunnel Junction station plans suggests that a future South line would follow California Ave SW and interact with some very costly real estate/major travel corridor.**Please evaluate how either the Fauntleroy/35th station or the Delridge station may be instead given a North/South orientation in anticipation for that future southern line. One of these two stations should be designed as the West Seattle transit “hub”, not the Junction station.**In turn, the California station would be a “spur” track that frees it from being necessarily oriented North/South and potentially shortens its length and thereby the cost of undergrounding.Importantly, this approach means:* possibility for designing an adjacent park and ride and bus shelter expansion nearby the Fauntleroy or Delridge location as part of a hub – traditionally underserved areas of WS. The large Alki Lumber parcel on Fauntleroy going up for sale soon comes to mind.* avoiding the future costs and disruptions of a line that travels south down the California Ave SW spine. * potential for a smaller footprint for the immediately planned station and less disruption to the surrounding Junction neighborhood.

    • JS April 2, 2019 (4:19 pm)

      Agree that 35th would be a much better idea than California for an elevated North/South line.

    • J April 2, 2019 (7:46 pm)

      Well said! 

  • Also John April 2, 2019 (2:41 pm)

    @Melanie……  Not an idiot idea at all.  Having the Avalon Station (Fauntleroy/35th as you call it) facing north/south would make the Delridge folks happier.  The Delridge folks, rightfully, don’t want to see their proposed station get any larger.

  • 98126res April 2, 2019 (4:14 pm)

    I like a neat alternative floating about, to put rail on 35th or Delridge south to Myers Way where there is far more space, more affordable real estate, public land available for a large station – something like the efficient central transportation station in Amsterdam – then continue south to carry passengers to white center and burien.  From there use other cheaper less disruptive methods to passenger residents around the peninsula and our beloved “small town” west seattle that everyone loves here, and brings people here from all over.

  • charlotte April 2, 2019 (5:41 pm)

    As of this moment at 5:30pm comments are still open. I am a long term WS resident and a strong supporter of a tunnel and potential alternate route. I have submitted the below to all city officials, and the comment site.  There may be a loss of formatting but perhaps you can use some of the below reasons to add your own comment tonight before deadline close:—————————–

    Non-Taxed, Revenue Generating City Property adjacent
    to proposed line

    When the city owned properties are exempt from hugely valued
    property and tax free while generating revenue, where is the logic in
    destroying a very special and unique neighborhood? How did the city determine
    an above ground rail was any type of “solution” in a phase 3 scope?For example: The city owns a combined 7.4Million square feet
    (7,477,488 to be exact) of land adjacent to the proposed route valued at
    $118Million dollars ($118,175,300 to be exact) that is all PROPERTY TAX EXEMPT.
    These are all revenue generating properties. Isn’t it logical to temporarily
    disrupt some of these areas vs. permanent disruption to residential areas? (The
    WS Golf course in particular). //The city will perpetually lose REAL revenues if an above
    ground rail is built in West Seattle. In the cost and feasibility study and
    analysis, you MUST include buyout costs of homes with views, property tax loses
    (forever) based on the devaluation of any home that can hear or see an elevated
    rail, let alone be near it, and be LONG TERM fiscally and socially responsible.
    The long term value of permanent disruption will far exceed the additional cost
    of a tunnel over the long term.
    Camp Long (West Seattle Golf Course and Camp Long) 5,754,275
    square feet, $86,315,100.00) Seattle Golf Course and Stadium (1,115,551 square
    feet, appraised value $16,733,200.00 Community Center (607,662 square feet) Playfield (607662 square feet, appraised total

    Noise Pollution

    Central Link trains operate for twenty hours a day on
    weekdays and Saturdays, from 5:00 am to 1:00 am, and eighteen hours on Sundays,
    from 6:00 am to 12:00 am. I have lived in my home 2 blocks south of the
    junction for 28 years. Only 8 or so years ago I started hearing the constant
    rumble noise of I-5 traffic in my front yard, and still do so today. I live 3.5 miles away from it.//What is the city’s plan to mitigate affecting the more than
    5 mile radius of residential home noise pollution when in fact it would be
    greater and more damaging at a much greater scale in an elevated rail track? As
    with ground effects, the atmospheric effects need to be considered for both
    noise predictions and measurements.
    “A lot of municipalities just don’t even think about
    noise,” says Eric Zwerling, director of the Rutgers Noise Technical
    Assistance Center at the State University of New Jersey and president of the
    Noise Consultancy, LLC, “but the bottom line is that it’s much, much
    cheaper to design for quiet than to remediate afterwards. Spending additional
    time upfront helps residents avoid disrupted lives and costly retrofits, and
    could help municipalities and State DOTs avoid the problem and expense of
    addressing incompatible adjacent land uses.”

    []Noise above 55 dB(A), where dB(A) is a measure that attempts
    to correct the way the human ear perceives loudness, is considered noise
    pollution for humans, and the sound values in the range 65–75 dB(A) cause
    stress to the body, leading to arterial hypertension (high blood pressure),
    cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks (Berglund et al. 1999).[Source:
    ]At fifty feet away from a person, a city bus would measure
    84 dBA and a heavy truck 90 dBA. A light rail vehicle at the same distance
    would measure 66 dBA and an Electric Multiple Unit 85 dBA. Comparatively,
    conversational speech is about 60 dBA.[Source:

    The hill between Fauntleroy and California South of
    the Junction is clay and has a high erosion potential and at best, unforeseen
    cost overruns

    My 94 year old neighbor who was born, lived and died in her
    house 25 years ago (1994) was here to tell the tale of  the hill between Fauntleroy and California as
    dug up clay from both of those streets to create the hill proposed for the
    light rail route. A recent residential remodel along the proposed elevated
    route was city required to dig 16’ deep pin piling support along the 20 foot
    long home for erosion protection of the neighboring property line.\\ How will the city validate soil erosion, pin pile depths
    and relating earthquake safety issues? In one recent remodel on this hill, a
    residential homeowner was REQUIRED BY THE CITY to drive pin piles 16 feet under
    the property grade for a home that is under the city’s 30 foot height
    requirement. What are the requirements for hundreds of feet in the air light rail?
    25 foot residential home @ 16 foot deep pin piles  x 150 foot elevated rail = 96 foot deep pin piling?
    More? How does this compare to boring a tunnel when it is possible the erosion
    control plan will set the framework for a tunnel?

    Futurization, Neighborhood Appeal, Community Events

    Elevated proposed “future” route at the Junction on 41st ave
    SW to where? Burien?  What is the city’s
    logic in a potential connection route to Burien through thousands of
    residential homes on 41st Ave? At the very least, the city should
    plan ahead to incorporate the already
    industrial  eco-system of marginal way
    as well as the short and long term cost and revenue advantages of this area. //In the affordable housing act, developers get financial
    breaks on new development – is this cause of concern for the “preferred route”
    and city revenues from builders, permits, etc.? The city must also consider the
    social and economic impact on the Junction small businesses and its residents.
    Will people really enjoy community events such as the Farmers Market, Annual
    Festivals and so on with light rail noise and concrete hovering over them?

    Pedestrian Safety, Passenger Volume, Future
    scalability for an above ground rail – Build another One?

    There are serious pedestrian safety and passenger volume
    control issues with the proposed elevated rail plans. According to the rail
    service delivery performance report, demand exceeded the anticipated ridership.

    According to the Times, the Capitol Hill Station had “full
    platforms, full trains, and people waiting for the next” (and during spring
    break no less) and the resulting solution was simple; add longer trains. [
    ]An average three car train weighs about 450,000 lbs. not
    including passengers. []How can the city scale unanticipated demand compared to
    build load of the above ground system? Will we have a repeat of the above at
    10mph (between a walk and a jog) to address cracks and closures. Please consider the long term effects of an
    above rail system and its passenger scalability.
    What are the effects
    of weather conditions on an above rail system?
    Airplanes at ground level often need de-icing before they are safe to take
    airborne. With a proposed above rail system, what are the costs to insure passenger
    and rail safety? //What is the City’s plan to handle over-demand with an above
    light rail system? Build another one? The Capitol Hill solution was perfect,
    did not cost ultimately more than the revenue generated from adding longer
    cars. Nowhere in an elevated rail system is there a viable and straightforward
    approach to considering this factor. With respect to elevated rail and weather
    conditions at grade elevation, how will the maintenance in certain weather
    conditions affect the usability, safety and ongoing service? The City MUST
    consider the hidden long term costs of a lower priced solution.

    Wind Velocity at 150 feet equals a category 1
    hurricane: Safety is a critical concern

    The Wind Velocity and consequent safety of riders are a
    critical consideration to be made. If the average wind speed is measured at
    approximately 30 feet on average, and Seattle winds can average up to 16 mph
    during certain seasons, winds could
    reach up to 80mph 150 feet in the air. That is 69.5 knots per hour and a
    category 1 hurricane.
    Only two random examples here.Denver light rail and highway shut down at threat of Wind
    damage to Ikea signs at 20-40mph []New Jersey various light rail issues and repairs even at
    street level causes safety issues []As of today, the submission deadline for comments on a
    lovely mild spring day, the 520 bridge weather indicates wind speeds at 11mph
    and gusts at 16 mph. The bridge (similar to a raised rail with no wind
    deterring protection on either side of proposed elevations) is only 20 feet
    deck height above the water at midspan and often wind warnings are issued to
    insure traveler safety. If you have not had the opportunity to drive across the
    bridge during wind gusts, please do; it’s an unsettling experience. []

    Elevated Seattle light rail cracks within a 1200 foot
    stretch after only 9 years; 5 mile shutdown; passenger alert took the city 2
    weeks to investigate

    It is astounding to consider it has only been 9 years that
    an elevated light rail shows cracks along a 1200 foot span and a 5 mile shutdown.
    Does the city really expect this will not be a repeat issue with unforeseen
    repair costs compared to the stability of a tunnel?

    []//How will the city plan for load testing when demand exceeds
    capacity? In the short 9 years of this rail stretch, the repairs required were
    immediate – what was the cost? Closure equals lost revenue – how does that
    revenue supplement the $700mm additional tunnel cost. Can we expect that cost
    every 9 years? What is the long term impact?

    Let’s do the quick math on what an additional $700mm
    tunnel would really cost in the long term

    Property tax revenue loss is grossly underestimated, as is
    SDCI permitting revenue, and homeowner property improvement. With an above rail
    system, the city will suffer these ‘hidden costs’ of a short-sighted solution. If you take an average $2.50 fare for each passenger at the
    Capitol Hill station in July of 2018 hitting the 80,000 monthly volume ridership,
    the City realizes a gross $200,000 for the month, or $2.4MM for the year. Let’s assume nature will repeat itself with our Earthquake
    risk and we realize 42 years of service before an entirely new investment must
    be made (and let’s also consider the Viaduct emergency repairs of $14.5mm)
    added to the above rail cost.  Let’s not account
    for crack repairs after 9 years, or other ‘patchwork’ costs, as this is not
    easily found public information.
    $700mm additional budget for a tunnelYears of elevated Viaduct service: 42 yearsAverage fare of $2.50 for 42 years of ridership at 80,000 passengers
    per month = $100,800,000.00Inherent repairs for an above ground rail due to earthquake,
    not maintenance = ?? $14.5mmEstimated Annual Property tax for two blocks of homes on 41st
    Ave SW valued at +/- $600,000k to $1mm = average annual taxable amount $7k x 40
    +/- homes  x 1year = $1.4mm a year, $58,800,000.00
    for 42 years
    Degradation of property devaluation for noise disturbance
    and unsightly above rail for an additional 5 blocks of homes (same rough
    criteria above) for 42 years = $58,800,000.00 x 3 blocks = $176,400,000.00mm//It is
    the city’s fiscal and socio economic responsibility to do the real math. A
    quick hack on revenue implications (not including lost developer revenues) show
    that a tunnel is the best option. The above only briefly illustrates that a
    combined $249.7mm in a very small section of the above rail impact plan is not
    in the community’s or the city’s best interest.

    2018 Light Rail Revenues are 102% higher than
    budgeted (2.6mm)

    Per the city’s passenger fare revenue for light rail,
    revenues are up the budgeted revenue by 102% or $2.6mm. Where are these funds
    going? Should they not be a consideration for overall city transportation
    solutions? []

    //How are these additional revenue funds being used? What is
    the forecasted revenue for the West Seattle run? How is this being incorporated
    in the additional tunnel option cost?

    Wildlife Dislocation and Pollution Impact; The Eagles
    will leave the Junction area and go where?

    Often there are Eagles flying high and majestic in the
    Junction area approximately 100 feet in the air. I personally have an
    exceptional tree and see them frequently North of me (and South of the
    Junction). []//A comprehensive study on the environmental impact of noise,
    pollution and above ground vibration disturbances must critically be at the top
    of the city’s priority list.

    Exceptional Trees and “smaller exceptional trees”–
    Has the City identified them in the path?

    The city regulates protection of particular tree sizes, and
    clusters of trees. Going against this rule, and the city would fine homeowners in
    the thousands. A smaller tree measures only 6” diameter at the breadth. How
    will the city mitigate this issue to preserve these trees, mine included on
    41st Ave SW? Build over the height of the trees? []
    And ongoing issues relating to this issue here; 2015 case highlights an $11,000 fine for a 6” diameter tree [].
    And, what is the result of how those funds were used?As Seattle booms, the city is scrambling to save trees [].
    The long term impact of an above rail system will inherently compromise this
    initiative, the beauty of our city, and the ability for new exceptional trees
    to flourish.//Has the city mapped the exceptional trees and clusters on
    the proposed route? What is the city penalty for creating a potentially
    environmental hazard to the long term health of the trees on the proposed
    elevated path? Can we really expect future ‘evergreen’ exceptional and
    magnificent trees to grow under an elevated light rail 100 years from now?

    Can the left hand talk to the right? Working with
    developers, SDOT, SCDI (permitting) Critical Housing Shortage

    One example of permits approved that combined with others,
    could create a coordinated tunnel effort; Developers already realize discounted
    savings through the affordable act – would it not be wise to consolidate
    efforts to minimize tunnel impact?a.           A land use
    permit has been issued for a new 7-story building with 49 apartment units, 25
    small efficiency dwelling units (74 units total) and retail. Parking for 17
    vehicles proposed. The existing building will be demolished (West Seattle
    Cyclery, Lee’s Asian and Kamei Japanese Restaurant).b.           5-6 level
    multifamily residential structure with one lodging level, commercial retail
    shops at grade, and one level of below grade parking with entrance at grade on
    California Ave. Article: []Seattle’s
    affordable housing Act and housing real estate crisis: An above ground light
    rail goes against the act, and the logic of continuing to create more housing,
    not destroy it.
      In Seattle’s case, housing costs increased over the last
    three years at a higher rate than in other cities of comparable size. But while
    the cost of single-family homes over the summer fell faster in Seattle than
    anywhere else, the city’s housing costs remain some of the highest in the
    nation.[]//How does the city justify the loss of so many residential
    homes, development revenue of mixed use buildings, and the affordable housing
    act as complementing an above rail system?


    Federal Transportation Funding to “minimize negative
    impacts to communities”

    There are Federal Transportation Grants available to
    “minimize negative impacts” [] on
    transportation systems – Let’s fight for
    a grant, not the residents of West Seattle on an above ground rail.
    a.             TA works
    to ensure that our grantees’ transit projects minimize the negative impacts on
    their surroundings and in their communities through environmentally sound
    practices. The FTA’s environmental impact regulation (Environmental Impact and
    Related Procedures (23 C.F.R 771)), issued jointly with the Federal Highway
    Administration (FHWA), describes two types of mass transit projects that
    normally have significant effects on the environment:1.           New
    construction or extension of fixed rail transit facilities (e.g. heavy rail,
    light rail, commuter rail and automated guideway transit); and2.           New
    construction or extension of a separate roadway for buses or high-occupancy
    vehicles not located within an existing highway. E.g. bus rapid transit)

    Earthquake Vulnerability; The Viaduct only served the
    city 42 full years

    Long term vulnerability to Earthquakes: The Viaduct only
    serviced the city in full for 42 years before being deemed vulnerable to total
    failure ( This decision MUST
    effectively serve the community for many decades in order to amortize the large
    investment of either option. The viaduct was built in three phases from 1949 through
    1959, with the first section opening on April 4, 1953. It was the smaller of
    the two major north–south traffic corridors through Seattle (the other being
    Interstate 5), carrying up to 91,000 vehicles per day in 2016.[1] The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed the similarly
    designed Cypress Street Viaduct in Oakland, California, with the loss of 42
    lives.[34] The 2001 Nisqually earthquake damaged the viaduct and its supporting
    Alaskan Way Seawall and required the Washington State Department of
    Transportation (WSDOT) to invest US$14.5 million in emergency repairs. Since
    the Nisqually earthquake occurred, semi-annual inspections have discovered
    continuing settlement damage.//If the city is short sighted in building an above ground
    rail system, the thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of hours spent
    only in the route planning stage now will all be a waste, as potentially will
    be an above light rail build. The city must conduct a comprehensive and detailed
    longevity comparison of initial costs, repair costs, out of service costs and
    rebuild costs 50 years from now (and more) and seriously consider the long term

    Conclusion; What will your legacy be?

    Seattle and West Seattle has been fraught with
    transportation issues for many, many years. I have witnessed this battle for
    over34 years after having been a West Seattle resident for more than 30 of
    them. Please ask yourself what your legacy will be – the person or group that
    preserved beautiful areas and communities of the city while solving dense
    population transportation challenges, or the one that destroyed a neighborhood,
    contributed to air pollution, created an environmental compromise to the growth
    of the next ten generations of vegetation and trees that have earned us the
    proud ‘evergreen state’ badge? It is both a personal and fiscal question that I
    urge you to pursue. An above rail system is limiting, non-scalable and permanent
    until it fails. Then we start all over again. And additional investment in a
    tunnel system appears to be the logical choice, despite the price tag in the
    short term vision; let us focus on the long term vision as to why our city
    exploded in commerce from the 80’s forward and respect that together, we are
    building a viable, beautiful and desirable city and pockets of communities to
    live in and proudly, collectively, call our home.

    While I personally am one homeowner located several blocks
    south of the proposed severely impacted end of the line Alaska Junction rail, I
    am passionate about why I chose to be here for so long and believe many other
    residents are as well – regardless of how many have contributed feedback. I
    urge all city members to seriously consider the greater of the long term good
    in how the light rail system is implemented.

    • 500' 35th Highpoint April 2, 2019 (7:31 pm)

      Nothing more to say but, WOW they is an impassioned  if not always accurate screed!

    • second that April 2, 2019 (8:17 pm)

      Thoroughly informatino. While I agree the issues should be considered, I believe it is evident that is not happening and I no longer believe our elected officials are considering input from West Seattle residents. I have also noted none of the ELG live in the Sound Transit path of destruction. How convenient.

  • blind eye April 2, 2019 (6:59 pm)

    I see it was easy to propose a behemoth station at Avalon. Was it too difficult to see how many homes, condos, families, and neighbors live at the purposed Avalon Station location? There may be hundreds of homes affected at Youngstown, but there are an additional hundreds if homes at the purposed Avalon Station location. Everyone not affected that truly believe it will only be 100 of your West Seattle neighbors that are displaced by all ST purposed plans are willfully blind….. the lie you tell yourself.

  • KBear April 2, 2019 (8:57 pm)

    That IS quite a screed. No wonder nothing ever gets done in Seattle. Expect a perfect light rail line in about 150 years. 

  • 1994 April 2, 2019 (9:32 pm)

    Run the line up the grade at Myers Way and then back to downtown W Seattle via Roxbury and 35th.  No pricey tunnels or underground stations needed, no fantastic flyover bridges needed, should take less real estate…..should be cheaper.

  • old coot April 2, 2019 (10:17 pm)

    I 100% support the positions of both the West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC) and the Junction Neighborhood Organization (JuNO) – prefer postponing or removing the Avalon station for cost savings and better service times – no one is advocating for keeping all three stations except people who willfully misinterpret the ballot language- truncate line for now if necessary – prefer tunneling over viaducts – or align along existing major thoroughfares – align over golf course instead of homes – you can still golf under a viaduct – you can’t live under itWhy are we preserving an underused golf course at the expense of hundreds of homes at a time of housing crisis? The whole design process was delayed and then rushed. Please take the time to get it right, there is no do-over. Look at historical rail routes in the area – Fauntleroy etc – they’re already wide and graded for rail. Consider future southward expansion – will you repeat Seattle’s historic folly and build a viaduct along Beach Drive? If that sounds ridiculous, how does building a viaduct one block off of California Ave sound?

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