In two and a half weeks, the Elected Leadership Group created for Sound Transit West Seattle/Ballard light-rail planning will meet to make its recommendation of which routing/station-location alternatives should go into environmental study.
They have a lot of feedback to consider. And as we reported here, one West Seattleite on the ELG, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, expressed concern that the ELG and the Stakeholder Advisory Group wouldn’t get enough time to consider it all – the timetable said they would get a summary of the recent “scoping” comments just two days before their recommendation meeting on April. She reiterated her request for more time in this letter with her scoping comments:
She asked that both groups get at least a week’s lead time between receiving scoping-comment information and their next meetings. And now we’ve learned that will happen – Sound Transit intends to send the scoping comments to both groups today (Wednesday), which is exactly a week before the SAG meets and 16 days before the ELG meets. We had asked ST just yesterday about the status of the request for more time and were told, “Staff is working hard to turn around these comments as quickly as they can.” We’ll inquire tomorrow how and how soon they’ll be available once sent to the ELG and SAG.
Meantime, community groups are continuing their advocacy. Another of the West Seattleites on the ELG, County Councilmember Joe McDermott – who is also on the ST Board – recently walked part of the potential route – from the Avalon station vicinity to the easternmost Junction station – with members of the East Alaska Junction Neighborhood Coalition. We were along for most of the tour:
They both showed him the terrain and sought his advice on how best to advocate for their position.
He said they were already on the right track, so to speak, but one thing was vital to be clear about: That they’re “not NIMBYs who don’t want your houses taken.”
The points they made along the way definitely were not along those lines. The walk – whose attendees also include Stakeholder Advisory Group member Deb Barker of Morgan Junction – began at 35th and Fauntleroy, and headed west.
The potentially short distance between the Avalon and Junction stations was pointed out – with the latter almost within line of sight of the former. The walksheds overlap, one person noted, observing that the Avalon station area isn’t even that far from the Delridge station-vicinity walkshed.
Concerns about bus integration continue to swirl around the Avalon station vicinity. McDermott observed that the Sound Transit planning for the UW light-rail station didn’t integrate buses well.
Some of the walk was spent trying to envision how high up an elevated track would be. As the group turned up SW Genesee toward the heart of The Junction, it was also noted that because of the rise, one alignment would put the track at street level at or near 39th/Genesee, creating two dead-ends.
Around that point, McDermott pointed out that in his view, as he has said previously, “the goal needs to be the tunnel and making sure it happens.” As all are well aware, that means money beyond what was in the ST3 ballot measure, but “we’ll work over the next couple years to figure out where that money comes from.”
The walk concluded near 41st/Alaska, a possible north/south-oriented station location, which has sparked concern that it would set up a future – ST4? – expansion continuing down 41st, far into residential turf. The decisions being made now must be viewed through the prism of planning the next expansion, the group believes.
Two nights later, as mentioned in our previous coverage, the East Junction group spoke to the Southwest District Council‘s April meeting. They showed the SWDC some of what’s on their website. One member said he moved into his house almost exactly a year ago, and knew light rail was coming but “didn’t know how much of a front seat I would actually have.” Another added that the group wants to be conscious of the realities of funding, knowing that an elevated option is more likely to be funded than a tunnel option, and “we feel would feel uncomfortable going into the EIS phase knowing there is only one elevated option and one tunnel option,” knowing the tunnel option could be a non-starter.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Stakeholder Advisory Group meets at 5 pm April 17th, to finalize its recommendation(s) to the Elected Leadership Group, which meets at 9:30 am April 26th. The Sound Transit board then meets in May to finalize what it wants to send into environmental studies. All meetings are open to the public, and all are in the ST board room on the south side of downtown, 401 S. Jackson.