WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Junction ‘preferred alternative’ that’s being floated before Thursday board meeting

Earlier, we published a reminder that the Sound Transit Board meets tomorrow afternoon downtown to decide which West Seattle-to-Ballard light-rail routing/station-location proposals should go into environmental studies. As you might recall from our coverage of the board’s System Expansion Committee meeting two weeks ago, there was some disagreement about whether to designate “preferred alternatives” at all for parts of the line, including The Junction. Tonight, at least two proposals some board members are circulating would propose these “preferred alternative” (without and with extra $) for The Junction and vicinity:

West Seattle (Avalon / and Junction)
Preferred Alternative
 Elevated stations – Avalon station in vicinity of SW Genesee Street, SW Avalon Way and 35th Avenue SW. Turns southwest on Fauntleroy Way SW with elevated Alaska Junction station options oriented north/south and staying east of the Alaska Junction on Fauntleroy and in the vicinity of 41st /42nd Avenue SW. (To be determined)

Preferred Alternative with Third Party Funding
 Tunnel station – Avalon station in vicinity of SW Genesee Street, SW Avalon Way and 35th Avenue SW. Turns southwest with tunnel Alaska Junction station options oriented north-south in the vicinity of 41st Avenue SW and 42nd Avenue SW. Based on current information, these alternatives would require additional third-party funding. (To be determined)

The proposals – all by board members from outside Seattle – include concern that waiting until after environmental studies to determine these (and some other) “preferred alternatives” could add a year and a half to the timeline. (They were forwarded to West Seattle community advocates by a representative from the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan, who is an ST board member.) Again, as detailed in our preview earlier, the meeting is 1:30-5 pm Thursday at the downtown board room (401 S. Jackson), with a public-comment period toward the start.

29 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Junction 'preferred alternative' that's being floated before Thursday board meeting"

  • Duke M. May 23, 2019 (6:27 am)

    I hope we don’t cut corners like a lot of developers love to do with Seattle’s properties. Especially when they keep coming back to a tunnel option. I recall that West Seattle has hundreds of underground springs, and because it’s a bit of a dynamic situation with how they form and change, the city has NOT mapped all of them. I learned this from some surveyors my dad worked with when we were investigating some sinking property near Genesee Hill Elementary about 16 years ago, and again within the last 6 years when my basement apartment kept flooding after a rain, when a spring change route at at a hillside and found, then penetrated a footing on the apartment complex…I vote we don’t skip the environmental impact studies just because of a outsider company’s concern that a 20+ year project will have to delay another year….

  • Paul May 23, 2019 (6:51 am)

    They should skip the Avalon station and build the Junction station east of Fauntleroy at Alaska. Then work with Metro to replumb the bus network to eliminate the need for an Avalon station.If you look at a zoning map, Fauntleroy and Alaska is near the heart of the density planned for the Junction area. Smart planning of the bus network could provide frequent buses connecting the station to the California/Alaska area of the Junction. Elminating the the station at Avalon would help free up funds for a tunnel to Fauntleroy/Alaska. The tunnel would be a bit shorter too, which would also help on the cost side.

    • aRF May 23, 2019 (7:44 am)

      This is a sensible plan and it also does a better job of lining up the tracks for continuing south to White Center and Burien should that ever happen. But when I suggested this in these forums back in the early stages of discussion, a number of people were quite vocal about the absolute need to bring light rail to Alaska Junction proper. I do believe the triangle area would also be a preferred transfer point for the buses that will feed to and from the light rail. 

    • Karen May 23, 2019 (11:36 am)

      This makes sense.   In the early community meetings more than one objector noted bus routes that didn’t line up with this plan.   It hadn’t occurred to either that bus routes can and do  change.   

  • KM May 23, 2019 (7:28 am)

    Love to see Avalon stations included in both proposals going forward. 

    • Paul May 23, 2019 (8:45 am)

      We don’t need three stations so close together. Delridge and the Junction would be enough in this area, with a well thought out bus restructure.

      • Jeff May 23, 2019 (5:15 pm)

        Totally agree. The Andover location is perfect to compile riders from both Avalon and Delridge areas. 

  • disconnected govenment May 23, 2019 (7:49 am)

    It is not a foregone
    conclusion to take the ST funding and apply it to enhance the current bus and
    transit in place in West Seattle and get the minority the proposed rail would
    serve to a station location in SODO and not disrupt a dense and pre-existing community

    Every member of the city and
    county government that is also on the board of ST has a biased conflict of
    interest and their input, proposals and opinions should be in question. I have
    no more faith in this project as reflecting the West Seattle community and most
    certainly not me. If you require building another viaduct – do it in your own
    back yard and at your expense. Get over it, this is not NY or SF or Chicago and
    that should never be held up as a benchmark. Destroying the character that is
    unique to Seattle and particular to West Seattle is not progress and this
    simply looks like a vanity project for ELG and ST And ethically questionable by
    local government officials with personal agendas. No one outside of King County
    should make a decision for West Seattle and definitely not based on a cartoon voter
    pamphlet proposal.

    If you cannot find a tunnel
    route as desired by those paying for it – then put the money into
    enhancing/improvising/expanding the current mass transit. All elevated rail
    proposals are not an improvement to this community. Tearing down homes and
    businesses, removing green space, erecting concrete behemoths and disrupting
    the livable quality of lifestyle, established long before the City of Seattle
    signed off on over-development as a policy, is not improving this community. And
    YES quality of lifestyle is important to this community.

    An undesirable structure that
    taxpayers have been forced to pay for, by and unelected ST on a ridiculous
    outdated fee schedule, that does not serve those with the least amount of
    service now, and with no projection of utilization, and no cost estimate; while
    you act as though you are deciding for the taxpaying public that has made it clear
    they DO NOT want an above ground structure is criminal. ST should not be
    allowed to have any more tax funding and I hope the entire ELG is voted out,
    you have done a shameful job. If you refuse to tunnel, then stay out of West
    Seattle. NO one is interested in an overpriced, over-built rail into West
    Seattle to travel three miles to SODO for an elite few that cannot drive.

    • heartless May 23, 2019 (8:27 am)

      Hah.  I’m so glad people like you lost.  And you lost by a lot, didn’t you?  I mean, when it was put to a vote?  Your whining really increases my happiness that we’re getting light rail–so thank you!!

      As for the crux of your argument, such as it is: “Destroying the character that is unique to Seattle and particular to West Seattle is not progress…” Nobody has ever said that’s progress. 

      What is happening–nay, what has already happened–is that West Seattle HAS ALREADY CHANGED.  How have you not noticed this? 

      And to make this changed, denser, busier area nicer for everyone who lives here now and who will live here in the future we are putting in light rail.

      You wrote it’d be “…for an elite few that cannot drive” — that is an amazing line.  The contortions you must have made to claim those who rely on public transit are the “elite few”!  Next time I get on the bus or ride the light rail I’ll have to remind myself “ahh, how luxurious!  Now this is how the ELITE travel!”  Hah!

    • Peter May 23, 2019 (9:58 am)

      Ah the tried and true “I didn’t get my way therefore the community wasn’t listened to” lie. You do realize that people who disagree with you also get input, right?

    • HappyCamper May 23, 2019 (11:04 am)

      Let’s down zone everything and repeal ST3. That’ll fix all of these issues! Just kidding let’s not do that.

  • KBear May 23, 2019 (9:25 am)

    “Disconnected Government”, you’re clearly not commuting to work across the West Seattle Bridge on a regular basis, or riding the bus anywhere. Are you retired, perhaps? What “improvements” to the bus system do you propose? Should we build a new bridge just for buses? Should we ban cars from the West Seattle Bridge during peak hours? Should we add lots more buses to get stuck in traffic? The representative plan approved by voters in ST3 did not include a tunnel, so clearly there IS support for an elevated line, if that’s what it takes to get light rail to West Seattle. You live in a big city. There’s going  to be development and change. We’re finally getting big city transit. I just hope I get to use it before I retire.

  • Rail Rider May 23, 2019 (10:03 am)

    Can you post the actual proposals floating around you refer to, assuming they are in writing? Thanks.

    • KBear May 23, 2019 (12:13 pm)

      Rail Rider, you appear to be on the internet. A quick search will bring up all sorts of information about ST3, including dozens of articles on this site.

  • Seriously? May 23, 2019 (10:50 am)

    Waiting for the standard Seattle construction project update: this project is over budget and behind schedule . . .

  • Mark Schletty May 23, 2019 (11:10 am)

    A question— did the light rail tunnels built in other neighborhoods get 3rd party funding? Or were we all taxed to provide those neighborhoods with tunnels? It does seem that what is good for one area should be good for another area. But I really don’t know how the other tunnels were funded.

    • Mary May 23, 2019 (12:16 pm)

      Well with that thinking shouldn’t the residents of Delridge Genesee and Avalon also get a tunnel? 

      • heartless May 23, 2019 (1:06 pm)

        No, that doesn’t follow at all.  Unless somehow you’re under the impression that all (or even most) neighborhoods got only underground light rail (which obviously isn’t true)…

    • KM May 23, 2019 (1:44 pm)

      I don’t think it’s easy to compare neighborhoods when they aren’t similar. As far as existing tunnels go, Capitol Hill/Downtown is very different (within the realm of homogenous Seattle, that is). The land is valued higher, it’s more dense. It would be far more expensive to buy out the real estate for an elevated line between Westlake and CH than it would be in West Seattle. And the displacement too–there’s more residents and expensive commercial buildings that would have been displaced with an elevated line there here (speaking roughly as the route likely wouldn’t have been the same had they gone elevated). I think it’s also worth noting that the representative tunnel alignment for WS could result in more surface alignment for Interbay and a tunnel instead of elevated alignment for Ballard (nothing is final and parts of routes can still be suggested for changes as I was informed by WSB a while ago).  Surface alignment really stinks and I would hate to see WS should get a tunnel at the expense and functionality of other parts of the system. 

  • MJ May 23, 2019 (12:12 pm)

    ST has many flaws and is arrogant.  The reality is that the West Seattle Bridge is way beyond capacity and providing a high capacity transit is sorely needed.  As most WS residents I prefer a tunnel to the Junction, however a third party funding source is needed.  This source needs to be identified, vetted and voted on.  Or is it possible to simply add say a surcharge to EVERYONE (no exception) boarding the system at the Avalon and Junction station to pay the added cost?And ST needs to fix the flawed vehicle valuation schedule, they valued my vehicle at 30% more than I paid for it at a dealership!

    • CAM May 23, 2019 (3:55 pm)

      I think a tunnel is an absolute waste of money for little net gain but I will exclusively use the stops your reference to board the light rail. Are you suggesting that I should be forced to bear the burden of other people’s poor choices? And if so, why the heck wouldn’t everyone else in the ST area also be paying such a fee since they also get minimal benefit from it and likely don’t believe it’s necessary? If there’s a cost to be paid everyone bears the brunt of that cost. I’ve already had people on this site volunteer everyone in WS to pay a LID tax to pay for the unnecessary tunnel. Neither of those ideas are realistic or workable. If third party funding can be found then great. But that funding needs to be in place now, not planned for and then never found when it comes time to build. 

  • Chuck May 23, 2019 (2:00 pm)

    I will be shocked if we get the more desirable tunnel option. Stepchild rules and all that. Prove me wrong, Powers That Be!

    • CAM May 23, 2019 (3:58 pm)

      Nobody is treating WS unfairly. There are reasons other neighborhoods got tunnels and reasons other neighborhoods got elevated lines and reasons other neighborhoods got at grade rail. Those reasons have been discussed and presented numerous times but it seems people just don’t want to believe them because it doesn’t play into their preformed narrative. That’s the same reason we still have people in this country that believe in clean coal. 

      • HappyCamper May 23, 2019 (5:15 pm)

        Fast forward a few decades and the West Seattle Junction area will (hopefully) look a lot more like Broadway and John where there is an underground station with TOD housing on top of it and a large park nearby.Aside from numbers and politics and whatever; we’re talking viaduct vs. nice attractive waterfront area in OUR downtown. 

      • Jethro Marx May 23, 2019 (7:45 pm)

        Tell us more about coal, CAM; are you a Materials Scientist? A Chemical Engineer? Or did you like, read a cool facebook post or something? I guess in the end it depends on what you mean by clean. A car powered by syngas could have a much smaller carbon footprint than a battery-powered one. But I guess it’s easier to oversimplify things.

        • zark00 May 24, 2019 (10:07 am)

          While syngas would potentially reduce the emissions from the vehicle itself, the production of syngas is very problematic.  It increases the release of Co2 exponentially; even over burning coal directly.  6 of one, half dozen of another – either coming out of the tail pipe or at the factory – syngas will also destroy the environment.  Syngas only makes sense for places like China and India where they still burn, A LOT, of coal for various purposes like heating and cooking; and even there the production process is a huge environment problem.  Syngas isn’t bad at all, it’s just a tiny little step, it’s too little too late, and is no longer a viable alternative on a large scale.  Nuclear is arguably the cleanest, safest way to produce the amount of electricity we need and will need.  I know, scary, but it’s true.  Or like an antimatter deuterium fusion reactor, that would work, but we have to find some dilithium crystals.  They have ’em on that planet with the big rock guy.

  • Mary May 23, 2019 (4:37 pm)

    Really? I think you missed the point which was  that Mark and the rest of the junction residents complaining about their unfair treatment doesn’t have any merit.  So tiring  hearing about their whining what other neighborhoods received.

  • nadoka May 23, 2019 (8:12 pm)

    Do it right – don’t mess up neighborhood with an elevated structure but enhance the neighborhood with a tunnel. No rushing just to mark it off as done. Again, when it can be done right, do it. 

  • WSB May 23, 2019 (8:18 pm)

    For anyone checking in, we were of course at this afternoon’s meeting, which ran an hour over – to 6 pm – and will have our story up around 9 pm, including the full text of the motion that was passed, for fine-print fans.

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