WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit releases ‘initial assessments’ of 2 more possibilities

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Sound Transit Board‘s System Expansion Committee has just gotten its first briefing on the “initial assessment” of four more West Seattle-to-Ballard light-rail options that might be included in environmental studies.

The committee and full board won’t make their decisions until next month, and starting tomorrow, you’ll get to have your say via an “online open house.”

But first – here’s what’s on the table. Keep in mind, these are IN ADDITION TO what the ST Board already sent into environmental studies. Two of the additional options, Yancy-Andover Elevated and Pigeon Point Tunnel (which also would include a Junction tunnel), are at the start of the slide deck (here in PDF, and below):

We had a chance to ask questions at a pre-meeting media briefing at ST HQ downtown. Toplines from that briefing, led by executive corridor director Cathal Ridge and project development director Sandra Fann, who also briefed the board this afternoon:

These options were assessed with the same criteria applied to the other options in the final review period (“Level 3”) that ended back in May.

One notable point – both of these alternatives would largely spare the Youngstown-area homes in North Delridge that otherwise might be taken out. (The only West Seattleite to speak in the public comment period before this afternoon’s committee meeting was Youngstown-area homeowner Dennis Noland, who has been advocating for saving his neighborhood.)

The Yancy/Andover Elevated option would cross the Duwamish River south of the West Seattle Bridge, would have a Delridge station north of Andover – similar to the original ST proposal – and would connect to an elevated Avalon station. (That still could then connect to a Junction-bound tunnel, it was clarified at this afternoon’s meeting.)

Drawbacks include that the Delridge station location would be “harder for buses to get to.” While the overall effect on residential property would be less than what’s already going into studies, it would affect the Avalon area more.

Its cost would be similar to what’s already budgeted.

The Pigeon Point Tunnel option’s major drawback is the cost – estimated at $200 million, plus you have to factor in another $700 million for the Junction tunnel to which it would connect. The financial estimates, however, aren’t any more detailed than what was listed earlier in the process, ST reps say.

They also noted in today’s briefing that the Junction tunnel would add time to the process. “Years, not months,” Ridge replied to our request for clarification. So if a Junction tunnel is chosen, light rail will not be opening in 2030.

As for that extra money, a commitment would have to be nailed down from the unspecified “third party”(/ies) by mid-2022, when environmental studies end and the ST Board will have to decide what to build.

There’s also a chance that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement’s schedule – to be ready by the end o next year – will take longer if the board decides to add any or all of these extra possibilities to the environmental studies.

Again, the board committee just got briefed this afternoon; most of the public comment was about the SODO option that (along with another Ballard tunnel option) is also being reviewed for adding to studies.

WHAT’S NEXT: Watch for this info to go online in “open house” format for your comments tomorrow through October 4th. The full ST Board will be briefed at its September 26th meeting; the System Expansion Committee then gets to have its say October 10th, with the full board’s final decision “to study or not to study” any or all of these options October 24th.

21 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit releases 'initial assessments' of 2 more possibilities"

  • Annaeileen September 12, 2019 (4:25 pm)

    Dennis is in a unique
    situation as he owns two homes in the area but doesn’t live here.  He told
    us he is only looking at keeping his houses as an investment – and there is
    nothing wrong with that – but he isn’t looking at this as someone who lives in
    the neighborhood. 

    As someone that lives on
    one of the two streets Dennis is fighting to save (25th and 26h between Andover
    and Genesee), I want ST to buy us out.  The Pigeon Point option was at
    least 500+ Million more (per the last meeting I was at).  Part of ST is
    funded by car tabs and with $30 tabs on the ballot in Nov,  if it passes that means ST loses money so how
    can they get the additional funds for the tunnel?  If the Yancy/Andover
    option is eventually selected, I don’t want to live by the years of
    construction, noise, street closures and hassles Dennis doesn’t have to deal
    with any of that.  

    I hate the idea of being
    forced to leave on ST’s timeline but to me, it’s easier than dealing with more
    rounds of studies, meetings etc. and if Yancy/Andover option is selected, what
    a mess our neighborhood will be for years.

  • bradburk September 12, 2019 (4:40 pm)

    How much projected revenue does Sound Transit say it will have for North King subarea projects and services?  

  • Graciano September 12, 2019 (6:08 pm)

    Any type of tunnel might be off the table, Waiting on the  Supreme Court Verdict .

  • WS Guy September 12, 2019 (9:15 pm)

    No tunnel, no train.

    • Joe Z September 12, 2019 (11:08 pm)

      That would require another voter referendum. 

      • WS Guy September 13, 2019 (12:53 am)

        No, it just needs to be deferred until funds are available.  Although another referendum sounds good too.  The facts and information about this extension are now materially different than the voters understood.

        • Also John September 13, 2019 (7:32 am)

          WS Guy……  I agree with your statement.  They didn’t tell use they were planning to turn the station north/south, with plans to go south destroying a full street of homes.  Thus dividing West Seattle with an eyesore.They should put the light rail down Fauntlaroy if they want to continue south.

        • Joe Z September 13, 2019 (8:33 am)

          How so? We voted for 3 elevated stations in West Seattle. 

          • Also John September 13, 2019 (7:48 pm)

            Joe Z…….  You’re correct.  We voted for three stations in West Seattle.  The third station was shown ending at the Junction facing west/east within Alaska right of way.  There was no notice of the light rail continuing south.  I thought it was finishing at the Junction .The design has changed greatly from this.

        • Peter September 13, 2019 (9:11 am)

          “it just needs to be deferred until funds are available.” Light rail to West Seattle is fully funded by ST#, that’s what we approved when we voted overwhelming to approve ST3. The only thing not funded is a tunnel, which is why that needs to be dropped. “The facts and information about this extension are now materially different than the voters understood.” That is 100% false (a lie, in other words). It was well understood that the representative alignment was NOT the final decision on the routing, and the process for determining final routing and design was very clearly defined, as was the funding. Just because you apparently didn’t understand that does not mean the rest of us didn’t understand that. 

        • Ron Swanson September 13, 2019 (9:31 am)

          Nope, the ST3 plan’s representative project we all voted on was for an elevated line.  The proposed money pit is the material change here.

  • Rick September 13, 2019 (8:14 am)

    How ’bout we just dig a big ‘ole hole and keep throwing money into it?

  • Jort September 13, 2019 (10:56 am)

    Spending $200 million+ to save 20 to 30 homes? The Seattle Process continues to produce crappier and crappier results because we are so, so concerned about people’s feelings about the way concrete looks. By all means, let’s continue “studying” for decades until just the right super-magical solution that costs 50 times more than the original estimate is put together. And “no tunnel, no train?” What an unbelievably obtuse mindset. Just unreal.

    • ARPigeonPoint September 13, 2019 (3:14 pm)

      You must not live in one of those homes.  Why is it that literally every time you comment on a story, you do so in jerk mode?

  • Joe Z September 13, 2019 (11:28 am)

    It feels like the last few years have only gotten us unrealistic “alternatives” that are inferior to the original representative line. They appear to be mostly in response to particular groups of people who would be impacted by other alignments, while opening up a whole new group of people to impacts. First it was the crazy Oregon “yellow line”, now the “Yancy/Avalon” line  which will surely motivate another opposition group along Avalon. And the politicians are not helping things by promoting the expensive tunnel options without realistic means of funding them. If the tunnel money does miraculously come through, it’s going to trigger an additional wave of opposition from the transit advocates who will argue that the funds should be put toward expansion rather than alternatives that add zero ridership. Not to mention a Ballard vs. West Seattle fight if they decide to put a tunnel on one side but not the other. Feels like this is going to get uglier before it gets better. I’m just thankful the C-line woes will eventually be resolved because we’re likely going to be stuck riding that bus downtown for the rest of our lives. 

    • Dawson September 13, 2019 (1:19 pm)

      Funny, per the Seattle Times article a tunnel at Ballard is on the table because it may allow for more people to walk to a station.

    • CAM September 13, 2019 (2:54 pm)

      Not to mention that a tunnel in the junction will add “years” to the project. I’m bothered by the unfunded pie in the sky ideas but the worst part is the willy nilly delaying of the project for no net benefit while our current transit system continues to become increasingly overburdened and unsupported. 

  • WSB September 13, 2019 (3:26 pm)

    Update: The commenting opportunity etc is now online:

  • Mickymse September 13, 2019 (5:27 pm)

    To be clear, the Yancy/Avalon line has been one idea recommended by the neighborhood for the entire length of the process. It’s not some “random” new concept.The so-called Representative Alignment we all actually voted on is 1) not actually a workable alignment in its entirety, and 2) was never actually shown in a public meeting or up for public discussion prior to the vote. The original concept was to go elevated along Avalon and was switched to Delridge and Genesee at the last minute.An elevated line should hardly be a surprising idea for folks along Avalon. That is where the monorail — which we vote in favor of FOUR times — was supposed to run.Finally, according to this latest data, the Yancy/Avalon time is substantially similar in oth cost and schedule to the Respresentative Alignment, so what exactly is the problem with avoiding destroying up to 90-100 homes in a historic neighborhood?

  • Joe Z September 13, 2019 (6:20 pm)

    The Yancy/Avalon line has a really bad Delridge station location. Otherwise it’s reasonable, it’s just strange to see it suddenly appear at this stage. 

  • TiredofGovernmentGreed September 13, 2019 (9:19 pm)

    Port of Seattle and Nucor Steel are pushing the ST Board members to the ultra expensive tunnel options so they will not be inconvenienced by light rail construction.  The entire purple line was $1.2B earlier this year, including a station at Genesee and Delridge.  Why is the “refined” Pigeon Point tunnel still the same cost as it was months ago with less analysis, and why is there no longer any concern about the soil testing from last summer that indicated Pigeon Point was too unstable to tunnel through?

Sorry, comment time is over.