LIGHT RAIL: One more West Seattle alternative wins support from Sound Transit board committee

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The Sound Transit Board’s System Expansion Committee gave its support this afternoon to adding one West Seattle alternative to environmental studies – but didn’t rule out the other one.

The Board recommended inclusion of the Yancy/Andover Elevated option, because, said committee chair Claudia Balducci of Bellevue, it would have a lesser impact on the Youngstown residential neighborhood, and is likely to be comparable in cost to the project’s originally roughed-out routing.(Here’s the motion they approved [PDF].)

Discussion of and a decision on whether to study the Pigeon Point Tunnel will be left to the full board. It would require an estimated $200 million third-party funding and would likely be paired wth a Junction tunnel costing $700 million additional third-party documents – and as we reported earlier this week, no one seems to be working yet on what that “third party funding” might be.

Here’s the slide deck (PDF) shown at the meeting. We have a bit more to add later, but first, highlights of the discussion:

Balducci: “It was hard for me to wrap my brain around 125-to-150-foot guideways (in West Seattle),” but touring the area last week helped her understand – bridging two valleys. “What I came away with … I’m mindful that we’re creating a list of options that we’re going to choose from,” so she thinks adding high-extra-cost items doesn’t make sense as they are “unlikely” to be chosen. She also voiced concern about making a recommendation about this area with “light” Seattle representation at today’s meeting – Mayor Jenny Durkan is traveling, but County Councilmember Joe McDermott – a West Seattleite who is on the ST Board but not this committee – came to the meeting.

Committee member Dave Earling of Edmonds said he couldn’t support anything requiring third-party funding. He expressed concerns about schedule impacts as well as cost.

Committee member Kent Keel of University Place said he might consider studying some third-party-funding-required options but would be “reluctant” in general.

McDermott then said he’d like to see Andover/Yancy move forward for study. As for the extra-money Pigeon Point option, he stressed that it would be $200 million more by itself, though the assumption is that it would connect to a Junction tunnel costing $700 million beyond that.

Committee member Dave Upthegrove asked ST staff if they’re comfortable with the current cost estimates. Yes, said ST’s Cathal Ridge. Balducci said, “Getting to a comfort level with how much we know at this time” is vital, and she and Upthegrove agreed that some extra information would help.

Regarding extra studies possibly sliding the schedule, committee member Victoria Woodards of Tacoma reminded everybody “we’re making 100-year decisions so if it takes a couple extra months to make (the right) decisions, I’m OK with that.” Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff reminded her that the West Seattle 2030 completion promise was a big-deal revision before the ST3 vote.

Discussed briefly at the start of this agenda item – this summary (PDF) of comments received recently regarding the could-be-added alternatives. The highest number of comments came from West Seattle. Several West Seattleites spoke at the meeting, too, including a group from Youngstown.

WHAT’S NEXT: The final decision on what if anything to add to the environmental studies is up to the full board at its next meeting, two weeks from today – 1:30 pm Thursday, October 24th, at the ST boardroom downtown (401 S. Jackson).

15 Replies to "LIGHT RAIL: One more West Seattle alternative wins support from Sound Transit board committee"

  • Joe Z October 10, 2019 (8:50 pm)

    The Yancy-Andover option is inferior to the Genesee elevated option for several reasons:1) Delridge station location is bad for bus transfers and transit-orientated development.2) There is room along the golf course for an elevated guideway. Far less room along the middle of Avalon. Would we lose the brand new protected bike lanes that many have waited years to get? Presumably Avalon would be closed for years to build the track, and the buses would have to be rerouted for construction. 3) The turn from Avalon to Genesee would result in the removal of more high-density housing units than an elevated track straight up Genesee.It doesn’t hurt to study more options (and some of the above is speculation) but it is important to recognize the serious drawbacks of this alternative.

    • jeffh October 11, 2019 (12:24 pm)

      You’re 100% wrong. Yancy/Andover is far and away the best option. Andover St will be impacted by any route, whether it’s the base route, diagonal route, or Yancy/Andover route. Only tunnels would avoid impacts to Andover, and that’s $200-$900M more. With Sound Transit about to be forced to pay back the $125M of stolen MVET taxes, and therefore also losing that additional $125M/year for next 20 years, budget is a major factor.  ST only needs to rotate the orientation of Delridge station so that it runs east/west along Andover, parralel to Nucor, not north/south above the (now) coffeehouse/Subway/deli. Yancy/Andover avoids the Youngstown area, preventing wiping out numerous families, while maintaining the look of West Seattle, tucking that monstrosity out of neighborhoods. It’s a more straight shot, resulting in cheaper costs. The schedule is same as base option. And the location of the Delridge station will allow for multiple parking locations/park-n-ride, bus turnaround/dropoffs, and possible future commercial stores (in the now abandoned parking lots). The only drawback is that the City of Seattle and the Federal Transit Administration is still considering doing this wasteful ST3 project with the irresponsible and unethical contractor, Sound Transit. 

      • Joe Z October 11, 2019 (3:38 pm)

        Placing a light rail station next to a highway and steel factory is fiscally irresponsible. Nobody lives there. Why bother building it? It would serve no purpose other than bus transfers which could be routed anywhere. Is it equitable to expose Delridge light rail riders to the fumes from the highway and factory while they wait for the train?

        The whole point of light rail is to put the stations where people will use them, which is along Delridge to the south of Andover.

        • jeffh October 11, 2019 (6:34 pm)

          Do you think there’s more people living in the golf course than working at the mill? Bus transfers from the 120 and 125 would make up a large portion of Delridge riders (most Junction and Avalon riders won’t be transfers). The people that work, live, and play in North Delridge (within blocks of the Nucor plant) are still alive and kickin. If you ever walk by it, you’ll realize that you won’t drop dead of steel recycling exhaust. They adhere to strict standards for their waste, just like any other industrial/commercial complex. Farther south would’ve been great, split the golf course. Put the station on south side of Delridge Park. But that option was kicked out months ago. With what’s left on the table, we’re only talking another block or two to walk to station. Anyone who busses it now, knows a block or two is nothing, especially if it means hiding that ugly concrete rollercoaster and having ample room around the station to support it and bolster a community. There’s nowhere to put the amenities that a station needs south of Avalon. Where? In the park? 

  • Maw October 11, 2019 (9:23 am)

    This route looks fantastic. And utilizes the industrial area around Nucor instead of a neighborhood. I feel like the station location for Delridge could actually be pretty interesting when combined with other transit options. Would be easy to run buses (free feeder buses?) from Alki and Admiral for drop off directly under the West Seattle bridge & then loop back (or continue on their routes) without having to exit into Delridge neighborhood to and clog it up / disrupt routes. 

    • JAG October 11, 2019 (11:07 am)

      Yes. I agree that this alternative is FANTASTIC!  And it doesn’t have to spoil the park, golf course and one of the only stadiums in the city for high school sports. I believe O’dea uses it for football as well as other High Schools. Let’s hope that ST actually chooses it. 

      • jeffh October 11, 2019 (12:26 pm)

        Exactly. This is the only option (base or alternative) that does not require a 4(f) Review for going through a park.

  • soarringcam October 11, 2019 (5:04 pm)

    Prior to the Oct. 4th deadline, A alternative design was submitted for a station at or near Jack Block Park. But I did not see this alternative mentioned.A station at this location would accommodate ample parking for West Seattle, Admiral and Alki resident commuters.The route would cross the Dawamish River and follow SW Spookane Street, then loop north to Pier 1, or Jack Block Park. Then back south  adjacent to  West Seattle Freeway to 35th SW and Junction.Pier 1 could also extend a tunnel to the Admiral district and West Seattle High School. 

    • WSB October 11, 2019 (5:07 pm)

      There was never any such proposal in the Sound Transit process, which we have covered from the start. The October 4th deadline was for comment on the potential alternatives that the board earlier this year asked the staff to assess.

  • pdid October 11, 2019 (6:44 pm)

    It would be nice to see TOD in north delridge grow this area into its own thing. I hope it becomes something really special. Youngstown is a start.

  • soarringcam October 12, 2019 (3:08 pm)

    True, but all these alternatives are just drawn with a red or blue marker.Kind of like Trump predicting the Hurricane.Nothing is set in stone.I was just suggesting a option.Pier 1, and Port Property to the south  has lots of parking, but sits wasting.   Also the Alternatives keep changing. No one really knows where it will go.

  • soarringcam October 13, 2019 (9:18 am)

    Question, will light rail ever serve the Admiral District and West Seattle High School.Although not mentioned in any alternative, future expansion to the Admiral District should be considered.Would that be by surface or tunnel on California street or what? or just bus service?But a tunnel east bound from Admiral would exit around 7-11 on Harbor ave.  Imagine  the view of the City Skyline. And then somehow connect to the proposed alternatives going downtown.All options need to be considered.You only have one chance.

  • John P Woods October 13, 2019 (9:59 am)

    Just remember that West Seattle will only have to pay for the new light rail system once, but will be stuck with the new route for over a hundred years.

  • soarringcam October 13, 2019 (11:37 am)

    Exactly……Thank you.Its not too late…..We don’t even have a concept for station designs.Just red and blue lines on a map.

  • Edmunds Slope October 15, 2019 (10:51 am)

     I would rather have an expensive, over-budget transit line built in the right place than a well-managed, on-budget transit line in the wrong place. Those compromises you make in order to make something more affordable, you’ve got to live with for a long time.” – Christof Spieler

    https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/ask-an-expert-how-does-the-puget-sound-transit-system-compare-to-other-cities-across-the-u-s/#comments

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