WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit has questions for you. Plus – see early property-acquisition estimates

Two items of interest as Sound Transit continues planning for West Seattle light rail:

SURVEY: We’ve reported on the “realignment” process that could end this summer with ST pushing back or even canceling projects such as West Seattle light rail (currently projected to open in 2031, already reflecting a one-year delay). Today ST announced a survey to get community opinions before its board members make those decisions. The survey is accessible via this new realignment-information website. The heart of a survey is an open-ended two-part question, after asking respondents to choose the area(s) where they’d like to prioritize transit projects: “Why are the transit projects you’ve prioritized important to you? What would you prioritize when considering delaying, phasing, or modifying future transit projects?”

PROPERTY-ACQUISITION ESTIMATES: While embarking on potential “realignment,” ST is also continuing planning for West Seattle and other not-yet-under-construction projects. The next major stop along the way for WS is the release in a few months of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. ST’s ongoing research also includes estimated cost for acquiring property it might need to build the system. After we reported in January about ST saying its estimates had grown in a big way, West Seattleite Tomasz “Avalon Tom” Biernacki – who visualized early data three years ago – filed a public-disclosure request for additional data to which ST had alluded. He received it, and made a Google Map showing which properties they’ve evaluated:

He explains it as “a simple interactive map where folks can see if their property might be affected by all this. This map includes all the WS properties in the data set. The interactive map only includes West Seattle properties up to the bridge. (The full data set contains all the properties across Seattle.)” The actual cost estimates are on the dataset document, listed by parcel numbers. If you want to look up your property but don’t know your parcel number, you can find it via King County Parcel Viewer (choose ‘property report” once you’re on the page for your property).

Sound Transit, he notes, sent the data with this disclaimer: “Staff has advised us that this document is considered a work in progress and has yet to be thoroughly vetted and confirmed by local, state and federal partners. We would like to emphasize that this information is preliminary and should not be relied upon in any way. It is subject to change as design is refined and as coordination with agency partners continues. Once finalized, information similar to this will be available in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be available for review in mid-2021.”

Avalon Tom observes, “If you study the map, an interesting pattern emerges. Assuming ST provided me with all the data you can see that they are only really studying two of the alternatives as there is no data in the set for properties that would be affected by the other alternatives. (Or they just did not share that data with me.) They are also padding the acquisition costs. If you do some random Zillow Zestimate checks against what they are estimating they are leaving plenty of headroom for what they call ‘Administrative costs, Relocation & Contingencies’.”

Again, the next formal step in the process is the DEIS release in a few months.

85 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit has questions for you. Plus - see early property-acquisition estimates"

  • Marfaun April 14, 2021 (10:11 pm)

    With a SkyLink aerial gondola, most, if not all of these property owners would be able to keep their homes.  

    • ACG April 14, 2021 (11:50 pm)

      I took the survey and am feeling pretty unsure that they really will move forward with light rail to WS. If they are going to put the West Seattle line on hold, perhaps there is time for them to assess the gondola option.  Saving people’s homes and a lot of money might be worth the time looking at it if light rail is going to be put off. I hear all the nay-sayers saying it won’t work, but might as well investigate it if light rail isn’t able to be executed on schedule. 

    • Derek April 15, 2021 (4:46 am)

      Except I don’t want a gondola I want a train. This isn’t about a few homes, it’s about the future of transportation and society in Seattle. Much bigger than someone with a SFH

      • WSB April 15, 2021 (10:15 am)

        Datapoint: If you are not familiar with the neighborhoods in the potential path, lots of redevelopment into multifamily in recent years, and more planned, even with this looming.

      • West Coast Optimist April 15, 2021 (10:40 am)

        You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need?

        Seriously though… since we are learning of the prohibitive costs and negative impacts to develop light rail here, it is smart to consider thoughtful alternative ideas.

        Perhaps we might even imagine beyond WS… maybe this gondola approach could be expanded around the city and become a modern solution to connect neighborhoods better between light rail lines, where light rail doesn’t make the best sense. 

        • Martin April 15, 2021 (5:24 pm)

          correct, Link was originally planned to go up First Hill but such tunnel was later deemed impossible and the Capitol Hill streetcar was built instead. A gondola would have been far more useful.  TheUrbanist reported many other opportunities to use gondolas to connect neighborhoods to Link stations.

      • bill April 15, 2021 (12:05 pm)

        Derek – There’s more than a few single-family homes at stake. Many of the properties are multi-unit condos, townhouses, and apartment buildings. Building this surface option will displace a great many people. There are also collateral impacts. I own a townhouse adjacent to some that will be demolished. The guideway will block a lot of my property’s natural light, which is one of its key features. Also noise from the trains will spoil the surprisingly quiet local environment, another feature of my property (and others adjacent). 

        • RailHead April 15, 2021 (12:55 pm)

          I appreciate your micro perspective as a neighboring homeowner.  
          I wonder if you could share how long you have owned your home and when you became aware of possible Metro Rail plans?

      • NucorDinosaurRoar April 16, 2021 (9:31 am)

        People have to stop with this gondola instead of light rail nonsense.  A point-to-point gondola from Avalon to SODO will not work and hardly anybody will actually use it to commute.  It will be slower than the bus for the overwhelming majority of residents.  Anyone already cycling is not going to use it to avoid 3 extra miles of cycling (which is basically all via already existing trails).  Nobody is getting off a bus at Avalon to get on a gondola and then change to a light rail at SODO to get downtown.  It’s point-to-point so practically serves far fewer people.  The peak capacity is poor compared to light rail (which is what matters).  Commuters alight in SODO where they will need to try and transfer onto a northbound light rail which is probably already close to full (having picked up peak passengers from Angle Lake – Beacon Hill), leading to longer waiting at transfers and longer commutes.    If people want a Gondola because they think it would be a fun thing to do once or twice on sunny weekends or when they have visitors, advocate for one from Marination to Alki via Hamilton viewpoint; but it will never be more than a fun tourist attraction.  

  • Sad Dad April 15, 2021 (12:41 am)

    I was under the impression that a route going up SW Andover and SW Yancy was being considered.   The phase two ROW cost estimate interactive map only shows the route that would take out many of the Delridge neighborhood homes.  If this map is accurate and complete, it just goes to show that all of ST’s community outreach was just for show and that the route line was decided long ago with only “stakeholder” input.  Appalling and yet not completely unexpected.  It seems that it is less difficult to squash out the modest home owner living in one of the last affordable homes in Seattle, then it is to inconvenience NUCOR or god forbid relocate a health club. :(
    Thanks for your reporting Avalon Tom

    • RailHead April 15, 2021 (1:14 pm)

      Unfortunately this is a classic  of
      “whose ox is being gored”
      with the same problems varying by route designs, all causing community trauma.  
      Even the Sky-Tram- Gondola proposal will evince goring complaints of encroachment, displacement and falling home values.  
      What about all of those roof-top decks?  
      Aerial transport requires small footprint towers but they do require real estate.  
      How  would you feel being notified your property is where that tower is required?  

      The aerial options are not silent as some assume.  
      There is a constant rhythmic whirring of the tower pulleys supporting the suspension cables that skiers are familiar with.  
      If you lived below or adjacent to this it may be an objectionable and inescapably continuous irritation of noise pollution.  

  • David April 15, 2021 (5:54 am)

    I just hope that this does not end up like the monorail – take peoples homes and businesses for under valued prices – cancel the project then sell the properties to the highest bidder

    • RailHead April 15, 2021 (1:31 pm)

      That is quite a claim about the monorail
      – perhaps revisionist history aided by 20-20 hindsight.-
      On the other side, those tired properties eventually became parks and others thriving additions to the  West Seattle restaurant and bar scene.  
      I believe most of the imminent domain sales were “market value” at the time.  
      Of course if it is my property, I would consider it worth more than what is due to ownership biases.  
      I would fight like hell to get the highest price realizing the Man (Seattle/King County/METRO) will prevail.

      And if it does all go TU, like the monorail,  and the seized properties end up being sold, is David suggesting they be sold to the lowest bidder (this being after parks and low income housing possibilities for the properties have been eliminated)?

      • WSB April 15, 2021 (4:42 pm)

        Please note, so as not to perpetuate ongoing confusion about who’s accountable for what, Sound Transit is NOT Seattle/King County/Metro. It’s an entirely different agency/authority. Local government officials sit on its board – it’s a three-county agency, parts of King, Snohomish, and Pierce.

        • RailHead April 15, 2021 (6:09 pm)

          Thank you for the correction and clarification.
          Let’s amend that to Sound Transit – a three county more powerful  version of ‘The Man.’ – and we can all fight ‘The Man,’ but the outcome is the same.  

    • natinstl April 15, 2021 (2:21 pm)

      exactly what I was thinking

  • anonyme April 15, 2021 (6:28 am)

    This is completely, utterly insane.  The idea of the forced removal of hundreds of people from their homes is abhorrent at any time, but especially when housing is so scarce.  This plan also drastically impacts the Junction.  With the bridge fiasco, West Seattle is set to become unlivable for decades to come.  It makes far more sense (and would cost way less) to create a hub in an area that is already industrial or non-residential, with frequent shuttles and bus service to the Junction or elsewhere. The lack of judgment by ‘our’ transportation planners is appalling.

    • skeeter April 15, 2021 (10:12 am)

      Anonyme – I can see you feel strongly about this but I think your frustration with transportation planners is misplaced.  Sound Transit 3 was put to the voters and passed by 54%.  If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at me.  I was part of the 54% who voted for it.  As for a “hub” with shuttle and bus service, I actually agree with you.  We could build that cheaply and quickly using existing streets.  The challenge would be the only way we can make shuttle and bus service fast is if we prohibit cars from using the roadway.  Otherwise the busses get caught in the same traffic and gridlock as everyone else fighting for road space.  I don’t see an easy and inexpensive option to move thousands of people quickly and safely using existing roads.  

      • nwpolitico April 15, 2021 (10:27 am)

        Skeeter – that’s why the SkyLink gondola must be seriously considered. It is an easy and inexpensive option to move thousands of people quickly without having to use the existing roads.

  • Me April 15, 2021 (6:37 am)

    This might be a dumb question but does it mean we’ll lose all businesses/homes that are flagged? The one that comes to mind on this map is Trader Joe’s.

  • East Coast Cynic April 15, 2021 (6:38 am)

    The homeowners that lose their homes will be compensated for them.  The important thing is they get notified way ahead of time so that they can pursue alternative housing options in the metropolitan area. Gondolas will save some homes but not provide the necessary capacity that Link can for a growing West Seattle in the long term.

    • Bronson April 15, 2021 (8:55 am)

      But they weren’t notified. The fact that this information has been made public prior to ST notifying potentially affected property owners in Q1 2021 as promised by ST is maddening and just another example of poorly run transportation agencies/dept. in this region. Now, this information is public, and if for some reason a homeowner needs to sell their property under some duress (loss of job, illness, etc.), the ability to do so has been now hindered. Honestly, ST is likely going to be sued. Their management of this project and public funds is inexcusable. They should have purchased all of the potentially affected properties when the bonds were issued and sold what they didn’t need later. Could have actually made money. 

      • AvalonTom April 16, 2021 (8:53 am)

        You are technically correct about the fact that ST has not made any public announcements but the actual situation is more nuanced. Unless one lives under a rock, it’s been public knowledge for a long time now that the train is coming. It’s been a reality for anyone who is next to or in the path of the train. Starting last year we have had multiple sales deals fall through in our building due to the train. I have spoken to board members at other condo building HOA’s and they have experienced similar issues. Make no mistake this is a NOW problem for many people and it has been for at least a year.  I can’t imagine that any real estate agent has not been addressing this issue for at least a year. People who are in the path of this have been perversely and negatively affected by this for quite some time. I’m glad to see that folks who live in the area but are not directly impacted by this are finally waking up to the fact that some of us are being asked to bear a  disproportionate Burden of this project.

        • Bronson April 16, 2021 (12:05 pm)

          Thanks Tom. As one of the homeowners on PP directly affected, I definitely have been keenly aware that we were one that was almost 100% going to be taken. Believe me, my issue was not with what you published at all, as I think it helps others understand exactly what many of us are facing. My aggravation was, and is, with ST and the reneged on their promise to inform, in their words “all potentially affected homeowners by the end of Q1 2021.” It is my strong belief that they should be informing property owners first, then the public.That being said, you are correct in that this does help crystallize, for those not directly affected, the sacrifices being asked of those of us in the direct path. It’s not so simple as, “you’ll get compensated…yada yada.” There are real-world consequences to ST taking their sweet time to make a decision, from property value concerns, the inability to sell a property if needed in a dire circumstance (sickness, loss of job, etc.), the fact that you can’t replace your neighbors with whom you have built relationships up for years, or even find a comparable home at an acceptable price. Frankly, I am (and others I know of )reaching their breaking point with ST. As I mentioned, I would wager a pretty sizeable sum that they are going to be sued in the near term. From failed sales, possibly depressed property values once public, etc., they have handled this in such a poor way that lawsuits appear inevitable. I can readily acknowledge that WS needs better transportation alternatives, but the lack of empathy from many of our neighbors is disturbing, but I guess par for the course for the public discourse these days. 

    • West Coast Optimist April 15, 2021 (10:01 am)

      Per the SkyLink gondola proposal…


      Sound Transit estimates 25,000 to 27,000 (light rail) trips in 2040.  

      SkyLink can handle twice that amount;

      Light rail can handle triple (gondola 55,000/day; light rail 88,000/day.)

      I’d say that appears to meet upcoming projected needs more than adequately… and possible much sooner, with less cost, and with fewer negative impacts.

      I have completed the ST survey and asked them to explore SkyLink.

      • skeeter April 15, 2021 (10:22 am)

        I have no idea if a gondola is a great idea or a horrible idea.  But I get confused when people ask/suggest that Sound Transit build a gondola.  Sound Transit is a public transit agency.  Sound Transit 3 is a ballot measure that passed in 2016.  The measure included dozens of deliverables, including light rail from downtown to West Seattle in 2030.  There is no way that Sound Transit can build anything other that what voters approved in 2016.    

      • Will S. April 15, 2021 (11:16 am)

        Optimist indeed. We’re talking here about a high-capacity transit system, so the real question involves peak capacity–like what we’d expect during weekday rush hours. A light-rail train excels at moving large numbers of people all at the same time. A gondola system can handle a steady stream of people over a long period of time, but (as skiers can attest) lines quickly get real long when a bunch of people want to travel in the same direction at the same time. And in a system with serial boarding points, that kind of congestion can become a huge downer: riders who’d want to board at Delridge or even Avalon could find themselves stuck waiting for a gondola car that isn’t already packed with people who boarded at the Junction. So while a gondola’s frequency is in one sense “continuous,” it could also be a 15- or 20-minute wait (or perhaps much longer) for some riders at peak times. That experience is much lousier than that of light-rail riders, since ST routinely runs trains with greater length and higher frequency at the times when more people want to ride.

      • RailHead April 15, 2021 (1:49 pm)

        Good points and accurate data West Coast Optimist,
        But please explore why we should build a system that maxes out much lower?
        The surge and maximum capacity would be significant  for certain events, with light rail providing about 30% more service than the SkyLink proposal.

        • Martin April 15, 2021 (5:43 pm)

          Because SkyLink could be built a decade earlier for tenth of the cost without the disruption caused by light rail. It still provides twice the capacity Sound Transit expects in 2040. If the gondola becomes a raging success and demand gets higher than Sound Transit expects, another gondola  line could be built to serve other West Seattle neighborhoods such as High Point, Westwood, or White Center directly so that those neighborhoods don’t have to take a bus to get to the Junction or Delridge. 

    • WestSeattle4life April 15, 2021 (10:22 am)

      I take it your home is not on the block “EAST COAST Cynic “. I am West Seattlelite and I am in walking distance of everything I care about including my friends. Over 20 years here in my neighborhood and my son his whole life. Do you really think I am going to be compensated? That is a joke. Where am I going to live in my neighborhood that is affordable for my low income salary. Or the hundreds of other people affected. There is no alternative housing equal or better. The Andover line was never given the same consideration. I agree with Anonyme this is appalling but not at all surprising.

      • RailHead April 15, 2021 (2:04 pm)

        @ Lifer,
        I feel for you and my home is not on the block.

         And there is absolutely no way we, our society and government, can ever fully compensate you for such an upheaval.  
        No one can assess the value to you and your family and friends and neighbors.
        It is a bitter pill to swallow that your life will be dissembled for ‘the good of the public.’  
        Good of the public includes financial compensation for the dollar value of your property but that won’t resolve the damage you feel.
        I am sorry and hope the best for those who will be forced to move.  
        All proposals will traumatize the community leaving scars that will eventually fade.

      • CMT April 15, 2021 (2:56 pm)

        You are absolutely right, WestSeattle4Life.  I had a similar, though not identical, situation a number of years back due to certain actions not by SDOT but by the City of Seattle in the name (only) of forward progress.  The idea of losing what we had made our home for 15 years was extremely painful and made more so by the lack of basic compassion or empathy by a segment of the commenters on this very blog.  It’s great to advocate passionately for  goals such as increased transportation, but that advocacy should not be mutually exclusive from respecting and recognizing the fact that one’s neighbors may be hurt by certain policy decisions, not all of which are good.  I will share with you that my family and I ended up moving and it has been nothing but an exponentially positive change.  But the two years of uncertainty and frustration at the hands of insincere, if not dishonest, officials, and insensitive individuals are ones I would not want to repeat.  To the extent it helps in any way, know that there are many people out there who do understand and sympathize with your situation and also understand that there is much more that should be compensated beyond land and building FMV.

  • wlcg06 April 15, 2021 (7:52 am)

    I hope that sometime in the near future, that I will be able to ride the rail all the way from West Seattle, downtown to the Kraken games. Anyone have a great plan for doing that in October with the transit that we have now?

    • RailHead April 15, 2021 (2:08 pm)


  • Justind April 15, 2021 (7:56 am)

    With the cost of a raised line approaching the cost of a tunnel, and the benefits of a tunnel surpassing the benefits of a raised line (including not destroying our neighborhoods!), tunnel is the clear choice. 

  • sam-c April 15, 2021 (8:36 am)

    Avalon Tom,  thank you so much for the research and data recording- that is very informative.regarding:  “They are also padding the acquisition costs. If you do some random Zillow Zestimate checks against what they are estimating they are leaving plenty of headroom for what they call ‘Administrative costs, Relocation & Contingencies”Strangely, the “WEST SEATTLE CORPORATE CENTER” property is included on the linked dataset document, and the value in the Sound Transit document is listed as only $1,589,000 but King County property records lists it as $27,596,000.  Maybe the plan does not include acquiring that property ?? And that $1,589,000 is for some other purpose?

    • Will S. April 15, 2021 (9:10 am)

      Yes. Short of acquiring an entire parcel (especially a large parcel that includes an office building and surface parking), Sound Transit might purchase only a portion of the land in an existing parcel, or it might purchase only an easement to give ST the right to run an aerial trackway over the land. As for “Administrative costs, relocation and contingencies,” I could be wrong but I think Sound Transit is required by statute (or at least its own policy) to cover some/all relocation costs incurred by the owner of a property that is being condemned. In addition, it’s always possible that a property owner will go to court to challenge ST’s valuation of a property that it will take, and those litigation costs can be substantial. Another question that I don’t know the answer to is whether ST would need to acquire an easement to run a tunnel underneath each parcel and, if so, how (in)expensive that easement could be. Lastly, Avalon Tom’s work has been, for years now, a real service to the community–he’s providing information, sharing insights, and thinking critically about this important project in a way that Sound Transit just isn’t.

      • AvalonTom April 15, 2021 (6:30 pm)

        Thank you! I’m quite concerned that not only ST but also our local representatives and neighbors don’t understand how much of a impact this has. It’s not just monetary compensation.  I have senior neighbor who was planning to age in place. someone who have been here a long time. Their life, family and friends are here. They are stuck. Can’t sell, can’t afford to move, now what? We have multiple neighbors who were not able to sell their condos because people backed out of sales when they discovered this issue. To the neighbors and our local politicians  who tell me that we will receive fair market value. Please look up the definition of that term.  If I had a highly desirable and rare classic car that I did not want to sell. Would anyone in their right mind expect me to sell it at KBB value (or below)?  Please for a minute consider the fact that you are asking many tax paying  voting citizens to bear a  disproportionate Burden of this “greater good”.  I hope all the folks who will be affected by this form a block or coalition to protect our interests. I fully expect ST to hang us out to dry. What other possible outcome can there be when they have an army of layers. Meanwhile I just paid my car tabs. Out of the $316 total, $228 went to ST. 

        • RailHeaad April 16, 2021 (8:19 am)

          The analogy to a c rare collector car is false on basis.  The home is not a rare car that can some how is not KBB accurate.  If you own a highly desirable collectible car Kelley Blue Book would adjust the value according to market demand.  KBB does this by geographical zip code location.  It represents market value, i.e. what a buyer would pay.  A 1967 Ford Mustang Cobra is not valued the same as a 1967 Mustang with six cylinder engine..  Their appraise value would represent the difference.It is impossible to build any new infrastructure in this built out city, without traumatic impact to the specific property owner. Impossible.It is impossible to design anything that would not impact in a myriad of ways at least some homes. This is a process that is disruptive, no question.But what is your solution that will cause no harm?  Answer- none.Anyone who is anticipating their home taken, should expect fair market value for their property.  Delridge Tom has requested that we look ups ‘fair market value.’  I did –“In its simplest sense, fair market value (FMV) is the price that an asset would sell for on the open market.”By definition, these unfortunate people will indeed receive ‘fair market value.’  Avalon Tom assumed no one would take up his request?   

          • AvalonTom April 16, 2021 (10:35 am)

            you made the point for me thank you. “In an open market” assumes what? a willing buyer and a willing seller as well as multiple buyers interest acting as an upward or downward pressure. In this situation I’m not a willing seller so there is no open market.  There is no pool of buyers, there is only one, and they have an army of layers to get their way.  Just so you know RailHeaad, I support ST. I just want them to make a decision quickly, make it work for everyone and make this happen. This is just the start of a long struggle with a goliath and you get to sit back and enjoy it with popcorn.  BTW, some friends recently bought a home in WS and they paid way over asking for the so- called market value precisely because they were competing against 40 offers. Thanks for your support buddy. I guess some of us will have to carry the disproportionate burden of this for the benefit of other great neighbors like you.

          • RailHead April 16, 2021 (12:32 pm)

            Avalon Tom,
            I must respond to your wild definition of market value.  
            Market value is the price a property commands at sale.  
            Your example of your friends’ purchase above listing price is a ‘market value’ transaction.  
            Having just sold a house, I am aware of realtors and sellers gaming the price by listing below estimated ‘market value’ in hopes of igniting a bidding war to drive the ‘market price’ up beyond the appraised value to the benefit of the realtor and seller. This becomes the ‘market value.’
            Agreed there is no pool of buyers bidding insanely high in an emotional seller’s market like we  now  have.  
            But market value can be established just as taxes and financing appraisals have always done.  
            It is highy unlikely any of the properties in the path are unique and beyond calculations for similar sales.  
            The realtors call. these “comps” or comparables because they compare  favorably with the property being valued. 
            I too support all means of mass transit.  
            And I do express sympathy for those few that will be uprooted.  
            I hope we can all agree it is impossible to add mass transit without some housing being displaced.  
            Some people will effected more than others.I shudder at all of those homes razed for the West Seattle Bridge approach.  
            And I remember the gash through our city neighborhoods to build I-5.
            I am practicing my long preaching, having sold my house, downsized and renting.  I have joined the new majority in Seattle who are choosing to rent.  
            If my building gets sold and demolished for mass transit, I move.  
            Climate change has the new woke generation factoring in the viability of the anachronistic Single Family House for our planet’s future.
            As for the some of us bearing the burden, the good part is the information being received that allows Avalon Tom plenty of time to line up his comps to show the value he feels his property is worth. 

    • sam-c April 15, 2021 (9:48 am)

      And then for the adjacent property: Dept. of Social & Health Services – Northwest Kidney Center.   Sound Transit lists the value as $6,888,000- while  King County lists the property value as $10,532,500..Seems like they are under-valuing commercial properties ?? I guess the calculations must be more complicated than the spreadsheet can explain.

    • Thistlemist April 15, 2021 (9:50 am)

      I have worked as a real estate appraiser on big right of way projects and there are so many considerations and nuances. A short answer is that many of the sites on this map are not full purchses of the whole site. Projects like this require the purchase of a lot of different easements (ground, aerial, etc…) or small amounts of physical land (think a foot wide strip abutting a back or front boundry). In these cases, it is likely the valuation would be “land only” if the acquisition is determined to not effect the improvements (hense $1,000,000 value over $26,000,000). These are very complex appraisals that follow a LOT of state and federal laws. A budget map like this one is a very early estimate guide to give big picture ball park ranges of costs.

      • sam-c April 15, 2021 (11:43 am)

        Will S  and Thislemist- thanks for the clarifications and background info

  • No Logic April 15, 2021 (8:59 am)

    So many NEW houses were built and are being built in that corridor that this is likely to be much more expensive than what was originally estimated. I also wonder what SAD DAD indicates, what happened to the option going up SW Andover and SW Yancy? It doesn’t make economic sense to place the light rail in the portion of the neighborhood that is going through significant densification. About the gondola option… our hills may be steep in some sections, but are not high enough to support this system. I have used the gondolas in Medellin (Colombia) and La Paz (Bolivia), and the gondolas there are connecting the center of the city to the top of mountains (not hills). I don’t see how that can be achieved in West Seattle.

  • MJP April 15, 2021 (9:27 am)

    First the bridge fiasco, now a lot of businesses may have to find a new home, I bet they won’t come back to WS: Jefferson Sq (Bartells, Safeway…), Trader Joe’s, Spruce West Apartments (LA
    Fitness), Homestreet Bank, Jiffy Lube/Zoom+ Care, Les Schwab, Shell, Budget Blinds,
    Buddha Ruksa, Sky Printing, Pep Boys, WS Brake/Shoe Repair/Wax Spa, Rudy’s,
    Alki Lumber, Starbucks Drive Thru, Jones Barbeque/WS Brewing/House of Kleen, Frye Commerce Center (Delridge Deli, Uptown Espresso and many others) all
    might be affected…  And the affected home owners, in particular more affordable ones, will have a hard time in the current real estate market to find anything comparable anywhere in Seattle.

  • Will S. April 15, 2021 (9:42 am)

    I haven’t taken the survey yet, but I’m going to say that it’s probably the right call given ST’s commitments to the public and ST’s fiscal realities to delay construction of the West Seattle segment. Here’s why: (1) I know we overwhelmingly want light rail as soon as possible, but more importantly we want light rail to be good. It is not good for light rail to temporarily run from West Seattle and end at Sodo, requiring people to transfer onto a crush-loaded train that is carrying people from as far away as Tacoma Dome–yet that is ST’s baseline plan for what 2030-2035 will be like. The West Seattle segment shouldn’t open until it can run at least to the downtown core, if not all the way to Ballard. (2) For the most part, deleting projects (instead of deferring them) from the ST3 plan is shortsighted and wrong. Covid has caused a sales tax revenue shock that hurts Sound Transit’s sales-tax revenues temporarily. Meanwhile, assessed value of property in this region continue to grows rapidly. Property-value growth helps Sound Transit by giving it more debt capacity than it initially projected. This means that Sound Transit can sensibly incur long-term indebtedness to smooth out short-term revenue fluctuations, while proceeding with the ambitious capital plan that voters have approved. (3) As commenters above have noted, Sound Transit has habitually underestimated the real cost of an elevated West Seattle line. Until now, they’ve stuck to a set of assumptions that was wildly incorrect in 2015 (when ST3 ignored developments that were then underway). In reality, a tunnel in West Seattle is not that much more expensive than an elevated line would be, but a tunnel is far better at preserving existing housing, navigating the topography of this area, and preserving the best aspects of the Junction as we know it. Postponing the project will afford Sound Transit the time to summon the financial resources that needed to extend light rail to West Seattle in the most functional, beneficial way.

  • Joe Z April 15, 2021 (10:00 am)

    It’s interesting that they are only planning on taking one row of houses along Genesee St. Remember, the guideway is going to be 150 ft high (10 ft taller than the West Seattle high bridge) when crossing Longfellow Creek. Should be fun for the folks along Nevada St. Then there’s Genesee around 32nd Ave–the folks on the north side will be living across the street from an elevated station that resembles the Northgate Station. Hmm….

  • MJP April 15, 2021 (10:03 am)

    Let’s be realistic about the tunnel option: It may help reduce the impact around Fauntleroy Way, but Pigeon Point, Youngstown and Genesee homes and businesses will still get affected. For the tunnel Sound Transit plans an underground station where Avalon Way meets Fauntleroy Way which means a huge pit for about 5 years. I’m not sure how Sound Transit envisions access to West Seattle with a construction site at its major access point, this may be worse than the current bridge impact.

  • WS 4life April 15, 2021 (10:19 am)

    Looking at the map, I am not sure that all of the properties are actually acquisitions.  They include places like Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and other high use locations.  I am thinking all of the locations represent locations that might be affecting by the project (guessing construction nearby included with acquisition of property).  Please let me know if I am wrong.  

  • Auntie April 15, 2021 (10:24 am)

    Even if ST buys out homes at market value (questionable), where are those people going to find another home in Seattle with the way housing costs are skyrocketing? They will force all of those people to move out of Seattle. You might say this is for the greater good, but it’s not you that will be forced out of your home. You might sing a different song if that were the case, because you would not be able to buy a home in West Seattle and thus avail yourself of the new mode of transportation. You’d be out in the ‘burbs somewhere, or beyond.

    • Derek April 15, 2021 (12:01 pm)

      The few do not dictate the many. 

      • Canton April 15, 2021 (1:18 pm)

        Doesn’t that contradict your earlier statement,  “I don’t want a gondola, I want a train”.

        • James April 16, 2021 (8:34 am)

          Many don’t want the gondola. 54% voted yes on lightrail so…

      • anon April 15, 2021 (2:46 pm)

        I don’t know that many in WS want the light rail, you may be the few. 

        • East Coast Cynic April 15, 2021 (8:12 pm)

          50 plus percent voted for light rail in WS. They are the majority, even though there are differences in majority on where to build and how to build, e.g., elevated vs. tunnel.

          • Natinstl April 16, 2021 (7:25 am)

            That was years ago and ST has not proved itself to be fiscally responsible or truthful. I’m not sure the vote would be the same today especially considering remote working options.

    • RailHead April 15, 2021 (2:24 pm)

      If you sell your West Seattle house for market value, you can use that money to buy another West Seattle house at market value.  
      They buy your old house for the outrageously high skyrocketing value of say $800,000 and you then buy another West Seattle home for $800,000.   
      Aunties scenario might be more accurate if the property is highly mortgaged, and Auntie has little or no equity, maybe having responded to adds for refinancing, maybe has gone negative.  
      I too, fall prey to the authoritve spell of Tom Selleck

      • Auntie April 16, 2021 (10:20 am)

        The market value of my home is only $500,000. I doubt they will offer much more than that. I don’t think there is a single home for sale in West Seattle for $500,000. I guess I could buy a small condo – just what I never wanted to do. I don’t think the homes in the buyout area are going to be offered $800,000. I think a lot of you supporting these buyouts don’t have any attachment to your home – maybe you haven’t lived there long or don’t really care if you are in West Seattle or not. As a lifelong West Seattle resident, I do not look forward to being forced out. 

        • RailHead April 16, 2021 (1:19 pm)

           Without being aware of the specifics of her property, I suggest Auntie is confusing ‘market value’ with King County Assessor’s  tax valuation, which is usually significantly below ‘market value.’  
          This is often in the six figure domain, with the  recent sale of our Gatewood home of 25 years producing a sale of $200,000 above the assessed value. 
          Of the nearly 200 listings currently active in West Seattle, none are being offered at or below $500,00.  
          Auntie’s assessed value may reflect her life long residency with a senior discount further confusing things.

          • Auntie April 16, 2021 (3:22 pm)

            No Railhead, I’m not confused. The Zillow estimate of my home value is $475,000. The assessed/taxable value is below that. Since you see that there are no homes being offered for under $500,000, you see my dilemma. Sell my home to ST (whether I like it or not) and move to, um, Enumclaw, maybe?

  • Derek April 15, 2021 (11:59 am)

    Please stop with the horrible gondola idea!!!! That’s gentrified transit as far as I’m concerned. No one is going to like the big ugly powerlines across the junction and Elliot bay or those things hanging over our houses. Let alone getting stuck in one during high winds and how SLOW it would be. The Portland one is considered a collosal failure gimmick idea. STOP already. BUILD THE TRAIN! We voted for it! WE WANT IT!

    • natinstl April 15, 2021 (2:26 pm)

      Are giant concrete structures looming over WS better? That’s why the Bowery became the Bowery (not in a good way) in NY. 

    • CMT April 15, 2021 (5:18 pm)

      Pretty sure that the WE you are speaking on behalf of in your post is YOU and capitalizing it doesn’t make it any more valid than other viewpoints.    I also know that many of “we” did not understand that light rail would  involve an elevated, hideous structure that would totally change West Seattle and not in a good way, when there are reasonable alternatives such as a tunnel or even potentially a gondola.  Like it or not, the process has slowed and there may be adjustments to the alternative that YOU want.  #sorrynotsorry

      • RailHead April 16, 2021 (1:29 pm)

        The people spoke, but did not say what they wanted?  
        Were they tricked or lazy in their civic duty?
        It is the basis of our system that we educate ourselves before pulling the lever.  
        The fact that some did not examine the proposal and voted it in is a part of our system, even some who voted for Trump now appreciate this.

        • CMT April 16, 2021 (2:50 pm)

          Please let me help you down from that soapbox.  Neither the text of Proposition 1 (ST3) (below) on which citizens voted, nor the relentless and misleading propaganda of the transit lobbyists, such as the official looking but unauthorized and misleading “future subway station here” messages stenciled throughout the West Seattle Junction in the lead up to the election, advised that the light rail upon which people were voting would be a massive, elevated line, reminiscent of the viaduct.  Naturally, a transit enthusiast such as yourself would read every bit of material with bated breath but that is not what is required of the rank and file citizenry who had every reason to envision an underground station as in numerous other neighborhoods.  Given the significant negative impact an elevated line would have, the information should not have been omitted or relegated to fine print. 


          Proposition No. 1
          The Sound Transit Board passed Resolution No. R2016-17 concerning expansion of mass transit in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. This measure would expand light-rail, commuterrail, and bus rapid transit service to connect population and growth centers, and authorize Sound Transit to levy or impose: an additional 0.5% sales and use tax; a property tax of $0.25 or less per $1,000 of assessed valuation; and additional 0.8% motor-vehicle excise tax; and use existing taxes to fund the local share of the $53.8 billion estimated cost (including inflation), with continuing independent audits, as described in the Mass Transit Guide and Resolution No. R2016-17

  • 54% Approved April 15, 2021 (1:01 pm)

    Apparently very few read the Sound Transit response which includes the terms, “work in progress” and “preliminary”, regarding this map.  Nor has this “preliminary” map been “vetted by agencies”.  So let yourself get all worked up about something that has not been finalized let alone finished with public input.  Also keep in mind, as other have mentioned, that this project was APPROVED BY VOTERS (like me). 

    If you have never lived (or visited) a large city with multi-faceted mass transit then you really don’t comprehend what this project & other Sound Transit projects will mean and provide for the Greater Seattle MSA.  Expansion of Light Link Rail to West Seattle is a good thing.  Hopefully affected property owners will be compensated fairly.

  • Flan April 15, 2021 (1:29 pm)

    I cant be the only one who is worried about how this will look right? Typically underneath raised train tracks is always very poorly kept.  I do also hope they add some sort of side paneling to the raised track to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Would hate to see houses destroyed just to put up something extremely ugly. Of course I want the light rail but I want it done right with proper though and energy put into it. I honestly would love for it be underground. West Seattle has so many great sightlines, would hate for some locations to loose it. 

  • natinstl April 15, 2021 (2:33 pm)

    I’d really like to know if working from home is factoring into ST’s plans. I don’t see it going away, which means the ridership for a project this size and the revenue doesn’t justify the cost to me. I am head of HR for a local company and we’re done with 5 day per week work in an office. I think others companies are doing the same. Seattle’s transit system has always served work commuters more than those that are just commuting to go to a place outside work hours. I foresee empty trains just like I saw empty buses during off hours pre COVID. I’d rather take the water taxi or a bus directly to downtown vs. taking the light rail to SODO and then doing a transfer. My commute will actually get longer with light rail as will a lot of other people’s.  I can’t believe the huge swath of neighborhood they plan to take and these homeowners while compensated will not be able to buy another house here in WS if the market keeps up the way it does. I think this is the death knell to any sense of community we have here in WS. Giant looming concrete pillars like they just put up by Northgate looming over the entire entrance to WS and the Junction will be like living under a overpass. I think with the bridge repair we still need that other neighborhoods would be better served to be prioritized over us. Water taxi takes 10 minutes to downtown and the bus can go in restricted lanes. 

    • James April 16, 2021 (9:56 am)

      Water Taxi doesn’t run all night and we need to be put on the Big City pants. This worry about living under an overpass is just goofiness. Get over it. Transit is COOL and it’s not a big deal to see a train. We already have to see an ugly bridge with ugly boats and shipping containers, and ugly apartments. Why would a train be bad? It looks nice in the south end already…the little bridge by 5/509 looks nice. Not even an eyesore. It would look just like that. And it already looks super nice going east on I-90. I welcome a night elevated train following the path of Avalon up Fauntleroy to the junction. 

      • Natinstl April 19, 2021 (7:48 pm)

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess. We tore down the viaduct, which was an eyesore and growing up in NYC, neighborhoods under the elevated train are dirty, noisy and undesirable if you want any peace and quiet. All those bridges you mention aren’t looming over a small community.

  • anon April 15, 2021 (2:41 pm)

    I answered the survey from the perspective of someone responsible for hiring in an industry that has a shortage of good, qualified employees since none of the lines were a priority to me. Due to the cost of housing most of our employees are being forced to live north and south of Seattle, our Seattle and Bellevue employees can get downtown just fine. I would like to see those that have to live out of the general area gain better access for commuting purposes so that we can remain competitive and attract employees. We do plan to remain mostly remote, but there is some in person client work , trainings and meetings that people have to come downtown for. Many of those individuals also just want to connect with other employees, but not at the expense of a two hour commute. 

  • HappyCamper April 15, 2021 (2:58 pm)

    Tunnel with TOD on top of the station(s)please.

  • DB40 April 15, 2021 (3:29 pm)

    The sun will super nova before a West Seattle ST3 route is decided.

    • Tyr1001 April 15, 2021 (4:43 pm)

      The sun is not massive enough to super nova, it will become a red giant and finally a white dwarf. I know that wasn’t your point but I had to. . .

  • Cranky Westie April 15, 2021 (3:51 pm)

    Why are we destroying West Seattle homes, businesses and lives for the next 10 years, for a train that doesn’t even make it to where people need it, when the damn bridge isn’t even functional?  Will I wake up soon? Was it something I ate?

    • RailHead April 15, 2021 (6:23 pm)

      Hey Crankie,
      I agree.
      I think it was something all of us old Westies ate  back in the last century.
      We wen’t ‘woke’ then and passed on the fed’s  buying us a rapid transit system.  
      Because we  have the viaduct connecting to the “new” West Seattle bridge.  
      Everyone saved their money for 25 cent leaded gas to fuel the Detroit vehicle we religiously replaced every couple of years, the open road…freeways to downtown,
      the ultimate freedom.

  • Thomas April 15, 2021 (9:50 pm)

    Where will the PARKING be?  It’s awfully hard to PARK & RIDE if you can’t park.  Build multiple storey lots off of 44th where only single level parking is now?

    • RailHead April 16, 2021 (8:30 am)

      I don’t believe that the “park and ride” style so popular in the spread of the suburbs is what is envisioned.  Rather than building vehicle storage, we are developing a feeder system of connections.  We are building for the future, not the past.

  • Natinstl April 16, 2021 (7:18 am)

    You’re not supposed to have a car according to many on  this thread. My guess is a bus to the rail. 

    • RailHead April 16, 2021 (1:06 pm)

      Bus, bike, walk, skate, scooter, hoverboard, Uber or get dropped off by spouse as so common in our Eastern US commuter suburbs.
      More accurately than “you’re not supposed to have a car,” is  please let us rethink your car assumptions and reliance on an anachronistic car culture.

  • Anon April 16, 2021 (7:21 am)

    The survey is a bit bogus, forcing an answer that you may not agree with. There was no option for none of these are a priority to me.

  • James April 16, 2021 (8:36 am)

    West Seattle NEEDS the lightrail. This is the future. NOT cars. Not a slow moving gondola that no one will take during many high wind storms during the year. Asinine suggestion. LIGHT RAIL NOW! PLEASE!

    • Natinstl April 19, 2021 (7:31 am)

      As long as Washington remains Washington there will be cars. Trains can’t take you hiking, boating, camping, skiing and to do all those other great things there are to do here.

  • New homeowner of WS April 18, 2021 (9:09 am)

    Just purchased one of the newly developed townhomes, and now discovered it maybe affected by the light rail. No one informed us this is the case throughout the purchasing time. The parcel estimate on the sheet is about half of what we paid for, and 3/4 of the property tax value. We were not resident of west seattle, and had no idea about the potential impact of the light rail can demolish a new development. Frustrating situation

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