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.