(Sound Transit recording of Tuesday’s meeting)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Three stations are planned for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle light-rail extension – Delridge, Avalon, The Junction. Each one still has multiple potential locations under study, but the newest ST public presentation provided an official detailed look at early design possibilities for all of them.
That happened during the first meeting of the West Seattle/Duwamish Community Advisory Group for the project, which is now projected to launch light rail to/from the peninsula in 2032.
The slide deck for this meeting ran 119 pages – you can scroll through for the closest look yet at all the station possibilities that are being studied and will be part of what’s addressed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement:
Stations were the focus this time. Sloan Dawson from ST and Radcliffe Dacanay from SDOT were the main presenters. They explained how the two entities are working together on this component of the project. As Dacanay noted, a key role for the city is to issue the permits allowing the project to be built. The planning has to be focused beyond that, though, to the few blocks around each station:
The information in this presentation was described by Dawson as “the first step – the start of a conversation – toward station framework.” In other words – early design. Each station area (Delridge, Avalon, Junction) was profiled. Delridge is envisioned with the second-highest ridership – 5,800 daily boardings. The vast majority – 87 percent – are expected to arrive by bus. (None of the West Seattle stations will have parking facilities.)
The Avalon station’s projected ridership is far lower than the other two – 1,200 daily boardings are anticipated, with 53 percent of the riders getting there by walking.
The Junction station is expected to draw 6,400 daily boardings, also with just over half the passengers walking there.
Again, you’ll have to scroll through the slide deck for the close-up looks at each possible station alternative (if you can’t view the embedded version toward the start of this story, see it here). There are 13 possibilities under study – four each for Delridge and Avalon, five for The Junction. Some would require additional funding from unspecified third parties, none of which has surfaced yet. The “extra funding required” possibilities are for the Avalon and Junction stations; all of the Delridge options are elevated, including a 110-foot proposal (the “Dakota Street Station”); third-party funding could bring that down to 60 feet.
The early “framework” designs also looked at possibilities for “transit-oriented development” in the station areas, showing where hundreds of new residential units could be planned in the station areas (though those numbers were not in the context of how many residences might be demolished to make way for the line). In some areas, “creative public spaces” could be planned beneath the guideways/stations – Dawson mentioned cities like Miami that he said have created features such as skateparks.
Questions/comments from advisory group members (who are listed in the slide deck) included gentrification concerns in the Delridge station area – concerns about existing residents getting “pushed out” there and elsewhere. How long would there be a gap between the demolition of existing housing and the construction of new housing? Also the subject of inquiry, what could “transit-oriented development” lead to beyond more multi-family housing? Dawson said they envisioned potential partnerships – maybe even the kind that could bring a long-desired grocery store to the North Delridge area. They’ll also be partnering with affordable-housing developers. And more upzoning might be on the way for station areas as the city looks ahead to its next comprehensive-plan update, said Dacanay.
Another line of inquiry: What will bus service be like once light rail opens? There will still be at least one route going downtown, said a Metro planner in attendance, and a route like the current 50 will continue as well. But, added Metro’s Chris Arkills, a few years before light-rail opens, there’ll be a “robust public process” to talk about it.
WHAT’S NEXT: Before this group and the three other groups assigned sections of the West Seattle/Ballard extensions meet again, ST will release the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on January 28th, opening a new public-comment period. The DEIS will be the topic of the advisory groups’ next meetings; West Seattle/Duwamish will meet at 5 pm Tuesday, February 8th.