Dozens of questions, answers, comments @ Sound Transit’s West Seattle light rail public hearing

(Rendering of potential SW Genesee guideway, from page 126 in DEIS Appendix N-2)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

You have four weeks left to officially comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle (and Ballard) light-rail extensions – basically, one last major chance to speak up before its final routing and station locations are settled.

As part of that process, Sound Transit held an online public hearing tonight, this one geared toward the West Seattle segment, currently expected to open in 2032. The DEIS contains results of studies of the possible alternatives for routing and station locations, and the comments will be taken into consideration by ST board members – including King County Councilmember Joe McDermott, who spoke briefly at the start of the meeting – at their next major decision point, likely this June.

Three-quarters of the meeting was devoted to Q&A and comments; 22 people offered the latter, half of them advocating for ST to study the gondola system whose advocates have pitched it as an option to West Seattle light rail.

As the meeting began, ST’s Cathal Ridge began with a recap of the project plan, going back to the ST3 vote in 2016. Design starts in 2023; construction of the West Seattle line is scheduled to start in 2026. The official comment period for the DEIS began January 28th, and after it’s over, the board “will confirm or modify the preferred alternative.” He also recapped the alternatives that are being studied while noted that some of them would “require third-party funding.”

OVERVIEW: For an overview of what’s been studied, Ridge turned it over to Jason Hampton, who’s leading the West Seattle segment planning. For context on what’s in the DEIS, here are the focus topics:

He then gave toplines of the alternatives being studied, which we’ve covered many times before, so we won’t go into deep detail -. Three alternatives are suggested for the new bridge that would take light rail across the Duwamish River – one north of the current bridge, two south of it.

Here’s the comparison on five criteria:

The three planned stations are in The Junction, Avalon, and Delridge areas, and a variety of alternatives are being studied, including tunneled options:

These too had comparison information:

Here’s the full slide deck:

Q&A: This began half an hour into the meeting, after the overview. First question, how does the West Seattle extension connect to the system before the Ballard extension opens five years later? Answer: You’ll have to get off in SODO. Question: Will the new bridge support pedestrian or highway traffic? Answer: No, rail-only. Question: How will impacts to displaced businesses be addressed? Answer: They’ll be eligible for relocation benefits – more info on the website, “property owners” tab. ST is having weekly webinars as well as in-person outreach. Question: If my building is acquired, how long between purchase and construction start? Answer: “We’ll give them ample time to move.” Question: Why isn’t the light rail going down Delridge so it could extend to points south? Answer: Potential routing was studied years ago and they led to ST3, which laid out this routing. Question: ST3 had a work item to study expanding further south. How would that be done from the West Seattle Junction end? Answer: We can’t speculate without further studies.

Question: Has anyone revisited paths of the West Seattle light rail to see what types of businesses will be affected, and weight them? Answer: Displacement specifics are discussed in the DEIS, though not weighed. Question: What commitments are being made for Delridge regarding Transit-Oriented Development? Answer: No specifics but – there’s a conceptual design so far; ST is committed to ensuring equitable TOD on property it acquires, after construction. Question: What are the possible sources of third-party funding, which is needed for some alternatives? Answer: Ridge points out that some West Seattle tunneling alternatives would NOT necessarily require third-party funding, unlike original projections. The city is one, federal maybe, hard to speculate otherwise. Question: How were the “preferred alternatives” chosen? Answer: Ridge recaps the 2017-2019 process of developing the alternatives with lots of community input. Question: Will the preferred alternative confirmed by board later this year be narrowed down to one? Answer: Ridge says that’s what they expect would happen, but it’s in the board’s hands. Question: Are you aware that the gondola is being studied and are they using public money? Answer: The gondola is not part of this DEIS but a board member has asked us to look at that option, a study’s been done, it’ll be presented to the Executive Committee in a week or so. (Note: The committee meets April 7th.) Question: What do “Pigeon Point constructability” and “BNSF constructability” mean? Answer: Some challenges – Pigeon Point has some slope and wildlife challenges, BNSF refers to the railroad bridge over the Duwamish River, which means a “constrained corridor.” Question: What’s meant by “retained cut station? Answer: Below ground but not completely enclosed, “kind of an open top,” Hampton explains.

Question: What has ST seen as shortest and longest time between operation of light-rail system and full TOD occupancy? Answer: Station planner Sloan Dawson replies that there’s “quite a spread” of times – a Roosevelt project for example is going to open within a year of the start of service. Four years on Capitol Hill, longer in Rainier Valley. Question: Any updated ridership estimates? Answer: The current estimates in DEIS were done pre-pandemic. ST is now reviewing how projections might need to be updated because of COVID effects. Question: How were comments summarized for board review? Answer: All comments are provided to the board, but summaries are provided too. It will categorize comments by “type of commenter” – such as agencies, businesses, public, by geography, types of concerns voiced, types of preferences voiced, etc. Question: Any requirements or plans for upzoning near stations? Answer: No ST requirements imposed, but the city has indicated they’ll embark on station-area planning once routing is finalized, and “early thinking” has been under way. Question: If permanent footprint doesn’t run through property, but partial, does it mean ST won’t permanently take that property? Answer: Hampton said it’s way too soon to know, that depends on the design process. Question: Will any alternatives permanently close any streets – does DEIS get into that? Answer: Chapter 3 discusses transportation impacts, both for construction and permanently. A few examples, Some of the Delridge/Avalon options have some possible street closures, along with one Junction alternative. Question: How do current costs compare to what was approved in ST3? Answer: The realignment process had some figures on that. In general, real estate costs went way up, and that’s why overall project budget is about $12 billion, whereas it was originally $8 billion. Question: Could Junction and Avalon stations could be combined to save money? Answer: It’s possible – the board has asked us to look at cost savings, and there’ll be discussion of that in the next round of Community Advisory Group meetings. Question: Will the RapidRide H Line stop at Delridge station? Answer: Yes.

COMMENTS: A little over an hour into the meeting, after a short break, the public hearing for comments began. Everyone was allowed to speak for up to two minutes (three if an interpreter was used); no one ran over. These documents were recorded by a court reporter for the record, moderator Chris Johnstone noted. 12 of the 22 commenters mentioned the gondola concept, which, as Ridge had said earlier, is not in the DEIS (except for two brief mentions in Appendix M, one noting that it was removed from consideration pre-ST3 because “gondolas and aerial trams are not considered regional high-capacity transit). Here are toplines of the 22 spoken comments:

First commenter identified himself as a 40th SW property owner, saying he and neighbors were generally supportive of tunneling options but concerned about noise and vibration after it’s built and hoping for more information about that.

Second commenter said that SkyLink gondola will need less money and displace fewer homes and businesses, so he wondered why it’s not being seriously considered as an alternative.

Third commenter said that she supports commissioning an independent study comparing gondola vs. light rail. She says the environmental effects of embodied carbon in construction of light rail need to be studied and listed other environmental criteria that should be considered.

Fourth commenter said he’s been advocating for the Andover light-rail route because it would not displace the Youngstown neighborhood, and addressed two potential downsides of that route that he says could be addressed with slide changes such as moving the station location slightly. He also voiced support for studying the gondola concept.

Fifth commenter said he represents the developers of Maris (Fauntleroy/Alaska development just completed), which one option would condemn and demolish, “all 306 residential units” and possibly the 150-unit Huxley to its south. He said “this is the wrong approach” because it would remove so much housing. They believe the further-west Junction options are more suitable.

Sixth commenter said “it seems really bad to build a train that essentially no one will be able to use for about five years” – taking it to the CID station would make more sense, as there are already buses going to SODO. Also: “The gondola would be a massive mistake.”

Seventh commenter said she’s a Junction resident and supports studying the gondola, calling it a “massive mistake” that it wasn’t in the DEIS. Don’t issue the EIS without including it as an alternative, she said.

Eighth commenter said she’s a climate justice advocate and supports the gondola as a way to reduce environmental effects as well as “ecoracism” that light rail could bring. She also said that a gondola could carry more people.

Ninth commenter said she’s in support of an outside study of the gondola. She voted for ST3 but said that didn’t mean she was only interested in light rail.

Tenth commenter said the prospect of eminent domain is detrimental for people who had planned to sell their homes relatively soon, and could “highly diminish” property values.

Eleventh commenter said the prospective impacts of light rail have many wondering if there’s a better alternative, and believes the gondola is it. She too urges an independent study.

Twelfth commenter said she works in the Delridge/Andover building that her family co-owns and would like to see it preserved, not demolished.

Thirteenth commenter said he is advocating for the Andover lower-height station option, especially because of its lower residential displacement effects.

Fourteenth commenter voiced support for the gondola.

Fifteenth commenter voiced support for the Andover station “and the tunnel entrance for it” on the south side of Genesee Street. He said he’s opposed to residential displacement and thinks it’s more appropriate to use more of the golf course.

Sixteenth commenter said she’s a Junction resident and supports tunnel options for the Junction station.

Seventeenth commenter said she’s a longtime West Seattle resident and supports the gondola. She wants ST to “sincerely consider it.”

Eighteenth commenter said that she supported light rail but now that its potentially “devastating” impacts have been shown, she supports the gondola and wants to see an independent study.

Nineteenth commenter said that he is a Junction resident and supports “the tunnel option.”

Twentieth commenter said that he’s encouraging ST to do an “outside review” of the gondola.

Twenty-first commenter said his family uses buses and they get downtown quickly enough that he is opposed to light rail.

Twenty-second commenter said ST should consider “cost-saving methods for some of the stations themselves” and try harder to address aesthetic concerns about the elevated segments. He added that “having shallower stations all along the line is vital.”

Nobody else wanted to speak, so the hearing closed on time at 7;30 pm.

WHAT’S NEXT? The comment period continues until April 28th. You can comment in a variety of ways, all detailed here. ST said during tonight’s meeting, “We are also offering office hours for technical questions related to the Draft EIS if you’d like to visit our project website to sign up.” And while it’s not an official ST event, you can also attend the West Seattle Transportation Coalition‘s how-to-comment-on-the-DEIS workshop next Thursday night (April 7th) – online and in-person – details to come.

43 Replies to "Dozens of questions, answers, comments @ Sound Transit's West Seattle light rail public hearing"

  • Morgan March 31, 2022 (3:26 am)


  • Light Rail Commuter March 31, 2022 (5:59 am)

    11 people offered comments regarding the gondola? How is that even possible. I thought Sound Transit doesn’t want to build a spur line. West Seattle deserves light rail. 

    • M March 31, 2022 (8:24 am)

      Public meetings are often attended by people who have a lot of spare time, if they aren’t required to attend for their work. I’ve attended a few, but taken time out off work and away from my family to do so–it stinks and it’s uninviting. According to the SkyLink website, the three leaders of this effort all talk about their careers in the past tense in their bios–I assume they’re retired from the main careers and/or generally have time to work on promoting SkyLink.

      • Marfaun March 31, 2022 (7:55 pm)

        And your point about retired people who are engaged in their communities is — ?  ST scheduled the  5:30-7:30 time slot so even folk who are employed could attend.  Most people working on the SkyLink project are employed and doing this in their spare time.

    • zark00 March 31, 2022 (9:23 am)

      If they do build light rail to WSea “you’ll have to get off in sodo” – for $2B you can take a train from the junction to not even the stadium. Stupid, waste of money, useless transit. SDOT’s specialty, but won’t help us.In my gut I have always thought a gondola sounds dumb. But the more I read about gondola projects in Columbia and Edmonton the more sense it makes.  We could build a gondola from the junction to sodo for about what the admin fees for the lightrail project would be. Could easily build a gondola now, use it for the next 10 years while they figure out what they want to do with rail. I still feel like a gondola is weird and silly, but that my feeling not the facts.  Factually, a gondola makes sense.  Honestly tried to find reasons it’s a dumb idea and there just aren’t any. It’s a perfectly viable transit option, it makes more sense to move more people sooner with less money and less disruption to current transit options. Gondola is so much cheaper we could literally do both. Build a gondola now, and either tear it down or just leave it there when we build light rail in 15 years. There is no way light rail is 10 years out fyi, it’s 15 years on the inside. We’re already 3 years behind. For planning to be complete in 2023 SDOT would need to compress 3 years of work into 6 months, which they are not capable of doing. 

      • WSB March 31, 2022 (3:54 pm)

        This is not an SDOT project. Sound Transit is a separate entity spanning parts of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.

      • Ookla the Mok March 31, 2022 (8:55 pm)

        If you want to move more people sooner and for less money then we need to expand bus service and transit only lanes throughout West Seattle.  That means doing away with curb lanes on roads like Fauntleroy and 35th and make them transit only.  Gondola advocates are not being honest about their motivations. They are exploiting the inefficient Seattle process to delay light rail.  

    • Peter March 31, 2022 (10:26 am)

      It was a coordinated effort. The gondola proponents are organized in opposition to light rail, it’s not a serious mass transit proposal. 

      • Marfaun March 31, 2022 (7:59 pm)

        Gondola proponents have always supported ST building  the N-S and W-E trunk lines (spine).  They also support using a better option than rail for hilly, densely-developed West Seattle — as the comparison between impacts of light rail vs. gondola shows.

  • AvalonTom March 31, 2022 (8:01 am)

    ST got ambushed by the “WhAt AbOuT ThE GonDolA?” crowd.  I’m sure they were expecting it. 2 reasons the gondola is not a good idea, and its the only 2 you need. 1. You will have to transfer FOREVER at wherever the gondola terminates.  2. That kills any future ideas of expanding the link to White center / Burien from West Seattle effectively making West Seattle a back woods of the transportation network and creating a serious long term disservice to Burien and White Center. I’m sure that is the entire point of the Gondola concept even if most of the supporters don’t see it.I sat through the presentation and the Q&A and did not bother to speak up as at this point I feel like I’m just talking to a wall. I know the Council members for the County and City read this blog, so I’m saying this to you now:Remember that there are real people with real lives affected by this.  I know multiple seniors who live in our building who don’t know what to do. They don’t want to move, they have been here for many years and getting displaced will be worse every year this process drags out as the age further. I can see real fear in their eyes and desperation when I speak to them.  I personally have talked to a RE agent who has advised against selling as we would need to sell at a deep discount at this point. Basically the advise I get is to just wait till ST gets off the pot.  Living with this over our heads for the past 4 years has taken a mental toll on everyone who is affected by this. Add to that the pandemic and the bridge and its a really an unhealthy situation that many of us are in. My point: I urge you to make the route decision quickly and give some assurances and REAL CONCRETE guidance to the many families who are stuck in limbo to this eminent domain action. So far all we got is wishy washy estimates and one totally ambiguous letter in Oct 21 that basically said nothing.  I don’t expect ST to lead on this, but you the elected leaders cold crack the whip and put some more pressure on ST to get some clarification to your constituency who will be profoundly affected by this action.  We really need some real data so we can better plan our lives.  Hurry up already and make a decision and start buying out the people affected by this so they can move on with their lives. 

    • zark00 March 31, 2022 (9:35 am)

      AvalonTom – The light rail won’t connect to the system for an additional 5 years after the WSea spur is built.  It is a not very well guarded ‘secret’ that light rail is 3-5 years behind now, and it’s not possible to complete the WSea spur for around 15 years. Once ‘planning’ is complete, the timeline will be updated, and you’ll see 2037 for WSea and 2040 or so for Ballard and connecting to the system. Light rail is not a viable option for seniors living in WSea today; unless they’re very young seniors. If someone is telling you that you would have to sell your place in WSea at a discount, you REALLY need a new agent.  That is completely ridiculous. Every property in WSea is selling at over asking with multiple offers and bidding wars. You would get a premium if you sold right now.  There’s nothing to buy, so selling is not smart if you want to stay in the area and don’t want to also pay a huge premium for a new place.  But selling at a discount!!?  You are getting some absolutely horrible advice from whomever you are speaking to.  I can put you in touch with real local agents if you’d like some accurate advice on your property and the state of the market right now. 

    • Steve March 31, 2022 (10:25 am)

      This is a big help–thank you, AvalonTom, for giving us perspective from those being displaced.

    • Bronson March 31, 2022 (12:48 pm)

      100% agree AvalonTom. Many of us who are going to be displaced just want to get on with it. I have even reached out to ST to see if we can accelerate the eminent domain process once the route decision is made in June, to no avail. 2024-2025 at best it appears. With new uncertainty in the housing market due to rising rates, those of us in the eminent domain situation are bearing significant downside risk to our home prices while being held hostage to the Seattle process; risk the gondola folks don’t care about. So, I’m with you. I’m tired, frustrated and borderline angry with the gondola people for putting together this nonsensical proposal. 

    • Martin March 31, 2022 (2:53 pm)

      1. Yes, with SkyLink you can either need to transfer at SODO or International District, but some people think that once you’re on light rail, you won’t have to transfer. If light rail reaches SODO in 2032, everybody needs to transfer! In 2037 you may be able to continue downtown, but if you want to reach Ballard, SeaTac airport, or Bellevue you still need to transfer to another light rail line and with the deep tunnel Sound Transit plans that might be complex and time consuming. Or you might catch another bus or the streetcar up to First Hill or Sounder. At least with SkyLink you won’t have to wait for another train as cabins arrive continuously, therefore providing a far better transfer experience.2. The SkyLink team is not against light rail, but proposes to use the cost savings to expand light rail along the Duwamish through South Park and another gondola line to White Center/Westwood, may be even the Fauntleroy ferry terminal. Such light rail / gondola connection could serve ALL of the Duwamish peninsula for about the same cost and on the same schedule as what’s currently proposed for a light rail connection to the Junction. 

  • sam-c March 31, 2022 (8:24 am)

    Very well run and informative meeting.  Thank you for capturing it, WSB, especially so soon after the meeting ended.    One thing, they said they answered all the questions.  However, they didn’t answer mine (my screenshot shows my question submitted at 6:07pm, and as of screenshot time (7:19pm), it was never answered).  Do you know the correct Sound Transit email address to send my question?  thank you!

    • WSB March 31, 2022 (8:44 pm)

      I asked an ST rep at an Avalon station walking tour this morning (organized by neighborhood group, story to come tomorrow). This one:

      • sam-c April 1, 2022 (1:43 pm)

        Thank you!

  • Dennis E. Hamilton March 31, 2022 (9:29 am)

    Thank you for the amazing coverage.I am baffled by the gondola consideration.  It has me think of the Seattle Monorail but without the tourists.  Not extensible, and station queuing for embarking/disembarking without impacting a journey puzzles me.  How many places can there be stops without making the trip time very clumsy, as well as jumping on and off?  (Horrible remembrance of multi-station ski lifts taking over my thinking.)I guess I have to  look at the gondola proposal.  This reminds me of how the solution not considered always appears magically better though.

    • Marfaun March 31, 2022 (8:07 pm)

      Gondola is not monorail.   It’s urban high capacity transit approved by Sound Transit in 2014 for connecting local areas with light rail trunk line (spine) stations.  Likely ride time from Junction to Int’l. District via gondola:  15 minutes.Comparative costs:  ST estimates $3.2 billion for West Seattle rail spur (Link Extension) to serve four stations (3 in W Seattle plus SODO), SkyLink estimates $350 million to serve five stations (3 W Seattle plus SODO & I.D.).  We need a study (just like ST did for light rail) to determine specific gondola dollar costs.

  • Dennis E. Hamilton March 31, 2022 (9:40 am)

    Oh, the figures about the gondola are difficult to track.  Under which budget estimate is the gondola $2B cheaper?And continuous boarding?  How does accessibility figure in this?That and emergency access figures in all plans, but I wonder more about the gondola.

  • westsider March 31, 2022 (10:27 am)

    I’m imagining gondola’s like in Venice servicing patrons, rowing them across the Duwamish.   I’m a hard no…even if takes longer and is more expensive, build rail.  Way to think outside the bun though.

  • JAG March 31, 2022 (10:39 am)

    I was in the meeting as well and did not comment. The gondola maybe the best option for West Seattle but it is not one of the options that was studied. I just don’t see how ST could possibly start a new study and allow all the time it takes for comment periods to get to a  decision.  We have been going through this process for last 5 years.  Being an affected property owner Ditto what Avalon said. The gondola band wagon is taking away votes for alot a people who care about West Seattle. I hope they comment on what they believer the best option is that is on the table as well as stating their case for the Gondola study.  The Andover short tunnel option 6  maybe a bigger carbon foot print than the Andover option however it is the best option that is being considered. People seem to be either very passionate for or against the Gondola. I am neither. I wish it had been out there a few years ago but it wasn’t so we need to look at the best option that the board will actually approve and vote for it.

  • Near-term vs long-term cost benefit March 31, 2022 (12:14 pm)

    I imagine that the near-term costs are being calculated rather than the long-term costs in the DEIS when it comes to residential and business displacement.  A tunnel may have a near-term cost of displacement but it is underground which may allow some of the residential housing and business to return in greater numbers than with an elevated line or station. The economic long-term benefit of a tunnel may be much higher than the $0.6-0.7 near-term project cost.  It would be interesting to have a cost benefit analysis for the economic impact of the residential and business displacements and replacements for the Beacon Hill tunnel and underground station. I think it would be useful information for Board members to have information from this pre- post- “natural study” in the Beacon Hill neighborhood which has similar, but not identical, characteristics to the West Seattle neighborhoods where light rail is proposed.

  • Lisa March 31, 2022 (1:42 pm)

    I don’t like the light rail idea to be honest. I love the rapid c line. I would love to see a rapid bus line in the admiral district. The C line connects several neighborhoods in west Seattle. I do realize that the appearance of West Seattle has changed in several years but the feel hasn’t. Our community is by far more friendlier than others. I feel the light rail would change for the worst. I love the old houses here. I would like to see the positives of alternative transportation. The gondola is a thought but I feel it needs to discussed more. More positives and negatives between all the projects. I don’t work traditional hours so it’s impossible to make any of these meetings. To those that make the incorrect assumption that those who support the gondola don’t work so they can make the meeting is wrong on so many levels. I’m in the medical field. I work 5 – 6 days a week. I don’t  have time to step away from my desk for an hour to join these meetings. I’m ever thankful for the WS Blog reporting this so quickly. 

  • StuckInWestSeattle March 31, 2022 (2:26 pm)

    The gondola is a foolish pipe dream and not even remotely practical. It’s more akin to the ferris wheel downtown than a transportation system. It’s just for tourists. I think the light rail should follow the north rail like over harbor island and follow the route of the WSB. But honestly I would be fine scrapping it altogether and having a dedicated bus lane system similar to what they have in the netherlands that is completely independent of cars. This to me is much more financially sound and could be done very quickly. I am absolutely against taking any more green space or tearing down any residential. I just have to go look at what they did in Bellevue to know this is a bad sell. I voted against ST3 because its simply a foolish system. We should have invested in a proper subway system.

    • CarDriver March 31, 2022 (8:51 pm)

      Speaking of tourists. Before the original monorail was axed the powers to be said “tourists wanting to ride to see WS” would provide a good chunk of revenue. Also, should note there were discussions with Metro on ending ALL bus service out of WS. Metro would only run shuttles to the monorail stations. And, oh by the way, being a separate agency riders would pay their Metro fare then have to pay the monorail fare.  Before labeling the gondola a “foolish pipe dream” You’d best really pay attention to ST. Buyer beware. 

    • zark00 April 3, 2022 (12:19 pm)

      @STUCKINGWESTSEATTLE It’s this kind of comment that proves people are making reactionary decisions about the gondola option with ZERO actual knowledge about what it is, how it functions, and how efficient and cheap the solution actually is.  This genius thinks a gondola for transit is the same as the Disney gondola ride – that is literally the level of critical thinking these people are able to apply.  Can’t even google and read for 2 minutes to understand how laughable their position on real transit solutions is. 

  • Joe Z March 31, 2022 (2:55 pm)

    At the end of the day it is obvious that a long tunnel is the best option for West Seattle. As the renderings show, if you try to climb the hill above ground, you are stuck with 100+ ft guideways and a monstrous Delridge station that is terrible for bus transfers and fits poorly into the neighborhood. Would such a station and guideway ever be accepted in a wealthier area with more influence like the Junction? I think not. Sound Transit has tried to sell the “Short/Medium Tunnel” options as a compromise, but it still has serious flaws including a poor location of the Delridge Station near Nucor, a 130 ft guideway over Longfellow Creek, significant displacements in the Avalon neighborhood, and a tunnel portal in the current location of West Seattle Brewery. The long tunnel eliminates all of these problems. However, we have been told that the long tunnel requires magical “third party funding” which has never materialized.  Given the escalating cost of real estate, the long tunnel is close in cost to the original elevated preferred alternative. The main remaining cost hurdle is the underground Avalon Station, which is only projected to have 1,200 boardings per day because it overlaps in walkshed with the Junction Station. The 21 bus could easily be rerouted to transfer at Alaska/Fauntleroy rather than at 35th/Fauntleroy. The gondola is no different than the “immersed tube tunnel” which was quickly squashed by a study. $200K is a small amount of money to do a gondola study. If the gondola proponents would like to see it studied, they should crowdfund the cash themselves or collect signatures for a ballot measure. We did not vote for gondolas in 2016. 

    • Marilyn April 1, 2022 (1:04 pm)

      Brilliant!  Yes to crowdfunding a gondola study.  Yes to collecting signatures for a ballot measure.  

  • Ookla the Mok March 31, 2022 (5:41 pm)

    The gondola is a scam being put forward by people who want to kill the light rail and undermine the will of the voters.  Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved Sound Transit 3.  It is irrelevant that some may have “wanted” Sound Transit to consider a gondola when they cast their vote.  The ballot measure we voted on and approved was to extend light rail and made no mention of a gondola. This whole exercise is so Seattle. We make a decision then spend the next 20 years second guessing it and considering alternate carnival rides to replace what we already approved.  It is time to move forward before this gets anymore expensive than it already is. 

    • Martin March 31, 2022 (7:39 pm)

      Voters approved a West Seattle connection for $1.7 billion by 2030, Sound Transit is realizing that this cannot be done with any of the light rail proposals the engineers came up with, it will take much longer and might take twice the budget. There was no mention in the ST3 measure that thousands of people will either lose their home or their place of employment nor that it will include a 2-mile-long guideway as tall as 8 to 15 stories, as station as tall as a 10-story house, and many years of construction when West Seattle is trying to recover from the bridge closure. Glad Sound Transit is now studying the SkyLink proposal as it may actually deliver what they promised and more sooner.

      • Ookla the Mok March 31, 2022 (8:28 pm)

        The gondola will NEVER happen. It is not a serious mass transit solution and is not being advocated by serious people.  It is a scam intended to distract from what voters approved.  There is no legal authority for it. If the gondola advocates were serious about finding an alternative solution to addressing our needs, they would be open to doing away with the curb lanes on Fauntleroy and 35th and expanding the Rapid Ride in transit only lanes.  

        • zark00 April 3, 2022 (12:24 pm)

          You are very wrong that gondola is not a serious mass transit solution. Embarrassingly wrong. It takes less than 2 minutes to google and find out how completely wrong you are. 

    • Marfaun March 31, 2022 (8:17 pm)

      Will of the voters:  final tally was only 54% in favor of ST3; King & Snohomish Counties approved it, Pierce County rejected it.  Not a mandate.  Sound Transit approved gondolas in 2014 for connecting local areas (like WS) with light rail spine (trunk line) stations (like SODO & ID).  Sound Transit says they didn’t include gondola in ST3 because it wasn’t suited for the spine, which SkyLink agrees with.  It’s suited for local service, like SkyLInk advocates, and ST approved.  If you’re concerned about our tax money, and getting public projects done ahead of schedule and under budget, you’d probably like the gondola.

  • Sweetiebee March 31, 2022 (7:59 pm)

    Can someone explain to me how a city with the most engineers / most educated people in the entire US, Seattle is still incapable of buidling fast connecting public transportation in a logical and cohesive manner? There isn’t even a decent App. I swear it’s like monkey’s are just drawing random scratches in the dirt for our public transportation routes. Maybe it’s the drugs…that’s the only logical reason for metal sky boxes in a climiate of rain and winds 8 months of the year.

    • Foop April 1, 2022 (1:20 am)

      Transit will always suffer because of our obsession with cars and free car storage. Not to mention s.all business strongarming local politicians away from good mass transit

  • ImNotSparticus April 1, 2022 (8:39 am)

    Gondola people, just stop. Stop wasting Sound Transit’s time and your own money. The gondola isn’t going to happen no matter how hard you wish and no matter how many yard signs you put up and no matter how many public meetings you hijack. Most of the people of West Seattle are smart enough to know that the gondola is an immature, selfish idea pushed by impractical people with too much time on their hands. We need real transit, and we need it right now, not a fun little ride to SODO.

    Once we get real transit, you can push your little ride project as much as you like, but even then it’s not likely to happen. In the meantime, stop trying to tell the majority what we really want, because being stuck in a swaying cabin high over the ground with no way to get off, even in the very likely event that some person in mental crisis decides to attack people randomly, is not at all what most people want. You live in the same world as the people who try and tell us we can go to Costco with two kids in tow during a snowstorm on bicycles: a fantasy world. 

  • bill April 1, 2022 (10:25 am)

    None of the gondola people must live on a ridgetop or have experienced a wind storm on foot or bike on the low bridge. 

    • zark00 April 3, 2022 (12:29 pm)

      Gondola can handle up to 40mph winds – we get gusts of 40mph occasionally out here, but not enough to regularly impact gondola operation in any meaningful way.

  • golfcoursesarenotpublicparks April 1, 2022 (1:35 pm)

    Build on the golf course, please.

    Rail + park/green space + affordable living

  • Sasquatch April 1, 2022 (2:51 pm)

    Gondola People: can you show us a successful gondola in an urban setting that is used for public transport?  Preferably in a setting that has similar volume and crime.  Would it be one giant bus sized car or a bunch of little cars that fit 8 people, like at Crystal? Would there be multiple stops in West Seattle? or would you have to bus to a gondola terminal and que up? how would you move 100,000 people in an hour? or even 50,000Having worked at a ski hill, I know that Gondola’s can’t run during bad weather. Furthermore, it feels unsafe to share a gondola car with a criminal without any security while you are 80 feet in the air. How will security be provided for low volume times such as late night and middle of the day?

    • da birds April 1, 2022 (7:39 pm)

      ‘Furthermore, it feels unsafe to share a gondola car with a criminal without any security while you are 80 feet in the air’

      Sad to say it, but criminals are all around every day, the world isn’t safe, and it would be just as unpleasant to share a light rail car with a criminal, wether up high on a track or underground in a tunnel. Look at the first rendering at the top of this posting. Do you want to be stuck in light rail up there with a criminal instead?

      People are literally being shot at by other people while driving. Riding in a gondola won’t be any more or less safe than walking down the street.

    • zark00 April 3, 2022 (12:44 pm)

      @SASQUATCHMedellin Columbia, the K line moves 30,000 people a day, commuting via the K line gondola takes about 1/2 the time as driving the same route in a car or taking a bus. La Paz, Ankara, Paris is building one now. The La Paz gondola moves 18,000 people an hour! Link capacity is around 12,000 an hour. Ouch. The gondola cars disconnect from the cable – there is no “ski lift” silliness – whoever actually thought that, and typed it, it’s embarrassing.  During boarding and unloading the cars slow to a crawl, or can even completely stop to allow for easy boarding for disabled people. They are nearly silent.It is amazing to me how many people can be so passionately wrong about the gondola option.  It’s almost like you spent zero time actually reading anything about whether a gondola is a viable option and just posted your random thoughts and opinions based on your time in the Disneyland gondola ride.  Almost as if you have NO IDEA what you’re talking about at all.  The comparisons to the monorail are classic.  Literally can’t tell the difference between a train and gondola, yet also feel they are the final authority on both. 

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