WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Comment countdown continues with city observations, ‘deep dive’ info, and how to see what it’ll look like

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

46 days left to comment on what Sound Transit has found out about potential routes and station locations for West Seattle light rail – the findings that comprise the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

As of the end of February, ST had received 409 comments, the Community Advisory Group for the West Seattle/Duwamish River leg was told at its latest meeting

The centerpiece of the meeting was supposed to be a “deep dive” into parts of the DEIS on which group members had requested more information – including a slide deck with many more renderings that didn’t even get reviewed during the meeting. But if you’re still considering how you’ll comment on the options, you might be more interested in the second part of the meeting, which featured City of Seattle reps talking about how the city’s official comments are taking shape. So that’s where we’ll start.

The city reps were Sara Maxana and Jesseca Brand, two longtime planning specialists. First, the scope of the city’s comments:

Now, here are the key concerns they’re seeing – starting with the north vs. south Duwamish River crossing, as ST weighs which side of the existing West Seattle Bridge would be better for a light-rail-only bridge

Maxana noted that so far, all three options appear to be compatible with long-long-term plans to replace the West Seattle Bridge. Meantime, for the Delridge station options, these are the main concerns – the lens through which they’re viewing the options:

For the Andover options for the Delridge station:

For the Delridge Way options:

And for the Dakota station location options:

And for the Junction options, elevated and tunneled:

So, Maxana asked the CAG members, are those the issues on which they believe the city should be focusing?

First, CAG member Charlie Able from The Junction said what he would like to see overall is more of an “overall vision” – what is the vision for these options, “what do we want this neighborhood to look like in 20, 50, 100 years …(and) how do we get there?”

CAG member Deb Barker from Morgan Junction suggested, “the issue of displacement needs to be more fleshed out – it’s on two levels and you’re treating it as on … some (displaced) people won’t be able to come back to West Seattle,” so, she said, analyze more of what the word really means.

CAG member David Bestock from Delridge wanted to know if there are studies about the psychology of people living under high-rise guideways like the ones up to 150′ that are possible in Delridge. He also wanted to see more “apples to apples” displacement comparisons – like numbers of people, rather than “displaced” homes vs. possible TOD units. He also wanted to know how they are ensuring equitable engagement, especially with the diverse communities of Delridge. He also wondered about community partnerships that will factor into TOD and how they’ll support low-income communities and communities of color.

CAG member Willard Brown from Delridge expressed concern about the potential high-rise guideways and how they would affect the neighborhood. “It’s just scary to me to see what exactly it will look like, as a person who lives here in Delridge.” He is also concerned about environmental impacts, including Longfellow Creek, and wondered if more of the creek could be daylighted. He also was concerned about ensuring that development will be equitable.

CAG member Iñaki Longa from Delridge wanted to ensure that as many people as possible are close to the stations – the low projected ridership of the Avalon station concerns him.

CAG member Ella McRae from High Point voiced concern about potentially unrealistic estimates – the transfer time of three minutes, for example, does that assume a train is arriving every three minutes? Also consistency with station treatment – Northgate is beautiful, Columbia City does not have the same attributes, etc. How will there be guarantees that renters will be able to afford nearby units – a displacement even if a unit isn’t destroyed?

CAG member M Miller from Avalon seconded Brown’s concern that “cost not be the main driver” of design, plus the issue Able surfaced of whether the Avalon station is really necessary. She wants to see discussion about the quality of Transit-Oriented Development, not just the presence. She also wants to see more renderings to truly “understand what this looks like.” She’s concerned about the draft numbers (for displacement, new units, etc.) looking “very specific” even though they’re just estimates – it needs to be clearer that these are “estimates and could vary.” She also said people from South Delridge need to have more of a voice. She also stressed the point of displacement driving people out of West Seattle no matter how they’re compensated for their home/apartment. And she wanted to see services offered to people now worried about the possibility they won’t be able to stay in their community.

CAG member Nicole Perry wanted more information on how the golf course would be affected and whether that should be a concern if people using the golf course aren’t coming from the nearby area.

CAG member Kim Schwarzkopf from Avalon said she’s been immersed in reading the material, walking the routes, trying to “digest all this information,” and even after 4 months of meetings, feels like she’s “just getting going.” She wondered about TOD so close to the industrial area of Nucor etc. She also talked to some people who weren’t even aware of the light-rail project. She wondered if the public-comment period could be extended.

CAG member Pete Spalding from Pigeon Point noted in response to that last request, that the 90-day comment period for the DEIS is actually a lot longer than the typical such period. He also is concerned about Longfellow Creek. Truck traffic to and from Nucor needs to be taken into account. And he noted that other areas of light rail have been tunneled to avoid destroying houses – it feels as if the area is being given bad choices. And then “the impacts that are unknown,” such as the slope on the north end of Pigeon Point, the West Duwamish Greenbelt, “all that could be avoided if you went north of the West Seattle Bridge.” He noted remediation projects in the Duwamish River area, too.

CAG member Emily S said she cares about “lessening the displacement as much as possible” – humans and wildlife. “Not having super-deep or super-high stations” is important to her too, for accessibility and for visual/noise reasons. “Having the stations closer to popular areas” is important, as is bus/bike/train integration. She’d also like to see an overall vision for development, and an innovation vision for the statements – ‘what’s going to change in the next 10 years that we can be ahead of?” Cost is less important to her, as is the golf course. She also wants to know the time between stations.

‘DEEP DIVE’: ST’s point person for the West Seattle segment, Jason Hampton, led thisfor the “deep dive.” This looked at topics for which the advisory-group members previously had asked for more detail. First, the Delridge Way station pairings – with a Delridge station between where the West Seattle Corporate Center and DSHS buildings are now. Here are the projected effects of the Fauntleroy/Delridge pairing:

Connecting a tunneled 41st station to the “lower height” Delridge station alternative:

Here’s what those effects would be:

He next went into the racial-equity toolkit work. A key goal of this is to ensure bus/light-rail transferring works well. The “transit travel sheds” will reach all over the metro area by 2042, Hampton said. The “travel time” graphics also addressed that year – 20 years from now. They expect it would take no more than 2 1/2 minutes to get off a bus and get up to the Delridge station platform.

The Delridge station alternatives would not have TOD potential, he said.

Looking at the Andover station options, you’d be saved 12 minutes heading north, in 2042, compared to what it takes now. Andover transfer time – between getting off the bus and onto the platform – could be more like 3.5 minutes. Andover effects – no residential displacements, but a potential for TOD. On to Dakota Street options:

Transferring would take up to 3 minutes, but a Dakota option could do that in as little as one minute, ST said. Meantime, the Andover options could displace almost 100 units but could facilitate 400 units of TOD.

Another topic: Where to find “visual effects” Here are the specifics:

Hampton explained “Key Observation Points” and the comparisons in the graphics – before and after – then went through some of them. Here’s a deck with many more renderings than were reviewed during the meeting:

Q&A: Regarding the projected transfer times, “how do those look for differently abled riders?” Maybe a little higher than the higher end of the cited range, Hampton replied. “Is Sound Transit partnering with advocates” to ensure these questions don’t go unaddressed? Hampton and Chahim weren’t sure.

What about business displacement? ST’s station-planning specialist Sloan Dawson explained that new business space is projected in square footage, and there’s no way to count potential new business numbers for a more direct comparison with the projected business displacements. Why can’t they say how much commercial square footage is being displaced, then?

WHAT’S NEXT: This group will meet Tuesday, April 12th, to talk about possible cost savings, among other things. ST has community meetings before then – between noon and 7 pm Thursday (March 17th) at Union Station downtown, you can drop in and ask questions; ST’s official West Seattle online meeting is March 30th; and they’re due to participate in the West Seattle Transportation Coalition’s online workshop at 6:30 pm March 24th. But you don’t have to go to a meeting to get your comment in – April 28th is the deadline, and the “online open house” can guide you through the process.

47 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Comment countdown continues with city observations, 'deep dive' info, and how to see what it'll look like"

  • sna March 14, 2022 (6:32 am)

    I’m perplexed by the Andover station.  Its just a few blocks from the junction station in some proposals.  Are there serious considerations to dropping the Andover stop and using that savings to have more palatable options for the junction and delrigde.  I’m really struggling to see how the value of the Andover stop is worth the cost.

    • WSB March 14, 2022 (9:34 am)

      Do you mean the Avalon station?

  • James March 14, 2022 (7:01 am)

    Tunnel under the hill to junction please. Two stations only. Junction and Delmar. Avalon is overkill and waste of time and money all around.

  • Foop March 14, 2022 (7:54 am)

    It’s hard to be invested in this as a south delridge resident who largely won’t benefit from this for what is going to be at least 10 years and most likely 30 years assuming ST4 happens.But as someone who wants to see transit work in this city: at no point should an urban golf course have a day that could disrupt making west Seattle, and Seattle more accessible. Golf courses don’t have a place in denser urban cities where we are currently experiencing a housing shortage. What an egregious waste of space, that much of the community can’t even use.

    • T Rex March 14, 2022 (2:10 pm)

      That course is one of the most beautiful in the city and  one that is used by MANY people who do not live in West Seattle. People who come into West Seattle to golf usually spend their money at other local businesses. That course has been around since 1940 and is very affordable for both local and non locals who come to West Seattle to experience the course itself as well as the beautiful views it has at some of its holes. You should take the time to rent a cart or walk and see how lucky we are to have a course like this. It is one of the many things that makes West Seattle, West Seattle. 

      • Delridge Neighbor March 14, 2022 (2:33 pm)

        Off topic, but neighbors can’t walk the golf course. It’s not allowed. I couldn’t agree more that it does not belong in a d

        • Delridge Neighbor March 14, 2022 (2:49 pm)

          [stupid fat thumbs] …it does not belong in a dense neighborhood. The golf course is an anachronism. Maybe it made sense in 1940 or 1980, but not 2022. It should be a park that everyone can visit.

      • Foop March 14, 2022 (2:52 pm)

        All of that land can be turned into housing and apartments (right next to a light rail no less) You know who else spends money at local businesses? Residents. We could all benefit SO much more from more housing instead of premium golf courses.

        • K. Davis March 14, 2022 (8:31 pm)

          Yes, by all means – lets rip up all of our open amenities that don’t meet the priorities of the elitists like Foop who would dictate to the rest of us which use is worthy – and which isn’t.  Zoos?  Only for little kids and they grow up.  Let’s rip up Woodland Park Zoo and build housing there.  Lincoln Park?  Only for nature lovers.  Let’s rip it up and build housing there.  Tennis courts?  My god, only for those special tennis players – let’s rip up Lincoln Park courts and Chief Sealth courts, etc. – and build housing there.  And so on.  I’m not a golfer.  But one time I got talked into playing at W. Seattle (and can’t really call what I did that day “golf”) and I saw what a gem it is for those of my neighbors who do golf.   More to the point … golf courses and zoos and parks and tennis courts and all the other “non-essential” amenities that make living in this city good are things that matter.  Jeez Foop and your allies, get a grip.  

          • Canton March 14, 2022 (10:50 pm)

            Totally agree. The golf course also preserves a long stretch of Longfellow creek. We don’t need more residences abutting the creek.

  • Yes to SkyLink March 14, 2022 (9:39 am)

    For a comparative look, at urban gondola technology as a possible alternative, check out this video:


    And you can visit the SkyLink website to learn more about their proposal for West Seattle:


    • Aaron March 14, 2022 (10:29 am)

      No to Skylink; it’s just NIMBYism dressed up with a veneer of utopianism.

      • nwpolitico March 14, 2022 (11:14 am)

        Dubbing a grade-separated transit option other than light rail as coming from a “NIMBY” is inaccurate. It’s hard to say SkyLink doesn’t want transit in West Seattle when the group is proposing transit in West Seattle.

        • hj March 14, 2022 (11:43 am)

          Maybe if you don’t want the gondola to look like a NIMBY proposal, then remove the NIMBY dog-whistle language from the gondola page. And then be more honest about the inability of the proposal to scale to future destinations, and how the capacity evaluation hides the truth. I’m tired of hearing about this and I fear that it’s going to continue to be a dumb distraction until a real solution is settled.

          • nwpolitico March 14, 2022 (3:31 pm)

            It may interest you to learn that Sound Transit studied and approved aerial gondolas in 2014 as high-capacity transit options for connecting local areas (like West Seattle) with light rail
            spine stations (like in SODO and the International District). A
            gondola could be a real possibility to provide the transportation Sound
            Transit promised in 2016’s ST3 vote, without doing the damage and
            disruption the DEIS is showing.

      • Derek March 14, 2022 (11:22 am)

        Agree with Aaron. 100% correct. Fully NIMBYism. No to Skylink. It’s an unserious solution and you’re way late in the game. We voted already on this, 

        • Wseattleite March 14, 2022 (2:00 pm)

          We never voted on Skylink. 

          • Derek March 14, 2022 (3:04 pm)

             I very clearly meant we voted to have lightrail. Thanks. The proposal for the goofy Skylink should have been done then. It wasn’t. Too late now. Deal with it. 

        • Pigeon Point RN March 15, 2022 (2:00 pm)

          Yeah, but we voted on a monorail, too.  Like 5 times.  

    • No to SkyLink March 14, 2022 (1:06 pm)

      SkyLink: a stealth operation to stop light rail.

      • Yes to SkyLink March 14, 2022 (3:52 pm)

        No to SkyLink: a stealth operation to stop SkyLink from even being reviewed and considered?

        What was voted for was a good idea at the time. We now know more of the problems and downsides, which SkyLink offers some solutions to, offer a more modern approach to meet the immediate rapid transit need for WS. What is needed is a good rapid transit solution asap which links to light rail. It shouldn’t matter if it’s a train or gondola, if it can overall meet the needs and even reduce negative impacts of rapid transit for WS.

        Please don’t just listen to the nay sayers with permanent train brain, check out the links shared, and consider all the points yourself.

        • KM March 14, 2022 (6:18 pm)

          The links shared are developed by three (3) proponents of SkyLink. It’s similar to a non-viable primary candidate’s campaign website. No sources of any of the claims, numbers, timeline. Lots of silly generalizations. None of the listed proponents have any transportation planning or governing experience. Complete with a donate button! And it’s a “Fiscally Sponsored Project” of the Seattle Parks Foundation according to the website footer? I truly don’t think that website the slam dunk to changing minds.

          • Yes to SkyLink March 14, 2022 (9:45 pm)

            Are these your biggest complaints/points against the proposal of a gondola vs light rail for WS?

            A donation button on their website and the folks involved don’t work in transportation (a credentials fallacy argument)?

            Thankfully, many others, including some city leaders, and some of your neighbors, see the good in this proposal, and believe it’s worth serious review and consideration.

            Urban gondola technology isn’t being invented here in the SkyLink proposal. It’s technology that already exists, and is proving successful in some major cities around the world, and has some known benefits compared to light rail,  and you can learn more about this on the SkyLink website.

    • Saul Notgoodman March 14, 2022 (8:01 pm)

      In addition to gondolas as a serious proposal, have we considered riding on the backs of chimpanzees on rollerblades? What about high speed catamarans powered by meth addicted hamsters? No? Who’s with me on this?

  • Joe Z March 14, 2022 (9:47 am)

    We need to avoid a repeat of the Mt. Baker station in Delridge. Stations need to integrate within the existing built environment. Placing the Delridge station next to Nucor and the West Seattle Bridge will result in a station that is used as a bus transfer and nothing else. Plus, as the diagrams show, the H-line would need to make a left turn onto Andover to drop off passengers. This is a critical delay that can be avoided by selecting the option that is directly over Delridge Way. I am also skeptical of the “TOD” claims for the station next to Nucor. Can you imagine living in an apartment building adjacent to a 24/7 steel mill? Nobody is going to want to build there. 

    • 1994 March 14, 2022 (9:16 pm)

      There is a GIANT condo building near Nucor on 26th Ave SW,  only a parking lot and Andover separate the building from Nucor.

      • WSB March 15, 2022 (8:53 pm)

        Those are apartments, not condos, assuming you are referring to Youngstown Flats.

  • MyThruppence March 14, 2022 (9:53 am)

    The Avalon station will increase urban density in an area around that station. That area currently has significant opportunities for thousands of housing units. Why in the world would we not have an Avalon station? THIS is the housing the city needs, WITHOUT having to gut single family zoning city-wide to achieve it. Also, any savings from eliminating this station will almost assuredly go to cover the cost of the bridge or tunnel between Interbay and Ballard, NOT for a wish list here in West Seattle. Eliminating the Avalon station from the West Seattle Link would be an enormous mistake.

    • Aykss March 14, 2022 (12:15 pm)

      +10000000000 as an Avalon resident

    • Also John March 14, 2022 (1:44 pm)

      Why would we not need an Avalon station?   Because you’d only have to walk an additional two or three blocks to the Junction station and probably save over $100 million on the project cost.

      • CAM March 14, 2022 (7:15 pm)

        That is of course not accurate Also John. Having been a pedestrian that walked between those areas and from different locations I question the rationality of anyone who claims that there are no impacts to walkability by eliminating the Avalon stop. The plan is to develop a system that will be used multiple times a day as a primary transportation source. It of course matters how far people have to walk to get to it (and how much elevation they encounter along the way). Saying how far the stops are from each other (at their closest and least likely placements) is a red herring that completely misses the point that people on the opposite side of the Avalon stop would be forced to walk past it to get to the more distant stop. 

    • Avalon resident March 16, 2022 (8:06 am)

      THANK YOU! I feel like a lot of people here honestly have not seen Avalon in a while. There is two micro apartments being finished. The old church will eventually be a Apartment complex. Golden tee remodel etc. Even Alki lumber! I will bet there will be more density in Avalon than the Junction eventually! 

  • JunctionNeighbor March 14, 2022 (11:52 am)

    Can anyone tell me — briefly — what is the timeline or documents or decision points for making the decision about the end of the line station among the preferred alternatives?  Fauntleroy Station vs. 41st/42nd Station?  Also, these drawings seem to more clearly place the 41st/42nd Station between 42nd and California, so I’m not sure where the “41st” part is.  I’d thought the station was going to be right where Jefferson Square is, but this looks like it’s right between 42nd and California.  Am I reading that right?

    • WSB March 14, 2022 (12:31 pm)

      After the comment period ends next month for the DEIS – likely in June – the Sound Transit board will “confirm or change” the “preferred alternative(s)” for the final EIS. Then next year the board would take a final vote on which routing/station locations will go forward to final design/construction.

      • sally March 15, 2022 (2:38 pm)

        Will there be a comment period on the EIS (after the board picks the preferred alternative) or is this DEIS comment period the only opportunity to comment?

    • Jay March 14, 2022 (3:06 pm)

      41st/42nd is an elevated station alternative that would run diagonally across Jefferson Square from NE to SW. The draft EIS shows a conceptual redevelopment of the entire block between 41st and 42nd, Alaska and Edmunds.

  • Alec March 14, 2022 (12:06 pm)

    If enough people/feedback explicitly tell the Sound Transit board to DROP the Avalon Station from the plans and use the savings to improve the Alaska Junction and Delridge station/routings (e.g., tunnel to Alaska Junction), the ST board can direct Sound Transit to study/do just that. 

    • Avalon resident March 16, 2022 (8:09 am)

      I left feedback to tell Sound Transit to KEEP the Avalon Station. Hell, I might need to make some posters around Avalon to activate all the residents here. 

  • Niko March 14, 2022 (12:11 pm)

    Defund Sound Transit before they bankrupt us all

    • My two cents March 14, 2022 (1:09 pm)

      Niko – how will it bankrupt us? Is there some element of public financing for Sound Transit that will result in insolvency?

  • Spend the money on Ballard first March 14, 2022 (1:47 pm)

    I think it would be more efficient use of the ST funds to complete the north system before going West.  Use the funds to build out the SoDo to Ballard Light Rail link.  Then, ST can work on integrating solutions with the replacement WS Bridge.  In the meantime, King County can add more electric buses and go over the Lower Bridge or the repaired WS Bridge.

    • KM March 14, 2022 (3:58 pm)

      The single-lane bridge that opens to marine traffic or the bridge that can’t have a full dedicated bus lane into downtown? Gee, what great options!

  • HS March 14, 2022 (1:58 pm)

    As someone who walks a lot, I’d just like to point out that walking from Delridge to Avalon or The Junction to Avalon is a trek. So if we are talking about moving people then the Avalon station should remain as anyone with any kind of limited mobility (strollers, gait, balance, etc.) will not be well served otherwise.

  • Yes to Andover March 14, 2022 (8:50 pm)

    It looks like the Delridge station is only a few steps from the Andover but they are saying it’s too far north? It saves hundreds of displacements, avoids park,golf course and disruption to Longfellow creek and the visual destruction. AND IT REQUIRES NO THIRD PARTY FUNDING. It’s the best choice. And they have already had meetings where Nucor agrees to reroute truck traffic. Not to mention it’s the least destructive with building and construction closing. 

  • Kelly March 17, 2022 (9:38 am)

    Where are they proposing it goes in the future further south? What street? I live towards the middle of west seattle and California turns more residential as you get past the Thriftway. It would ruin the quiet feel and safety if it went into residential streets. We also need to consider that the light rail is transportation for residents but criminals and drug users as well. Look at what’s happened in Westwood village with the bus line that ends there. 

  • Kelly March 17, 2022 (9:53 am)

    Where does it go after the Junction? Any further south and I think it’s unnecessary when we have bus lines that can get you there. It would ruin the quiet and safe neighborhoods with noise, dirt, aesthetic and light obstruction. Also safety, the light rail is transportation for residents but also for criminals and drug users as well. Look at what’s happening in Westwood village with the bus line that ends there. California turns into residential and is less busy the further away from the junction you go. It just seems very out of place. 

    • k March 17, 2022 (10:51 am)

      There are far more bus lines going to the Junction than any points south.  The lower income areas in the south end of the peninsula (White Center, South Delridge, Roxbury) deserve rapid transit too.  Currently there are no approved plans to take the light rail south so lucky you, I guess, but your logic is severely flawed.

Sorry, comment time is over.