WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Here are the routing/station options the city is recommending

Next Tuesday morning, the City Council’s Transportation and Utilities Committee will get a look at what West Seattle/Ballard light-rail routing and station-location alternatives the city is proposing supporting, before the Sound Transit Board settles on its “preferred alternative” recommendation next month. You don’t have to wait until the meeting for a look – the slide deck is already published along with the agenda (which explains how to comment at the meeting).

To come up with these recommendations, the city presentation notes, “Nearly 100 subject matter experts from 15+ City departments reviewed and commented on the 8000+ pages of (Draft Environmental Impact Statement) analysis.” They submitted more than 1,500 “technical comments” before the deadline a month ago; now, the biggest comments of all – which routing/station options the city wants to officially support. First, for The Junction:

The slide deck goes into more detail about why the city’s behind each option in the draft recommendations. Next, for Delridge:

And for the new bridge to get light rail across the Duwamish River, here’s the city’s choice:

The city support doesn’t carry an official weight – the final decisions on routing and station locations are in the hands of the Sound Transit Board, whose members include City Council President Debora Juarez and Mayor Bruce Harrell. They’re expected to settle on a “preferred alternative” at their July 28th meeting, though the absolute final word isn’t due until next year.

P.S. The board has made a big decision in the meantime – they’ve settled on a potential new CEO, Julie Timm from Richmond, Virginia – here’s the announcement made today.

62 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Here are the routing/station options the city is recommending"

  • Sam June 3, 2022 (8:15 pm)

    So does this mean the gondola/human catapult options are officially off the table

    • Yup June 3, 2022 (9:44 pm)

      I really don’t believe they were ever at the table. 

    • BeingPB June 4, 2022 (8:35 am)

      No reason to be snotty.

    • MJH June 4, 2022 (1:31 pm)

      Comment of the day!!!❤️

    • Derek June 5, 2022 (10:08 pm)

      LOL! Gondola idea was so bad!

  • Yep June 3, 2022 (8:52 pm)

    The retained cut at Avalon and medium tunnel is the best option, I hope the city agrees! 

    • Avalonian June 4, 2022 (3:42 pm)

      Not for the neighborhoods near Avalon. We deserve a proper tunnel. The community feedback was loud and consistent. Bummer, but, not a surprise.

      • Derek June 5, 2022 (10:10 pm)

        The benefit of the many > than those of the few. I think the tunnel with elevation is the best. Can’t please everyone!

  • East Coast Cynic June 3, 2022 (9:12 pm)

    If they cut Avalon, do something for those people who live in the apartments and condos along Avalon so they can get access to the light rail!  Presumably for the people who take the bus along 35th Ave SW, they will route it to Alaska Junction (Haven’t read the slide deck at this typing.)

  • Mj June 3, 2022 (10:30 pm)

    Yep – yes the City agrees, now it’s in the hands of ST to either concur or not with the City’s recommendation for a medium tunnel and retained cut at Avalon.

  • 22blades June 4, 2022 (3:44 am)

    I have no confidence that any of this will go beyond an artist’s conception from the Consultant Industry. Monorails. Replacement Bridges. Gondolas. Bridge expansions. Expanded ferries. There’s big money in getting people to dream. This city & it’s leadership is a gold mine for consultants, construction companies & developers. Still waiting for my bus. There goes a Microsoft Connect. There goes a Starbucks Shuttle. Public Opinion Omni Pacifier – “POOP”

    • bill June 4, 2022 (8:54 am)

      Once your bus arrives I suggest taking it to the SODO light rail station and observing the system in operation. Light rail is real and it will come to West Seattle.    

    • orchid June 4, 2022 (6:57 pm)

      We got 3 new stations in the last year, we’re looking at an entire new line opening up in less than 2 years and you’re still pessimistic? Are you blind? 

    • Derek June 5, 2022 (10:11 pm)

      Light rail is coming. We need it more than ever. I do not mean to burst bubble.

  • Niko June 4, 2022 (4:45 am)

    Defund Sound Transit 

    • Jon Mathison June 4, 2022 (12:54 pm)

      Defund car-dependence.  Starting with free parking… which is very expensive parking paid for by non-drivers.

      • CarDriver June 4, 2022 (2:22 pm)

        Jon Mathison. Based on all the comments here on the blog-which i actually read there aren’t ANY “non drivers.” 

      • East Coast Cynic June 4, 2022 (8:23 pm)

        We would need public transportation on the level of NYC to get to that point of defunding car dependence and the political will nor the money is there to get to such a level.

    • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (5:55 pm)

      No. We need mass transit

  • Joe Z June 4, 2022 (7:14 am)

    Note they the city actually supports the “refined” alignment which is a little bit south of what is pictured here around the Delridge station. That would likely mean the removal of West Seattle Health Club. The track would also cut diagonally across 32nd Ave SW which would mean the loss of a significant number of homes. 

    • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (5:56 pm)

      The recommendations here minimize how many homes are lost. Also I see it running next to the gym, not taking away the gym. The visualization shows the gym still there.

  • k June 4, 2022 (7:32 am)

    I’m unclear on what the phrase “retained cut” means. Cut and cover tunnel? Cutting out the station? Other design feature? Unfortunately the link to the slides isn’t working for me.

    • bill June 4, 2022 (8:52 am)

      It means the top of the cut is not covered. The cut is “retained” as opposed to being roofed and finished as a tunnel.

      • K June 4, 2022 (2:44 pm)

        Interesting, thanks! Hard to visualize but I’ll do some research.

      • K June 4, 2022 (2:48 pm)

        Ah, visualizing the Balboa Park station in SF as an example. Thanks!

    • Avalonian June 4, 2022 (3:38 pm)

      The King Street Station is a good example.

  • Don Brubeck June 4, 2022 (7:50 am)

    Excellent recommendations for West Seattle, especially for preservation of the West Seattle Junction as a viable and vibrant center. Significant need for care at Pigeon Point, but best connections for bus, biking, walking, and least impact to roads and residential neighborhoods. Will Sound Transit’s board listen?

  • Yes to SkyLink June 4, 2022 (8:53 am)

    The anti-gondola attitude of today, is the equivelent of the anti-rail attitude of the past, and only contributes to slowing transportation modernization, and needed environmental positive solutions.

    • Delta June 5, 2022 (8:40 pm)

      We don’t need yet another transit system in the city that has its own support staff and has to compete for resources with a monorail, trolley, rail, and busses. We’ve already seen how the city treats issues that are unique to West Seattle, at least rail would be part of a larger network and slightly more difficult for the council to ignore and let deteriorate. Let’s not give the council another opportunity to ignore our needs.

    • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (5:57 pm)

      The Gondola isn’t transportation. It’s a tourist attraction. I’m all for tourist attractions, please do build it! I’ll ride it! But we need actual mass transit.

  • Yeah June 4, 2022 (10:11 am)

    No surprise here.  Wealthier areas wouldn’t have to look at it, Delridge still has to, and no thought or consideration at all for how much harder the tunnel would make it to extend south to White Center.  Just like the rest of the light rail system, the nice neighborhoods get nice stations and underground tunnels, while the poor people get at- or above-grade light rail or none at all.  Obviously their idea of “community” doesn’t include everyone.

    • Andrea June 4, 2022 (2:59 pm)

      So wrong. Beacon Hill isnt what i would call a “nicer, wealthier community” and it got a tunnel because the people stood up for it and made the city planners consider the homeowners , and the fact that we dont need a big honking overhead structure blocking out the sun on what few days we have of sun here , and attracting trash and other undesirable  stuff to the neighborhood. 

    • Avalonian June 4, 2022 (3:39 pm)

      I tend to agree. That seems to be the decision, despite the feedback. 

    • Jon Wright June 6, 2022 (10:37 pm)

      But this is largely a function West Seattle’s undulating topology. In order to maintain a reasonable grade that light rail cars can negotiate, if the Junction was elevated, Delridge would have to be like 100 feet in the air. So while I have no doubt that neighborhood demographics helps inform the design, I think tunneling to the Junction also benefits Delridge.

  • Rebecca June 4, 2022 (5:11 pm)

    I really liked the idea of extending the foot ferry to/from WS/Ballard including hours for weekend and dinner hours. Is any of that still being considered?

  • Wil Dizon June 4, 2022 (10:10 pm)

    WS doesn’t really need light rail to be perfectly honest.  It’s a 2 mile stretch that doesn’t provide any more southbound extension not unless you tore through single family homes.   What we need are mid sized sized frequent shuttles to and from a SODO light rail station.  Also a good idea is to build a 3rd bridge for transit only just about a mile south of present WS Bridge.  Cost will be a fraction compared to current light rail plan.

    • anonyme June 5, 2022 (6:06 am)

      This is the smartest suggestion I’ve read – which means it will never be considered.  The station should stay on the other side of the bridge with increased shuttles all through West Seattle.  Even when complete there will still be the issue of getting people to the rail station in the first place.  If those issues were addressed now, separately, the necessity for light rail all the way to the peninsula would be largely negated – at a fraction of the cost, and without the destruction and displacement.

      • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (5:59 pm)

        People will get to the rail station just like people get to all the other rail stations. Have you taken the light rail?

        • Pessoa June 7, 2022 (7:52 pm)

          No, people are not going to add another public transportation segment to their trip, not in significant numbers.  Why would one want to take the bus to a light rail station, when a bus  take you to your destination without the hassles of transferring? 

    • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (5:58 pm)

      Buses and shuttles get stuck in traffic. We need light rail. West Seattle has like 80,000 people.

  • Graphic Wench June 5, 2022 (6:34 am)

    Lots of “experts” and naysayers here. Eye roll. Part of choosing the pathway is driven by funding. We’re lucky to even be considered. I will be too old to fully take advantage of the WS spur when it is complete but fully support any new transportation to Accidental Island, just not the gondola idea. Please people, stop talking this to death. 

    • Pessoa June 7, 2022 (8:01 pm)

      No eye rolling here, just unemotional analysis.   Light rail to West Seattle is an absurdity – wildly expensive and disruptive for the limited payoff.   Worst of all?  In the end, it will probably actually decrease access to public transportation, and likely for those with more limited incomes and the less mobile.  

  • Yes to SkyLink June 5, 2022 (7:50 am)

    Another new gondola system, this one in France:


    To think of the land and homes that will be lost, the impacts to the landscape (and soundscape) in WS that could be minimized with a gondola vs light rail system… rather disappointing.

    And then there will be the impacts to wildlife, such as the Heron rookery, too. 


    It’s been surprising really, to hear just how closed minded some have been to the SkyLink proposal, with all of the potential benefits!

    • high hopes June 5, 2022 (10:58 am)


      Enough people wanted light rail that it got on ballots, got debated and voted on, and now it’s going to get built.

      I’ve always found it strange that you folks only started pushing the gondola idea well after light rail gained traction.  If there had been no light rail already in the works, I probably would have shrugged and voted for a gondola!  But you didn’t really do any of the work to push for that, did you?  You’ve had, what, 50 years to seriously push for a gondola system for West Seattle?  Where were you before light rail was getting built? 

      Serious question–why didn’t you care about transit solutions until the last couple of years?  How were you working on transit solutions 5 years ago? 

      The answer of course is that you didn’t care, and you don’t care, you’re just against light rail.  Well, you lost, and from the recent posts it seems like y’all a bunch of sore losers at that.  

      • Yes to SkyLink June 5, 2022 (4:05 pm)

        Hope I may clear up some confusion and misperceptions about those of us who have become interested in a gondola system as a potential better solution for WS.

        We are not anti light rail. In fact, probably near all of us were for the light rail option before the idea for a gondola system came forward, and after numerous potential issues and downsides arose with the light rail plans.

        SkyLink is not an anti-rail campaign, despite this being projected onto it and its supporters. It is an alternative concept, which has offered numerous benefits over sticking with the light rail plan, for WS. 

        So, once and for all, it’s simply that those of us who are for the gondola proposal, have an understanding of why it may be a better option, the many reasons which have been shared and talked about here.

        Yet some folks remain completely unswayed by these reasons, are unwilling to listen, uninterested to learn more.

        • hj June 6, 2022 (4:42 pm)

          Yet some folks remain completely unswayed by these reasons, are unwilling to listen, uninterested to learn more.

          I’m something of a transit nerd myself, and was interested to read about the gondola idea. However, even after I listened and learned more, I was not convinced by the provided evidence and still feel that light rail is the best solution. Your continued insistence on personally attacking those who don’t agree with your proposal is part of why everyone is tired of hearing about it.

          • KM June 6, 2022 (5:02 pm)

            Well said hj. The Skylink crew is definitely heard here and elsewhere, even ST had to entertain them briefly. They didn’t get the study they wanted, so perhaps they felt slighted and ignored. I have looked into their materials numerous times, but I found it unconvincing and lacking in research, to put it simply. They haven’t been able to provide any information to back up their numbers when asked. I think some people think if everyone doesn’t agree with them or they don’t get what they want, they they aren’t heard or understood. Understandable, but this isn’t the case here.

          • Yes to SkyLink June 6, 2022 (10:26 pm)

            KM, maybe you have missed the many anti-gondola comments (including comparisons to human catapults, fair rides, ski lifts, etc) which have clearly illustrated a lack of listening, reviewing, and understanding of the proposal, and that urban gondolas are a valid modern transportation solution, being built and planned in cities around the world.

            This is frustrating, along with taking many unkind comments in the process. Perhaps you can try to understand this?

            Some of your neighbors really believe in this being better for WS, it wasn’t a selfish endeavor.

            It’s called being passionate in speaking up about something you believe in, sharing it with community, and perservering despite the negativity and closedness.of some.

            Again, not something just to benefit themselves, but for WS, to have a new rapid transportation option sooner, to preserve people’s homes, quality of life, to save trees, help wildlife, etc. 

          • Yes to SkyLink June 6, 2022 (10:00 pm)

            You’ve got it backwards with your comment regarding personal attacks. The personal attacks have come largely from the anti-gondola side, not from the skyLink supporters, and certainly not from me. Sharing about a transportation idea and info enthusiastically isn’t personally attacking anyone, just because you don’t like hearing about it. Expressing surprise and frustration that more haven’t been open to an idea from community members, and supporting a proper study, is not personally attacking anyone.

      • Yes to SkyLink June 5, 2022 (5:13 pm)

        Also, the real loss here will be for those who will have to wait longer for a new rapid transit option, those who will lose their homes or businesses, are displaced, due the larger light rail pathway, those who live along the light rail route and will have to listen to the noise of the trains regularly throughout the day, also the drivers who will be impacted by sitting in traffic while it takes light rail longer to be built, and the wildlife who may have to relocate to another area due to more land destruction, construction and ongoing operation noise.

        A gondola system is expected to have less of an impact in all of thes above ways, and more.

        • Jeremiah G June 7, 2022 (6:00 pm)

          Please link to your study and map where you show exactly where the gondola would go, and what homes would be lost. I don’t think you’ve done a study or made a map, because you don’t actually care about a gondola. You just don’t like light rail.

          • Yes to SkyLink June 7, 2022 (8:09 pm)

            I do like light rail. I’ve voted for it, I’ve utilized it as part of a commute, to get to the airport, etc, and I’ve enjoyed riding rail in other places when traveling.

            I now believe a gondola system might be better for WS though, and could possibly be expanded (more easily, quickly, and affordably) to link other neighborhoods to light rail, too.

    • My two cents June 5, 2022 (2:14 pm)

      SkyLink – a bit disingenuous to infer that light rail will have an impact greater than the SkyLink concept for the heron population – unless you have some references to cite?  If not, this comes across as another attempt to “derail” the ST planning process by the “hey, look over there” approach.

      • Yes to SkyLink June 5, 2022 (4:17 pm)

        The impacts to the land would be greater due to the infrastructure required to support light rail lines vs the impacts/construction and infrastructure to support gondola lines. The information is out there, and you can also simply see this by looking at the renderings of how large the columns will be for light rail vs the renderings of a gondola system, or by watching videos of other systems that have been built, like of the one I shared in a comment above.

        If you watch this, you can see the poles supporting the gondola lines are much slimmer and the lines involve much less destruction along it’s pathway, than what lightrail builds entail.

        Because of this, the routing may have more flexibility as well – may be easier to route around the rookery, with less disruption in to nature in the construction process, while also sparing more surrounding trees.

        • Vic June 7, 2022 (4:10 pm)

          That video you shared appeared to be a relatively flat elevation over rural/wooded areas. How do you know that this would translate to our densely built/populated and hilly West Seattle? Have you spoken to any structural engineers to confirm it’s possible at all? 

          • Yes to SkyLink June 7, 2022 (9:08 pm)

            Hi Vic, Thanks for your question, and for watching the video.

            I believe it actually has some elevation to climb, though maybe not as much as WS, and crosses a waterway too, as you can see in the video.

            Gondolas are a superior transportation mode for dealing with hills and elevation, although can work just fine on flat sections too. It appears this technology would translate rather ideally for WS.

            One of the reasons gondola technology was chosen here was to minimize impacts to the local flora and fauna, one of the many reasons I’m a fan.

            I found their website interesting to check out. Here is a link if interested in giving it more of a look:


            Of course a gondola system could be planned to meet the unique needs of WS, so there may be some differences between this particular gondola system, and what SkyLink proposes. However, think it is a good example in some ways, and may have value for people becoming more familiar with urban gondola systems.

          • Vic June 9, 2022 (1:54 pm)

            Is that a “no” to my question of whether or not a structural engineer would support your position? I’m not immediately anti anything but I do agree with others I have looked for data/evidence to support the claims made on the skylink website but have found none. I think more people would get on board with your option if you had proof of your claims to how it would work for us, here in WS. As of now they are opinions only. Back it up with concrete facts.

  • My two cents June 5, 2022 (9:00 pm)

    SkyLink – provide some sort of quantification for your position. Can you explain how the environmental impact statements and reviews  to date have somehow addressed or alleviated this issue for completed work, yet ignore this issue still? Looking at pictures doesn’t quantify or describe the impacts. Yes, something larger will have a larger impact – similar to say the water that is displaced by a ferry boat versus a passenger ferry, which then in would cause higher tidal/wave action? Is the difference enough to go with one solution over the other just based on potential increase in beach erosion?

    • Yes to SkyLink June 5, 2022 (10:25 pm)

      Looking at pictures of the two different systems, you actually literally can see some differences in impacts to landscapes. We’re talking about more significant landscape changes, homes demolished, trees cleared, etc.

      This doesn’t require a lot of complex analysis. Just look at how light rail requires a wide path be cleared and continuous track and large concrete columns, vs the more minimalist slimmer poles and cable lines of a gondola system. Then consider that trains are much louder than gondola systems, sound is another impact to environment.

      Also based on the research of how gondola systems are built and their timelines compared to what is expected with the light rail build, the process to build light rail would likely take years longer (not even with considering possible concrete delays).

      A gondola system would be a more environmentally friendly option for these and more reasons, and that should be discernable from this information.


  • Casey Mac June 6, 2022 (5:03 pm)

    Great to see the decision for the tunnel option at the Junction.   This increases the likelihood of a southern extension since an elevated viaduct would get zero support with the need to raze homes and ruin neighborhoods.  

  • Mike June 7, 2022 (11:44 pm)

    So this isn’t going to be a another monorail?

  • Sarah June 9, 2022 (4:40 pm)

    Anyone familiar with what is referred to as “short tunnel” and “medium tunnel” pinned to a couple locations in the West Seattle Junction Segment recommendation pictured above? (i.e. what these look like, difference between etc)

Sorry, comment time is over.