WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: City changes plan for Delridge station recommendation

One month after a City Council committee got its first look at which West Seattle/Ballard light-rail routing/station alternatives were proposed for official city support – as covered here – there’s been a big change. At its meeting this morning, the Transportation and Utilities Committee voted unanimously for amended city-supported recommendations – including no preference for the Delridge station location.

(Light-rail discussion starts 33 minutes in)

As we reported last month, the draft recommendations included support for the alternative known as DEL-6, which was a late addition to what Sound Transit decided to study in the draft Environmental Impact Statement. Much recent concern centered on two specific facilities that DEL-6 could take out – the Alki Beach Academy child-care center in the business park off SW Andover, and Transitional Resources supportive housing for people living with mental illness, most of whom had previously been homeless. The amended resolution passed today says the city can’t support a “preferred alternative” for the Delridge station because of inadequate study of those effects. Bottom line, there’s “no clear community consensus” for a Delridge option, West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold said during this morning’s meeting. Here’s the Delridge-related language in the amendment:

The resolution did not change the other two alternatives recommended for city support in this leg of ST light rail (currently expected to open in 2032) – the WSJ-5 “medium tunnel” option for The Junction, with an underground 41st SW station and a “retained cut” Avalon station, and a south Duwamish River crossing (DUW-1a). However, as pointed out during the meeting, the city recommendations are just recommendations – the decision on which alternatives to pursue for the final EIS and then the construction decision are wholly up to the Sound Transit Board. Its next vote is expected on July 28th, and board committees will talk about it before then, including the ST Executive Committee this Thursday (July 7th), 10:30 am. It’s a hybrid meeting; the agenda explains how to sign up for public comment, either online or in-person.

43 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: City changes plan for Delridge station recommendation"

  • Jort July 5, 2022 (1:36 pm)

    Of course, this is the only way that Seattle functions: “Too many conflicting opinions, let’s take the cowardly, status quo position that pleases nobody.” I’m sure there will be a virtue-signaling press release from the council saying that they genuinely, sincerely believe that an additional decade of studies and focus groups and task forces about how to move a daycare to another building will totally be worth it, guys. Such a joke.

  • Morgan July 5, 2022 (2:10 pm)

    Let’s study this for another ten years and inflate away past tax measures, and then we can all enjoy rail connectivity for five to ten years in the 2040s just before robot cars and telecommute make peak hour traffic laughable.

    • Derek July 5, 2022 (3:14 pm)

      Or let’s just complain ad nauseum like you’re doing and it’ll get done sooner somehow (???)

    • admyrl byrd July 5, 2022 (8:49 pm)

      You forgot jetpacks.

  • Ron Swanson July 5, 2022 (2:34 pm)

    LOL – if you support the medium tunnel and the retained cut Avalon station you’re supporting the Delridge station by implication – there’s nowhere else put the station from there.  So, spineless nonsense from the council, almost as much as in the ID where they aren’t willing to tell “activists” that their preferred alternatives aren’t practical.

    • My two cents July 5, 2022 (3:42 pm)

      I thought Lisa Herbold cared soooooo much the community? Just another example of feigning actual intent to do anything. The so called progressive wing of the council seems more focused in grabbing a headline than actually trying to resolve the issues. 

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (10:54 pm)

      Read Lisa Herbold’s statement or listen to her comments in the meeting. She is making the same point that you make: The difficult position the city now finds itself in is that the retained cut Avalon station offers a cost-competitive tunnel option to deliver the train underground to the Junction, that’s great. But the only station options ST identified for the Delridge segment destroy an entire business district, displace valuable community resources, and squeezes a station between a steel mill and an elevated highway. It’s a comically inconvenient location to “serve” the Delridge neighborhood and it should be called out. The city council amendment is symbolic, the Sound Transit board will probably never even see it. But it calls out the conflict in the alignment and makes it a matter of public record. They did the right thing.

  • Jort July 5, 2022 (3:55 pm)

    Part of building infrastructure of this scale involves trade-offs. Most people win. Some people lose. Bummer. There is no solution that magically avoids hurting every single constituency’s feelings. You mitigate the negative “impacts” and you move forward. Providing years and years and years of comment periods that will reveal absolutely nothing new and do absolutely nothing to make the decision is an almost criminal waste of time and money. Make the decision, move forward, move the school somewhere else, move on. Lisa and the other cowards who (for whatever insane reason) want to hold public office in Seattle need to learn a bit more about courage and a bit less about delaying-until-someone-else-deals-with-it governance. What on Earth could possibly be added to this “study” that will make the decision any less apparent? I assure you that if the re-opening of the West Seattle Bridge required the immediate and unceremonious demolition of this school, that every resident in West Seattle would be climbing over each other for their chance to press the button, Herbold included.

    • skeeter July 6, 2022 (9:52 am)

      I only agree with Jort about 90% of the time and this situation falls into that 90%.  Dozens of residences, businesses, and service providers will have to be moved.  Elected officials can’t just throw up their hands and say “this decision is too hard!”  All these businesses will be given time and money and resources to relocate.  Get on with it!  

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:01 pm)

      I remember when this process got started and ST continually stated that they were trying something new and front-loading all the public comment periods at the beginning of the process to streamline and make it more efficient. I think that is part of the reason the WSBLE maps are just a frankenstein of bad, worse, and worst options.

      But I do think it’s important to call out on the record how awful the Del5/6 options are. And if they are going to make the entire Delridge neighborhood the “loser” then they should be called out for it. 

    • High Point Mike July 7, 2022 (12:46 pm)

      Jort for City Council! Build the Damn Train Already!

  • 2cents July 5, 2022 (5:14 pm)

    ABA is a private for-profit business, they can relocate, or plan for a new space there once TOD is available, so can Transitional Resources and I’m sure there are other locations available in the near-term for both.

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:05 pm)

      Putting aside that this comment is an oversimplification of a complicated issue, Sound Transit has no interest in using their valuable and lucrative TOD space for a daycare. 

  • Mj July 5, 2022 (5:46 pm)

    I very rarely agree with Jort, it’s time to make the decision and move on!

    • sam-c July 5, 2022 (8:29 pm)

      Yeah, I was in (rare) agreement til I got to the last (trolling (as usual), throw-in) sentence.

      • Jort July 5, 2022 (9:55 pm)

        Give me a break. If people could drive on the high bridge again and all it took was demolishing a daycare, there would have been a successful GoFundMe to move the daycare into a brand new custom skyscraper and a community celebration as the demolition button was pushed and the daycare was blown to bits, with a big stupid truck driving over the rubble to commemorate the occasion (they’d probably make a statue of this). You and I and everybody knows this is true. The difference here is that it’s light rail, which for some reason requires decades of attempts at reaching an impossible consensus, unlike car projects, which just get authorized and built no matter the obstacle.

        • Electric cars July 9, 2022 (1:31 am)

          We need roads and bridges for electric cars. Why does the Jort want everyone in a crowded train car where diseases can easily spread? EV is the future, build MORE lanes for CARS so people can STAY SAFE from disease infection. I like the gondola, no crammed public train car plus its faster and cheaper AND good roads and bridges for cars. EV is the future, not a crammed infectious train. 

          • KM July 9, 2022 (8:30 am)


  • TMorgan July 5, 2022 (7:04 pm)

    The historically significant West Seattle Golf Course part of the plans isn’t cleared for protecting the legacy of collaborative and collective community environmental protection for Long Fellow Creek or Camp Long.  This is very important.  The plan recently revised to impact these issues is not clearly worded.  It’s now or never timeframe, please look longer at impacts.  Thanks for considering.

    • hj July 6, 2022 (4:53 pm)

      What’s historically significant about the golf course? Was the 3-iron invented there or something?

  • Millie July 5, 2022 (8:19 pm)

    At some point, our elected city officials, need to make a decision.  Enough study!  From everything I’ve read, I believe there is a “community consensus” in respect to the routing for the West Seattle Light Rail.Yes, Jort, I am in agreement with you!

  • JulNJer July 5, 2022 (8:38 pm)

    This decision causes disparate economic harm to our WS neighbors who have the greatest need for fast, affordable transportation options. 

  • Buck July 5, 2022 (11:05 pm)

    Run it from the current Les Schwab lot N-S down Fauntleroy all the way to the ferry dock, there is already an extra lane in the middle of that road. Should be a no brainer.  Come on LisaH!!! Help us out here please.  Save the neighborhoods.

  • Sixbuck July 5, 2022 (11:15 pm)

    Here’s an idea. Scrap the whole damn thing. Fix the bridge. Vote out useless Herbold. 

    • James July 6, 2022 (1:02 am)

      I disagree with you on Herbold (she’s been fine, people complain and are easily fooled by KOMO type outlets). No we must move on from car culture. Get the train here faster.

    • Pessoa July 6, 2022 (11:33 am)

      That would be the rational thing to do, but there is nothing sensible about this light rail extension.  So, I leave leave them to quarrel about placement of stations, eminent domain, and the rest, although lurking in their subconscious is the reality is that, once built, it will be a major disappointment.   

  • Truth July 6, 2022 (12:50 am)

    Well this is a solid decision.  Seattle is in a childcare crisis, especially coming out of of the pandemic.  This facility is said to care for 300 children. Assuming some are from the same family, let’s say 150-200 families lose childcare.  I had to get on a wait list for childcare before my wife was even pregnant and that was pre pandemic.  There are no places I can think of big enough to house 300 kids.  Maybe with the recently announced SPS enrollment decline SPS could lease them some space?  I did construction back in the day and help build a childcare out.  Those places are help to some really high building codes and an very expensive to build.

    • WS Guy July 6, 2022 (7:26 am)

      The daycare should be moved. Sorry but the train is for the greater good. We should find a new facility in the 100s of vacant spaces in west Seattle for it.

    • Peter July 6, 2022 (9:57 am)

      The transportation needs of almost 100,000 people in west Seattle far outweigh the child care choice of 200 families. 

      • Truth July 7, 2022 (12:16 pm)

        You are making it sound like the project won’t happen if the day are stays.  It is 1 of 6 options for that stations placement.  The project will still move forward, this won’t delay it. Turns out Del/6 is one of ST’s least favorite options.  

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:15 pm)

      Completely agree, even if the Del5/6 station options were good choices on their own merits (they aren’t), it’s still not acceptable to sacrifice community resources like ABA and TR “just because”. The city council did the right thing and it’s important to have that captured on the public record.

  • DC July 6, 2022 (9:52 am)

    I don’t understand the worry about the childcare facility. They have four year to plan for relocation and will be provided relocation assistance by the city. How could this private company that will be fairly compensated possibly take precedent over a public project that will benefit the entire community for years to come?

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:35 pm)

      I think all the worry is really an indication of how impactful the displacement would be for the entire community for years to come. I would argue that a public project like this should benefit the entire community without destroying some it’s most valuable services and resources at the same time. I want light rail to come to West Seattle too, but I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to make Sound Transit defend its choices when they are as bad as what’s being offered in the DEIS, or to go on record and admit that they are bad options.

  • 2cents July 6, 2022 (1:05 pm)

    1. this is an office-park that leased space to a private for profit day-care – it is not unique in it’s physical design to any other commercial building, therefor relocation comps are readily available. If you’ve been in, you know how the physical building lacks for ideal amenities like parks, playgrounds, etc.2. The children that would theoretically be displaced from service once construction would warrant are not even born yet. If they simply curtail intake at the appropriate time and focus on a search for a new location to bridge continuity in service, they can easily move without impacting future capacity (if they choose).

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:46 pm)

      I don’t agree with your #1, it is not an accurate description of ABA. It is an incredibly unique space. It may look like a regular office park building from the outside but the inside is an incredibly unique and well-executed customized childcare facility. It is also more than one building, and they are already in the process of planning for their expansion into another. They have a wonderful, huge indoor/outdoor play area with lots of equipment, play structures, and space for riding trikes and big wheels. And there are two parks within walking distance of the facility (Delridge and Dragonfly) for warm weather activities. As for #2, it’s just too much of an oversimplification. There is nothing easy about a move like this, and “bridge continuity in service” sounds like they would be running two daycare facilities at the same time? Meaning they would have to build out an entirely new facility while also running their existing facility while also making plans to shut the existing facility down while also preparing to transition all the kids and staff into this new facility? Which by the way exists…where? And how do they afford to take on that additional expense? Sound Transit certainly isn’t going to pay for it. It’s just way too simple to say that they can “easily” move if they choose. 

  • Pigeon Point RN July 6, 2022 (2:47 pm)

    There is nowhere in West Seattle with the space needed to move this daycare (the largest in West Seattle) . This has already been looked into.  They would end up moving somewhere else in the city altogether and WS would be in a greater childcare crunch than they currently are. I have kids currently at ABA who will be long gone before any of this goes into effect, but this center is hands down the best out there.  I have friends and coworkers with kids in daycare and preschool facilities all over Seattle and their kids don’t get nearly the education and care that mine do.  It is a phenomenal, family owned, POC run business.  Not to mention, their rates were lower than any of the other places we looked into.

    • hj July 6, 2022 (3:21 pm)

      It’s good that you currently benefit from this, and it’s unfortunate that a small number of future families relative to the rest of the population of West Seattle might be impacted in the future, but none of that is really an objective argument for prioritizing that over critical transportation infrastructure for everyone. There’s not even any guarantee that the business will still be operating five years from now in any case. 

    • WS Guy July 6, 2022 (5:47 pm)

      Well we can build one then. Four years and compensation. They’ll be able to. Lightrail can help all those kids and their parents directly and indirectly in more infinite ways than this one building. Also how do you know there’s no space anywhere??

    • Judah July 6, 2022 (11:52 pm)

      Yes! They are an incredible place! And the are the definition of a locally owned, vital service that creates the very community we want light rail service for. It’s completely backwards to bulldoze places like ABA and TR to make room for a train that supposedly will serve the very neighborhoods that lose them. 

      • James July 7, 2022 (9:02 am)

        Ridership will and ability to expand all over the city without a car is infinitely more useful than one daycare building that can just be moved somewhere in the neighborhood down the street. I really don’t get this form of NIMBY. Lightrail is coming and needs to be embraced.

        • Judah July 7, 2022 (12:23 pm)

          This is a lazy and inappropriate user of the term “Nimby”. These issues are exactly what should be identified and discussed right now at this point in the process. The DEIS was the first in-depth study of possible alignments and their impact. The review of that study has identified two terrible impacts that were not thoroughly investigated by Sound Transit. That is being called out by the community that lives in that neighborhood and relies on that service.

          Furthermore, the pushback against DEL6 is not just about avoiding impacts to ABA and TR, it is also about providing a BETTER station option for Delridge. In other words, it’s not about preventing something, it is about improving something. DEL6 is in the parking lot of a steel mill, tucked back off the main arterial which makes it inconvenient for transfers and pedestrian access, basically access of any kind when you factor in the conflict with freight traffic of the areas largest operating steel mill. More than half of it’s walkshed is completely inaccessible because it’s underneath the elevated freeway or it’s in the steel mill.

          You don’t “get” this “form of NIMBY“? What in the world is your expectation for a huge municipal infrastructure project like this? All decisions get made behind closed doors while you wait patiently to read about them in a blog? Blissfully unaware of the complicated nature of actually threading a train through a dense, overflowing residential area?

          These types of discussions are the point of the process. They inform the deliberations at the committee and board level for Sound Transit who will now make a decision about how to proceed onto the next scheduled step, which is the FINAL EIS. During the final EIS process more study will happen and refinements will be proposed, then back to the board who makes their final decision about what the route will actually be. You could literally just disengage from this process until 2032 if you don’t like seeing your neighbors advocate for a better final result.

  • JAC July 7, 2022 (1:38 pm)

    We need to be clear about what exactly stating “no preference” in Delridge and requesting the study of impacts to the peninsula’s childcare industry means. This is essentially the City withholding support for any alternative in the DEL segment until Sound Transit completes the work to which it has already committed yet left incomplete. Sound Transit, in the DEIS process, made an attempt at thorough community impact assessments, including impacts to social resources; more specifically “community facilities”, which includes childcare programs. In its analysis, Sound Transit identified two areas to emphasize equity (CID and DEL). This essentially means that no impact should be borne by communities in these segments that is either (1) not borne by others, getting at disproportionality, or (2) not avoided or mitigated, getting at real consequences. Alki Beach Academy would be the only childcare program relocated for any alternative in any segment. This along with the size of the program (both now and in terms of near-term expansion plans), means the relocation of ABA would be a clear example of disproportionate impact. The argument is, then, that Sound Transit failed at the first step.  The DEIS fails to identify ABA at Delridge/Andover, despite it in fact being exactly where the station would be placed. Missing ABA in the DEIS means that Sound Transit failed in its effort to accurately assess impact to community, especially considering that access to early learning opportunities is central to ETOD and RET analysis.By amending their resolution to state no preference and offering the conditions they now include, the City and CM Herbold are actually doing what their job entails; responsiveness to the communities they represent, advocating for the retention of essential resources like Transitional Resources and Alki Beach Academy in our neighborhoods, pushing entities like Sound Transit to be accurate in their impact analysis, and withholding their support of any conceptual designs until Sound Transit does what they are supposed to do.If anyone commenting here were actually paying attention, the final EIS is not due until Fall 2023 and the ST Board will not select a project to be built until after that EIS is published, commented upon, and discussed in depth. The City delaying preference does not in any way delay decision-making at the Sound Transit level. It only applies pressure on the Board to approach the decision with intentional caution rather than careless negligence.  As far as I can tell, that’s the best thing the City can do where there is no obviously-superior option on the table.As someone who is generally very critical of City Hall, I find the Council’s efforts to make sure we move forward in the best way possible refreshing. It’s important that the decision makers give this process the room it needs to fully develop quality transportation projects that best serve our communities and minimize irreparable impacts.

    • Judah July 7, 2022 (4:17 pm)

      This is such a well written, clear explanation of where we are in the process. Thank you for posting!

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