WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit staff unveils ‘example’ as board approaches next major decision

As the Sound Transit Board gets closer to choosing a West Seattle/Ballard light rail “modified preferred alternative” for the final phase of environmental study, its Executive Committee just got its first look at an “example” drawn up by staff. You can see it in its entirety in the full slide deck; here’s the slide with the West Seattle section:

The “example” includes the West Seattle Junction “medium tunnel” (41st SW) option that the city is also supporting (as reported here earlier this week). While a Junction tunnel previously was expected to require “third-party funding,” this is now considered to be comparable in cost to an elevated option. As for Delridge, the “example” proposes the Andover lower-height option, aka DEL-6, which has been at the center of a lot of discussion lately because its displacement would include Transitional Resources, which provides supportive housing and behavioral-health services, and the Alki Beach Academy child-care center. TR’s CEO Darcell Slovek-Walker was among the speakers at the meeting-opening public-comment period, saying, “Not all displacements are created equal,” saying DEL-6 would take out two of their buildings housing formerly homeless people living with mental illness, as well as their headquarters.

Meantime, ST’s Cathal Ridge, while presenting the “example,” also made note of previously presented modifications that are still in play for cost-saving consideration, including eliminating the Avalon station, which he said could save $60 million:

Board chair Kent Keel took pains to stress that the “example” is a starting point for board discussion, not a fully shaped proposal awaiting approval or rejection. Some discussion ensued at today’s meeting, but rather than opinions on specific sections, it focused on the fact the board probably needs extra time before making a decision – so that may not happen at their July 28th meeting after all. Next discussion will be one week from today, when the board’s System Expansion Committee meets (1:30 pm July 14th). Whatever “modified preferred alignment” the board settles on, that still won’t be the final decision – that would follow the final Environmental Impact Statement next year.

34 Replies to "WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit staff unveils 'example' as board approaches next major decision"

  • bill July 7, 2022 (12:58 pm)

    The first thing that popped into my mind on reading the headline was, “modified limited hangout.” Yes, that is how old I am.

  • DB40 July 7, 2022 (4:46 pm)

    If the Board can’t make a decision on July 28, then it’s time for the peasants (WS Residents) to take to the streets with their pitchforks and torches.

    • Peter July 7, 2022 (6:14 pm)

      Have fun. 

  • WS resident July 7, 2022 (5:01 pm)

    What would a tunnel down 41st mean for residents on that street aside from eminent domain or like taking?

    • Also John July 7, 2022 (8:03 pm)

      It’s my understanding the 41st tunnel station will require the purchase of the Bank of America property along with the condominiums south of BofA.    The single family homes along 41st  will not be effected…..because…you know…it’s a tunnel.

      • neighbor July 8, 2022 (7:59 am)

        That’s not necessarily true. I had asked some of the ST engineers about tunneling earlier in the process in hopes of not losing homes, and they said that they would likely have to acquire as many or even more homes to do a tunnel because they can’t tunnel under homes safely and the work zone is quite large. They were quick to point out that the lost housing could be replaced after tunneling was complete, but during the tunneling there would be a loss. Maybe they’ve found another way since then, I don’t know.

        • Ray July 13, 2022 (6:49 pm)

          They didn’t clear buildings when they built the tunnel that runs under capital hill. What would be the difference here? 

      • Junction Man July 8, 2022 (4:39 pm)

        Current drawings show a few homes on the north side of Alaska and the building housing Zoom Care and Jiffy Lube being purchased. On the south side, only the BOA property will be purchased. They will need to excavate that entire area to build the station and entrances. 

  • Niko July 7, 2022 (6:19 pm)

    Defund Sound Transit 

    • James July 10, 2022 (5:16 am)

      No. We voted for this. No takebacks.        

  • Honey July 7, 2022 (8:33 pm)

    How about the NO BUILD option?   Sound Transit is way over budget and way behind schedule already.  Let’s rethink this before they start tearing down houses, ruining businesses, and destroying West Seattle.  Metro works well for getting us around WS and to Seattle proper.   Could metro service be improved?  Yes, easily and fairly cheaply.   Will Sound Transit really benefit most West Seattleites?  Are you going to go to a ST station (where there is no parking and may require two escalators ) in order to take a train to SODO where you will have to transfer to another train.  Or – you can walk to a nearby metro stop.  

    • Wseattlite July 7, 2022 (11:22 pm)

      Careful, that sounds like common sense and logic. Those things do not always fit well around here. 

    • Peter July 8, 2022 (8:15 am)

      ST3 was approved overwhelmingly by the voters in West Seattle. It’s sad you’re so willing to reject the will of the people, but sadly rejection of democracy and the outcome of democratic elections is all too common these days. 

      • Honey July 8, 2022 (2:47 pm)

        On November 8, 2016, Sound Transit 3 was approved by over 54 percent of voters in the Puget Sound region; voters in Pierce County rejected the measure, but the measure passed in King and Snohomish counties, and had an overall majority.  54 % is NOT and overwhelming majority.  Yes, we DID vote for light-rail in 2016 but did NOT give Sound Transit carte blanche for the following six years to run over-budget.  Many things have changed since 2016.  Sound Transit does  “okay” building along existing N/S corridors.  But West Seattle has a very unique topography.  WSBLE needs to be rethought.  

        • James July 10, 2022 (5:17 am)

          No “rethinking” about it. We want Lightrail here and want it fast. I am tired of poor infrastructure issues and waiting so long on busses to get to work. 

        • Look Both Ways July 10, 2022 (3:26 pm)

          Honey is right. A vote 6 years ago, pre-pandemic and pre-bridge closure, which barely passed, deserves rethinking. The pandemic changed the area dynamics considerably. “We” don’t all want lightrail here in the proposed forms, and certainly not at the absurd proposed increased costs. This entire project deserves a re-vote AFTER the bridge reopens, to determine how forward commutes are truly affected. Further, the very interesting proposed gondola solution — which by all accounts would be far cheaper, developed years earlier and with minimal disruptive footprint — needs proper consideration by ST (which it has yet to receive).

    • Joe Z July 8, 2022 (8:27 am)

      Unfortunately car drivers are unwilling to give up lanes to improve bus service, so light rail has to be built. The endless complaints about the 99 merge are proof of that. 

      • Honey July 8, 2022 (3:09 pm)

        Those car drivers are not going to give up their cars in order to go to ST station where they will have to negotiate elevators, escalators, no easy drop-off/pick-up from these stations; they will continue to drive.  If the city can approve tunnels and stories-high, year’s long light-rail tracks perhaps they could, at the very least, think about running a track on an existing corridor, e.g. Avalon.  It could even be elevated so cars can drive underneath it.   Also – the  patch on the West Seattle bridge is merely that – a temporary fix.   The bridge is going to have to be replaced sooner than later.  How about running light-rail along that already existing route?

        • Bert July 10, 2022 (7:01 pm)

          You’re worried that people aren’t going to be able to “negotiate elevators, escalators”?


        • James July 10, 2022 (9:00 pm)

          Climate change will dictate they give up their cars and electric car companies like Tesla don’t have the dealership market or repair share established and are crashing. Private boxes to ride around town in are a high luxury and will be phased out. 

          • Al King July 11, 2022 (6:45 am)

            James. I agree that cars will go away. The reality is that it’ll be a LONG time before that happens. Cars need to be accommodated until that happens.  The “no car” people wish it would happen soon but here in the real world it’s a LONG way off.

    • dhg July 8, 2022 (10:38 am)

      Seantor Warren G Magnuson gifted City of Seattle with the option of building light rail more than 50 years ago.  City would pick up just 10% of the cost.  And the residents voted it down.  Why have light rail when we have roads!!!!  It’s short-sighted thinking.  Light rail is an alternative to roads.  You use it because traffic is so bad, nothing  is moving, not even the bus. You use it on snow days when traffic can’t move.  You use it because its proven to be faster than going by car…and cheaper.  Especially on days when the stadiums are jammed with fans.

      • Honey July 8, 2022 (2:54 pm)

        So – how are West Seattleites going to get to the ST West Seattle stations?  Where will they park?   Some of the vague ST proposals don’t even have a plan for people being dropped off at these “stations”.   Seems like many people will continue to drive their cars or take the bus.  Oh, that’s right – part of Sound Transit’s plan is to eliminate the Rapid Line C!!!

        • Junction Man July 8, 2022 (4:35 pm)

          This is going to sound wild, but I’m pretty sure people can take the bus, bike, scooter, rideshare, skateboard, hitchhike, or walk to the stations. Having a station surrounded by parking lots is pointless in a dense neighborhood like West Seattle. 

        • Crowski July 9, 2022 (9:00 am)

          As a long time commuter to downtown on the C-line and 21X, Metro is usually super-efficient – my desk-to-door commute is in the 45 minute range.  What will the ST WS spur cost, some hundreds of millions?  Will this investment provide a cost-effective alternative to the current transit system?      

  • Wondering July 8, 2022 (7:15 am)

    How deep will the tunnel go?  Will it take out all the structures above or go deep enough to save them?

  • Jeremiah G July 8, 2022 (12:10 pm)

    Light Rail is going to be awesome, and can’t come soon enough!

  • Rufus July 9, 2022 (9:55 am)

    The most accessible mode of transportation for the majority of folks is the bus. Bus routes will be dropped or limited once the ST West Seattle happens. Our King County Metro bus service network in West Seattle is extensive, direct, and works for all. Riders have the option of Rapid Ride and local buses that go from downtown to deep into the community, many not requiring transfers. This existing transportation system is also quick and efficient from Sodo and downtown. 

  • s July 9, 2022 (12:38 pm)

    it would be so much better if it went down Delridge and ended at West Wood Village.  This is going to kill Youngstown, any of these options will be very ugly and cost millions more than going down Delridge.  The density along Delridge is increasing and will surpass that of the Avalon Junction.

  • n July 9, 2022 (12:51 pm)

    there is no paring at the Avalon Junction.  So to use light rail people will have to walk, bus or drive to the station.  The planned locations for the West Seattle station has no place to park, it only services a small area of West Seattle.  Catching a bus to ride the light rail seems very strange, if you need to catch a bus to ride the light rail why not ride the bus to town why switch? 

  • Julian July 9, 2022 (9:51 pm)

    Anyone concerned with how this will affect the nature and dynamics of West Seattle? We’re a relatively quiet, mellow community removed from the rest of the city with modest sized buildings. Crime and homelessness isn’t nearly as rampant as in other parts of the city. Having a rail come through might change all of that making West Seattle unrecognizable from how it is today. I hope that’s not the case.

    • anoninstl July 10, 2022 (5:46 pm)

      Unfortunately it’s probably going to become a s***hole just like Capital Hill and the area around the Rainier station. 

    • Bert July 10, 2022 (7:05 pm)

      Endlessly amusing how the comments in these sections split evenly between:

      West Seattle is unrecognizable, I’m so glad I left!


      West Seattle is going to become unrecognizable, oh no!

      Everything changes.  People change, neighborhoods change, cities change.  If you don’t want that change feel free to buy a cabin in the woods, where only you and the seasons will change.  But to be in a city and complain about change…  That’s just weird.

  • Casey MacDonald July 11, 2022 (11:02 am)

    I saw a note on one of the slides mentioning a request to build a 42 Ave entrance for the Alaska Junction station.   Yay, that would be awesome.   Looking forward to the next phase of planning and design. 

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