West Seattle, Washington
(One page from new PDF of “visualizations” linked in “online open house” for feedback)
For more than a year, the process of determining a “preferred alternative” for routing and station locations of Sound Transit‘s West Seattle/Ballard light rail has been under way. Today, your next chance to comment – and last major chance to do it before that “preferred alternative” is chosen for environmenal studies – begins. ST has just announced the official start of a month of “scoping,” which includes its next West Seattle meeting, and an “online open house” featuring new summaries and comparisons of what’s currently under consideration:
Scoping begins today! Share your comments by March 18
Sound Transit and the Federal Transit Administration have officially kicked off scoping for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project. Scoping is the next step in the environmental review process and provides an opportunity for you to comment on the route and station alternatives, topics to study in the environmental impact statement, and project purpose and need. This 30-day public comment period will include multiple ways for you to share your feedback and help the Sound Transit Board identify a preferred alternative and other alternatives to study in an Environmental Impact Statement during the next phase of project development.
This is an especially important time to get involved and we want to hear from you! Here’s how to comment:
Attend an upcoming open house: details below
Comment online: wsblink.participate.online
Email us: email@example.com
Leave a voicemail: 833-972-2666
Mail us a letter: West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions, c/o Lauren Swift, Sound Transit, 401 S. Jackson St., Seattle, WA 98104
Comments must be received by March 18. Your feedback will be shared with the Stakeholder Advisory Group, Elected Leadership Group, and the Sound Transit Board prior to their recommendations on which alternatives should be studied during environmental review. The Sound Transit Board will identify a preferred alternative and other alternatives to study in an Environmental Impact Statement in May 2019.
Save the dates! Join us at a scoping open house
We’re excited to share dates for our upcoming scoping open houses in West Seattle, Ballard, and downtown Seattle. We hope you’ll join us at one of the meetings below to learn more about the alternatives being considered, ask questions and share your comments.
West Seattle on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Alki Masonic Center (4736 40th SW)
Ballard/Interbay on Thursday, Feb. 28, 6 – 8:30 p.m. at Ballard High School
Downtown on Thursday, March 7, 5 – 7:30 p.m. at Union Station
Can’t join us in-person? Our online open house is now live! Visit wsblink.participate.online and submit your scoping comments by March 18.
New year, new numbers: advisory groups review Level 3 evaluation results:
The Stakeholder Advisory Group and Elected Leadership Group recently held meetings to review the latest alternatives and hear more about the Level 3 evaluation results. The three end-to-end alternatives were evaluated based on their performance with respect to dozens of qualitative and quantitative measures, such as service reliability, travel times, environmental effects, technical feasibility and much more.
Want to dig into the details to inform your scoping comments? Explore the evaluation results, then visit the online open house to comment between now and March 18. (Go here)
Other project documents, including a Scoping Information Report, the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) Determination of Significance, and evaluation reports, are also available for review online.
One thing we noticed while browsing the “online open house” before publishing this announcement – you can access a PDF with visualizations of the currently proposed “end-to-end alternatives” – see it here.
P.S. We’ve been covering all the other steps in the process along the way – most recently, the Stakeholder Advisory Group‘s meeting two weeks ago.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The process of arriving at a “preferred alternative” for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle/Ballard light rail routing and station locations will stretch further into spring than first planned.
That’s part of what was announced at last night’s Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting, which was centered on releasing and discussing how the currently under-review possibilities compare on a variety of criteria, including cost. The same information will be reviewed by the Elected Leadership Group tomorrow morning, and your feedback will be sought online and via in-person forums in a month or so.
Here’s the full slide deck from the meeting (PDF, 12 MB). First thing to remember – the so-called “end to end alternatives” that are in the spotlight for this third and final review phase are not “all or nothing” plans from which one will move into the next phase. But here they all are on a map:
In order in the legend, they are the “representative project” (outlined in the ST3 vote in 2016), the
West Seattle Elevated option, and the West Seattle Tunnel option. ST staffers stressed repeatedly that this is the time to “mix and match” components if that makes more sense. So the evaluation information emerged in segments, rather than simply scorecards for each full “end to end alternative.” Here’s the criteria on which the components were evaluated:
That’s the rig Sound Transit used last summer to collect soil samples in multiple areas as it continues researching potential routes for West Seattle light rail. They’re continuing those tests in two areas. First, we have this announcement of sampling along SW Genesee as soon as next week – note that it is also a traffic alert:
Sound Transit plans to begin drilling to collect soil samples for analysis on SW Genesee St between 26th Ave SW and 30th Ave SW. as early as January 28.
Work will occur from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and take approximately five days to complete.
The eastbound lane and sidewalk of SW Genesee St will be closed between 26th Ave SW and 30th Ave SW during working hours.
Flaggers will be present to direct eastbound and westbound traffic around the work area. Metro Route 50 will continue to operate on SW Genesee St.
Sound Transit is in the early planning phase for the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions project. This work, along with similar borings throughout the project corridor, will help us plan and design possible light rail alignments.
That’s near the area whose residents me with ST last week (WSB coverage here). ST also has been doing soil sampling on Harbor Island and Port of Seattle properties in the vicinity, as shown on this map:
The list provided by ST shows testing at Terminals 18, 25, 102, and 104 should have been completed by now; work in the park at Harbor Island is planned through tomorrow, and night and weekend work at 3568 W. Marginal Way SW through Sunday. The technical analysis continues as ST enters the final phase of review to choose a “preferred alternative” for environmental study; that decision is expected this spring. Next steps in the review process, two meetings next week.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Light rail does not just appear one day in a neighborhood where it didn’t exist the day before.
Years of construction follow years of planning.
Some of that construction is preceded by demolition – tearing down homes and businesses that, to put it bluntly, are declared to be in the way.
That will happen to some in West Seattle. Just where, and how many homes and businesses, won’t be settled until the route and station locations for the due-to-open-in-2030 line are finalized. But some people for whom it’s a possibility are already grappling with it. This past Wednesday night, dozens of them gathered at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center with pointed questions for Sound Transit – questions that in many cases, ST reps said, it’s too soon to answer. Most of the people in attendance were from nearby streets where construction of the Delridge station might push them out, depending on what location is chosen.
The briefing/Q&A event was organized by a neighbor, Dennis Noland, who opened by saying, “It was devastating news to me” to find out that Sound Transit’s West Seattle light-rail plan might cost him and some of his neighbors their homes. Noland took it on himself to personally talk with neighbors after that revelation last fall.
The next step in that was organizing the meeting, intended for neighbors – “specifically a two-block area” bounded by, as he explained it:
SW Genesee on the south
SW Dakota on the north
West side of Delridge Way SW on the east
26th SW transecting 25th SW on the west
We recorded the 2-hour-plus event, but our video is mostly just of use for the audio as the projected slides could not be captured – they’re all in this slide deck (7 MB PDF) – and we didn’t have a separate crew member to zoom from person to person while we took notes. Nevertheless, here’s the recording:
Now, our chronicling of what happened:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“You have all officially made it through two levels of screening.”
That was the welcome last night for Sound Transit‘s West Seattle-Ballard light rail Stakeholder Advisory Group members at their last scheduled meeting of the year.
The big headline from this meeting: The first look at three “end-to-end” route possibilities drafted by ST staff. Until now, potential routing/station locations have been discussed segment by segment. The three were crafted from feedback in the first two levels of screening, which are recapped in the meeting’s full slide deck (PDF). ST’s Cathal Ridge went through that recap last night, noting major concerns voiced during that phase – including, for West Seattle, an interest in ensuring the Delridge station is a good transfer point between bus and light rail, that a location south of Andover be considered for it, and also that the Junction station be oriented north-south, possibly on 42nd or 44th. Here’s the list of what the three are being called for now, followed by maps and highlights of each:
9:13 AM: Not here at the Seattle Lutheran High School gym (4100 SW Genesee) yet? More than 50 people are, as the Sound Transit “neighborhood forum” for West Seattle light rail routing/station locations begins. This is in “open house” – circulate and look at boards, maps, etc. – mode until at least 9:30, followed by a presentation, followed by small-group conversation starting just before 10, so you have time to get here. (The format is detailed here.) Here’s our most-recent coverage, with the new ST-released “visualizations” of what some of the route/station options might look like. Updates to come!
9:32 AM: The presentation’s starting, projected on the north wall. The microphone is given first to Joe McDermott, County Councilmember and Sound Transit board member, who jokes about the ease of the commute (on a Saturday morning) and thanks everyone for turning out. He’s followed by project director Cathal Ridge providing some project backstory and timeline, starting with the planning phase (now) and moving to construction starting in 2025 to open the Stadium-SODO-West Seattle extension in 2030. (Rough count update, 100+ people here now.)
Ridge reiterates that they’re not asking people to pick their final preferred alternative today, but to help “narrow” the list down. One more level of review is ahead before that preferred alternative is finalized next April, to move into full environmental study.
Ridge notes that this is the first time “cost assessment” has entered the process (as we reported last Wednesday) – focused on “limited conceptual design” (5%, compared to 60% when they get to an actual project budget) based on “consistent methodology” including 2017 dollars. In the final level of review, Level 3, they will provide costs for “end-to-end alternatives,” compared to the current comparative segment-by-segment analysis, and those, Ridge explains, “will facilitate comparison to ST3 budget” (as approved by voters).
9:47 AM: He’s followed by Stephen Mak, ST’s West Seattle-specific planner, recapping the five West Seattle segment alternatives currently under discussion, including the “representative project” originally proposed. After going briefly over the route/station maps for the alternatives, Mak hits the info-dense tables of evaluation points that were originally presented at the Stakeholder Advisory Group meeting Wednesday (and included in our coverage – you can also see that slide deck here – but be aware that latter link includes the evaluation of all West Seattle to Ballard segments; WS is last). The highlights include the same takeaway points that ST chose to highlight, such as “visual effects” – where “low” and “high” guideways are mentioned, by the way, we asked for clarification on Wednesday, and “low” means up to 60′, while “high” means up to 160′. If you want to cut to the bare-bones summary, this is the page:
(That’s on page 106 of the presentation from Wednesday; we will ask on Monday for the WS-only deck that’s being used today.)
10:09 AM: Mak is followed by ST station planner Sloan Dawson, who talks about the by-invitation-only daylong station “charrettes” that were held in July, one for Delridge, one for Junction and Avalon. (We covered a walking tour that was part of the latter.) Someone in the crowd quickly spots the acronym TOD and asks for an explanation (answer: Transit Oriented Development). Here are the slides he showed:
10:20 AM: Presentation’s ending. That means table-by-table conversations will begin. ST has a note-taker assigned to each table.
It’s announced that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold is here. Someone asks if the slides can be made available online – the facilitator says yes. (Again, as noted above, the same slides were in the Wednesday presentations, but we’ll request today’s deck on Monday and add it here.) We’re within earshot of one table, whose note-taker/coordinator KaDeena Yerkan is asking people to introduce themselves and to say which station/route segment most interests them. One person in her self-intro says she’s interested in whatever would speed up the process. ST, meantime, tells us that the signup forms at last check showed 130 people are (or have been) here. The boards with post-it note options are still up for commenting on the other side of the room, too.
10:50 AM: Conversation continues and is scheduled to go until about 11:30 – soon shifting to “part 2, (to) share input for each sub-segment.” One participant at the table within our earshot asks what happens if the Port is not happy about a favored route – does it have a veto?The coordinator’s not sure. Meantime, all this feedback is to be summarized and provided to the decisionmakers further up the line – the Stakeholder Advisory Group will meet September 26th to make its recommendations for what to advance to the third and final review level; the Elected Leadership Group then considers those recommendations (but is not bound by them) on October 5th. (The public is welcome at all of those meetings but if you go, take note that there’s no public-comment period at the SAG meetings; there IS, at the ELG meetings. SAG meetings are not recorded on video; Seattle Channel does record the SAG meetings, which are also technically City Council meetings because the ELG has a quorum of city councilmembers.)
11:24 AM: Still talking, as the prescheduled adjournment time of 11:30 am nears, though a couple of the table groups are breaking up. We’re going to go look around at easels etc. and will add a few images later. (Update: Added below)
If you couldn’t be here, you still have a way to get involved in this round – as we reported Friday, ST has an “online open house” now under way until September 23rd, with info and comment opportunities. Find it here.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The road to choosing a “preferred alternative” for West Seattle/Ballard light rail has now taken the Stakeholder Advisory Group into the second of three levels of review.
When the SAG met last Wednesday at the Sound Transit board room downtown, it was presented with five West Seattle possibilities – including two new/modified versions of pre-existing options. You can see all five in the slide deck from the meeting.
ST’s Stephen Mak showed all five:
First, the “representative project” (ST’s original draft route), which is entirely elevated:
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Sound Transit‘s light-rail planning for West Seattle should reach out to tweens and teens, because they’re the ones whose lives will be most affected.
That was one suggestion heard at this morning’s West Seattle “neighborhood forum,” next step in the official ST planning process for the line set to open in 2030, assuming the fast-tracked planning process stays on track. And given that the event was promoted as a way for you to share your neighborhood values
About 130 people showed up, ST estimated, out of about 180 who RSVP’d; ST set up an overflow room on the second floor of the Masonic Center in The Junction, and about 20 people gathered there.
A few opening remarks were offered by King County Council chair and District 8 (West Seattle, White Center, etc.) rep Joe McDermott, who also is on the ST Board, reminding everyone that if they are frustrated with West Seattle bridge backups, they should be excited about this part of one of the nation’s largest transit infrastructure expansions, And he recapped that in order to speed it up, they are front-ending as many decisions as possible, and that’s why they need “to have the best possible ideas …” He urges people to “stay in touch … as you have ideas over the coming months” – 11 months, to be specific, until the decision on what to study.
McDermott co-chairs the project’s Elected Leadership Group – which will have its second meeting May 17th – and another of its members, City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, was at the forum this morning and acknowledged, but chose not to address the crowd.
That moved things along to the first presentation, as introduced by consultant Dennis Sandstrom, ST’s Stephen Mak with an overview on the project and the process, noting that the Stakeholder Advisory Group already has met four times (we’ve covered all four – most recently April 24th). His presentation starts at 7:15 into our clip, which starts with Sandstrom and McDermott:
And then, the first round of small-group conversation, a half-hour about “neighborhood values.”
Conversation at the table next to ours (not pictured) kicked off with a Delridge resident who said he’s born and raised in West Seattle. One person says they were involved in neighborhood planning. One person stressed the need for input from people 12 years old and up – because this will be a larger part of their lives than many of the rest of us. Right after him, a retiree says he doesn’t worry about traffic any more but he does worry about whether this will be serving the points south of us, and he also worries about conserving green space and small-town feel. Next person says he worries about how to get to the airport – “I want to see us more connected to the rest of the area.” He’s lived here 10 years.
At a Junction table, participants were voicing concerns about the potential for an elevated track. One says it would “shatter The Junction.” Some worried about the displacement of businesses in The Triangle if the track cuts through there. Tunneling fans seemed out in abundance, including this woman who said she was selling T-shirts:
When the half-hour was up, participants voted to chug ahead with the second presentation and conversation (the sun outside the windowless Masonic Center was a bit too tempting perhaps). Next up at the podium was ST’s Sloan Dawson of ST, who said he does station planning and would talk about what it’s like when light rail comes to your community.
He leads off our second clip, followed by another appearance for Stephen Mak recapping the routing/station concepts that have emerged in this “Level 1” stage of the process:
Dawson mentioned that the projects serve “many different place types,” and then how the existing transportation network interacts with what will be built. “Planning good integration with other transit services” like buses is vital, Dawson said. (And emphatic discussion at tables underscored that.) He reiterated that “we’re doing (station location work) earlier than we’ve ever done it before” with the West Seattle/Ballard extensions.
He handed the microphone back to Mak, who went through the alternatives that have emerged for consideration so far, starting with the “representative project” (“the starting point”), and other West Seattle possibilities – even including the ones that the stakeholders had suggested dropping, which lent a bit of confusion if you’ve been following the process closely.
Another half-hour of discussion followed at the tables.
One table was boggling over the elevated idea. “It’s going to be like 150 feet tall.” Another person was alarmed at how elevated track looks at Northgate.
Over at The Junction table, parking concerns kept emerging. Also, as we circulated to listen in, there were concerns about being sure the station locations are matching the areas that are already densifying.
Because it’s a large group, they decided not to “report out” table by table, but instead invite everyone to stop by the tables, and to ask facilitators to stay at their tables to answer questions and/or summarize for anyone interested, and after two hours, that’s where it wrapped up, with promises to get the feedback to the groups through which it’s being filtered.
Next touchstone in the process involves one of those groups: The Elected Leadership Group meets 2-4 pm May 17th (Sound Transit board room at 401 S. Jackson). That will include a public-comment period, we confirmed with ST staff, unlike the stakeholder group meetings (next one for them, May 30th). It also will likely be shown on – or at least recorded by – the Seattle Channel. And then – Level 2, which will include another neighborhood forum.
Our video is from Sound Transit‘s briefing at the Junction Neighborhood Organization meeting last Thursday. It didn’t exactly pick up where the West Seattle/Ballard light-rail projects’ Stakeholder Advisory Group had left off just two nights earlier (WSB coverage here), but it did aim to clarify what the next public-participation meeting, next Saturday’s West Seattle “neighborhood forum,” is meant to accomplish. The three ST staffers who briefed and answered questions from JuNO attendees attempted to clarify how, while the Stakeholder Advisory Group has recommended “alternatives” to move forward, those aren’t the final say – what ST hopes to hear from neighborhood participants are potential “refinements.” Maybe even, they said, “mix and match” elements of possible alternatives. So if you weren’t at the JuNO meeting – or at the West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting where we’re told the same team appeared earlier that night – watch and listen, and then be at next Saturday’s neighborhood forum: 10 am-12:30 pm May 5th, Masonic Center, 4736 40th SW.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
They’ve been working for months on a light-rail extension we won’t see for years, but had just minutes to decide which rough-draft alternative concepts should move forward and which shouldn’t.
The process already has been billed as hurried so that the 2030 target for opening West Seattle’s ST3-decreed line can be met or maybe even exceeded, but this stop along the route was the most rushed of all we’ve covered so far.
The meeting had begun with facilitator Diane Adams telling the group (see its membership here) being told, “Tonight you won’t need to make a ‘preferred alternative’ determination,” followed by ST executive Cathal Ridge adding, “We would at least like to make some progress down that road.”
That they did – but with little time for detailed deliberation. Here’s the bottom line for the West Seattle segment, after the tables’ discussion toward night’s end:
Sorry for the fuzzy image – the checklist slide was created on the spot, so there’s no digital version, but here’s the pre-yay/nay version of the same list so you can read and compare:
And here are the maps from last week showing details on each:
Here’s how those decisions were reached (again, the group had to decide yay/nays on the other parts of the West Seattle/Ballard extensions too, but for obvious reasons, we are mostly just reporting WS details):
Three Sound Transit light-rail-planning updates this afternoon:
FULL ‘EARLY SCOPING’ REPORT RELEASED: Want to see Sound Transit‘s full summary of comments from the “early scoping” period for the West Seattle and Ballard extensions? There is it above, and here (PDF), all 226 pages of it. Here’s a paragraph from the opening summary:
In West Seattle, most of the comments suggested a tunnel from at least the western edge of the Delridge valley to the Alaska Junction (the intersection of California Avenue SW and SW Alaska Street), with an underground station within a few blocks of the junction. Several comments requested an alignment through the West Seattle Golf Course, while others requested alignments farther north. Many comments suggested removing the Avalon Station or consolidating it with the Alaska Junction Station in a more central location. Several other comments requested keeping the Avalon Station as an important bus transfer location. Most comments about the Delridge Station suggested moving it farther south. Many comments also requested consideration of future extensions to the south on Fauntleroy Way SW, 35th Avenue SW, or Delridge Way SW. Several others also called for providing service farther south to Westwood Village or White Center now, while others suggested just improving bus service if a tunnel could not be built.
Shortcuts, if you’re interested, include:
Page 191 – Photos of some comments written on easel displays at West Seattle open house on February 13th
Page 202 – Transcription of comments from West Seattle open house
The report also includes the feedback from a variety of groups with interests in various sections of the route, as well as government agencies (which start at page 62).
‘FIRST ALTERNATIVES’ TO BE SHOWN TO STAKEHOLDER ADVISORY GROUP: The next two Tuesdays (April 17 and 24) bring the next two meetings of the Stakeholder Advisory Group, and ST says they will be shown the first set of potential alternatives to the original “representative project” (draft routing). Both meetings are open to the public (there’s no spoken-comment period, though, just observation) and both are 5-8 pm at the Sound Transit Ruth Fisher Boardroom downtown, 401 S. Jackson.
HERBOLD LETTER: At this morning’s City Council briefing meeting, it was mentioned that City Councilmember Lisa Herbold was planning to circulate for her colleagues’ signatures a letter that would ask various city commissions and boards to provide feedback for the light-rail planning process. We’ve requested a copy of the letter but her office tells us that at the mayor’s request, they’re holding off on the letter for a week. So look for that next week.
(added) P.S. A reminder that the next major chance for feedback is at the first round of ST-convened “neighborhood forums” – one is in West Seattle, 10 am-12:30 pm Saturday, May 5th, Masonic Center, 40th/Edmunds.
If you’re interested in light rail, the time to speak up – or, speak up again – is here. Sound Transit will soon make major decisions on what to take to voters, seeking money that will shape the next generation of its projects. West Seattle needs more planning, and needs you to advocate for that, says the West Seattle Transportation Coalition:
Dear West Seattle, South Park, White Center, and Burien Residents,
The West Seattle Transportation Coalition (WSTC) is made up of your neighbors. We are community volunteers who have been tracking mobility issues for the Peninsula and White Center since September 2013. We have been successful in bringing attention to our transportation challenges by banding together and asking for solutions.
In the Sound Transit 2 package, money was set aside to study potential corridors for Sound Transit expansion (ST3). Sound Transit has been studying the Ballard transit expansion since 2012. The three years of comprehensive citizen outreach and planning sessions have culminated in multiple routing and delivery options for Ballard. However, West Seattle and points south have not had the benefits of the same planning sessions. On December 4, 2015, Sound Transit presented to the Sound Transit Board (STB) a proposal for expansion of Sound Transit light rail.
The WSTC has raised a question (see attached letter) to the STB and the City of Seattle. The proposed three options are in direct conflict with projects voted on in Move Seattle. With a draft proposal set for March 2016 and a final draft set for June 2016, how can we get three years worth of planning done in three months?
We need your help. Our next meeting is Thursday, January 28, 2016. We want to have a brainstorming session on ways we can help Sound Transit and the Cities of Seattle and Burien hold successful accelerated planning sessions.
You don’t need to be a transportation planner, you just need to want light rail to come to West Seattle, White Center and Burien!
Date: January 28, 2016
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Location: (new location) The Kenney, 7125 Fauntleroy Way SW
(East-facing camera on the West Seattle Bridge; see other cams on the WSB Traffic page)
We start off this morning with two encore notes from Monday. First: One more reminder that the West Seattle Water Taxi‘s winter schedule is now in effect, until early April. Second: Sound Transit is officially asking you where its service might expand after “current voter-approved projects are complete in 2023.” This online survey includes questions about a possible light-rail extension to West Seattle and about your priorities in general – it’ll be open for a month, but why wait?
P.S. Looking way ahead to the weekend – early Sunday, it’s time-change time.
Tomorrow’s the day the Sound Transit board (members listed here) is expected to vote on whether to put a money measure on the November ballot. You can read about the proposal here; it would raise the local sales tax half a cent on the dollar.. West Seattle’s County Councilmember Dow Constantine is on the Sound Transit board; he just sent a news release saying he’ll vote to send it to voters – here’s his statement:Read More