Sound Transit 88 results

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: New timeline for next planning milestone

Out of a 43-page slide deck, that’s the one slide that caught our attention when Sound Transit briefed the Seattle City Council Transportation and Utilities Committee this morning. The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the West Seattle to Ballard extension is now not expected to be released before fall. Last estimated release timeline (see this December 2020 WSB report) was “mid-(year),” and that already was a slide past the originally projected release this year. When the DEIS comes out, it will trigger a new round of public comment, and will provide an avalanche of new information about the potential paths that could be taken to get light rail across the Duwamish River and to stations at Delridge, Avalon, and The Junction. The topic of the briefing was the “realignment” process, which we’ve been covering – the pursuit of a new plan/timeline for system expansion projects to address what’s currently estimated as a $7.9 billion “affordability gap” (currently mostly because on new cost estimates, rather than revenue shortfalls). The briefing started an hour and 30 minutes into the meeting (recorded by Seattle Channel):

During the briefing, councilmembers repeatedly asked a question that several ST board members also have asked – isn’t it too soon to make a new plan when the post-pandemic revenue picture isn’t clear? ST in response said it has to make decisions soon about $2 billion worth of projects (not including West Seattle-Ballard), but also insisted that a realignment plan would be a “flexible framework” that could be revisited. West Seattle light rail, originally planned to launch in 2030, already has been delayed a year beyond that, even before further delays that might be part of realignment.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: See 3 possible Sound Transit ‘realignment’ scenarios

When the ST3 ballot measure was passed, it promised West Seattle light rail in 2030. Since then, the schedule has slid to 2031. And as a result of the “realignment” process on which Sound Transit has embarked because of projected revenue shortages and cost increases, it could be pushed back even further. The ST Board – mostly local elected officials from King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties – is supposed to adopt a realignment plan next month. At a special board meeting today, three possible scenarios were presented – they’re in the slide deck starting on page 3:

(If you can’t see it there, read it here. Note that these are not necessarily what the board will consider in its final vote.) While the third scenario would deliver all of West Seattle light rail by 2032, the other two would phase it in, starting no sooner than 2035.

Comments during today’s meeting continued to show disagreements between board members on the process itself. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan declared that the board is “barreling toward a decision that’s one of the worst decisions we could make as a board,” amending the plan based on financial projections that already have seen major changes and could see more. King County Executive Dow Constantine also warned against making monumental decisions based on “speculative” information. He suggested the decision could be delayed a bit further until the ST budget process gives them a better picture of finances. King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, meantime, has been advocating working on scenarios to cut costs rather than delay projects, and she is said to be working with ST staff on an “alternative” along those lines, though it was not ready for presentation today.

No votes were taken at the meeting, but board chair Kent Keel (from the University Place City Council in Pierce County) asked members to send him their thoughts before the next full board meeting June 24th. He also noted that the System Expansion Committee will get an update one week from today on the evaluation of those dramatically increased costs first revealed earlier this year.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: To realign or not to realign? Sound Transit board arguments intensify

Sound Transit board members continue to disagree over whether ST needs a full “realignment” plan, which could delay/downsize voter-approved projects including West Seattle light rail. The video above is from ST’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday morning. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci (from Bellevue) – all board members who are part of the committee – continued to argue the points they made in a letter to Board Chair Kent Keel (from University Place) reported here last month, saying it’s too soon to decide. Keel in turn recapped his reply, insisting the realignment plan – currently scheduled for a July vote – is necessary.

First the board got an update on more possible realignment “scenarios” as well as the latest stats on the “affordability gap,” all shown in this slide deck:

What’s in that presentation is not a complete list of possible scenarios – they’ve been looking at various concepts over the course of multiple meetings in recent months. Possibilities for West Seattle include building to Delridge first – maybe on a 2-year delay beyond the original 2030 plan – or a 5-year delay for the entire extension.

The big point of contention, intensively discussed on Thursday, remains whether a realignment is even needed. When this all first came up last year, the big problem was a pandemic-fueled revenue drop. That started bouncing back, but then came news of dramatically increased cost estimates. Now the latter is more of an issue than the former, according to ST staff, but Durkan argued on Thursday that they don’t have enough cost information for realignment decisions. She also noted that the gap has shrunk by billions already and could shrink further. “The affordability gap could be less and we could build what the voters want and what the climate needs.” Balducci, who has long argued against making these decisions now, said that since this has become much more of a cost gap than a revenue gap, “project-based approaches” might be a solution to the higher cost estimates. Constantine warned that officially setting “lowered expectations” now could “become the default.” Keel contended that whatever they decide would be a “flexible framework” and could be changed. Balducci countered that even if that’s technically true, a realignment vote “would essentially adopt a revamp of our program.” Keel said not responding to the current gap predictions by creating an “affordable plan” via realignment would make ST look financially irresponsible.

The discussion will continue at two upcoming meetings – the System Expansion Committee (which Balducci chairs) on May 13th and the full board meeting on May 27th, which is also when the board is scheduled to hear more about the results of recent community opinion-gathering, which brought in just under 10,000 survey responses, ST staff said on Thursday.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Should Sound Transit hold off on major ‘realignment’?

As Sound Transit rolls toward a “realignment” decision this summer that could delay West Seattle light rail (currently planned for 2031) and other projects for years, there’s a call to slow down, for reasons including a less-dire financial outlook. The suggestion comes in a letter to ST board chair Kent Keel from three board members – Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, King County Executive Dow Constantine, and King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci. The letter was mentioned during last week’s monthly board meeting; we requested and obtained it today from the mayor’s office:

At the heart of the letter is a request to extend the decision timeline until summer of next year, “to allow the board to examine the pros and cons of extending realignment until additional information is available, including the prospect of acquiring additional new revenues, the benefits of a clearer economic picture, identifying new flexible approaches to station access, incorporating additional information about the nature of capital cost increases and conducting meaningful public engagement.” The letter also notes that when the realignment talk began, the pandemic-related revenue shortfall was the biggest problem, and now that’s only half what it was. But cost increases have emerged as a major challenge (as reported here in January), and might require a different evaluation process than the one they’re using. The letter requests additional information in time for a discussion at the board’s next meeting (May 27th).

ST, meantime, is continuing to ask for your thoughts on “priorities” in the realignment process – there are no specific proposals yet (the board has just been exploring “scenarios”), so they are asking “what’s important to you?” via a short survey on this page. Friday (April 30th) is the deadline.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit has questions for you. Plus – see early property-acquisition estimates

Two items of interest as Sound Transit continues planning for West Seattle light rail:

SURVEY: We’ve reported on the “realignment” process that could end this summer with ST pushing back or even canceling projects such as West Seattle light rail (currently projected to open in 2031, already reflecting a one-year delay). Today ST announced a survey to get community opinions before its board members make those decisions. The survey is accessible via this new realignment-information website. The heart of a survey is an open-ended two-part question, after asking respondents to choose the area(s) where they’d like to prioritize transit projects: “Why are the transit projects you’ve prioritized important to you? What would you prioritize when considering delaying, phasing, or modifying future transit projects?”

PROPERTY-ACQUISITION ESTIMATES: While embarking on potential “realignment,” ST is also continuing planning for West Seattle and other not-yet-under-construction projects. The next major stop along the way for WS is the release in a few months of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. ST’s ongoing research also includes estimated cost for acquiring property it might need to build the system. After we reported in January about ST saying its estimates had grown in a big way, West Seattleite Tomasz “Avalon Tom” Biernacki – who visualized early data three years ago – filed a public-disclosure request for additional data to which ST had alluded. He received it, and made a Google Map showing which properties they’ve evaluated:

He explains it as “a simple interactive map where folks can see if their property might be affected by all this. This map includes all the WS properties in the data set. The interactive map only includes West Seattle properties up to the bridge. (The full data set contains all the properties across Seattle.)” The actual cost estimates are on the dataset document, listed by parcel numbers. If you want to look up your property but don’t know your parcel number, you can find it via King County Parcel Viewer (choose ‘property report” once you’re on the page for your property).

Sound Transit, he notes, sent the data with this disclaimer: “Staff has advised us that this document is considered a work in progress and has yet to be thoroughly vetted and confirmed by local, state and federal partners. We would like to emphasize that this information is preliminary and should not be relied upon in any way. It is subject to change as design is refined and as coordination with agency partners continues. Once finalized, information similar to this will be available in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will be available for review in mid-2021.”

Avalon Tom observes, “If you study the map, an interesting pattern emerges. Assuming ST provided me with all the data you can see that they are only really studying two of the alternatives as there is no data in the set for properties that would be affected by the other alternatives. (Or they just did not share that data with me.) They are also padding the acquisition costs. If you do some random Zillow Zestimate checks against what they are estimating they are leaving plenty of headroom for what they call ‘Administrative costs, Relocation & Contingencies’.”

Again, the next formal step in the process is the DEIS release in a few months.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Build in phases? ‘Illustrative scenarios’ shown to Sound Transit board

(Added: Sound Transit meeting video)

Right now, Sound Transit is looking at a possible $11 billion “affordability gap” between the projected cost of what it has planned for the next two decades – including West Seattle light rail – and the projected funding it can count on.

So – as we’ve been reporting since last June – ST is moving toward “realignment” this summer – potentially delaying or downsizing some of the projects for which construction has not begun.

On Thursday, ST staff presented the board with “illustrative scenarios” – stressing repeatedly that these were NOT recommendations or even potential precise options – just the type of scenario that could help cover the gap. Here’s the full slide deck:

They started the discussion with a quick recap of finances, complicated by the January news that not only are revenues down, but projected project costs are up. An independent consultant is reviewing those projected project costs right now, and while the final report isn’t expected until April, they’re presenting a status report at next week’s meeting of the board’s Executive Committee.

Potential state and federal funding increases were recapped by CEO Paul Rogoff and chief financial officer =Tracy Butler. She also pointed out what ST could pursue with voter approval in its jurisdiction (parts of King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties) – an increased debt limit, and/or a $2/month employee head tax.

At that point, board member Claudia Balducci, chair of the King County Council, spoke up to say what she’s said before – she feels this is all premature, that it is way too soon to make huge decisions (from changing projects to possibly asking voters to approve a tax) when the future financial picture is very much in motion.

The presentation proceeded after that. ST’s Don Billen showed four tiers into which the projects could be categorized – or phases of projects, with potential delay timelines. See the full slide deck above for the full systemwide look; of note for our area, one possible scenario could involve completing light rail to Delridge first, then adding Delridge-Junction a few years later.

Right now, pending “realignment,” light rail to West Seattle is supposed to open in 2031, a one-year delay from what the ST3 ballot measure envisioned. ST staff said the potential delays in the “illustrative scenarios” are from the original ST3 timeline, so a two-year delay, for example, would mean 2032.

WHAT’S NEXT: The aforementioned Executive Committee discussion of the project-cost review status is set for next Thursday (March 4th), 10:30 am. Watch for the agenda and viewing info here. The realignment decision is expected in summer. Before then, ST promises “public engagement” this spring.

LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit board continues ‘brainstorming’ for realignment plan

Will the light-rail plan for West Seattle be delayed or even downsized? The Sound Transit board is planning to make that decision in July, along with deciding the future of other not-yet-under-construction projects. Right now, they’re in the process of deciding how to decide. The board spent three hours in a workshop Thursday centered on what one member described as “brainstorming.” Here’s the video:

The board was planning on realignment even before seeing those recent numbers that showed a sharp increase in cost estimates for upcoming projects including the West Seattle light-rail extension (which is currently projected to open in 2031, one year later than the original plan that voters approved in 2016). As with most if not all public entities, ST’s revenue is suffering from the COVID crunch, and that makes realignment mandatory. Discussion topics at the workshop included not just options for making up some of that lost funding, but also for cutting costs without slashing projects, as shown in the slide deck (below and here):

Potential options are many – reduce the scope, suspend, or even delete projects, or increase revenue via raising fares and fees, raising the car-rental tax or raising their debt capacity, although that would require voters’ approval. Board member Claudia Balducci, current chair of the King County Council, argued that it seems way too early in the process to start deliberating potential tax increases’ merits or lack of them. She suggested the board might be “rushing to a solution … when we haven’t defined the problem.” The idea of possibly dropping projects got strong voices of opposition, as the board’s vice chair, King County Executive Dow Constantine, noted the “overwhelming” voter support for the full plan. He also noted that ST has reason to hope for more federal funding, given that a pro-transit administration has just taken over the White House. And board member Jenny Durkan, mayor of Seattle, urged her colleagues to keep their eyes on how our region will look 10, 20 years from now, as ST continues working to deliver “the entire network.”

WHAT’S NEXT: At the board’s monthly meeting, 1:30 pm this Thursday, they’ll talk with the consultant who’s going to review the cost-increase estimates. The agenda includes information on how to watch/comment. Meantime, your role in the realignment decision is currently scheduled to happen in April, when ST will ask for public feedback.

LIGHT RAIL: Is West Seattle Junction tunneling affordable after all? More new Sound Transit numbers bring estimated cost closer to elevated

One week after revealing new, sharply higher cost estimates for expanding light rail to West Seattle and Ballard (WSB coverage here), Sound Transit went public with another set of numbers, showing that the cost of tunneling into The Junction is suddenly a lot closer to the cost of the default elevated line. These numbers were presented to ST’s System Expansion Committee on Thursday, along with the revised cost estimates first shown to the Executive Committee last week; Thursday’s meeting video is above, and the full slide deck is here. Here are the new West Seattle tunnel-related numbers that were presented:

Those numbers reflect the estimated cost of the entire West Seattle segment, not just the station itself. The new estimate showing as little as $100 million difference between running elevated or tunneling to the heart of The Junction is a big change – previously, the difference was projected to be about $700 million, as shown in this slide from a 2019 presentation:

Whatever the cost differential is, it would require “third-party funding,” but Seattle Mayor and ST board member Jenny Durkan said during the Thursday presentation that she was “heartened” to see the new estimates, observing that they now had a better idea of what extra funding would be needed.

The biggest looming issue, though, remains the gap between ST’s pandemic-shrunken revenues and even the original price tags of the West Seattle-Ballard extension and other projects approved by voters in the ST3 ballot measure. So ST remains on a path to “realignment” of its plans, with a decision due later this year; board members have a workshop planned this Thursday. ST also is proceeding with an independent review of the new cost estimates, expected to be complete in April.

WHAT ELSE IS NEXT: The West Seattle-Ballard project remains in the environmental-study phase, with its Draft Environmental Impact Statement now expected in the middle of this year, opening a new public-comment period. Final routing and station-location decisions are expected in 2023. The extension’s projected launch date already has been pushed back a year to 2031, a date that the upcoming “realignment” could move further down the track.

P.S. You can catch up on what’s proposed, what’s being studied, and how the process works by checking out ST’s “online open house.”

LIGHT RAIL: West Seattle-Ballard project will cost a lot more than expected, Sound Transit board committee told

Even as Sound Transit figures out how to deal with a revenue shortfall, it’s warning that future projects such as West Seattle to Ballard light rail will cost a lot more than originally expected. The ST Board’s Executive Committee was told today about what board chair Kent Keel described as “unprecedented cost increases”: Among them, the cost estimate for the West Seattle-Ballard light-rail extension have risen by more than 50 percent – it’s now estimated to cost more than $12 billion, up from $7 billion when the ST3 ballot measure went to voters. The numbers were part of a presentation to the committee about revised estimates for multiple projects. Here’s the slide deck:

The West Seattle-Ballard project overall is becoming “more complex,” ST’s Don Billen told the board; his part of the presentation starts 49 minutes into the meeting video. (You can read the accompanying memo to the board here.) These are still rough estimates, since the project remains relatively early in the planning process, but the increase is attributed mostly to the increased cost of property acquisition – since development has continued on the potentially needed parcels – and construction.

As an example of the former, the presentation cited the potential need for right-of-way on the Fauntleroy/Alaska corner, including the site of the two-building Legacy Partners project that’s now under construction, if that site were chosen for the Junction station (sites further west drew more attention during the public-comment process). The cost of that site, if needed, was previously estimated at $76 million – and now estimated at $252 million. (Board member Dow Constantine, the West Seattle-residing King County Executive, inferred underground development may look more attractive as a result of numbers like that.)

“While these numbers are sobering, they’re not catastrophic,” said CEO Peter Rogoff, promising that ST is still committed to all the projects. But overall, the increased cost estimate for West Seattle-Ballard (which includes a new downtown tunnel) and other ST projects is so dramatic that ST plans to hire a consultant for an “independent cost review” to be complete before April – as ST continues its “realignment” process, to decide how projects’ schedules will have to change because of the funding gap. (The West Seattle completion date already has been pushed back one year to 2031.) Board members are expected to get a closer look at the “affordability gap” when they meet for a workshop on realignment two weeks from today (January 21st). In the meantime, ST is still working on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the West Seattle-Ballard project, due out later this year.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s schedule slides

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Even before its “realignment” decision, Sound Transit has slid West Seattle-Ballard light rail back a year, telling the Avalon Neighborhood Group that WS is now set to open in 2031 instead of 2030, Ballard in 2036 instead of 2035.

This neighborhood group has been meeting regularly with ST, and invited us to cover its online meeting last night. We previously reported on the group in July, when they held a fact-finding meeting to learn more about the Yancy/Andover Elevated option added relatively late to the list of options being studied.

Last night’s meeting began with a status report from ST’s Zack Ambrose, going through where the planning process stands. In addition to the pushed-back launch date – pending “realignment” decisions for the entire ST3 plan next year – they’re saying that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) won’t be released until mid-2021, and the final EIS won’t be out until 2023.

One attendee asked if the timeline always had called for two years between the DEIS and final EIS; ST said yes, but past presentations we’ve covered (such as this one in February) suggested otherwise, with the DEIS due in 2021 and the final EIS in 2022.

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit launches ‘online open house’ with new maps and more

Sound Transit now says its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for West Seattle/Ballard light rail will be out “mid-2021.” That’s the next big comment period, and the next step toward firming up details of the route, but in the meantime, ST has just launched an “online open house” website to let you know where things stand. Here’s what’s in it:

The updated site features an overview of our environmental review process along with detailed maps, elevation profiles and descriptions of each alternative currently being studied. Additionally, we have new maps for each proposed station and cross-sections for all elevated stations, along with information about how people could walk, roll, bike, or take transit to potential station locations.

The map above, with accompanying cross-section, is just one of those featured, as are station cross-sections like this (click through the dots beneath each station map):

The maps and descriptions outline the possible routing under consideration, including the potential guideway elevations, as well as the possible station locations.

Planning for the voter-approved light-rail extension continues even though a delay is possible – it is scheduled to open in 2030, but ST has been hit by the pandemic economic crunch, and its board will decide within a few months whether to push back the timelines on projects like this that aren’t yet under construction.

VIDEO: Talking transit, current and future, plus bridge updates, @ West Seattle Transportation Coalition

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Though Sound Transit‘s planned-for-2030 West Seattle light rail was the announced spotlight topic of this month’s West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting, the discussion traveled over many roads.

More than 40 people had called/clicked in by the time Thursday night’s meeting got going, announced WSTC chair Michael Taylor-Judd. Here’s the WSTC recording of the meeting:

First guest: ST board member and King County Executive Dow Constantine, who got the leadoff spot because of time constraints. Veering beyond the stated topic, he noted the overall transit challenges posed by the “lousy revenue system” and “god-awful tax system.”

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WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit spotlight @ WS Transportation Coalition on Thursday

July 21, 2020 1:50 pm
|    Comments Off on WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit spotlight @ WS Transportation Coalition on Thursday
 |   Sound Transit | Transportation | West Seattle news | West Seattle online

Another big meeting Thursday- here’s the announcement from the West Seattle Transportation Coalition about their plans for 6:30 pm that night (July 23rd):

We have a great lineup of guests on tap this month:

King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott, Seattle Deputy Mayor Shefali Ranganathan, and representatives from Sound Transit will be joining us to discuss the current state of Sound Transit 3 to West Seattle.

Heather Marx from Seattle Department Of Transportation will also be on hand with a West Seattle Bridge update.

Zoom Meeting ID 831 5795 4582
On the web: us02web.zoom.us/j/83157954582
Via phone: +12532158782,,83157954582#

You can check out the past few meetings via the WSTC YouTube channel. You’re also invited to save the date for their August 27th meeting, with our area’s U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal scheduled to talk about federal funding for the West Seattle Bridge.

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: Avalon-area neighbors’ fact-finding meeting with Sound Transit

(Sound Transit graphic from October 2019 board meeting)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Eight months after the Sound Transit Board decided to add the “Yancy/Andover Elevated” route to the list of possibilities, some of the West Seattleites who might be in its path are just learning about it.

A group of neighbors in the area west of Avalon Way, including 32nd SW, is meeting weekly to talk about it, and more than 50 of them had an online meeting with Sound Transit reps this past Monday night. We were invited to cover it.

They’re not trying to derail light rail – but they want to understand this potential alignment, how it would affect their neighborhood, and how best to get involved in the review process.

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LIGHT RAIL DELAY? Sound Transit board decides not to decide until next year

The Sound Transit board won’t decide on potentially delaying projects until July 2021.

That follows discussions at recent committee meetings, during which some board members had voiced alarm that “realignment” decisions with decades-long ramifications might be made too soon, too hastily.

At the board’s monthly meeting this afternoon, they agreed to a timeline (see it here) that would keep all planning of Sound Transit 3 (and remaining ST2) projects moving forward for now. As she had done at an Executive Committee meeting, CFO Tracy Butler reminded the board that current financial projections have ST coffers falling as much as $12 billion short through the life of Sound Transit 3’s plan (which has some projects in the 2040s, with West Seattle light rail currently scheduled to open in 2030).

The board also was reminded that if they chose, for example, to add a 5-year delay to all in-planning projects, that would be “affordable” within current reduced-revenue estimates. But planning director Don Billen also reiterated that a one-size-fits-all approach like that might not be wise, so the agency will embark on a more-nuanced process, including “public engagement” early next year, before finalizing a realigned plan next summer. (You can see the criteria they’ll use in the slide deck from the meeting.)

SOUND TRANSIT: Will money crunch derail West Seattle light-rail schedule?

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The coronavirus-crisis money crunch could force Sound Transit to delay and/or cut some of its upcoming projects – and everything’s on the table, including the plan to bring light rail to West Seattle in 2030.

Potential scenarios for funding gaps, and potential ways to address them, were presented to the ST Board at a Wednesday afternoon workshop. We watched it online. Here’s the slide deck (also, here in PDF):

Chief Financial Officer Tracy Butler started with the grim numbers. When you look at them, keep in mind that sales tax provides a big chunk of ST’s funding. And since sales are way down, sales tax is too. Projecting out to the end of ST3 in 2041, they could be down $8 billion in a “moderate” recession, $12 billion in a “severe” one.

They can’t just borrow their way out of it, because they project costs would start exceeding theirc combined debt limit around 2028. So that’s when their current plan starts becoming “unaffordable.”

One way to tackle that might be to increase their debt limit – which would require supermajority voter approval. Also, they could try to raise revenue to increasing rental-car taxes and fares (both dicey propositions right now since the virus has squashed travel and transit use).

Or – they could cut costs by scaling down, stretching out, or delaying projects. “The choice doesn’t need to be IF you’re going to do a given project, but WHEN,” said Don Billen, ST’s executive director of planning.

ST has 10 projects in the pipeline for 2025-2041 completion, including the West Seattle branch in 2030. No specific projects were proposed for changes or delays in this discussion, but it was suggested that, for example, any given project could be stretched out or even built in segments, as has happened in South King County.

Where the West Seattle extension starts to look a bit endangered is in the potential criteria for suggesting changes, such as whether the project advances the system “spine” (no), whether it must “be completed for other projects to happen” (no), and whether “communities the project serves have other transit options” (yes).

No specific projects were discussed at the workshop, and no decisions were made. Next step is a discussion of the decision-making criteria at the board’s next Executive Committee meeting (originally planned for today but postponed until sometime next week), followed by a broader discussion at the full board meeting June 23, and decisions sometime this summer.

In the meantime, the West Seattle light-rail line – one of the projects in the 2016 ST3 ballot measure – remains in the environmental-study phase, with the next milestone currently scheduled to be the draft Environmental Impact Statement’s release early next year. ST spokesperson David Jackson tells WSB, “Work continues on the West Seattle-Ballard project, but plans and timelines of all projects not currently under contract or in construction are subject to change as part of our realignment process.”

WEST SEATTLE LIGHT RAIL: ‘Guiding principles’ survey; new line name

(Sound Transit map of what’s being studied – see full-size version here in PDF)

The planning for West Seattle’s light-rail line, due to launch in 2030, continues. Two notes:

‘GUIDING PRINCIPLES” SURVEY: The city Department of Neighborhoods has been helping Sound Transit with “outreach” related to parts of the planning process. We just discovered (while scanning the Cascade Bicycle Club‘s email newsletter) that the city has a survey open, to find out if you agree with the “guiding principles” it’s developed. Go here to participate.

LINE NAMES: In case you missed the announcement in April (we did), ST is renaming its lines with numbers, including yet-to-be-built lines like West Seattle to Ballard, which will become “the 3-Line.”

P.S. Sound Transit’s board continues its regular meetings, online – next one is Thursday (May 28th) afternoon; here’s the agenda.

VIDEO: Catching up on light-rail planning @ Junction Neighborhood Organization

Sound Transit and city reps are making the rounds of community meetings with updates on where the light-rail-planning process stands. We’ve covered a few of them already; this past Thursday, the Junction Neighborhood Organization hosted one, so we recorded it on video. Here’s the slide deck that was used by Sound Transit’s Leda Chahim and Jason Hampton:

(Or, see it here in PDF.) While ST reps recapped where the process stands – with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement due out early next year – city reps talked about station development and criteria through which planning will be run, including race and social equity. Questions included how the I-976 situation is affecting planning; so far, it’s proceeding unchanged, while the court action continues to play out.

P.S. If you’re hoping to catch one of these updates/briefings in person, ST is expected to be at the next West Seattle Transportation Coalition meeting (March 26th, more details to come).

LIGHT RAIL: Your next chance to catch up = Thursday @ Junction Neighborhood Organization

Though the next major milestone in planning West Seattle light rail isn’t until next year, there’s still lots going on, and your next chance to catch up with where things stand is just days away. The Junction Neighborhood Organization is having its winter gathering on Thursday (February 27th), and that’s the major agenda item. 6:30 pm at the Senior Center/Sisson Building (4217 SW Oregon), bring questions and feedback for Sound Transit and the city reps who are helping ensure neighborhoods stay in the loop.

LIGHT RAIL: If your boat or business uses the Duwamish River, Sound Transit has questions for you

(Sound Transit maps of what’s under consideration for light-rail routing)

Next up as Sound Transit continues environmental studies for the West Seattle to Ballard light-rail extensions, a survey announced today:

We are studying multiple route alternatives, which include a new rail-only bridge across Salmon Bay, either east or west of the existing Ballard Bridge and a new rail-only bridge across the Duwamish Waterway, either north or south of the existing West Seattle Bridge.

Sound Transit is collecting data on vessels that utilize these waterways and facilities that service vessels to help inform the environmental review analysis and support coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding any potential bridge permits.

How can you help? Please share information about your vessel(s) or ones that you pilot by completing this survey by March 17, 2020.

You can do that by going here.

Light rail Q’s, but few A’s, @ Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council

For the first time since Sound Transit dropped the potential Pigeon Point tunnel from consideration, ST had reps at the Pigeon Point Neighborhood Council meeting on Monday night.

As with every appearance, they recapped how the project got to this particular point – that’s part of the slide deck above (also here in PDF). Many questions followed.

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LIGHT RAIL: Sound Transit’s next two soil-study spots in West Seattle

January 22, 2020 7:58 pm
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 |   Sound Transit | West Seattle news

If you received Sound Transit‘s recent email update, that’s the newest map showing what potential routing/station options are being studied for West Seattle light rail. ST is still a year away from going public with a draft Environmental Impact Statement, and continues various types of studies as part of putting it together. Today ST spokesperson David Jackson sent word of what’s next, including “in-water” work:

There will be crews working beneath the West Seattle bridge along the Pigeon Point slope area over the next three days to analyze soil conditions.

The surface analysis on the Pigeon Point slopes will entail crews walking through the area to collect samples at several locations. Crews will be digging a series of hand dug test holes to evaluate the subsurface conditions. In addition to the hand dug test hole, steel probes may be used to measure the thickness of surface soils. Following the testing, the hand dug test holes will be back filled, soils tamped in-place and the ground surface smoothed.

Also in-water work in the Duwamish Waterway is set to begin next week. Please see the attached flyer.